My Experience at University of California, Davis

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach—they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Jason earned his bachelor’s degree in Spanish from University of California, Davis in 2010. Currently based in San Francisco, he specializes in many levels of Spanish tutoring. Check out what he had to say about his time at University of California, Davis:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options.

Jason: UC Davis has a great location California. I felt safe, even late at night, because there is a lot of security and transportation assistance. While I made sure I found apartments close to campus and biked everywhere (it’s known as a bike town, and is especially great for biking because it’s so flat), most of my friends took the bus and managed fine. It comes every 20-30 minutes to most areas of Davis from 7AM to around 10PM. The campus is more rural than urban; however, Sacramento, the capitol of California, is 20-30 minutes northeast and is a great urban city.

How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants at University of California, Davis?

Jason: While this depends largely on your major, I had a great experience at UC Davis studying my double major of Spanish and Psychology. I attended many office hours for many professors, which is partly why I got such strong grades. The academic advisers care too and are very approachable and available for appointments, so use them as resources. Make appointments earlier rather than later so you graduate on time and can plan effectively. All the teaching assistants were great too; they were qualified and helpful for exams. They are usually PhD students, which is what I am now at University of Georgia.

How would you describe the dorm life—rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Jason: Dorm life is very fun at Davis. I made many friends my first-year in my dorm and remained friends all four years.The dining commons are great; clean, close-by, and relatively affordable, with a lot of options. Most dorms host many events for students to socialize.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported?

Jason: I always knew I wanted to help people and become a therapist. Two years into it, I discovered it was very competitive and difficult to get internships and extracurricular training opportunities, so I decided to learn Spanish and double-major to make myself more marketable. I chose to major in Spanish because I loved the culture and language. There are also progressively more and more Spanish-speaking people in the U.S. who need mental health services and there’s a significant dearth of bilingual health professionals. The only issue with the psychology major at UC Davis is that the introductory classes are quite large, and primarily research-focused — not clinical.

How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life at University of California, Davis?

Jason: I honestly did struggle the first couple of months, feeling lonely, homesick and a little out-of-place. After a few months, however, I realized there are so many great people to meet, so I started to really enjoy myself and develop meaningful friendships. I wasn’t into Greek life, but I know many people who had great experiences with it. It’s very popular at UC Davis.

How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? 

Jason: I liked the Career Center at Davis — I just regret not using it more often to help with graduate school applications. There are many other student support services to take advantage of as well.

How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges at University of California, Davis?

Jason: At first glance, UC Davis may seem over-crowded, but there are many areas to study and explore. The first floor in the library at Davis may be crowded during finals week, but the upper floors are empty and great to study if you thrive on silence. The student union looks crowded too, but it has its spots as well.

Describe the surrounding town.

Jason: While I didn’t leave campus much because I was studying and happy with the many on-campus activities, I know Sacramento has a lot to explore. There are many great places to hike, streets to explore, and sights. It’s a cute little town with many great restaurants and booming nightlife.  

How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Jason: In psychology, as noted above, I wished most of my classes were smaller so there would have been more dialogue and attention with professors. They did get smaller, however, as I advanced to more upper-level classes. In Spanish, the classes are smaller since there are less students, so I was happier there. While not so much in Spanish, a bigger problem in the Psychology major was getting into classes. A few times the class I wanted or needed filled up before I could register, which was a little disappointing. Psychology is such a popular major, however, that as you advance through the major, your enrollment appointments become earlier, making this less of an issue.

Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Jason: I loved my advanced Spanish grammar class with Dr. Charles Oriel. He is the coolest professor and is insanely knowledgeable about Spanish grammar and vocabulary. He also makes it fun. I attribute a lot of my success and command of the language to him.

I also studied abroad twice, three months in Mexico and seven months in Costa Rica, as part of my Spanish major. I loved Latin America and had so much fun. The most difficult part was struggling in the advanced literature course at the University of Costa Rica. Even though I had only been learning Spanish for two years at the time, the professor treated me like a native Costa Rican student with the same standards. Now my Spanish is almost native and reflects extensive language education and training.

Check out Jason’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.