I’m going to be entirely honest: living in Los Angeles can be kinda overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a super fun place to be during your college years. A place with a million concerts, movie showings, restaurants, tourist experiences, and the usual city-living activities, all within a 5-15 mile radius (which could be an hour or more away depending on traffic though). I never thought I’d go to college in LA and yet here I am, trying to experience all this crazy city has to offer me, and I can’t imagine myself going to school anywhere else. It’s the perfect place for me during this age range of 18-22 years old. That being said, the Arizona girl in me sometimes gets worn out by the loud cars and sirens, grows impatient in the traffic backups, tires of the “concrete jungle around me, and craves the outdoors- some mountains and hills, cactus, trees, flowers, and, of course, the ocean- or just needs a little more space to myself away from all the stimulus. The thing that really balances out the hubbub of LA is that it is also such an interconnected city at the midpoint of so many beautiful California spots. Within 1-2 hours you can be up or down the coast or even inland towards the snowy mountains of Big Bear, getting your dose of outdoors-iness and taking a break. That’s exactly what President’s Day weekend was for me, a chance to dip up to Santa Barbara to visit a friend and have an escapist vacation in less than 2 days.

A close friend of mine and I decided that a drive up to Santa Barbara to visit her sister was exactly what we needed amidst the craziness of February, so we dreamily cruised up Pacific Coast Highway, blasting our most fitting beach rock songs with the windows down and our hair blowing. (Though I’d like to think we looked like a picture perfect coming-of-age movie, we probably looked crazy with our hair knotting into bird’s nest in the wind, dancing wildly to our songs, and screaming to talk over the wind, but we certainly felt like we were having a main character moment) Once we got up to Santa Barbara, we stayed with my friend’s sister at UC Santa Barbara, catching a drive-in movie that night and feasting on a convenience store haul of candy. The next day was a lovely, slow day which we filled with a tasty Trader Joes lunch, a fairly demanding hike up to some natural hot springs in the area, hefty hand burgers in the easily walkable town of Isla Vista nearby, and working on homework in the evening (the STEM grind never stops my friends). Tucked into the afternoon though, we caught a beautiful peachy sunset at the Campus Point looking out over the coast as students played football on the beach down below, surfers cruised into the rocky shore, and others had a photoshoot in the yellow wildflowers nearby. It was exactly the kind of getaway my friend and I both needed after putting in our all during the school weeks. And after a yummy brunch the next morning, we jumped back in my little Hyundai Tucson to cruise back down the PCH to our lovely South Central campus here in LA. Though it was a lovely little escape from daily life, it was very comforting to see the tall globe tower of the humanities building in the distance, pull up next to the Study Hall restaurant while SC students watched the latest basketball game on all the TVs, and just be surrounded again by the never-ending stream of students on scooters, boards, and bikes. 

This is the campus I know and love and am happy to return to after a trip out
of town; it’s definitely home to me. Getting out of the area for a bit and exploring all that this pocket of Southern California has to offer is certainly a treat and something I look forward to on the various weekends. I feel incredibly fortunate to be at a school with so many opportunities around just waiting to be traveled to and explored within a matter of hours. I finished that weekend with a fair amount of work to finish before the week started, but also with the overwhelming sense that I’m studying exactly where I’m meant to. As you all receive your admissions responses, I encourage you to seek out that same kind of feeling, that feeling of comfort and home. That’s what’s most important!


Gianna Beck

Gianna Beck

MAJOR: Computer Science (Games) YEAR: Class of 2023 HOMETOWN: Phoenix, Arizona PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @gianna__25 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.

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