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The University of California – Irvine is a public research university located, as the name quite clearly gives away, in Irvine, California. Founded in 1965, it’s a relatively new university but has very quickly climbed up the rankings and is definitely among the Tier 1 universities, which should explain its rating as a Public Ivy League. The excellent research program, coupled with the location and doors it opens for you, means that it’s a hot favourite for students from all over the world. Pity it’s not terribly easy to get into, but it’s not extremely hard either.
Irvine has popularly been voted as one of the best places to live in the United States. A part of Orange County (OC, for those of you obsessed with the show), Irvine is known for its weather, its lifestyle, its exceptionally low crime rate, and just about anything else that could be good about a city. Just a 40 mile drive away from the insanity of Los Angeles, this is definitely the place to be.
Well, most campuses that are a few hundred years old are exceptionally good, so imagine how brilliant a newly made university would be. The beautiful 1489 acre campus has everything students could ask for; the state-of-the-art lecture halls, research centers and libraries are complemented sweetly by the fantastic recreation centers and athletic facilities. They have a couple of bars on campus itself, and some excellent coffee shops too; heck, there’s even a gaming zone.
In spite of so much activity on campus, and rather liberal rules, most grad students tend to live off-campus. It affords them way more luxury, space, and privacy, and since Irvine is so crime-free, safety isn’t an issue either. The closer you live to campus, the more expensive rents get, but transport isn’t too much of a problem even if you choose to stay a bit further away. Huntington Beach, Vista Del Campo, Stanford Court and Berkeley Court are some of the common areas students reside in, but there’s a plethora of options, really. Take a look around, see what you like, see what you can afford, more importantly, and you’re sorted.
This is probably what draws everyone to Irvine in the first place. The weather is absolutely brilliant; most days are nice and sunny, but not in the hot and humid Indian way. The cool breeze the Pacific Ocean brings along is refreshing, and you won’t get baked in the heat even in the afternoon. Temperatures very rarely go beyond 24-25°C, and very rarely go below 14-15°C. All in all, it’s quite lovely.
UCI takes immense pride in the fact that a number of their professors are Nobel Prize winners, and are pioneers in their respective fields. Learning here is an absolute joy, but sometimes academics may suffer a bit due to the lack of one-to-one attention. That too is gettable, but you have to take the initiative yourself and approach the professor; it isn’t preschool.
Since UCI is a public university, it isn’t impossible to get scholarships or freeships, but they’re normally need-based, and also performance dependant. Indian students do normally get scholarships of a few thousands, but don’t count on it.
UCI is known for the excellent opportunities that open up for students who graduate from here, and this is vindicated by the kind of jobs students are offered. If you keep in touch with your Career Center, and start lapping up all internships that may come your way, it will go a long way in ensuring that you have enough contacts to help you out when the time comes for you to apply for a job.
You’ll find a number of Asians (that’s what Americans call people from China) here, but a healthy number of Indians as well. It’s not too bad, though, and overall it’s a nice multicultural mix. The boys opine that the women are extremely hot; pity that the girls can’t say the same about them.
But that being said, you don’t really have to stay indoors to have fun. The entire area around college is bustling with activity; the array of beaches like Laguna Beach and Newport Beach are excellent star-gazing spots, and naturally you have a number of excellent bars and restaurants almost everywhere around college. In a nutshell, life is good.
While it admittedly lags behind UC-Berkeley and UCLA, UC-Irvine is definitely among one of the better schools in the USA. And if you’re looking out for a great balance of work and play, your search should stop here.