From 41 degrees Celsius to 21, and Celebrating Independence Day

A shot of the desert from a plane window behind the wing

On July 4, the SUSI ’23 Scholars headed West. Early in the morning at 7 a.m. the Scholars began their travels to Los Angeles, California. It was a short flight from Phoenix to LA. From the window of the plane, one could see how the landscape changed from the Arizona deserts to the green forests, lakes and rivers of California. The patterns of Arizona’s deserts were amazing. From the plane one could clearly see all the beautiful lines and shapes of the desert landscape. After arriving at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) the Scholars headed to the Hoxton Downtown hotel, located conveniently close to rail and bus lines, for easy access to the beach and tourist attractions. After arrival we had some time to settle in, have lunch and explore the area. Some scholars went for a walk around downtown and discovered a Mexican neighborhood (Pico Boulevard) on one side, Chinatown on another, and yet another bordering area was a more general urban area with business centers, shops and restaurants. 

The Scholars prepare to load their luggage into transit vehicles in front of Gordon Commons
SUSI ’23 scholars departing for Los Angeles

In the evening at 6 pm the Scholars gathered in the hotel lobby to go to the Grand Park 4th of July Block Party to celebrate Independence Day. The Block Party offered music, entertainment and the traditional Fourth of July fireworks display beginning around 9 pm. There was a drone show with many drones drawing different symbols. Here are the SUSI ’23 Scholars’ first impressions of Los Angeles and the Independence Day celebrations.

A group of scholars stands in front of a building illuminated in red, white and blue at dusk
The SUSI’ 23 scholars at the Grand Park 4th of July Block Party to celebrate Independence Day in downtown Los Angeles

We stayed in Phoenix one month and I was falling in love with Phoenix already. It is our first day in LA but I am missing Phoenix, although it was hot there and it is very cold here compared to Phoenix. I have not explored Downtown LA yet, but we went for a walk this afternoon and in the evening as well. I feel LA is more of a happening place than Phoenix and I think that I would start loving LA as well if I stayed here one month. And I see more chaos in the streets of in LA than in Phoenix in terms of homelessness. There are more homeless people in LA than in Phoenix. I am really looking forward to making the best out of our four-day stay here.

Rakib Ahammed, Bangladesh
A group of women scholars in downtown LA
SUSI’ 23 scholars in downtown Los Angeles

First of all, what amazes me about the US is the fact that it is so diverse, like you go from one place to another and it looks completely different. Phoenix is a calm city even though it is huge. Still you feel safe there, like a neighborhood. And we had a really good time there, despite the fact that it was so hot. We got to know the city and we really felt safe. And now we came to LA and it is big, it is different, the colors are different. It is grey, reddish grey. The weather is cold and it is a big metropolitan city and it looks so different from Phoenix. This is good about US, that you can take a flight which is just one hour and a half and you feel like you are completely in another country and culture. So I look forward for our experience in LA. And the celebration of Independence Day was different than I expected. I imagined a different kind of ‘party.’ It was a calm gathering and a decent celebration. People were waiting in a line to get food.

Anida Sokol, Bosnia

Firstly I love LA better than Phoenix. Number one is the weather. It is not as hot as in Phoenix. So, I love that. Also, I love the city. I love that how vibrant it is. I love the fact that when you go out in the street you see so many people hanging out as opposed to Phoenix. I love that the streets are broader than in Phoenix. Also, the infrastructure is good and buildings have history and personality. For the people, I prefer the people in Arizona. They were friendlier. Every time you go out, you have someone to smile at you and to greet you. Here everybody is minding their business, so you feel like you do not exist. People in Arizona are more friendly and nicer than people in LA.

Tamanda Chipo Masambuka, Malawi

My first impressions from the flight to the L.A. were two-sided. On the one hand, I wanted to visit new places in the US, especially such iconic spots as Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, etc. On the other hand, it was sad to leave Phoenix, which I got used to over four weeks. But the trip to the L.A. was worth it. A crowded modern city, with a lot of nice places and beaches– this is something I’ll remember for a long a time. Regarding my impressions of celebrating Independence Day, there were huge lines for street food and people were waiting for an hour in those lines. We also waited in those long lines and finally got our food and we danced and then we saw a drone show. It was not so fantastic as I expected.

Mariana Kitsa, Ukraine
The night sky is lit up with the words "Los Angeles," palm trees and a sun
Drone Show at Independence Day Celebration, Grand Park, Los Angeles.