Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Living My Own LA Story: Moving to Southern California

I debated on whether or not to go with a cheesy title and determined that now is a perfectly appropriate time to bust out one of the many California song lyrics.

On Thursday, I made the big move from South Carolina to Southern California.

LAX

My dad came with me to help me get moved in and settled.  He is the one who made our schedule for the weekend.  Thursday - Fly to Los Angeles.  Friday - Move into apartment.  Saturday - Buy a car.  Sunday - Finish moving and maybe have time for sightseeing.  Monday - Dad flies back home.

So this weekend with Dad was really fun.  It was almost like we were on a vacation, except a weird vacation which involves shopping for apartment furnishings and a car.  It didn't hit me until Sunday that when he went home, I might get lonely.



My first few days in Los Angeles have already been exciting.  We spent Friday night at the Hilgard House hotel which looks like it might be haunted.  However, I didn't encounter any ghosts (except the one I drew on my Snapchat), and the beds were actually quite comfortable.

After awkwardly trying to check in at the wrong apartment complex, I got the key (errr... card) to my apartment on Saturday, as well as my parking spot.  I really lucked out with convenient garage parking at my apartment building.  My apartment came furnished (a little too much furniture for the small space if you ask me), so we outfitted it with linens, storage, and essentials primarily from the nearby City Target.

For my four years of undergrad, I outfitted my bedroom in lots and lots of pink.  My mother was sure to warn me that with my studio apartment, my bed would be visible from my kitchen, so I probably shouldn't use pink.  Thankfully, City Target had a good selection of my favorite mature and sophisticated color, yellow.  However, the brand is Xhilaration which I believe is marketed to children, so perhaps I'm not all that grown-up.

LA Apartment

Saturday night, I witnessed (on television) my first high-speed police chase.  The local news here is much more entertaining to watch.  This stuff never happens in South Carolina!

High-Speed Chase

On Saturday, my dad and I bought a car.  We had done a little test-driving back in South Carolina and had narrowed it down to the Toyota Corolla or Nissan Sentra (and perhaps we would have considered the Mazda 3, but the jerks at Anderson Ford Mazda completely ignored us both times we went to the dealership that Saturday).  The Sentra was our favorite appearance-wise, so we went to the Nissan dealership first.  My dad did his research and found Universal City Nissan online beforehand.  He even brought a printout of a car which turned out handy in our negotiations.

The car buying experience here was really different than I've ever witnessed in South Carolina.  One guy showed us the cars in the lot.  We told him Sentra, and he told us, "Pick a color."  It was like reaching into a bag of M&Ms!  I found it a little overwhelming, having so many options.

Also, it never fails that when I test drive a car, I do something dangerous or illegal.  A few weeks earlier in South Carolina, I straight cut another car off to make a hasty right turn.  Not even a minute into the drive in LA, I drove through a stoplight and the very end of yellow.  Having the dealer in the car makes me nervous.... I sure hope I don't have to retake the driving test to get my California license because I'm not too confident I'd pass!

After the quick test drive, we were taken to another car dealer guy who priced the car and negotiated with us.  Something we weren't expecting - rather than going down from the sticker price, the first thing this guy did was add on $2,000 for taxes!  There is a 9% sales tax on everything, cars included, in Southern California, and it is not included in the sticker price.  Dad, however, is a tough negotiator, so I feel like we got a good deal.  And if we didn't, I don't want to hear it.  Ignorance is bliss!

Another incredibly strange part of our car buying experience is that whenever they sold a car, loud sirens went off in the building, and they made the car buyer go ring a bell.  The first time it happened, I was startled - was someone stealing a car?  Nope, just the opposite.  I watched the humiliating procedure occur three times before we bought our car, and I told Dad that I would never put myself up for such embarrassment.  Of course, as soon as the sirens started blaring, Dad was sending me up to ring the bell and ready to take the picture!

Universal City Nissan

The longest part of the entire procedure was signing off on all of the paperwork!  But it gave them plenty of time to wash my car and fill the tank.

Nissan Sentra

On Sunday, we did a bit more apartment organizing and shopping.  And I had my first IKEA experience at the store in Burbank.  We braved the Sunday madness to get some great deals.  Note that weekends are not the best time to go... if you can help it, don't go on the weekend.  I went today (Tuesday), and it was so much less stressful.

Los Angeles Freeway

We also tried the famous California In N Out Burger. The menu is very small and simple, which I appreciated.

In N Out Burger

Can you believe that Dad has been to Los Angeles three times, now, and has never seen the Hollywood sign? So I figured we should make a point of seeing it by going to Hollywood & Highland, a mall by the Loews on Hollywood Boulevard that offers some of the best views of the Hollywood sign.

Driving down Hollywood Boulevard, we spotted some super heroes...

Cat Woman and Wonder Woman

Finally, Dad saw the Hollywood sign!

Hollywood Sign

We ate dinner at Cho Oishi which was in the Hollywood & Highland mall. After, we found a great view of the boulevard from the front of the center.

Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood Boulevard

El Capitan

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hollywood & Highland

Then, to make the most of our $5 all-day parking, we took a little walk down the strip, turning around before venturing into the sketchy part. The area by the Chinese Theater and Hollywood & Highland is a nice, safe attraction, but the remainder of the boulevard could really use a makeover.

Grauman's Chinese Theater

All weekend, I left my Nikon in my camera bag. Every photo was taken on my iPhone 5s and post-processed using VSCOcam, a photo editing and sharing app that I love.  It's wonderfully compatible with Instagram, my go-to app for sharing photos with friends and family while I travel.

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