I’ll be entirely honest with you: when I was looking at where I wanted to go for college, I had somewhat ruled out Los Angeles in my mind. It was nothing against LA or the universities or people here, it was simply because I was itching to get away from my home in Phoenix and go as far as I could so I could really see someplace new and feel like I was really starting fresh. Don’t get me wrong, I love my home, family, and all the things that Arizona means for me. I just had spent 18 years of my life growing up there and was ready to move on, and what better time than in college. Los Angeles just didn’t feel far enough away for me being 370 miles away rather than 1000. Now I can see how wrong I was and can’t imagine being anywhere else for these four years.

I know it might seem completely off that I wasn’t looking to come to Los Angeles for university. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in a city with sunny blue skies, a downtown city and a multiple beaches a drive away, thousands of out-of-the-box restaurants, museums and concerts and unique adventure opportunities. I truly see that now and have tried in this past semester being back near campus to soak it all in, though it can be a bit overwhelming. 

But that’s the thing, you don’t have to try to fit all these experiences into one weekend or one semester even. Granted COVID has changed the trajectory of many of our college years, but I’m determined not let that stop me from jumping back into the exciting LA I knew a year ago. These experiences don’t have to be grand events or life-changing spontaneous adventures! They can be the simple enjoyments of living in LA, like having a range of dessert options for a quick pick me up on a study night or enjoying a leisurely Saturday morning thrift shopping on Melrose Ave or escaping to the beach by yourself just to get a break from things.

The wild concerts (that will hopefully return soon enough!), the hiking and camping trips out of town, the full days spent at Universal Studios and Disneyland or exploring DTLA or Hollywood; Those are all wonderful and thrilling aspects of being in such a lively, well-located city full of resources and sights to see. For me though, the thing that makes this crazy, energetic, blue-skied city the best home for these four years are the countless interactions I get to have on a daily basis, the range of relationships I’ve been able to develop, the hole-in-the-wall places I’ve found that just scream “LA” to me, the sight of the downtown skyline as I walk home from the Village, the golden light on the hills while I Lyft back to campus,
and just sitting in the thought that I live here! That I get to have these wild experiences at the tip of my finger but I also get to have those normal, everyday moments that stir up my appreciation and continued disbelief that this is where I live and study.

Just tonight even, I went out to an Italian restaurant on Melrose Ave with a friend of mine from the Student Alumni Society and not only did we walk out of there stuffed with delicious pizza, ricotta cheese, and pork belly, but we walked out with two more friends! Our initial discussion with our waitress had us learn that she is an artist specializing in oil paintings centered on spiritual themes and the manager of the restaurant, who stopped by thinking I looked familiar (we have never met), got talking with us about her mother’s jewelry and the importance of a strong hair tie for your keys (pro tip: get a hair coil and loop your keychain onto that to put on your wrist! You’ll never lose your keys). Now we all connected on Instagram and plan to go thrift shopping and have a painting-picnic soon! It’s those random little interactions and human connections that remind me why I love living here, even when the engine revvings are seemingly non-stop and the traffic triples my transit time. 

What a place to be…

Gianna Beck

Gianna Beck

MAJOR: Computer Science (Games) YEAR: Class of 2023 HOMETOWN: Phoenix, Arizona PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @gianna__b I'm involved with computer science research investigating affective gesturing in robots in the Interaction Lab along with being a Freshman Engineering Academy Coach. Outside of Viterbi, I'm a part of Greek Life, SC Climbing, the Student Alumni Society leadership board, and I am a volunteer at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.