Well, I’ve officially been living in Los Angeles for almost two months now, and it sure has been busy! My time since arriving in mid-May has been fun, difficult, surprising and a plethora of other descriptors. The fact that I’m only just now getting a chance to blog speaks to just how busy I’ve been, but it’s truly been a great experience thus far. I’ve somehow managed to balance work, school and fun — and I must say, I’m “adulting” pretty well! Keep reading to hear more about my transition to living in a big city and starting graduate school, and all the other experiences I’ve had along the way!
After driving across the country from Alabama to California in seven days, I was incredibly tired (read more about that trip here). I had about three days to settle into my new dorm and get myself ready for orientation. I took those days to unpack, get groceries and more than anything just sleep and relax before I got thrown into my accelerated 1-year master’s degree program.
In those moments of relaxation, I found myself very confused because my emotions were all over the place. I was excited, but at the same time sad, stressed, but yet relaxed. I hadn’t had much time to just process all that I was doing. I had just graduated summa cum laude from the University of Alabama with honors, and I got to relish in that moment with family and friends. I had just moved to Los Angeles and seen some amazing natural wonders along the way which really filled my spirit and huge interest in traveling. I was about to start the pursuit of a Master of Science in Marketing degree at the accredited University of Southern California. But at the same time, I had just uprooted my entire life and moved away from the majority of my friends and essentially all of my family members as they predominantly live in the southeast. I was nervous about starting such a rigorous academic opportunity. And while my best friend, Chloe (pictured above in the title image), lives in LA, I was worried about the process of making new friends.
I was in all all senses of the phrase, out of my comfort zone. But, I realized that growth comes from being uncomfortable, and I decided to completely fall into that mindset and focus on all of the opportunities presented in front of me. And so, my incredible next two months began.
I walked into orientation with confidence on my side. For those that know me personally, I dealt with social anxiety during my undergraduate career and while it didn’t inhibit me from making close friends and building relationships, it did limit how socially active I was and I wanted to make a conscious effort to do better this time around. I introduced myself to others, talked with all kind of different students and allowed my true personality to shine through much earlier than I usually would. I walked into orientation a bit nervous that my colleagues would be incredibly competitive and cut-throat, but I left orientation with such reassurance in my choice of USC. I even went to happy hour with a few of my classmates afterwards to wind down from our long 9-hour day!
Following orientation, I only continued to build relationships with all of my classmates and in the first few weeks we had gotten closer than I could have even imagined. I was also able to connect with Chloe and she helped to acclimate me to my new life. She gave me a tour around campus and gave me a guide for places to visit, eat and overall just good advice for living in the city. We even went to Las Vegas with a few of her friends for Memorial Day weekend and I was able to make even more friends! She’s been super helpful and has certainly kept me on my toes. Whether it’s chill wine nights, parties downtown after class, celebrity-hosted parties in Beverly Hills or brunch and mimosas, she’s certainly helped me to de-stress with some fun.
On a less fun note, school has been quite tiresome. Grad school is no joke, but nothing good comes easy. I’m currently taking 4 classes as a full time student: Communications for Management, Business Analytics, Consumer Behavior and Marketing Management. All are difficult and require hours on hours of work, but they are challenging me and are incredibly valuable. I’ve learned how to use data processing software, prepare case studies, perform integrated strategic marketing plans and even how to better network with others. I’m building connections with my class mates, my professors and business leaders who I aspire to be like and it honestly feels amazing.
The last aspect of my life that is time consuming but incredibly relevant is work. LA is not cheap, and it is even more expensive since I’m transitioning from living in Alabama for the last 4 years. So, I needed to find a means of income just to support daily life. I applied for every food and grocery delivery service you can think of, and even some interesting ones like Saucey which delivers alcohol. Since LA is such a large city, that market was already saturated and most didn’t have open positions. So, I turned to dog sitting and walking. After background checks and testimonials from friends and family, I began taking care of pups through Rover and Wag. Its a decent gig since I get to hang out and walk cute dogs in my spare time, but it can sometimes be frustrating. You have to drive to each dog, and as everyone knows, LA traffic is terrible. I learned that on my first day of living in the city and because of that it can be difficult to get to some dogs in a reasonable amount of time for what it’s worth. As well, while most of the dogs I’ve walked have been great, some are more anxious than other, some live in areas that aren’t great for them and some don’t even like walking! It requires a lot of patience, but you really never know what you’re in for. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed hanging out with some doggies, especially since I’m thousands of miles away from my own, and it’s nice to make some extra money while doing it!
I also applied for and and was chosen to be one of three graduate assistants for the program! The three of us have created a plan to market the program through social media, blog content and website updates. That opportunity is proving to be a great way to get to know the program leaders well, and it helps me, my cohort and prospective students stay up to date and informed about all that the program does and has to offer.
To top off my California experience, I experienced my first earthquake — or rather earthquakes! Over the July 4th weekend I was dog sitting in West Hollywood when the bed I was laying on began to sway back and forth. The dogs of course jumped up and started barking, and me being oblivious assumed that the motion was from some intense construction going on at the house next door. It wasn’t until 40 minutes later when I checked my social media and saw my friends posting about it that I realized it was an earthquake! It wasn’t what I imagined since it was much more fluid than abrupt and it really just felt like I was on a boat that was rocking on the waves. It wasn’t until the next day when an even stronger earthquake hit that I was really shook up ... literally! This time it was much more abrupt, and it lasted incredibly long relative to the first. While there was no damage I did feel incredibly dizzy after and I actually got a headache from the motion of it all. It was at that point that I realized how scary they are and that simply googling what to do in an earthquake and not reading any of the information (like I did the first time) wasn’t going to help me.
So, my first two months of living in Los Angeles have been great! I’ve road-tripped to Las Vegas, had an authentic Korean barbecue experience with my classmates, bar hopped in West Hollywood for PRIDE, seen celebrities like Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, JR Smith, John Wall, Jacques and Dreezy in Beverly Hills, and so much more. Even now as I write this, I’m realizing just how many amazing memories I have already made. Sure I’ve had some ups and downs, but the good far outweighs the bad and I’m more excited for the future than ever before!
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