I did the summer session at UCLA this summer and had two courses. To start at the beginning, the application process itself is easy if you submit the right documents. Your website was very helpful in this and sent me the necessary documents. UCLA does not have strict admission criteria, so it was no problem to meet all requirements. Next I had to pay the SEVIS fee and apply for my visa at the embassy in Bern, which was no problem.
The range of courses is overwhelming and you can choose a course in pretty much any subject. I had a geography course (Metropolitan LA) and an English as second language course (business communication). The workload was different. In the geography course I had to finish reading a book in the first week and had several articles to read as homework. There were no exams, but I had to submit a midterm paper and a final paper. Most of the other students were regular UCLA students, so the course was also more challenging.
In my second course we were all international students. Most of them came from France, but otherwise we had students from all over the world. The ESL course was less labor-intensive, we each had homework and presentations in class. But you are busy enough with two courses. The final term week in particular is stressful because it is the last week at UCLA and everyone is stressed out for exams. I was free from Thursday afternoon to Sunday, as my courses were well spread over the first half of the week. To study, I went to the Powell Library, where there are several “study rooms” where you can study in peace. UCLA has a total of 10 libraries, but Powell is in the middle of campus (across from Royce Hall) and a very nice building too.
You are guaranteed to get lost on the first day. The campus is huge and it is best to take jogging shoes or comfortable sneakers with you, as you have to walk a lot. To do sports, you can go to the John Wooden Center, which has everything from cardio machines to squash. There are also several tennis courts and swimming pools on campus. I didn’t want to take my tennis racket with me so I bought one from Kmart for only $ 25! The Ackerman Union is home to the UCLA store, with all UCLA items and clothing. On the first floor there are a few food stalls like Taco Bell or Carl’s Jr. And the Textbook Shop is also where you can get your books for the courses.
I lived in the Rieber Hall, which is in the western part of the campus. I shared my room with two other students, both “asian americans” with very American names. In general there are a lot of Asian students there, but also Americans and Europeans. The room was a bit cramped, but everyone has their own desk, bed and wardrobes. If you get along well with your roommate, you have a very good time. A couple of my colleagues stayed at Saxon Suites. Four or six people lived in each room (two in one bedroom or three). They had their own bathroom, closets, and living room with a microwave. I also spent a lot of time there, as it was comfortable to meet and you can also have home parties. In the Rieber Hall, the entrance is checked from 9 p.m. and guests have to be registered, which is inconvenient but involves a very high level of security. We usually went to the Hedrick dining hall to eat. It is “the place to be!”. There is a very large selection of food, and it definitely lives up to its reputation for having one of the best food options of all universities in the USA. There are pizzas and hamburgers every lunchtime and evening, but the European and Asian dishes change every day. It also has a good atmosphere there, you can see your classmates and quickly come into contact with others. I had an 11 meal plan, that’s enough for a week. Unfortunately, the meals cannot be carried over to the next week, so I skipped a few meals because I also went out to eat with friends.
Los Angeles and the surrounding area
Los Angeles is a beautiful city, you either love it or hate it :-). UCLA is to the west of the city, in Westwood. Westwood is a typical student district. It takes about 15 minutes to walk from Rieber Hall to Westwood. There are several cinemas, restaurants, shops and everything is very idyllic. The Diddy Riese is definitely a highlight, where you can get the best and cheapest ice cream sandwiches (with different flavors) for only $ 1.50! And forget about McDonalds, In N Out Burger is much better (also represented in Westwood).
Unfortunately I didn’t have a car, but maybe a classmate of yours rented a car, make friends with him / her! This is very time-saving and so we were able to make trips to Malibu and Newport Beach. Otherwise I took the buses to get to Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, etc. Bus number 2 is the best. He goes from Westwood to: Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Hollywood, Downtown LA That’s a good deal for $ 1.50. BUT, the buses don’t have a timetable, so we stood at the bus station and waited 15/20 minutes for the next bus to arrive. The Big Blue Bus takes you directly to Santa Monica and Venice (also from Westwood).
You have to consider that you only have five weekends available, you should use the time! A few days at the beach (Zuma Beach in Malibu!) Or Universal Studios are a must. Marina del Rey or Six Flags Magic Mountain Park are also good places to visit. Since I’ve been to LA several times, I stayed in the area more, but my friends also went to Las Vegas, San Diego or San Francisco. If you are interested in sport, you should see if a sport is currently in season. For example, I went to Anaheim to see the Boston Red Soxs vs. Anaheim Angels (baseball). For the best view of LA you should go to the Getty Center, which is located on a hill and houses the Getty Museum, spectacular view! Since I turned 21 in July I was finally able to inquire about the club scene. Most of the clubs are in Hollywood or Santa Monica, but they close at 2am as you can only serve alcohol until then. For 18+ you should go to Avalon, they have good parties, even until 6 a.m.;). The taxi from Hollywood back to Westwood costs about $ 30. And for pool parties, the Standard Hotel Downtown is the best address, the pool is on the roof, surrounded by skyscrapers (even those aged 21 and over)! And yes, the ID cards are checked, even if you only order one beer in a restaurant.
Finally, I would like to say that UCLA was a wonderful experience for me and I had the time of my life.