Anyone who, like me, wants to gain a bit of international experience shortly before the end of their studies but cannot take the time for months of preparation or long application deadlines often finds it difficult to organize an attractive semester abroad. Since I had already decided to go to California, I just had to choose the right university. After a short research it was clear: it goes to UCLA!
Application and preparation
The application process itself is very easy. After you have decided on the right university and all possible questions have been answered, all I have to do is fill out a few simple forms and that’s it. Here you have to specify which courses you want to take, but it is usually not a problem to change in the first two weeks on site (at least at UCLA). The registration at the university is then done. If everything went well, you will be sent your I-20 with which you can get the US visa. Book a flight quickly and then everything is done. I already made the registration in March, but I heard from others that, if it still works with the visa, you can still register at relatively short notice without any problems.
The range of courses at UCLA is really huge. I can not imagine that there is someone who does not find the right one for their studies. Since I am studying business administration in Germany, I have of course chosen two courses from the field of economics (Session C): Finance and Montetary Theory. There were definitely 100 participants in the finance course, including many Germans. The demands of the course were relatively normal for me, as I already knew some of the topics from Germany. But if you had nothing to do with the topic beforehand, things can get pretty steep for you from time to time. The same applies to the other course. Although I learned a lot more there and we were a small group of around 15 people, which is of course much more suitable for discussions and collaboration. Check mcat-test-centers to see more reviews from current students.
Campus and Accommodation
UCLA’s campus in Westwood is really huge. It takes some time to find your way around everywhere without any problems. As is typical for the USA, there is also everything your heart desires on the UCLA campus. Shopping, fitness center, multiple swimming pools and much more. And of course fast food on every corner including a large eating area. The range of sports on offer is also impressive. On the campus there are also the huge dormitories for the students who want to live on campus. I stayed in one of the University Apartments off-campus with my roommate from Germany. The advantage here is that you have a lot more space and are not subject to the strict rules in the campus dormitories. The apartments are equipped with their own kitchen and consist of a large living room with a bunk bed, couch and desks. Depending on which apartment you are staying in, the way to the lectures is only slightly longer. The only downside to living off-campus is the cost. You have to consider that you have to cater for yourself for 6 weeks, as the meal plans are only included in the price on-campus. However, you can just as easily go to the cafeteria to eat. We were actually always out and about in Westwood in the evenings. There are countless possibilities (Asian, Indian, American fast food and more) to fill your stomach with good food. I can only recommend the University Appartments. Accommodation in the Saxon Suites is certainly a good compromise.
Most important: the fun
First of all – the 6 weeks go by so quickly that every free minute should really be used to do something and have a look at the country. You should also keep in mind that larger excursions are actually only available on weekends, since Monday through Thursday you are more or less only busy with the courses. In total, there are only five weekends left to do any tours (so it’s best to do Sessions A and C). In the greater Los Angeles area alone, there are countless destinations that should not be missed. You definitely have to go to Downtown LA, Hollywood and Santa Monica. The Getty Center has a great view. But the view is even better from the Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park, very close to the Hollywood sign. Universal Studios, Malibu and a game of the Dodgers are also must-sees. Basically everything in LA can also be reached by bus (although public transport in the Autostadt LA is of course not comparable to that in major European cities), but it is definitely best to have your own car for the time. You need that at the latest when you want to drive further away. A weekend in Las Vegas is of course compulsory and a trip to San Francisco along Highway 1 should definitely be made. The same goes for San Diego. A short detour to Mexico may be worthwhile there. Having your own car for the time is definitely best. You need that at the latest when you want to drive further away. A weekend in Las Vegas is of course compulsory and a trip to San Francisco along Highway 1 should definitely be made. The same goes for San Diego. A short detour to Mexico may be worthwhile there. Having your own car for the time is definitely best. You need that at the latest when you want to drive further away. A weekend in Las Vegas is of course compulsory and a trip to San Francisco along Highway 1 should definitely be made. The same goes for San Diego. A short detour to Mexico may be worthwhile there.
The nightlife in LA is also impressive. In Westwood, in the immediate vicinity of the campus, there isn’t that much to do (there are actually only two bars where something is going on). But there is a large selection of good clubs and bars in Hollywood (e.g. the Rooftop Bar in the Standard Hotel, or Playhouse Hollywood).
Overall, I can definitely recommend the summer session at UCLA. You meet great people, get immersed in American college life for a short time, and do so much. A stay abroad in America is always a little expensive, but the experiences you have there are worth every penny.