Girls (and Guys) Just Wanna Have Sun

Once again, we had a late start after a late night. Today, we headed to another beach, but this one seemed to be the best one yet. Our day was filled with plenty of sun, tons of waves, and lots of warm sand. When some of the girls got tired of being tossed around by the waves, we took them to get acai bowls, Pressed Juicery, and go shopping. The streets next to Manhattan Beach had tons of stores and after a little searching we found some great deals. They even bought some friendship rings and finger monsters (follow them on Instagram @finger.monsters).

After we finished our day at the beach, we headed back to campus. They got some time to clean their room before room inspections, and then headed down to dinner. Later, they took a walk around campus during golden hour — it made for some pretty great pictures. We finished our night by starting a Star Wars marathon, which we hope to complete before the week is done.

Tomorrow, they’re headed to their final week of classes to start preparing for their final presentations. We can’t wait to see them!

Hike to the Hollywood Sign, and then to Venice!

Today, we wanted to make the very most out of our last Sunday together. It’s hard to believe that we’ve already had three weeks with our amazing students, and it’s bittersweet that we’ve got just one more week to say goodbye.

This morning, 18 students braved a 7:15 am departure time to hike from just below the Hollywood Sign, to above the sign, and all the way to the Griffith Observatory. In total, it was about 5.5 miles- and wow, was it hilly sometimes! But everyone made excellent time, and we arrived at the beautiful Observatory tired but proud.

A new angle on an old classic – the Hollywood Sign viewed from behind!
The beautiful Griffith Observatory – we remember seeing it for the first time in La La Land three weeks ago!

After the morning hike, almost our entire program went to Venice Beach! We had been to the area before when we went to First Fridays at Abbot Kinney, but this time, we were there during the day, and had access to the beach as well.

There are so many cool murals on the streets of Venice!

The food on and around Venice Beach is one of the best parts of the area – students dispersed to so many restaurants and enjoyed coffee shops, plant-based meals, and more.

Check out these students’ cool new purchases from some of Abbot Kinney’s beachfront shops!

In our assembly tonight, our students got to sign up for the next week’s activities for the very last time. As time winds down, they’re already writing each other farewell notes and putting in work on their final class projects. We know we’ll miss them already!

A long-awaited catch-up: it’s been an amazing week!

Thank you all for bearing with us during our brief hiatus from the blog – all our students, staff, and faculty at Oxbridge at UCLA have had a jam-packed end to our third full week here in Los Angeles, and we’re just starting to catch our breath!

On our way!

Following the students’ major classes on Thursday, we piled onto a bus bound for just about the most unapologetically fun spot in Los Angeles: Universal Studios Hollywood! It’s an iconic piece of living movie history, and the star of it all is a tour of the studio’s back lot. We saw the original shark from Jaws (his name is Bruce) jump out of the lake on Amity Island, a massive plane crash set from Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, a realistic simulation of a flash flood in an old Mexican town, and so much more. Our students were also among the first to experience the newly reopened Jurassic World ride, as well as other attractions like Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade Village and a convincing replica of the Simpson family’s Springfield. We were at the park for eight glorious hours. The mood on the bus on the way home was electric – we were so lucky to have had a day there.

Check out the beautiful views of the city from the hill Universal Studios sits atop! And see below for two highlights from the Studio Tour – the New York City street sets on the back lot, and Bruce the shark jumping out at the tram.

Our group especially loved the Harry Potter merchandise!
The gang’s all here!

On Friday, we had a slightly calmer schedule to account for the students’ busy workdays in their major and minor classes. In the evening, our students split into groups to explore The Broad, a new contemporary art museum located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, or to see an improv comedy show right here in Westwood!

The group at The Broad got to experience Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room and sculpture by Jeff Koons, alongside the work of so many other modern artists.
Check out the museum’s inventive honeycomb exterior!

Saturday was possibly our busiest day yet, with a full schedule starting after the students’ morning major classes. We left Westwood and headed straight for Hollywood Boulevard, home to Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the El Capitan, Madame Tussaud’s, Ripley’s Believe it or Not – and, of course, the Walk of Fame. When you think of Hollywood, those stars are perhaps the first imagery to come to mind after the Hollywood sign itself, and for good reason. They’re an iconic part of the city, honoring everyone from Aretha Franklin and Marilyn Monroe to Jeff Goldblum and Motley Crue.

Campy fun!

Our filmmaking students were plenty busy Saturday morning as well, with a visit to Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank. They took the studio tour of the lot, where they saw lots of movie magic – including this massive spider from the Harry Potter films!

Even after the Walk of Fame, though, we weren’t quite done with Hollywood! Later that evening, the whole program took our seats in the iconic Hollywood Bowl to see a wonderful new show led by our favorite Australian songman – “Hugh Jackman – The Man. The Music. The Show.” Singing for his full audience of 17,000 people in LA’s premier outdoor summer concert spot, Jackman brought so much energy and excitement to the stage with his Broadway chops.

Can’t beat that view!

Later tonight, we’ll bring you many more pictures and stories from our two group trips today. Thank you for reading along, and we hope you’ve enjoyed these updates!

Updates on the way!

Hi, everyone! We’d like to apologize for our absence from this page for the past couple days – all is well, our students are happy and healthy, and we’ve only missed posting because of all the amazing activities we’ve packed into the last couple days!

We have a much more substantial post in the works that will go live later this evening, and we’ll be sure to include many photos of all our most recent adventures. We’ve missed posting them, too! For the moment, though, here’s a group photo from Universal Studios on Thursday night – we had such a blast, and you’ll hear about that trip and more this evening.

It Was a Home Run!!

After our late night at Disney yesterday, we decided to let the kids sleep in. So, we had doughnuts and fruit (we needed something to balance out the doughnuts) in the Prep Center for brunch. Then, after many requests, we headed to the UCLA store, so they could get comfy sweatshirts and a variety of other souvenirs.

We gave them the afternoon to chill at the pool or do homework in the Prep Center, then we headed to the Dodger game. They got their fill of Dodger Dogs, nachos which came in a souvenir helmet, and pretzels. Some of them even got soft serve ice cream in a tinier version of the souvenir helmet. They also had fun passing the beach balls around the stadium. The game was filled with excitement from the home run in the first to the Marlins tying up the game in the top of the eighth. Don’t worry though, the Dodgers pulled ahead once again in the bottom of the eighth.

Tomorrow, we head off to another relaxing day at the beach and we’ll make sure to take plenty of pictures!

LACMA, La Brea, & letter writing, oh my!

Instead of heading to their desks this morning, our students took their learning outside of the classroom and out into the real world! Each major class, along with their teachers, visited a different fascinating destination around the city at which they could learn subject-related material.

The Game Design and Speech and Debate classes joined up to visit the Museum of Jurassic Technology, a dark and mysterious locale full of technological oddities and quirky historical discoveries.

Photography students took a trip downtown to visit The Last Bookstore, a beautiful building full of not only reading material, but incredible sculptures made from it! Make sure you ask to see their pictures — as you might expect, they’re incredible.

Students in our Psychology class first continued working on their critical analyses of scientific studies (they’re really getting the college experience!), and then took a ride down the street to the Hammer Art Museum.

The Creative Writing class visited Los Angeles’s rare book library, where they were able to view incredibly old copies — and even some original editions! — of classic novels like Moby Dick and The Great Gatsby.

After a quick lunch back on campus, we all headed out together for even more adventure. The first stop on our list were the La Brea tar pits, which have contained the fossils of trapped animals for tens of thousands of years. Can you believe these tar pits exist right in the heart of West Los Angeles?!

Near the tar pits, we also discovered a colorful, pop-up art installation, which the students loved admiring, taking photos of, and interacting with.

We then walked right next store to LACMA, one of Los Angeles’s most renowned modern art museums. Though many incredible works are displayed at this museum, students were particularly excited to view and take pictures of its most publicized works: Chris Burden’s Urban Light and Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass. These works in particular brought students to contemplate what “modern art” actually entails — and more specifically, why a literal boulder counts as a piece of modern art. Nevertheless, they were very happy to take selfies in front of each of these pieces.

After time well spent at these iconic destinations, all located within the same block on Wilshire Boulevard, we took a quick spin around Rodeo Drive to people-watch and window-shop. Some students even caught a glimpse of a celebrity or two!

Afterwards, we headed back to UCLA for a delicious dinner and a wonderful, phone-free night together. Instead of scrolling through Instagram or watching silly YouTube videos, we spent a couple of hours together the old-fashioned way: writing letters home to our families. We ended up having a great time decorating our envelopes, drawing pictures of our new friends, and cracking jokes about being forced to write letters to our parents. What a ridiculous thought — forced! Ha! It was our pleasure.

Following a few games, including an intense round or two of dodgeball, students headed to bed at 10pm to prepare for a thrilling, and likely exhausting, day at Disneyland tomorrow. We are all so ready!

Class trips and a very sweet evening

Today was a busy day in academics for our hardworking students, especially as they begin to piece together their final projects. For example, our seventh floor lounge, which serves as the filmmakers’ classroom during the day, was transformed into a hospital set for a scene in a student-produced short film. Several major and minor classes also took advantage of Los Angeles’ unique resources to plan exciting field trips. This afternoon, the movie and TV business minors visited Lionsgate Studios for a personal meeting with two Lionsgate executives, who discussed their roles at the company and offered valuable advice based on their personal experiences of working in the film industry.

Meanwhile, communications minors visited the offices of Dublab, an LA-based nonprofit online radio station. They got to look in on the business side of producing radio content, as well as checking out a live recording happening in their studios this afternoon.

In the evening, we split our students into smaller groups to visit two of Los Angeles’ most exciting dessert spots: Sweet Rose, a creamery in Santa Monica, and Mateo’s, an ice cream and paleta specialty store in Culver City.

We took advantage of LA’s vast bus network to leave Westwood for our desserts!
Just a few of the dozen students who joined us for Sweet Rose’s delicious confections in Brentwood
Meanwhile at Mateo’s, students tried authentic paleta fruit bars and ice cream flavors.

We can’t believe we’re already halfway through our third week together, and it’s even more unbelievable to think of how much both work and play we still have in store.

Let’s Get Quizzical!

Per usual, we started the day off with classes. After that, we headed off to The Grove, a fancy outdoor shopping mall, for an afternoon of shopping and eating. The kids had a wonderful time spending all of their parents’ money on new clothes, makeup, sunglasses, and phone cases (but some of them did spend their money on gifts for their siblings!). The Farmers’ Market was filled with tons of delicious food. Many filled their bodies with sugar by consuming copious amounts of doughnuts, milkshakes, and pies. Others decided to take a more savory route by eating cheesy quesadillas and buckets of chicken tenders.

When we got back from The Grove, the kids enjoyed a thrilling night of trivia (after a quick dinner, of course). The trivia questions challenged them to remember information about their friends and the admin team. These included questions like:

Q: What was found in Marius, Luke, and Mika’s trashcan?
A: A mixture of mouthwash and Cheetos

Q: Who is Morgan’s favorite person?
A: Annie… just kidding! It’s her brother

Q: What did Lu drop on his way back from 7-Eleven?
A: His Big Gulp

Their partners for the game were chosen at random, but they worked together better — and laughed harder — than we have ever seen. We were so, so happy to see everybody (and we mean everybody) having such a good time with new friends.

We have a busy day planned for tomorrow. In the morning, students will get to visit a variety of amazing places, like the Museum of Jurassic Technology, for their major classes. In the afternoon, we will spend the afternoon hopping between LACMA, the La Brea Tar Pits, and Rodeo Drive. Can’t wait!

Exposition Park: California ScienCenter, the Rose Garden…and USC!

Today, many of our students able to join us after their morning major classes for a trip to Exposition Park, a huge complex in Downtown Los Angeles that houses the Natural History Museum, California ScienCenter, the Rose Garden, and more. It just so happens that the University of Southern California is right next door, too! It was amazing to have a tour of UCLA’s across-town rivals, if only to get a sense of how different the two campuses are despite their shared home base.

Outside the California ScienCenter – check out that solar system model up above!

Many of our wonderful Oxbridge students opted to explore the California ScienCenter before our tour of USC, including the amazing gardens behind it. They ate in the food court, checked out the new exhibit on human-canine relationships, and stopped to smell the roses- literally!

Another group took off for a visit to the Englekirk Engineering firm, based near Exposition Park in Downtown. These students got an inside, in-depth look at the workings of an engineering company, from the big-picture concepts to the day-to-day logistics of running a firm in real time.

Then, we were all off to USC for a tour of their sprawling campus. The sun was certainly present, but the tour was worth the heat – it was a beautiful day to explore all that the prestigious university has to offer.

Fight on, Trojans!

We ended the day with a panel on the college experience, led by our very own Oxbridge at UCLA staff! From current students, to recent graduates, to current high school teachers, we offered a wide breadth of experiences from which to offer our own perspectives on everything from admissions to student life.

We have a busy week still ahead, and are so excited for what’s in store.