Population: Over 4 million
Size: 4,084 Square Miles
Language: English with 224 languages being spoken
Currency: US Dollar
L.A. is an ethnically and culturally diverse landscape of big personalities and dreamers. Wonderful weather and stories unfolding everywhere from crowded freeways to busy backlots, L.A. is unlike any other city in the U.S. If you are brand new to Southern California, it might take some adjustment!
Here are some tips to help you get started off on the right foot.
Learn about the City
L.A. is a huge melting pot. Almost everyone here has come from somewhere else. There’s no better way to learn about the city than to talk to people who live here. Our Housing Coordinators can help enrolled students with the basics, but if you don’t know anyone here, the next best thing is to read about people who are!
Sunny with Chance of Awesome
Everyone knows about Southern California’s “perfect weather.” Most days are sunny and warm. Anything below 60 degrees is considered cold, but no weather is too cold for flip-flops! Humidity is low and there is little rain. It can feel like an endless summer – a long cycle of warm to hot days and cooler nights, even in the winter.
L.A. is a microclimate, however and there can be significant differences in temperature in areas within close proximity to each other. It can be a balmy 75 degrees by the ocean in Santa Monica and as high as 95 degrees in the Valley. A good thing to keep in mind as you find a place to live is that not every apartment will have central air conditioning!
The Struggle is Real
L.A. is big. From the Santa Clarita desert to ocean breezes of Catalina Island, big. With wide roads and a matrix of freeways, this is a city built to be navigated by car. – And with roughly 4 million people in the city of L.A. alone, you can bet there are a lot of them are on the road.
Yes, traffic is as bad as you’ve heard. Plan on driving and dealing with it, a lot. You’ll want to get on Google Maps and begin to learn the layout of L.A. as soon as possible. Get to know The 101, The 405 and The 10 freeways and major roads like Sunset Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd, Olympic Blvd, Pico Blvd, Sepulveda and Wilshire Blvd to assist you in getting around.
If you don’t plan on having a car, it is highly recommended you live near the places you’ll be frequenting (school, for example). There is public transportation, but it is not comparable to other cities like New York or Chicago. That said, our campus is located just a block away from the Hollywood/Vine Metro Station as well as several city bus stops.
Check out L.A. Metro Maps & Timetables for more information about planning a public transit commute!
Get to Know the Food Scene
Being in a city as vast and diverse as L.A. means our dining scene is second to none. Our mosaic of cultures makes for interesting food fusions. Chefs of Mexican, Salvadoran, Chinese, Vietnamese, Armenian or Thai backgrounds are now creating mash-up dishes, infused with American ingredients and European techniques. The only rule in L.A. dining is that there are no rules. Food trucks were invented here. Anything is possible!
L.A. is also in the center of one of the largest agriculture regions in the country, which gives Angelenos access to amazing, fresh produce. Veggies are bigger, fruit is sweeter. California cuisine is defined by locally-sourced, organic ingredients. Be sure to explore your neighborhood farmers market to see what delicious foods are on display. The Hollywood one is right next to our campus on Sundays,
Our campus location puts you in the center of an urban hub. There are a number of restaurants within walking distance from the school, including the famous In-N-Out Burger. Students should make sure to read their weekly newsletter for local deals and discounts available to them!
Earthquakes are a reality of living in Southern California, but no reason to panic. Many earthquakes you won’t even feel and the likelihood of a “big one” is on a geological timescale, which means it could be decades before it happens. Earthquakes are measured by the Richter Scale, which is logarithmic, meaning each point on the scale is 10 times stronger than the last. So, for example, a 5.0 earthquake is 10 times stronger than a 4.0. Very few earthquakes are 6.0 and above, but there many very small ones you will never feel.
The biggest rule to remember when the shaking starts:
Drop. Cover. Hold on.
Most injuries occur when falling debris hits someone. This includes when people run outside during an earthquake. The best course is to get under something that can protect your head. Note, many newer and retrofit buildings in L.A. are surprising safe during an earthquake. It is very common, for example, for a tall building to sway. This means the building is absorbing and distributing the movement, rather than snapping and breaking. Again, it is much safer inside and under cover than running outside where you can be hurt.
Use Common Sense
• Stay away from windows or glass that can break in a big earthquake
• Be careful of doors and doorways that can swing shut and hurt your fingers
• Be mindful of accident danger points, like book shelves above your bed
• Be sure to properly secure items that hang on your wall
• If you are driving, signal and pull over to the side of the road until the shaking stops
• If you smell gas after an earthquake, leave immediately and call 911
Create an Earthquake Kit
Organizations like the LAFD and CDC recommend having a disaster kit to keep yourself self-sufficient in the event of an emergency-level earthquake.
The Red Cross has made an official list of supplies which include:
Non-perishable, Easy-to-Prepare Food
Battery-Powered or Hand-Crank Radio
Medications and Medical Items
Sanitation and Personal Hygiene Items
Copies of Personal Documents
Cell Phone with Chargers
Emergency Contact Info
Map(s) of the Area
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Visit our Discover L.A. section for more exciting history and facts about this amazing city we call home.