University of California, Los Angeles orientation represents a hyperbolized version of freshman year at UCLA. Professors will lecture you in a room filled with strangers. You will walk for miles over hills in the heat. You will get lost going to the bathroom. People will ask you what your major is twice every hour. Second Year and New Student Advisor Maripau Paz said, “It is a packed three days but I am convinced that they leave students prepared and excited for UCLA.” Although orientation will provide you with the basic skills to thrive as a UCLA student, the extensive curriculum is bound to leave off a few minor details.
Ready to call yourself a Bruin? Check out 10 things you’ll need to know before you start at UCLA.
1. You will skip morning classes
Going to bed at a reasonable hour proves impossible when you can hear relationships being made right outside your door (literally…it’s gross). FOMO-induced sleep deprivation affects us all. The cure? Sleeping in, right through your 9 a.m. lecture, your 10:30 a.m. discussion and 12 p.m. office hours. “Morning classes are like New Year’s resolutions. They are something great to aspire to, but they are tricky to pull off,” third year math and economics major Riley Davis said.
2. You’ll look like a freshman with a tray
Using a tray in a dining hall ensures being labeled “freshman” by students sitting three flatbread stations away from you. I have absolutely no idea why the vast majority of UCLA students neglects to use this practical means of maximizing food intake, but you should accept this reality sooner rather than later.
3. You will get sick
You will get sick so often in college that you will actually acknowledge and appreciate when you can breathe out of both nostrils and finish a sentence without coughing. Turns out, thousands of teenagers packed into closets like sardines increases the germ count exponentially. Germs will literally surround you at all times. Drink as many green juices as you want, but you will find no escape.
4. You’ll use BruinWalk.com more than Facebook
Coming into UCLA, you can probably call yourself an over-achiever. This will more than likely manifest in misplaced optimism regarding your academic capabilities. An upper div neuroscience class? Sounds perfect for an English major. An 8 a.m. lecture on atmospheric sciences? Sign me up! No. Do yourself a favor and do your research. Make BruinWalk your new homepage and familiarize yourself with the art of optimizing grade distributions.
5. You’ll regret taking GE Clusters
During orientation, advisors will shove general education clusters down your naive throat. I think this is an imposed Social Darwinism exercise to wean out the weak. Basically, a cluster entails taking one class all three quarters your freshman year. The topic will develop over time, and in my case, will become increasingly impossible to manage. If you survive, you’ll get an extra GE credit and a Writing 2 credit. During orientation, advisors told me I would get “more bang for my buck,” an apt statement if by “bang” they meant existential crises while writing B- essays and by “buck” they meant thousands of hours alone in a cubicle dissecting the nonsense that is Marx.
6. You’ll turn up Thursday–Saturday
Remember when I advised you against scheduling morning classes? I would also encourage avoiding afternoon classes, or classes altogether, on Fridays. For some ungodly reason, an anonymous heathen decided at a time unbeknownst to literally anyone to pick an arbitrary WEEKDAY for parties. Students (and their attendance) suffered ever since.
7. You’ll buy a premium meal plan just to make friends
Prepare for freeloading upperclassmen. Within five minutes of meeting literally ANY student who lives off campus, you will be asked which meal plan you have. Premium means you can swipe people in, and let’s be real—food can motivate anything, even (especially) friendships.
8. You’ll praise the ground your TA walks on
You will never have a conversation with your professors freshman year. Correction: You will never make eye contact with your professors freshman year. Ginormous general education classes will swallow you, and unless you do some serious kissing up during office hours, your professor will never know your name. On the other hand, your TA will grade your essays, assign your homework and potentially make your life miserable. “My experience with TA’s is similar with buying textbooks. Sometimes they are super helpful and save your grade,” Davis said, who went on to mention that TA’s could also be less helpful. It’s a tossup, TBH.
9. You’ll miss living with your little sibling
I once overheard my roommates in a heated discussion about who the Jesus is in every religion. This conversation was followed by a long pause and a mumbled “There’s a black Jesus… right?” You will survive your living situation. Plus, the more you suffer, the more you’ll gain in ridiculous party stories. I tell pretty much every stranger I meet that one of my roommates was engaged and that her 30-year-old fiance quickly became our fourth roommate.
10. You’ll find “your people” eventually… but maybe not at orientation
You may not be able to shove your dining hall friends into bridesmaids dresses right away…unless you have a premium meal plan (see #8). Orientation won’t hand you your best friends. But it can facilitate friendships that will make a terrifying situation slightly less daunting. Third Year New Student Advisor Mathew Santiago thinks the most important part of orientation is one that can’t be taught. “UCLA is so much more than its academia.” Santiago also thinks you can’t teach the most important part of orientation. “Students should come into orientation and meet other people.” Beyond that, Davis suggests making as many connections as you can. “I met a pretty cool janitor last year. We may not be close friends, we never even learned each other’s names, but now there is one more friendly face I might run into.”