Dec 1, 2016

The founding principle of all the activities of Zdenek and Michaela Bakala is, truly, the courage, which must, according to their belief, always go hand in hand with responsibility.
Visit site Bakala Philanthropy.

English   |   Français

Constant Bonard - report


From the 1st of January until the 23rd of April 2014.


University of California, Los Angeles




UCLA is a great universtiy, in both senses of the term. With more than 40'000 students and a public status, it still is among the best ranked universities and considered a "Public Ivy" along with Berkely or University of Michigan, being a state university with a level of teaching and experience competing with Yale, Harvard, Princeton or other private univerities in the US. Moreover, its campus is very beautiful, mixing 19th and 20th century architectures of high standards, numerous and enormous palm trees, as well as sculptures by such as Rodin, Matisse, or Calder.

My experience in LA has been very positive as well. Its impressive crowd and humongous size –Greater LA is three times the Swiss population and two times its size– is certainly hard to manage effortlessly for a stranger and it is easy to find oneself in a place where everything seems to be too far away or, if unadvised, in worse places. Anyhow, I was lucky enough to have a friend of a friend living there and who introduced me to several people with whom I discovered the cities within the city from locals' experience. I also got lent a two-wheeler with which I couldn't take the highways but that has been indispensable. When needing to go across the city, you often need to take the highway and I hesitated to rent a car. But I ended living in Silverlake, one of the only neighborhood where it is not completely unusual that people walk to work or restaurants so I just happily stuck to the moped.


What took me the most preparation was being accepted in the exchange organized by UNIGE and UCLA, get a VISA and the money for the stay but the rest was very briefly organized and worked out well.


My first flatmate came to pick me up at the airport. It is often inevitable as the public transport from the airport are slow and very confusing and taxis can be expensive depending on where in LA one would live.


I found my first accommodation through acquaintance but I then used Craigslist, which worked out well. For UCLA students who don't want to or just can't in live on, or next to, the campus –which is in Westwood Village, a nice but perhaps a little pricey (and boring) neighborhood– I recommend first staying in a place (maybe a hostel) and then find an accommodation for the rest of the stay by using Craigslist or other websites of the same kind. It is very hard to find something in advance on the internet beside what the universtiy has to offer but quite easy while in the area. The best neighborhoods according to most people that I met are Silverlake, Echo Park and Los Feliz, although it can take 1h to get to the campus from those places in rush hour.


I didn't spend much time on the campus beside when I was studying. The people with whom I hung out the most were for the most part not living in Westwood Village although I am sure that one can find a very pleasing and rich experience just by staying on the campus. My classmates were all nice and I will keep in touch with a few of them but I guess I had found friends who weren't UCLA students when I arrived and I thus didn't try to integrate much in the university life.


The Angelinos are, for the most part, really laid back and easy going and I found it easy to have fun and make friends with people I met there. I have heard though that some experiences are not so positive for other Europeans as it is not always easy to find the right spots without locals' advices. It is indeed quite necessary to know where to go out, for instance, as there is no real city center where one could walk around and bump into a nice place by chance. Anyway, if one finds the right places to hike, eat, or go to gigs, LA is full of awesome things to do and has one of the best night lives I have experienced (it resembles London but is much cheaper).



Constant Bonard - photos

music building@ucka
westwood cinema

© Fondation Zdenek et Michaela Bakala