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.