Annya Dahmani, ’18, attends the University of California, Los Angeles. She is undecided about her major but is thinking about studying cognitive science. Annya attends UCLA with two former SCDS classmates: her twin sister Katia Damani and Lily Brown.
Q: What classes are you taking?
A: This quarter I’m taking Political Science 10, which is an introduction to political theory. I’m also taking Math 31B, which is integration and infinite series, and then I’m taking a class called Interracial Dynamics in Society and Culture — that’s for only freshmen.
Q: What are your favorite and least favorite classes?
A: (My favorite is) probably my year-long interracial dynamics class. I just really didn’t like the other classes my first quarter. I really didn’t like my Introduction to Linguistics class. I had to take an English Composition class because I didn’t test out of it because I got a 3 on AP English. Everyone in that class was a really bad writer, and they didn’t know any grammar at all. I got headaches from reading other people’s papers.
I also don’t really like my political science class because it’s really just AP Euro. All the reading we do is the same as with (history teacher Chris) Kuipers, so I haven’t really gone to class in the past seven weeks.
Q: How big are your classes?
A: My linguistics class from last quarter had 460 people. I’d always show up late, so I’d have to sit on the floor in the back next to a trash can. My interracial dynamics class is 160 people, and my political science class is 180. It’s divided so that once a week you meet up in discussion groups, which are about 20 people.
Q: How different is it being in large classes?
A: In AP Euro last year when it was just four students, all of us would speak and contribute. But even in these 20-people discussions, it’s just five of us that talk, so it’s really different to see how people don’t participate compared to Country Day. In the big lectures, I don’t think the professors really care. They don’t care about individual students that much.
Q: Did UCLA live up to your social expectations?
A: I think since it’s such a big school, I expected it to be really social —and it is. There’s always events happening and things going on. There’s always things to do. And everyone’s super nice, so it’s easy to make friends here.
Q: How are the living conditions at UCLA?
A: There are dorms, which kind of look like hotel rooms. They’re around nine stories high. I live in Rieber Hall, which is mainly a freshman dorm. I live on the seventh floor — the top floor — and there are 90 people on my floor. We have a communal bathroom, so it’s 45 girls sharing one bathroom. A lot of my friends are from my floor or my building. There’s one lounge per floor.
I live in a classic triple room, which is basically the smallest, cheapest dorm room. It’s what most freshmen have. We’re three people in a room that should really be for one or two. There’s supposed to be no AC and no heater, even though for some reason my room has one, so it’s always hot, and my roommates don’t let me open my window.
Q: How did you find your roommates?
A: I did random roommates, and I think that was just a mistake. In the beginning we didn’t get along, and now we just don’t really talk. We just co-exist. It’s kind of nice, though, because I don’t feel obligated to speak. I don’t think I’ve talked to them since last quarter, which is nice for studying.
Q: How do you get around?
A: We basically Uber everywhere. If you want to go for food, you Uber over there. UCLA is in a college town, so everyone in this area is college students. All the food places around here are filled with college kids. There’s also public transport, but I don’t really use it.
Q: Do you go off campus for food often?
A: I’ve probably left campus to eat maybe four times. But the food on campus is really good. We have the best dining hall food, and all the food providers are really good. It’s probably better than my mom’s food. I eat a solid four meals a day.
Q: Did you make any freshman mistakes when you first got to college?
A: I’m really bad with directions, so it probably took me a solid hour to find classes when it should’ve taken me about 20 minutes. Also I got locked out of my room after showering, so I had to go down to the lobby to get a key to my room.
Q: Did you participate in any school traditions?
A: There’s this thing that happens during orientation called being “Bruin-tized” and you basically get baptized into becoming a Bruin in this fountain.
Also, during finals week, every night at 12 a.m., everyone screams out their window, and so I did that.
Q: Are you on any clubs or teams?
A: I’m on the women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, and we’re pretty good. We went to Santa Barbara, San Diego and Santa Clara. In Santa Clara we got first, and in the other ones we got top three. I decided to play because Adam Dean (’17) told me to do it, and I listened.
Q: How is going to school with your sister?
A: It’s actually really fun going to school with (Katia). If I ever need someone to bring food to my school, she’ll do it. Every Monday and Wednesday, we walk back from classes together to our dorms.
It’s really nice having her here. I’m friends with her friends, and she’s friends with my friends, so it’s a good way to make more friends.
Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2019?
A: Find your roommates on Facebook before going to the college that you choose.
Also, go to a UC because they’re really big and fun and so different from Country Day. There are so many different opportunities. You’ll probably be able to graduate in three years from UCs because of all the AP credits we get at Country Day.
Also, appreciate your teachers at Country Day because they actually care about you. Enjoy high school. There are times when I actually miss high school, and I didn’t think I would. I kind of miss the Country Day environment.
I would also say make friends with people from Sacramento going to your school. A lot of my really good friends here are from Sacramento, and there’s such a strong Sacramento community. Go to the Sacramento send-off events and make friends there. (Former history teacher Daniel) Neukom told me this basically word for word before I left to college. The first week, you just have to go out and make as many friends as possible, even if you really want to just stay in your room.
Q: Do you have any advice for students still waiting for decisions?
A: Yeah, specifically about not getting into your first-choice school. Stanford was my first choice since I was 12, when my brother got in. I remember the day when I didn’t get in so clearly because it was such a horrible day. It felt like the worst day of my life. I remember how (former Octagon adviser Patricia) Fels sat me and Katia down after we found out and talked to us about our options and how it wasn’t really the end of the world.
But now, looking back on it, it really wasn’t the end of the world. It opened more opportunities for me.
So if you don’t get into your top choice, it’s OK — things work out.
Q: Anything you’d like to add?
A: I just want to add a few shoutouts.
Shoutout to Fels for making me the best writer in my English composition class.
Shoutout to (math and physics teacher Glenn) Mangold for being a good teacher, because my current math teacher makes tests so hard. The average for my last midterm was 59 percent, and the only reason I did way above average was by studying using my (AP Calculus BC) notes from junior year.
Shoutout to Kuipers for teaching me (AP European History) because it allowed me to not go to my Political Science class since I already knew everything.
—By Mehdi Lacombe