Living Life the Wong Way --In Pursuit of Happiness and Food!

SoCal College Tour Fall 2019 Part I

This post is long overdue. After getting back from our trip, I got sick for nearly two weeks. I had a cough that lasted for a month. I’m finally feeling 100%! I thought my cough would never go away! Anyways, here is Part I of our college tour.

Over the Thanksgiving break, we drove down to Southern California to tour some universities. Our eldest daughter is a junior now and we wanted her to know the options available in California. At the moment, she seems keen on staying in the west coast so for this trip, we focused on California public universities–mainly UCs with the exception of USC. We were able to reserve tours with USC, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara.

I thought we were getting an early start but I was actually surprised to see a lot of high school freshman and sophomores at these college tours.

One thing we kept hearing from the school reps were that their admission process is based on a “holistic” approach — whatever the heck that means. Umm…can you be more transparent of what “holistic” approach means? Apparently not!


Although we were unable to secure a college tour with UCLA, we decided to tour it by ourselves. The campus is beautiful and the architecture reminds me a lot of Cal (UC Berkeley) –a good mix of old and new but with a SoCal vibe. UCLA is one of the most applied to universities in the world. Topping that list are also some of the other SoCal UCs. It’s easy to see why because the SoCal weather was great when we were there. It was in the mid 70s!


The tour at USC is very well organized. First part of the tour consisted of an introduction of the school and their admission requirements. The second part of the tour consisted of a student led tour which I really enjoyed thanks to our tour guide name Bacon (his last name). Of course USC is now notorious as part of the Olivia Jade (Remember Aunt Becky? That’s her daughter!) college admission scandal. Although not much was said about this during our tour. I wonder how the “holistic” approach to admissions works here. Hmm….

I did find their school spirit to be pretty strong here. Perhaps it was because they just beaten their local rival in a football game just the day before. I did get sticker shock when I saw the cost of attendance. But, I guess that’s to be expected since they are a private university.

One tidbit of info I learned that may come in handy for future Jeopordy contestants is that the trojan is not the USC mascot, but rather the noble white horse, Traveler. Now you know!

UC Irvine

The next day we drove down to to Irvine for the UC Irvine tour. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos here because I was too absorbed in the tour. UC Irvine has a very different feel because it’s more of a suburban community surrounding the campus vs. the previous two universities in the heart of Los Angeles. UCI has a lovely campus and they have the large Aldrich Park at the heart of their campus.

One thing I learned is that their mascot is the the Anteater! Zot! Zot!

Little Tokyo – Los Angeles

Although our primary focus of going to SoCal was for college tours, we of course, had to seek out some good food while we were down there as well.

The first night we got into LA, we made it just in time for dinner. We went to Little Tokyo and had intended to go to Marugame Monzo for their fresh udon, but there was a long line, so we put our name there and also to Daikokuya, which is conveniently next door. And you really can’t go wrong with either! Last time we were in the area, we had already tried Marugame Monzo, so I’m glad we got to try Daikokuya this time because their ramen is delicious! I got the kotteri option for my broth, which is bits of back fat floating in the broth! Sounds strange? No! It’s really, really good!

Japanese Village Plaza

After dinner, we strolled around the Japanese Village Plaza. I stocked up on inexpensive Korean facial masks and if you love cute Asian trinkets then you’ll have to stop by here. They had a lot of Studio Ghibli toys and figurines.

The plaza was already festively decorated for Christmas and they also had a public karaoke set up in the center of the plaza. It was entertaining to watch. It ranged from some really good singers to some terrible ones but kudos to them for their courage to sing in front of strangers.

For dessert, we went to Mikawaya for their mochi ice cream. Sure, you can get them from the supermarket, but you can order them individually here and they also have unique flavors you can’t find at the local supermarket.

South Coast Plaza

While searching for food the next day, we saw that we were going to be near a Marugame Udon.

There is one that opened up in Berkeley recently and we haven’t actually made it there because the lines were insanely long. There was no long lines here!

I like the concept! Select your udon flavor and then pick your tempura toppings! Refrain from selecting everything because the toppings can really add up.

Initially, we didn’t realize the restaurant was actually inside the South Coast Plaza. We got to see the beautiful Christmas decorations in the mall while searching for the restaurant. After dinner, the kids even enjoyed a ride on the merry-go-round.

Part II

Part II of the college tour will focus on UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara.

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