My UCLA Experience

Hi readers,

Happy May! To Bruins, May means midterm season of spring quarter. To us senior Bruins, it means the last quarter of our undergraduate career.

My UCLA experience has been a bit non-traditional. I transferred into the Henry Samueli School of Engineering from community college. And boy, was that an experience.

baby rika graduating from CC

My first year was all about adjustment. Getting used to Los Angeles. Getting used to the huge campus. Getting used to the workload and expectations of professors. Even just getting used to living on my own with roommates.

UCLA is like a mini city. Although most students here are go-getters and leaders, you can definitely see the variety of personalities as people bring their unique backgrounds and histories here to the campus.

rainy day in westwood

Academically, I quickly found out that engineering was not for me. Hmph. For a series of 6 months I worked very hard personally and professionally in order to switch my major. Who do I talk to? Where do I go? The resources are here, I just needed to take advantage of them. Thankfully, the program I could successfully switch into with all my credits, miraculously, was also a program that I had interest in. Soon, I became enveloped in my new major: environmental science.

my old engineering formula sheet

I knew I was on the right track when I wanted to study. I wanted to put in the time to learn the material. I did so well that I picked up my bruised GPA and was feeling more confident in myself.

Throughout this time I was a part of the campus’ largest film society. I made a lot of friends and it helped me not obsess over grades as much as I normally do. I hopped around different environmental clubs but I finally found one that I really liked. I loved learning and absorbing as much information as I could. I enjoyed it so much that I became one of the project managers the next year. Soon, I led other sustainability projects. There’s just so much to do and I wanted to do it all (and I am still trying to do it all haha!).

I feel like I finally was myself again. The campus provided me with opportunities to play my strengths (aka my extreme conscientiousness) and to work on my weaknesses (public speaking).

Sure, the campus has had its fair share of scandals, and it was exhilarating whenever you saw an athlete or a renowned professor, but you were also surrounded by many talented students who had their own unique niches.

Just as in life, your college experience is what you make of it. If you think you’re only going to grow academically from your college career, think again, Bucko.

My advice to new students or current students is to not obsess over GPA unhealthily, to attend a lot of club meetings and find one club that sticks, and to put away your dang phones in class. It’s a privilege to attend UCLA, and we must value all the time we have here. Because it flies by fast.

poorly scanned picture of my grad photo

~Rika

my honey supporting me since day 001

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