It quickly became clear to me that I would book my accommodation through the university, as finding a private apartment was too much of a hassle for me. Thanks to previous experience reports , I decided to stay in the University Apartments Off Campus (the application for an apartment is very easy via the university website). This was absolutely the right decision!I lived with another German, a Korean and a Chinese in the Westwood Chateaus. These were bigger and more beautiful than I had imagined. Two bedrooms each with a bathroom and a walk-in closet. We also had a balcony, a very large lounge and a kitchen with a microwave, stove, refrigerator and dishwasher. The only downside was that it wasn’t equipped with anything and we didn’t even manage to cook. You just got yourself the bare minimum. And there was no light in our bedroom except for the desk lamps and the mirror light. But that’s less of a problem, since you ‘re almost never at home anyway if you want to take advantage of all the opportunities in LA. There is a laundry room on each floor with two washing machines and two dryers, but they didn’t work well. Nor should you be a cleanliness fanatic living with Internationals, as some of them have different views on cleanliness and order than we do. The registration office is quite a long way away with suitcases on foot, so when you arrive you should ask someone whether you can be powered up or get a taxi.
Another advantage of off-campus is that the entire campus area is a smoke-free zone and on-campus is also a ban on alcohol in the dorms. Many of my new friends lived off-campus and also those who lived on-campus said that off-campus would have been better (due to the dark, narrow rooms and the registration at the entrance of the dorms). It is absolute nonsense to say that you would not notice campus life or meet people if you lived off campus. You have a lot more freedom and can also celebrate small parties. The distances to the dining halls or the lecture rooms are just as far and parking is much better for drivers. In addition, it later turned out that private shared flats or apartments are not much cheaper than university accommodation. The apartments, like the dorms, can only be occupied one day before the start of the session. So if you arrive earlier, you have to find another accommodation beforehand.
I hadn’t booked a meal plan and had to think about where / how to eat every day. Since my roommate had this problem as well, we only ate cereal and small breads for breakfast. With the Bruincard you can also go to the dining halls at any time, here you pay between six to nine dollars depending on the meal and can then eat as much as you want. Regarding the meal plans, it should be said that only the one with the fewest meals per week is really worthwhile, as you are always out on the weekend and the meals then expire. Otherwise there are countless restaurants, shops or fast food in Westwood . There are also some places to shop on campus, especially in the Ackerman Union building above the UCLA store.
The UCLA campus is incomparable to a campus in Germany . On the one hand it is huge (almost all of Westwood belongs to UCLA), on the other hand there are so many opportunities for students to get involved or be active. For example there is a tennis stadium (the William sisters trained here during my time), several tennis courts, three soccer fields (Real Madrid was there for a few days), swimming pools, a huge gym with everything you can imagine, libraries , the UCLA store, where you can get everything you need, a basketball hall, student activity center, etc. Even as a summer session student, you can use all facilities normally.There is plenty of green space to relax in and the famous Fowler Museum or the D. Murphy Sculpture Garden are located on the premises. The paths from the dorms and apartments to the lecture rooms are between 15 and 30 minutes on foot.
As I said, I took the International Finance and English for Academic Purposes ESL32 courses. I had arranged my courses so that both were on the same day, so I only had lectures on Monday and Wednesday, which makes a lot of sense in terms of excursions or leisure activities.
Regarding the finance course, it should be said that it runs like a normal lecture in Germany: You sit with around 100 other internationals and regular students in a lecture hall where the professor is giving a monologue. You had to study for the exams (midterm and final), but the time required was limited. It was also difficult to get in touch with other people here.
The English courses are all structured in a similar way. No exam is written, rather active participation is required in every lecture. Here the grade consists of a discussion, a native speaker interview, two presentations, a survey, two listing / speaking blocks and, most importantly, attendance! In addition, smaller jobs can be done here at home. You have to expect that a lot of Asians visit the university during the summer, especially in the English courses. There were 20 people here, 19 of whom were from Asia. At first I was a bit skeptical, but over time it was really fun to get to know the new culture and to make friends. The English level in this course is not at the highest level … But here you come into contact with many people through various group work in the course or on campus.
In my opinion, the different courses differ significantly in terms of their workload. There are some where you don’t have to do anything, don’t take an exam and get an A, while others were in the library almost every day and had a lot to learn. The difference was clear in our circle of friends. For those who can have their achievements credited at their home university, there are really good courses with little effort to collect a lot of ECTS. Check anycountyprivateschools to see more reviews from current students.
Life and leisure activities
Since I only had university two days a week, the amount of free time was very large, which is urgently needed in a city like LA and basically in California . You quickly get to know new people with whom you can plan and do something. It must also be said that apart from the Asians, everyone else saw the courses or studies as a minor matter and wanted to get to know more of the country, culture and people. Trips to Las Vegas, San Diego , San Francisco or Seattle are a must! During the week you can explore LA, Malibu, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice Beach etc. You are very lucky because Westwood is very well located and one of the nicest and safest districts in LA .
You have to see the typical American house or fraternity parties as well as the parties in Hollywood or the small bars in Westwood. Although there isn’t very much going on in Westwood, there are more restaurants and small shops here. In addition, you can just relax at one of the pools at the Recreation Center, on the beach or at the rooftop of the apartment. The rooftop pool party in the standard hotel in downtown was also an absolute highlight. And of course sports! The gym offers everything an athlete in any direction could want, and you can also rent bicycles or just jog across campus to Bel Air or Beverly Hills. Every Thursday evening there are free concerts in Santa Monica and the Bar O’Haras in Westwood invites you with beer pong. Since there is no ice hockey, basketball or football season during the summer, it was an absolute must to see the college football team open their season . The Six Flaggs amusement park and Universal Studios are also highly recommended. You can also meet stars in Westwood cinemas, as they have at least one film premiere every week. For trips to parks, visits to sports events, etc. you should go to the UCLA ticket office, as you can get discounted prices here.
First of all, it’s pretty expensive fun! Right at the beginning, you have to pay a fair amount of money with visa fee , tuition fees , insurance , registration fee, plane tickets and accommodation. In the USA itself there are then living costs , costs for excursions or shopping, which can vary depending on the leisure activities. However, I am of the opinion that if you have some money left over and saved, you shouldn’t limit yourself because of the money. You only do that once! I also received a travel allowance from the university. One can also contact foundations apply for support. All in all, you need between 6,000 and 10,000 euros, which of course hurts everyone. But when you consider at the same time what a 6-week vacation in the USA would cost without being able to do academic work on the side, it doesn’t take much. The experience, the adventure, the people and the impressions you get are priceless.
I hadn’t rented a car myself, except for a weekend. You can get to Santa Monica, Hollywood or the airport by bus, but you have to expect about an hour’s drive. Of course you need a car for the excursions, but you can rent it together. We also had the advantage that two of our friends rented a car for the entire summer, so excursions were also possible during the week.
I also find it pointless to buy full kitchen equipment for six weeks. You can also take the bare minimums that you bring from home. When leaving, you should note that you normally have to leave the apartments on the last day of the summer session, each additional day (three are possible) costs 45 dollars. Even just ordering the transcripts costs $ 15 per copy. We had less contact with our two flatmates, as they had courses five days a week and were always out on the weekend.