If you are thinking about college in the city of angels or already enrolled in one of the great Universities, there will definitely be some struggles that come with going to school in Los Angeles. Don’t get it twisted, though, all these tough challenges are worth it once you nail how to maneuver around the city like a pro.
1) Everyone seems to have connections to “The Industry”?
Chances are good you’ll meet a fellow student who knows a friend who’s dated Mel Gibson’s son. The seven degrees of Kevin Bacon is a real thing in Los Angeles. Everyone seems to be connected by a TV producer who works in Hollywood. Even if you are studying chemical engineering at USC (a HUGE film school), you may end up being an extra in a student film your cinematographer roommate needs to shoot. Also, it should be noted that a LOT of people go to school in Los Angeles for film.
2) Why does my GPS always want to take me on the 405 or I-10?
If you are one of the lucky few who travels outside of Los Angeles with a car, you’ll have to get used to the struggle of the “freeway”. More specifically, the crowded 405. I-10 also, basically, leads you anywhere you want to go. It’s possible to avoid the highways with your GPS, but it’ll take you 20 more minutes to get to your destination.
3) There’s always someone from California who doesn’t understand the weather.
I don’t want to make it seem like all the students in your class will be out-of-staters. You’ll have a ton of Californians who transplant from “the bay area” or San Diego. These kids don’t know how to drive in snow if they grew up in California. To be honest, none of the Cali people know what rain or cold is. Please be kind. Don’t make fun of them when they walk down the street in a parka in October.
4) You want to do everything, like see Mulholland Drive, but are discouraged by traffic.
Going along with the traffic theme, you’ll struggle with managing your time in Los Angeles. School is important, but you have to see the Hollywood sign, LACMA, etc. Whether you have your own car or not, you may put off doing these things because traffic is always bad. Even the most experienced Uber driver will dread taking you far from campus to the other side of L.A. County.
5) Competing for internships and jobs can be tedious.
Depending on what you study, Los Angeles is filled with varying competition. There are about 230 colleges in Los Angeles and the surrounding area. That means thousands of students in your field are applying for the same position. Luckily, there are hundreds of opportunities in this ginormous city, so definitely talk to your advisor about the resources to find them.
6) The sporting events won’t be quite the same for you as it is for other schools.
If you are like me and from the Midwest, you are used to getting your jacket and heading to the local football game hours earlier just to tailgate with family and friends. UCLA and other schools have football, of course, but the spirit isn’t the same. Los Angeles is more of basketball city. And if you are a baseball fan, you won’t have the large group of fans with you that you would have if, say, you were going to school in Chicago or New York.
7) People speak differently in Los Angeles.
I personally struggled to explain to Angelinos that “pop” is the same as “soda”. Some people have a valley accent, too. Don’t be discouraged by being made fun of. This just means you are like the rest of the United States, minus Los Angeles.
8) You may have to Uber or Lyft everywhere if you want to bar hop.
This was the main thing I personally struggled with while going to school in Los Angeles. I wanted to experience Halloween downtown and on Hollywood Blvd., but those Lyft prices added up. And I guarantee you are going to want to do things on Holidays, which only means the prices for Ubers go up three times.
9) You will likely have to get used to the diverse food… and food trucks.
On top of wanting to experience nearly everything and go everywhere, eateries should be at the top of your list. There are so many unique cafes, bars, and restaurants that are unique to the city. Since Los Angeles has a huge variety of cultures, this means a huge variety of foods your stomach may not be used to. Be careful when venturing into new foods and be wary of eating the corn on the cob from the food carts. They are delicious but don’t expect to stay the same weight if you keep eating like this.
10) You will be broke.
From more expensive groceries to all the events you’ll want to do (i.e. Disneyland during Christmas), you will have no money left for rent or a trip to see friends at home. It’s always smart to keep an eye out for unsuspecting charges, like parking fees you didn’t know you would have to pay at Santa Monica. Keep in mind that you are going to school in Los Angeles, which also means school events, books, and possibly conferences you will be required to attend for a course.