The Grass is Greener… at UCLA: An insider account of the UC exchange program

 

An older sister school of UCSD, UCLA is tucked comfortably in the heart of Los Angeles with Westwood, Hollywood and Beverly Hills caressing the campus contours. The question is,  are the students of Los Angeles really living that lavish SoCal dream?

La Jolla has its perks and all, but they falter in comparison to Westwood, which is a five-minute walk from the UCLA campus. This ain’t no apples and oranges; the Apples to Apples cards for Westwood are extravagant, lively and bustling — and then some. So for UCLA to be right in the middle of that clamor is nothing but a boon, especially when red carpet events can happen so close to — or directly on — the campus, such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle premiere in Westwood and the Teen Choice Awards. After studying at UCLA for one summer session, it becomes clear how secluded UCSD is in its own bubble.

UCLA’s residential halls are somewhat akin to UCSD’s six college system; they don’t directly affect general education requirements, but one go-to  conversation starter with the friendly UCLA student body can string easily in “What hall are you in?” There probably is a social hierarchy of preferences, but when your residential halls look like old Hollywood hotels, each with a five-star dining hall (they’re nationally ranked), then it’s like you’re vying for the top position when you’re already perched at the top of the pyramid.

Now, I’m not talking some crusty-ass pizza from Ocean View Terrace. H to the naw. Y’all want flatbread and some stir-fry ethnic cuisine? How about you add some grilled cheese and a top-notch salad bar to that, plus a selection from the large platters of dessert? All you can eat, and that’s just “Feast!” from UCLA’s Rieber Hall, too.  According to some insider info, the au courant — that means “hipster” in French — cafes and dining halls have so many more options (apparently Bruin Plate is top-notch). UCSD’s market system doesn’t exactly exist at UCLA, per se, but it does have small cafes where you can get a modest, yet filling, meal for just one swipe.

The entire UCLA campus is divided between the residential hall area and  the actual university campus, which is situated at the bottom of the hill. If you thought a walk from Sixth to Revelle was hell’s incarnate, UCLA puts this to shame. Unfortunately, there’s no shuttle system to boot, which makes this task all the more drudging. Now, the UCLA campus itself isn’t massive when it comes to area. The Stanford-inspired buildings give the impression that it’s huge, but that’s not the case when they’re saddled wall-to-wall, unlike UCSD’s “place a building here, and one there.”

Of course, the term “Stanford-inspired” should be taken lightly considering UCLA really does hold its own when it comes to architecture; there’s an entire compendium for movies and television shows that were shot on this campus. Hint: it should be mandatory that everyone explores Melnitz Hall;  this building, stowed far in the northernmost area of campus, contains a  collection of movie posters and artifacts from UCLA alumni. It is a sight to behold. Furthermore, the design is impeccably suited to the student body, as the northern half of the campus houses the arts and humanities, while the southern complimentary possesses  space for science majors. Now, let go of your frozen, pre-emptive UCSD mentality, Elsa: the UCLA campus spans about five minutes in walking distance. Glorious.

Fear not for the disparaging UCSD comments; San Diego has its own bolstering traits, such as an unmatched engineering program and a unique residential college system. But as a sister school to such a great university system, there is a lot to appreciate about the UCLA campus.

 

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