For many college students, going abroad is an essential part of fulfilling the college experience. Typically done during sophomore or junior year, student's fly off to various continents, countries and islands all to experience what life is like in other parts of the world. Like many of my peers, abroad was always in the plans. Except, my idea of 'abroad' wasn't exactly as far as people would expect. In fact, my idea of 'abroad' didn't  involve leaving the country at all. I had the chance to study in Los Angeles California. 

Having grown up on the East Coast (much love to my Jersey Shore), the farthest I've ever gone west is Wisconsin and, trust me, Wisconsin isn't that exciting. That being said, I jumped at the opportunity when my school, Quinnipiac University, offered the program known as QU in LA where I could intern for a semester in Southern California. 

Naturally, I packed up my things, landed an internship, planned my classes, hopped off the plane at LAX and now here I am. Despite the many exciting foods and places I have been exposed to in the time I've spent living on the opposite coast (arguably the best coast), I still receive constant commentary that I'm not getting the true 'abroad experience' since my feet never technically left American soil.

Although it has taken much deliberation, my final response to these haters is simple: You're right, and here's why:

1. In Rihanna's words: work work work work work

Although the entertainment capital and tourist filled city does provide endless opportunities to explore, being 'abroad' in LA, for this program specifically, requires students to work/intern real, big boy/girl jobs. I work full eight hour days Monday through Thursday at two companies within the realm of film/television entertainment. I do not receive a spring break nor can I just decide to skip the day because I feel like it. Real work, real responsibility, real resume booster. Ultimately, really worth it.

2. LA is basically Europe

Jessica Ruderman

With various cities all within an hour or so from one another, plus traffic, each one adds something new and unique to the lifestyle and culture that you might as well be traveling from country to country. West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Downtown Los Angeles, Venice, Santa Monica, Hollywood, Malibu, Long Beach, Huntington, Marina del Rey and the list goes on and on. You don't need a plane, only a little patience to adventure into entire other worlds that individually offer something new.

3. The reason no one in NY owns a car

Since students are out here working, they need a car. Having a car means taking part in the religious practice California natives call 'traffic.' Slightly different from the opening scene of La La Land, people don't sing on top of their cars, but rather yell from inside them. There is no greater test for patience than being stuck in standstill traffic on The 405 coming home from work at 6:00pm.  

4. All the food

Jessica Ruderman

Basically any place can claim to have it's share of amazing foods, but in my opinion LA takes the cake. Despite the pizza and bagels, which, let's face it aren't good anywhere but New York or Jersey, LA is home to some of the most diverse cultures divided into areas that are home to their native eats.

Little Tokyo, Little Ethiopia, Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Armenia, Olvera Street to name a few, all bring foods from across the world to one convenient spot that is easily accessibly and super tasty. Oh, and who could forget being home to the famous In-N-Out Burger. What better food could you ask for?

5. The big organic, vegan, gluten free American melting pot

Los Angeles probably has the most diverse group of people next to NYC. Being that most people living in LA aren't from LA, everyone has their own unique story whether they come from as far as Oklahoma or as close as Pasadena.

With daily activities consisting mostly of organic foods, yoga and surfing, the LA life is more laid back than the fast paced people with a purpose to the East. Besides the traffic, both the dress down style and carefree, friendly nature make LA both a vacation spot and an ideal working environment. Not to mention the 60 degree sunny weather in the middle of winter that also adds to the appeal. 

6. Having the Kardashians as neighbors

Contrary to popular belief, celebrities do live in actual houses and don't just magically appear on your T.V. or in theaters. Since LA is the center of award shows, events and other aspects of the business, most celebrities and social icons take up residence in the city of angels. This makes for not-so-rare celeb sightings as they too eat and go out in LA when they please. I have not personally had Kris Jenner come knocking on my apartment to borrow an egg or some sugar, but it's probably just because she has someone for that. 

7. Opportunities around every corner

Jessica Ruderman

Here in LA, everyone knows someone or knows someone that knows someone that has some form of connection to the entertainment industry or what it means to make it 'big' in Hollywood. It's a great opportunity to network.

For communications people, such as myself, being surrounded by real people with real experience as well as those who've developed the entertainment world is truly inspiring. The creativity is contagious thus making it of the upmost importance to stash business cards in every bag, pocket, wallet and phone case you have. You never know who, what, when or where you'll meet someone of importance.

From its people, food, insane traffic to endless opportunities, there are countless ways to keep yourself preoccupied for the semester in Los Angeles and keep you wishing you could stay longer.

To all of those who have read this and are still not convinced, it relies mostly on perspective. Compared to the East Coast, LA is a completely different world. It may not be as old as Europe or as far as Australia, but it has all the character and options to offer and you don't even have to cross an ocean to get there. So, no, I am not technically 'abroad,' but who's to say my version isn't actually better?