A passport in my hand and 11,088 km were just two weeks away! I was exhilarated by the thought of attending the first session of UCLA Summer Discovery at fifteen with two friends. But my stars had other plans! A heavy bout of tonsillitis led me to a hospital bed! I was devastated and in a dilemma. Should I attend the second session alone or cancel my plans altogether? Three weeks later, I was flying. It was the best decision I ever made!
Stepping on UCLA ground felt too perfect to be true. The community, including RA’s, were all so welcoming. Three weeks full of new opportunities, experiences, and friendships that would turn into family awaited me. Even though I was physically far away from home, UCLA Summer Discovery made me realize that home has no boarders.
My first impression of UCLA’s campus awed me. My favorite dining hall was Rendezvous with boba and burritos. Bowling and go carts were just some of the after-class activities. The grove in the Farmers Market, the open food market Smorgasburg selling donuts, bagels and acai bowls, and some of the best amusement parks I have ever visited - Six Flags and Disneyland - were more than I could wish for. And in all this, making my own decisions and getting the feel of independence thrilled me.
I just loved UCLA’s campus, a buzz with friendly students from diverse cultures who made me feel so alive, invigorated, and part of the global scene that I lived my every day to the fullest as if there was no other! Every person I met was so excited to be there and had a different story to share. I wanted to hear them all as each one is a compelling part of humanity. Many friends I made from around the world are part of my life to this day.
Grabbing my coffee from café 1919 and passing through the Drake track and field stadium felt like this was the place to be. My Healthy Lifestyle course was a great way to start each day. From meditation to mindfulness exercises. From soul cycles to nutrition plans. As a rhythmic gymnast, it was amazing to step into the gymnastics center where top gymnasts, such as Katelyn Ohashi, train. Laughing and eating pizza outside the dorms, analysing DNA, taking fingerprints, and collecting crime scene evidence were all a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I was not alone at all these three weeks as my family and friends had expanded. I realised how even small moments can transform into lifelong experiences. When I left, I took this whole vibrant and stimulating atmosphere of UCLA Summer Discovery with me. It definitely had everything. But my ultimate reward? It revealed so much about myself.