One of my biggest dreams was always to see Hollywood and all the stars. Since I had been thinking about studying abroad for future job prospects for a long time, but I didn’t want to “waste” a whole semester on my actual studies, I decided on the summer sessions at UCLA. You didn’t even need a TOEFL test for this, you only needed proof of English language courses from university or high school. According to Abbreviationfinder, UCLA is the abbreviation of University of California Los Angeles.
I had taken the courses English as a second Language ESL 33c (three times in the morning 3 hours) and Management 180 (twice in the afternoon 2 hours), so that I had Tuesdays and Fridays off and could go on long excursions at the weekend. With management you didn’t have to do much, no exams, sometimes a little homework and during the class there was mostly group work, which for example consisted of presenting your own strengths and weaknesses to the other group members. But it never got boring, as Prof. Ullmen was very committed and we were also allowed to interpret scenes from films or create our own advertising campaign. English, on the other hand, was a bit more demanding. We had 3 in-class essays, a research paper and always a lot of homework. It was quite schooled because we often had to do exercises from the book in group work. But the atmosphere was very nice, as the fellow students, mostly from Asia, were always good for a funny surprise and our lecturer always motivated us very much. In the management course, on the other hand, we were mostly Germans, although it was possible to talk in German during group work.
Americans are less likely to be found at the summer sessions, as they are mostly on vacation. So the student area of Westwood looked very empty. It was the same in most other parts of Los Angeles – quite the opposite of San Francisco. And Hollywood was always packed – especially for premieres like the premiere of Inglourious Basterds. There are also premieres in the Fox-cinema in Westwood, so I was able to witness Final Destination4 and Whiteout with Kate Beckinsale.
I lived with my girlfriend in an off-campus apartment in the quiet Gayley Towers. The room was very nice and comfortably furnished with an open kitchen with microwave and dishwasher (only dishes and pots and dishes were not available). It was also very large with a couch, armchair, 2 desks, closet + walk-in closet, air conditioning, fan and you still had enough space to walk. There was also a separate bathroom with a bathtub and everything was reasonably clean. The way to the courses, however, took 20 to 25 minutes, as UCLA has a huge campus. You can also use the fitness center or the more distant pool in the Recreation Center for free.
We either cooked ourselves or got something on the way. However, you can also eat in the Sproud Hall cafeteria. They mainly serve pizza and burgers, so that most people with the meal plan didn’t feel like eating after just 2 weeks. In every apartment there is internet and TV connection, otherwise you can use the PCs in the Powell Library, where you can also print out documents.
You should definitely visit the nearby Getty Museum. Actually, contrary to its reputation, everything in LA can be reached easily by bus, you only have to go through the system with the various providers once. The Metro Bus 2 runs from campus to Hollywood, where the Walk of Fame, the Kodak Theater and the famous Hollywood clubs are. The Big Blue buses go to Santa Monica and Venice Beach. You should definitely see Third Street Promenade and St. Monica Pier at night and of course the endless beaches of Venice. A detour to Malibu is also worthwhile, very good for surfing.
The other things that you should experience are the Farmers Market, a nice little outdoor mall in the style of a small Italian town, Melrose Place, Downtown, Marina del Rey and of course Rodeo Drive. Bel Air and Beverly Hills mansions such as the Playboy Mansion are within walking distance.
Of course you should use the long weekends for longer trips. We were still in Las Vegas, San Diego and San Francisco. You should plan at least 2 days on site for all cities to see everything. San Francisco can be reached cheaply by plane because it is still a lot further away than Las Vegas. Oh yes, and you should plan some space in your suitcase for items from the outlet!
So I can only recommend the Summer Sessions at UCLA to everyone and I would do it again at any time, even if the costs are not negligible. It was really fun and I made a lot of new friends! Finally, a big thank you to Annika Uhlig, who was always happy to answer all questions!