When we arrived in Los Angeles, the day started out bright and early at Universal Studios Hollywood. It was an amazing beginning to an awesome and fun-filled stay in the City of Sun and Sand. At the entrance to the studios, we saw actor and host Mario Lopez and Lauren got so excited that she screamed! We went on the tour through the studios and saw sound stages and sets that are still used to this day. At one point, when we took the tram around the Jaws set, Julia A and Gabi were frightened from the mechanical shark that rushed out of the water at them. In addition, Gus went on a search for passwords that would let him and his group skip to the front of the line on rides.
After Universal, we all had dinner at Hard Rock Café and Zack and Matt led a group around City Walk to all of the brightly lit storefronts. The neon-themed street had any and all souvenirs that one could need from the studios. We stayed at the De Neve Holly Residence Hall at UCLA that night so the trip members were able to experience how amazing it is to be a college student!
At Venice Beach, the boardwalk was a bustling ménage of street performers, muscle heads from Muscle Beach, and skateboarders trying to work on their skills. Emily, Rhea, and Dasha even got their palms read. They were told their future in hushed tones and reverent voices by an all-knowing seer on the boardwalk.
After lunch at the boardwalk, we went back to campus and headed to the huge UCLA bookstore. Julia Fa and Katie picked up some sweet gear while Ilan was mistaken for a college student. We hung around the amazing UCLA campus for a bit so Ryan and Dan played a game of American football and Toby and James played some soccer. Jessie and Julia Fe took advantage of the beautiful state-of-the-art facilities and went to the gym.
At the Improv Club that night, we saw some amazing comedians and Mike bonded with one of them over the Mandarin language while Ryan G was called out for being unquestionably awesome. Kyle was laughing so hard that he couldn’t stop shaking his head at one point!
Volunteering was a blast the next day at the LA Food Bank. It was an amazing experience to participate in, and every single trip member stepped up and was amazing at helping out during the time we were there. KC, Erin, Lauren, and Olivia were definitely stars that morning with the amount of energy and intensity they brought to the event! We spent the rest of the day at Disneyland. Jake and Noah rode rides and Sadie bought fairy dust. It was a day filled with parades, food, and activities all over the park. We all stayed to watch the fireworks at the end and when Tinkerbelle flew over us, and the castle, it was a magical ending to a fantastical day.
Our last day in Los Angeles started with an enlightening experience at the Museum of Tolerance. It was incredibly educational and the sections that we frequented were about child labor and how it is still occurring presently and the idea of blame in unfortunate situations. At the end of our walk through the museum, there was an amazing short film and presentation about forgiveness that Sam and Laura called “intense,” and that Matt asked an excellent question during.
After the Museum of Tolerance, we went to the Farmer’s Market and some of the students ordered Mediterranean pizza and others ate sushi. Noa and Julie wandered around the Grove looking at the stalls and the beautiful koi pond. When we went to Rodeo Drive, it was one of the most beautiful streets we had every seen. Jessie and Kara took pictures on the cobbled streets of Via Rodeo and Gabriel wandered in and out of the picturesque stores to his heart’s content. By the time we got back to UCLA for our last night, it was time for another basketball game with Nick, Josh, and Trip Leader Dylan.
Our last night, we went out to Hollywood and Highland, Mann’s Chinese Theater, and saw the Hollywood sign on the hills. Lena and Julia B walked the Walk of Fame and saw stars’ handprints all over the streets. It was an amazing night to a wonderful stay in Los Angeles.
The Westcoast Blogger