Katia Dahmani, ’18, attends the University of California, Los Angeles with her twin sister Annya, ’18, and Lily Brown, ’18. Katia Dahmani is majoring in pre-math/economics.
Q: What is the pre-math/economics major?
A: This year I am taking the required pre-major courses, so once I finish them, which will be sometime next year, I can declare my major. Once I officially declare it, I can take upper-division courses.
Q: Why did you want to pursue that degree?
A: I have always enjoyed math throughout high school, and I think it’s smart to have a strong foundation in math. I have been thinking of going into something relating to finance, so having an inter-departmental degree like this can help me out later on.
Q: What classes are you taking?
A: Because UCLA is on a quarter system, people usually take three to five classes every 10 weeks. This quarter, I’m taking Math 32B, which is multivariable calculus; Economics 2, a basic course similar to macroeconomics; and Political Science 10, an introduction to political theory, which my sister took previously. I am also taking Law 19, a seminar, which only freshman can take.
Q: What is your favorite class?
A: My History 22 class, which I took last quarter, was one of my favorites. It was about world history, so the class covered everything from 1750 to present day. It was very similar to AP Euro. The curriculum in the class was interesting, but the professor assigned a lot of reading for homework, so it was super stressful.
In the fall quarter, I took a Film/TV 5 class, which was about the history of American motion pictures. It was very cool. It met two times a week for four hours, so we would usually watch movies for the last hour of class.
I also like what I’m learning in my econ class right now.
Katia Dahmani, ’18, right, with three of her friends at a UCLA vs. USC basketball game.
Q: Least favorite?
A: Last quarter, I took Math 32A, which was the worst class I’ve taken all year long. The professor was a visiting faculty (member), so he didn’t actually work on campus. His lectures were unclear, he was inaccessible when we needed help, and he didn’t grade assignments properly.
Q: What’s the workload for your classes?
A: I’ve been fortunate for the workload in my classes, but it really depends on the major. In my first quarter, I took a math class and a couple of science classes, so the classes were very easy, and I didn’t have to consistently do homework. My math homework was due every day, but it wasn’t even collected or graded.
Last quarter, I had a lot more work than I expected because I had homework due every day, which didn’t happen before. I would have to do so much reading every week, and my math homework was graded very harshly.
I have the same workload as last quarter, which is manageable because I have free time after classes to do it.
Q: How large are your classes?
A: Because I am in lower-division classes right now, a lot of majors are taking the same classes. For example, (all) engineering, physics and math major students have to take the math and econ courses. Both of these classes have about 200 students in them. My political science class is in the largest lecture hall on campus, so it has about 400 students.
In my Law 19 class, I only have 20 people, which is super nice because it reminds me of a Country Day class. The professors are more accessible, and we can have discussions in the class rather than listening to lectures.
Q: Do you like the quarter system?
A: Going into college, I didn’t like it because I was still waiting for school to start while the rest of my friends were already in school.
The nice thing about the quarter system is that classes are only 10 weeks long, so if you don’t like the class or professor, you’re not stuck taking the class for half of the school year.
However, it really pushes you to stay on top of your work. The school year goes by really quickly, and students are usually studying for finals all the time. If you fall behind during the quarter, it’s really hard to catch up.
Q: How do you like going to school with your sister?
A: It’s really nice. When I was applying to schools, I always assumed that I would go to college without her. But, I’m so glad that she’s here. If I ever need food or clothes, I can always go to her. We also have a lot of mutual friends, so we see each other and hang out a lot. It’s like having a piece of home here.
Q: Are you in any clubs?
A: In quarter one, I joined a club called LA Ocean Collision, where we pick up trash at the beach. We have only met twice this year, but I have gone once because the second meeting was during an inconvenient time.
Because college is so much different than high school, I need this transition year to settle down and relax instead of participating in many clubs.
Katia Dahmani, ’18, second from right, at a restaurant with friends.
Q: What is the living situation like?
A: I live in a classic triple, which is the cheapest living option at UCLA. We don’t have any AC, and my closet is really small. There is a bunk bed and a twin-size bed in the room, so I sleep on the bunk bed.
I decided to choose random for my roommates, and we are not super-close, so we coexist with each other. The only reason I would be in my room is to sleep, eat and shower, so I don’t interact with them much.
My room is very far from (the south side of) campus, so it takes me a long time to get to my classes.
Q: What is your favorite part about college?
A: Definitely the independence. No one is making you go to classes in the morning, so you can decide when you want to go to sleep. UCLA is in a super-safe part of west LA, and it’s really close to the beach, so I spend a lot of my free time there.
Q: Least favorite?
A: I hate the laundry because it’s so expensive. Every week, I have to use my own money to wash my clothes. There are so many people in my residential hall, so sometimes they are all full, which means I have to wait until there is an open spot.
Q: How’s the transition from Country Day to UCLA?
A: Before school started, I was super-anxious for the change because I wasn’t with my parents or kids that we have known for a long time.
College is different because you have a lot of responsibility for your study habits, the classes you take and the food you eat. It seems daunting at first, but you have to remember that you’re not the only one going from high school to college.
The professors at large universities like UCLA are different from the ones at Country Day. Instead of asking the professor for help, students usually ask their TA or other friends for help. It’s pretty rare for students to directly ask a professor for help, unlike Country Day.
Q: Any advice for the class of 2019?
A: I always see a bunch of people at UCLA studying and never going out to have fun. College is not just about school but also growing up and experiencing things outside of the classroom. College is supposed to help you grow as a person and a student.