What were some of your first impressions when you started your time studying abroad?
My first impression was how absolutely gorgeous the campus was – like something you see in a film. Soaring burnt-red brick buildings that stand with the grandeur of a church against bright blue skies and lots of green grass. Funnily enough, UCLA is the most frequently used campus for television and films, which have included Legally Blonde, Gilmour Girls and American Pie!
I also loved the energy on campus. It was obvious people really wanted to be there, were proud of their university and keen to make the most of their time there. You couldn’t help feeling energised by it and, perhaps due to the campus set-up, immediately part of a community.
What activities outside of your studies did you get involved in?
One day a week I had an internship (unpaid) in West Hollywood; working for a health and beauty start-up which delivers customised vitamins and supplements each month. There were only 10 of us in the office so I had lots of opportunity to really get involved in the marketing and social media side of the business. As well as liaising with their PR firm in New York. I really enjoyed being involved with something outside of the campus, and learnt a lot from my colleagues.
On campus, I would go to the basketball and football games in their huge stadium, and I loved walking around the UCLA sculpture garden which, amazingly, included works by Henri Matisse and Barbara Hepworth.
What places nearby did you visit during your time there?
I had lots of time to travel. Being based in sprawling Los Angeles there was always something new and interesting to discover! Great art galleries (like the Getty); parks; hiking; beaches; markets.
We would drive to Malibu on weekends to swim in the sea (where I once saw four dolphins!) and Joshua Tree National Park.
During ‘Spring Break’ I went to Mexico and Costa Rica with some American friends and was able to visit other Edinburgh students on their year abroad at Virginia and Washington DC. It was great to see how different the East Coast was.