23 & A Quarter

Who knew UCLA would kick my ass to the point where I would be off the grid for so long. However, the work was all so worth it. Did I have a handful of panic attacks? Of course, it’s a given at this school. Do I love it? ABSOLUTELY.

Although so many things have happened, I sometimes forget to acknowledge how mentally challenging its been. My first quarter at UCLA. Seeing kids mentally breakdown publicly with no shame. Losing my ID card and wallet multiple times, then bolting back  to find them. Thinking somehow being late to class would get me pushed out of my spot. Having no clue what a course reader was, and having to figure out where they were sold (there’s this sketchy shop in Westwood that sells them and I have no clue how it’s even part of the school). Figuring out what a Discussion was, and they’re essential to your already long lectures. Filling out a bunch of random forms so you don’t get frozen from enrollment on certain dates, on top of your schoolwork. Discovering that athletic events are hard to attend when you’re trying to get good grades. Discovering living life in general is hard when you’re trying to get good grades. I remember, there were so many points I actually felt trapped. Even thinking about UCLA made me sick to my stomach.

I know what you’re thinking, “You’re being over dramatic, Kat.” That’s the thing ain’t it? Nobody really knows until they experience it themselves. I attend one of the best schools in the world. I should be grateful, and obviously I am, but there’s a huge difference between admiring the school from afar, and being a student there. It’s tough. Then, add the pressure of the prestige and high expectations. It can be suffocating.

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So, what happened? Well, I made the best of my situation. UCLA is beautiful. Even when there were days where I wanted to punch the school’s face (if it had one), it was beautiful inside and out. I remember when I was walking out of class after a tense conversation with my professor (he wouldn’t let me retake a quiz and I was pissed) and I was thinking the most negative things about the university. Then, the sun started to set near the Powell library. Guys. It’s like cotton candy and fluffy Dole whip decided to magically float and dance together in the sky. And the fountain in front of the stairs, where that view of the sunset was the best, began to glisten with pinks and blues from lights installed. The buildings and halls looked more like beautiful castles than classrooms for students. No matter what mood I was in, I couldn’t help but think how beautiful and lucky I am to be here. Or the sculpture garden. Nothing beats listening to music through your headphones, strolling within this sanctuary of unique pieces, and finding a spot in the grass to lie on. Time moves so slowly, and your troubles melt away.

Until, you get up and grind again. Midterms, finals, and projects are hard but not impossible. If there’s any transfers reading this, it’s hard to be a freshman trapped in a junior’s body. Make your life easier your first quarter. Take easier classes because it’s gonna be hard still. It’s ok to only focus on school your first quarter. If you have to work though, less school work is essential (bruinwalk.com is your best friend, it’s the same thing as ratemyprofessor.com so find those nice professors). Having trouble making friends? Go to the Bruin Transfer Center or even Holly (on-campus housing for transfers). They’ll have events where you can mingle with your fellow transfers (trust me, my solid group of friends happened because I did this). You will get through it, and you will make friends soon.

Finish one quarter, and you’ll feel so much better as a student. Also, you’ll know what you can and can’t handle (adding more classes, starting an internship, volunteering, going to sporting events, etc.). You know how much you should read, you know how you should study, and everything starts to fall into place like it did in community college (or at least that’s what my case was, every transfer has their own background).

So guys, I am 23 as of last week and have finished my first quarter at UCLA. I’ll share more stories soon, until then, talk to you later.

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Dear UCLA Dormmate,

I know you are on the same boat as me, but let me explain how I got here first. I thought I could get away with requesting a single at UCLA Housing. Thus, what was the need to make a roommate request when I wasn’t going to have one anyways? Turns out, I was wrong and wasn’t considering the many other students who wanted a single. And here we are, not knowing each other still.

UCLA Housing informed me I would not know who my roommate is until the end of this month. I don’t know if you checked too, but if you did, it’s good to know you’re just as anxious as I am to figure out who you are. We’ve known for over two months we would be in a Double Deluxe at Sproul Landing/Cove. The real question is, with who?

Whoever you are, these are my hopes and dreams of who you could be. I hope you don’t snore, but if you do I hope you at least warn me about it (I can get ear muffs or something). I can promise you now, I am a very silent sleeper and I also like sleeping early. If you’re similar, then we will get along swimmingly. I do need to warn you, I am a morning person. I tend to be energetic as soon as rise from my slumber, even a sip of caffeine will assure me not sleeping that night. If you like to go to coffee shops, I do too! I will be getting tea instead of coffee though, sorry. I apparently stomp loudly, so I am sorry if I wake you up in the morning, I will try my best not too. As I hope you would do the same for me.

I do not mind if you bring people over to our room, you don’t even have to ask. I hope you’re the same way. I’m not much of a partier, I prefer small get-togethers or kickbacks. Frat parties I would like to avoid, I have had my fair share of Greek parties thanks to UCI. If you’re the same way, we might as well be best friends. I am not a super anal cleaning person, but I promise my things will remain in my general area and I always clean up after myself when it comes to food or using anything. Also, I tend to organize and clean once/twice a week so our room won’t be too messy.

Which brings me to share the most important part of this letter to you, I want to be close friends. I am always down for movies, I love any kind of music (except country, unless it’s Johnny Cash), I love talking/taking part in sustainable living, and I am more than happy to try new food places. I want to be able to go to school events with you or hit you up whenever I got time to kick it/ need a study buddy. I am also down for Netflix marathons, so if you ever wanna do a Girl’s Night In, you know where to find me 🙂 .

Warm Regards,

Kat Sotoodeh

P.S. If you love Disney movies and ramen as much as me, we are definitely going to be best friends.

 

Community College is Over, and Summer is Here!

I officially finished Orange Coast Community College. This place has taught me so much about my major, general education, and myself. I remember the first time I ever set foot on the campus, I was given a tour led by a former OCC Women’s Tennis player. My high school tennis partner and I were recruited to play for the team. I joined community college because it was the best option I had for an education at the time, and I wanted a second chance at my college education. I got accepted to a few good universities, but none that really peaked my interest. Furthermore, I gained so much more from going to a community college than I ever thought was possible. Without OCC, I would never have been able to get into UCLA. Especially in their Communication department.

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If you are in high school, in a university that you hate, a single parent who wants a different career path, a veteran who wants to return to school, or anybody who wants to just find what they want out of life, GO TO COMMUNITY COLLEGE. It will hopefully change your life for the better, like it did for me. The best part, you can be involved as little or as much as possible there. For those who are in community college and are having trouble making friends, join a program or club. While I was at OCC I was part of the Women’s Tennis Team, the Honors Program, DSPS, Sigma Chi Eta Communication Honors Society, Honors Student Council, Speech and Debate Team, and Green Coast Day Committee. I met so many people and made great connections that I know will have for the rest of my life. Those people have inspired and motivated me to become a better student and better individual. You want to plan a community wide event? You are totally capable of doing that with lots of help if you have a club or student government backing you! For example, I was able to host campus wide events such as Why We Love OCC and Green Coast Expo, which I will always proudly boast about due to their successes. Financially struggling? Community colleges are known for offering financial aid and even handing out their own scholarships that you can look into! Have kids? Community college will probably have resources where you can drop off your kids until you’re done with classes. It’s pretty amazing.

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Now that I have finished singing my praises for community college, specifically Orange Coast College, it is time to move on to bigger and better things. Summer. You are a true blessing in my life. I am finishing this blog post in England. I will get into more details of my trip once it is done, but I hope my readers are enjoying their summer as much as I am already. Just wanted to write this blog post to share my appreciation for my community college since those institutes don’t receive the love they deserve,  and wanted to keep you guys updated that more posts are coming once again 🙂 .

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In the meantime, here’s a photo of a flock of geese that all were eerily staring at something…. We still don’t know what they were looking at.

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From Cambridge to OC

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Nobody tells you how scary it is before you actually study abroad. It’s such an exciting adventure, woohoo. Once you make that deposit, that commitment, there’s no going back. Now, you have to pack and be smart about your surroundings. I have not left my house for so long. No, I do not live under a rock and obviously I go to school, work, and other extracurricular activities. However, I have never been on my own since 5th grade when we had a camping trip  with my whole class one weekend. Even that doesn’t count, let’s be honest.

I took this chance without even checking with any of my friends if they were willing to take the leap with me. None of them had the time or money to do it. Thus the cherry on top, I was going to study abroad at University of Cambridge with a group of people I’ve never met. Sure, we had a few meetings beforehand and a few classes too. Unfortunately, the tension and discomfort was still overwhelming for all. To my surprise, three out of the twenty-eight people who were going knew each other. We were all on the same boat.

July 2nd- departure day. My boyfriend and I get to LAX, and I leave with a worried, heavy heart. I get through security and we do not board the plane for another hour or two. At that moment, it was as if a light bulb turned on for everybody. We were all doing this together, it’s time to REALLY get to know each other.

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Cambridge is amazing. The scenery can make you stop what you’re doing and lure you to enjoy things you forget about everyday in California. There is more green than urban life. The livestock grazing in fields is astounding. Even the rain was so welcoming and delightful to be caught in. The best part? Getting to share those moments with my fellow classmates. We all knew we were experiencing something special together.

We stayed in flats at a complex called, Cromwell Court. The school we attended at Cambridge was named, Sidney Sussex College. Then our classroom was known as the Coach House. All three of these places, will always have a special place in my heart. I’d wake up in my own flat to go downstairs to wait for my friends in the central part of Cromwell Court. We would head to Sidney Sussex to either eat in the mess hall or use it as a short cut to grab some take-away from the local eateries. Later, we would  walk through Jesus Green (one of the biggest and most unbelievable parks I’ve ever seen) to make it to Coach House in time for class. It was a spectacular time.

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I was able to travel to London, Paris, and Amsterdam. When you take the first step to travel outside of your country, you kind of get the hang of doing it. You feel like a real adult and a lil’ adventurer. London wasn’t my favorite, but the history of it is incredible. Then, Paris definitely kept you on your toes since pick-pockets creep on the streets wherever you are, but it does not discredit the beautiful culture of this place. The food was fantastic (Croque Madame is a must), the Louvre contained breathtaking pieces I was so excited to appreciate (“The Raft of Medusa”, “The Olympia”, “Mona Lisa”, etc.), and the historical sights were so grand and beautiful in scale (Eiffel Tower & The Notre Dame). As for Amsterdam, it had to be my absolute favorite so that needs to be separate from this blog post for I have too much to say about it.  The transportation all around in Europe is so much more convenient and better for the environment. I envy that my country hasn’t transitioned to using bikes, trams, trains, and buses as often as they do. The produce and everything seems to have the sole purpose of benefiting the citizens.  Their lifestyle, I wish I can be part of it for the rest of my life. I really would love to move to Europe. Specifically, Amsterdam would be a great place to live.

By the end of this trip, the different countries were not the only things that enriched who I am. There were the people who were with me. There were those who challenged my patience, and I learned there were some battles worth fighting and some worth letting go. I learned people you think were certain ways were completely not what they appear, and people who seem to have dispositions have a past that influences their being. They made me laugh, they made me cry, they made me appreciate who I was. They inspired me to be more than the titles I have back at home. My creative side seemed to return with a will to not give up what I love to do most. I ended up writing a poem about every single one of them because they made that much of an impact on my life. Now that I am back, it is pretty obvious it won’t be the same. Luckily, my memories will never change because nothing in my life can make me see this experience as less than happy, ever.

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Where the hell have I been?

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I am not going to lie, I have been pretty absent from writing on this blog. I will call myself out on that. Sometimes, taking care of yourself in real life is more important. My blog became one my last priorities, something I hoped going into it would never happen. Furthermore, what were my priorities that came before my blog? I will tell you but it won’t be in order of importance. I needed to focus on finals, my boyfriend, and everything in between before I descended into studying abroad at University of Cambridge.

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Yep, you are getting a blog post coming from the UK. I am currently sitting in a room full of people who I barely knew 3 weeks ago. Now, they are the family I needed more than I knew during this whole experience. This group of people I am traveling will be the only people who are experiencing the same exact events and walks I am dealing with during this adventure. There are people who I love, there are people where we can’t seem to get pass our differences. Either way, I am having the best time. I had to prepare getting here and I have to absorb my time here while I still have it. THIS was one of the big reasons why I’ve been missing. Had to make sure all of my ducks were in a row before I left, and had to make sure I was enjoying my time here without isolating myself from great people who are here.

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To the people who ever are debating about whether they should take the jump to study abroad, DO IT!

P.S. I plan on doing separate blog posts focusing on certain topics (why you should study abroad/my experience, my boyfriend maybe ;), etc.) but for now I wanna claim my presence is back!

Interview #9: Krista Marina

(Krista currently attends Orange Coast College and is a rising singer/songwriter)

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1. When you look back to your childhood, what was your favorite thing to wear and why?

A: Headbands. It helped get my annoying hair out of my face, but it would make an outfit too!

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2. Describe what you’re wearing and what do you think people think of you in this outfit?

A: I’m wearing essentially all black, open toed boot heels, black jeans with holes at the knees, a black blouse with thin white stripes & bell sleeves, and a starry bracelet. I’d like to think people think that I am confident, I am comfortable with myself, and that I’m free spirited thanks to the bell sleeves.

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3. Imagine your future in a year from now, what would you hope you have accomplished and what would you be wearing?

A: I’d hope to progress significantly in my music career. I’d hope to wear black jeans, some type of cute comfy shoes that makes me taller, probably a signature shirt, a piece of clothing that makes a statement, and quaint jewelry.

Interview #8: Zoe Muratalla

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1. When you look back to your childhood, what was your favorite thing to wear and why?

A: I loved wearing Roxy shirts and board shorts because I loved going to the beach ever since I was a baby, I wanted to be like the cool surfer girls I saw in magazines.

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2. Describe what you’re wearing and what do you think people think of you in this outfit?

A: I’m wearing a black denim skirt, white tank top with intricacy, and a Levi denim jacket. I think that people see it as simple style, not super crazy. An easy-going outfit besides leggings.

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3. Imagine your future in a year from now, (somebody from that future visits you in the present) what would you hope you have accomplished and what would you be wearing?

A:  I’d hope I’d be continuing my education at UCSB, and be at the beach wearing comfy beach sundresses that I love. Plus, sunglasses because I love sunnies!