Erfahrungsbericht: Kenneth Alexander Grodotzki

„Never let an opportunity pass you by. Enjoy your life!“

General information regarding studying conditions:
Each lecturer has been quite experienced, successful in his or her field of work, interested in teaching, and friendly. The conveyed content was highly relevant regarding current issues and challenges within the business world. The participants of the certificate are a mixture of international students and working professionals that take further education beside their jobs.

As an international student you can take three to four courses a quarter without worrying about the final grades. There is plenty of time to enjoy your free time. I definitely would recommend taking courses on three consecutive days so that you can take advantage of the four free days in order to be able to travel longer distances. All courses start at 5pm at the earliest so you can sleep long and take advantage of the nightlife around.

Challenge:
As an international student I would have liked having all my courses located at the UCLA Extension in Westwood close to the UCLA campus. Every quarter, several courses are offered in this location but if you would like to finish the project management certificate in six months it's difficult to avoid travelling through Los Angeles. Of course, this way I've seen areas of L.A. that I wouldn't have gone to.

People:
Generally, the Americans are very easy to get in touch with. Everywhere, you are welcomedquite friendly. It's true that Americans tend to be superficial sometimes so the first expectations to meet friends for life might not be met every time. However, if you are open for new and a social person you will find a lot of great people to keep in touch for a long time!

I assume, the weather in L.A. makes the people happy!

Los Angeles:
The area UCLA Extension is located definitely is a nice place to live. Due of the high number of students at the UCLA the area is quite characterized by student life. Cheap restaurants, bars, student apartments, and frat parties: all that can be found a lot in this part of L.A. In addition you are allowed to take advantage of most of the sports offered at the UCLA (for fifty bucks a quarter you can use the Gym and take many courses). Even the library is a nice place to study for your midterms and final exams.

Westwood is mainly surrounded by wealthy areas (but even Westwood is a very beautiful quarter with several expensive areas). Beverly Hills, Brentwood, and Bel Air are adjacent to it. Whereas Brentwood and Bel Air are mainly quiet quarters that are good for nice and relaxing walks, Beverly Hills has a lot of student life to offer. Especially house parties are a good way to enjoy the student life. By bus, Santa Monica is only about 15 minutes away.

An incredibly huge beach as well as a nice city and a nice nightlife make many people come to this beautiful spot right at the coast every day. In walking distance to Venice Beach, and by bike around 30 minutes from Malibu it's a perfect place to spent many days and weeks.

The best places to go out are - beside Westwood and Santa Monica - West Hollywood (many gay places) and Hollywood itself.

Downtown, El Segundo (area around the airport), and other parts of L.A. far away from Westwood don't have much to offer - at least as far as I know. For one of my courses I had to go Downtown (by bus $1.50). It's quite impressive but for students there are not many things to do - beside going to the Citadel outlet center ;-)

Of course, I'm only talking about the city itself. Sure thing, there are a lot of events going on! Nearly every day, in Hollywood or Downtown celebrities have events, car producers present their newest inventions, or the Kings win the Stanley Cup ;-)

Costs (of living and travelling):
Depending on the country or area you come from, L.A. might seem quite expensive. Well, it definitely is not one of the cheapest places to study. However, it has a lot of  things to offer and I think that the education at the UCLA (Extension) is quite good.

Unfortunately, as an UCLA Extension student you are not allowed to stay in an apartment right on Campus. Hence, you have to find a place by yourself. There are several possibilities to search for it. I can recommend uloop.com and craigslist.com. The monthly rent mainly depends on the way you want to live. You can share a room and bathroom from $450 per month.

As an average rate you probably should expect $750. Own studios start at around $1300 per month. I was very lucky. I finally found a private room and bathroom for $925 per month and I just shared the apartment with a very friendly older couple that searched for a tenant.

I can recommend going to L.A. a few weeks before your certificate starts in order to have enough time to find the right place to live. I've stayed three weeks in a hotel. (Only take the Claremont Hotel at Tiverton! It's by far the cheapest hotel around.) If possible, avoid coming to L.A. at the beginning of a quarter. I made the experience that especially after Spring Break it's not so easy to find a place quickly.

For textbooks I can recommend creating an amazon.com account in order to search for books right online. You can often find used books much cheaper than at the UCLA Extension store. I would expect spending around $150-200 per quarter on textbooks.

Food in general is a bit more expensive than in other countries. Depending on what you would like to eat and how much and where you spend between $10 and $20 bucks a day. It's difficult to tell an exact number since everyone has different habits.

I've been travelling by car all the time and to every place. Renting a car and gas are quite cheap, especially if you travel with two or more persons. The expenses for hotels highly depend on where you would like to stay and on your demands. The hotels along the Road 1 as well as the ones directly located at one of the National Parks are quite expensive. Very popular is the motel chain Motel 6. The service has been quite good and the relation between price and comfort is very good I think.

Travelling in California:
The quarters at the UCLA extension (especially the spring and summer quarter) follow each other without any break. Hence, you might have to find possibilities to travel during the quarters, sometimes. I only missed one class during the six months. So I travelled many weeks from Friday morning to Tuesday noon, since all the classes take place in the afternoon and at night.
 
During my stay, I was quite focused on California itself. I've been travelling along the famous Road 1 with many nice places like Carmel, Monterey, ending in San Francisco. It's a beautiful trip. I've been to Davis, the capital Sacramento, and several times in San Diego and Temecula. Beside the cities, all National Parks are highly recommendable. Yosemite, the area around Mammoth Lakes, Bristol Cone Pine, and Death Valley offer incredibly stunning landscapes.

Outside California, I've been travelling to Las Vegas twice and to the Grand Canyon once. Going to the GC I can recommend two things: Going by car in order to visit the Hoover Dam on the way and going to the South Rim. The "famous" Skywalk has the shortest distance to Las Vegas, since it's located right at the West End of the Grand Canyon. However, I enjoyed hiking along a bit more non-touristic routes with incredible views.

My advice: Travel as much as you can! Take advantage of all events you like in Los Angeles but go travelling! California has so so much to offer. It's simply incredible!

Conclusion:
In the case you like to have a good education combined with a great surrounding, great people, and many nice possibilities to travel, Los Angeles is a perfect place to live. People are easy to get in touch with and you stay right in the heart of California. And - for sure - the weather is simply impressive!

A lot of things can be done right in L.A., in Santa Monica, or in the areas around. Of course, the high expenses have to be taken into consideration. I think, for UCLA Extension students it's not so easy to get financial support but it's always worth to give it a shot!

Enjoy your stay!