Hey guys !
I’ve been receiving many emails with questions on My experience in Los Angeles from other countries and I’ve realized that I didn’t write any article in English so far !
I’m gonna try my best to translate everything –but please don’t judge my grammar ! After 3 years living in the U.S. I still can’t show off around on my English fluency.
So here it is …
How did I make it to L.A. ?
Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved the US. The atmosphere, the culture, the supermarkets (yeah I know, kind of random !), … So, I’ve always kept in a side of my head this crazy idea : one day I’ll leave in this country. I had no idea how, when and where because the University system in the U.S. is just SO f*cking expensive (and complicated). From $30,000 to $60,000 (No I didn’t write too many 0) per year depending on the University you choose. No way. I couldn’t even think about it . I didn’t have any options. Prostitution ? Organ traffick ? Yeah, maybe not a good idea.
After my Baccalaureate (High School Diploma in France) with a concentration in Litterature, I’ve studied in an Advertising School in Paris and got my Bachelor Degree. After those 3 years, the question « ok, what do I do next ? » came up. After some research, I’ve heard about UCI (University of California Irvine), and UCI Extension.
Extension is, an EXTENSION of the Uni itself. A school inside the school if I could say so. The only difference is based on the diploma you get at the end. At Extension, you don’t get Bachelors or Masters. You get « Certificates ». To be honnest, I’ve never found any French equivalence but it can be compared to a professional training. It’s mainly dedicated to professionals looking for a new start in their career, or to catch up on the new trends in their fields. Thousands of Certificates are available, from Wine Analysis to Business through Human Ressources, but also Law and Acting.
The main advantage ? The price ! The price is comparable to any private school in France, so it ends up being an amazing opportunity. You study on campus, with teachers from the uni. The only difference is the diploma you get at the end.
After some research, I realized that UCI wasn’t the only Uni offering this Extension option : Berkeley, UCLA (University Of California Los Angeles) … No hesitation on my side UCLA was my choice !
After hours searching on the UclaExtension website, I still had many questions and confusions … The visa ? The life on campus ? The paperwork ? What about health insurance ? What about the apartment ?
I’ve decided to ask for some help to a French organism, ISPA. They helped me from the beginning to the final date of my departure. And even 3 years after, I’m still in touch with them and they are always there to answer any of my questions.
After a few months, everything was ready and I left for Los Angeles the 30th of December 2012.
Why Los Angeles ?
And why not ?! With L.A. people are pretty extreme. It’s either they love it, or hate it !
Some people dream of New York, Miami … For me it was Los Angeles, with no hesitation.
Yeah, LA is big, people are « fake » but who cares !
My first time in L.A was about 10 years ago with my dad (I was 12 or so). My only memories were basically Hollywood (a random blvd with stars on the floor), the sun and UCLA.
UCLA is the University of California, Los Angeles, and also one of the best school in the country.
Since my childhood, I’ve always wanted to study with the « American Style » : Cheerleaders, the Quaterback, amazing campus’, locker rooms, games, … all those things we’ve seen on Disney Channel, but never had in France.
I’ve also always been attracted to the American culture. I already visited many cities in the US (New York, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco) but I knew L.A. was made for me.
The city is huge, that’s a fact. You can feel lonely, that’s true too. But I needed something completely new.
What about the Visa ?
The MAIN question … hehe ! For me, I had to go for the Student Visa (the F-1). This visa is one of the « easiest » one to get (compare to the others, but be ready for some patience and paperworks). This visa can last from 1 month up to 5 years, depending on the studies you choose.
Was I allowed to work during my student visa ?
Tricky question. The answer is yes and no.
During the first 9 months, working in the U.S. is COMPLETELY FORBIDDEN. Please be aware, all the « student jobs » (waiter, host, …) are not allowed during your student visa. I really reall really want to insist on this part, because many of you are considering this option. In the U.S. it’s a NO GO.
The only student job you are allowed to has to be on campus only and 20 hours max per week.
Also, depending on your Certificate, you are allowed to do Interships. Those internships will be unpaid and will bring you class credits.
The thing that many people ignore is that after 9 months studying in the United States, you are allowed to work. You are eligible to do the OPT (Optional Practical Training). That’s what I did after graduating from my Marketing Certificate. The OPT lets you work for a year, in your field of study. For example, if you did a Journalism Certificate, you won’t be allowed to take a waitress job in a restaurant. OPT stands for training and has to be used to practice what you just learned during your Certificate.
Of course, the OPT isn’t mandatory.
During the OPT, you’ll have 90 days of « unemployement », meaning that you have 3 months to find a job, or you’ll have to leave the country.
What about now ?
Many of you are wondering how was I able to stay in the U.S.
Please be aware that for now I’m back in France, but maybe I’ll be back soon, who knows ☺
Stay tuned !