The Declassified SULA Survival Guide by Michelle Creasi

Michelle CreasiWhile I’m hardly the expert, living in Los Angeles for the semester has taught me many valuable lessons (like how to stay positive in endless traffic and how to live within my means). I spent my money on Kitchen24 brunch, Universal Studios, groceries, and AMC tickets. And I spent my time writing coverage, searching for parking spots, watching TV with my roommates, and sipping 32-ounce margaritas at Cabo Cantina. Thus, in the process of it all, I soaked up the sun and a little bit of insider wisdom. Consider the following tips with thoughtful care and bold suspicion:

Michelle’s (Probably Relevant) Guidelines on How to Survive LA

Learn how to parallel park! Unless you actually want to learn under pressure and during traffic in a city you’re unfamiliar with parking signs you don’t understand. You will have to parallel park—there is no escape.

If your internship doesn’t supply a free lunch for you, pack your meal! Eating out adds up and that Chipotle bowl you scarf down on your one-hour lonely lunch break just isn’t worth the bucks. Spend that cash on Saturday drinks and Sunday brunch.

Also, don’t eat at the same place or at chains you have near you at home. Experiment. (Ask Writer’s Journey professors Julie and David Chambers for recommendations.)

Get your gas in Burbank. Seriously. Plan your life around how to get to the nearest Arco.

Take advantage of grocery stores with savings cards—Ralphs and Vons. You can use your savings as parking money, which brings me to #6.

The priced lots are your last resort for parking. Always try to street-park, or go to a garage in a shopping complex, one store will probably validate. And as an added twist—some garages allow the first hour to 90 minutes free. If you can, move your car out, circle back to the garage, and start your free time anew. (The lots near Santa Monica Beach are an example.)

If you play your cards right, most beaches are a free all-day event. (Venice Beach is a personal favorite.) And think of the Instagram opportunities.

Your car requires three essential accessories: a good pair of sunglasses, a phone charger, and an aux cord. You want your GPS app (Google Maps or Waze) on surround sound as you blast your iPod on your hour-long ride through traffic.

Take advantage of anything that is free! (And has free food and open bars—aka SULA events!) But also remember, that what is free probably has a 10 dollar parking expense. CARPOOL.

Never stay in the first lane on the freeways. It will probably turn into an exit that you didn’t know was coming and that you don’t want to take. The second lane is your friend.

Prepare to stop at any given moment. The LA mentality is that green lights don’t always mean you get to go, and red lights don’t always mean the person is going to stop. Beware the infamous left hand turn by impatient BMWs.

Just avoid driving on Highland. Trust me.