Gain insight into UC Davis student life from current students! Whether you are looking to apply to UC Davis or an incoming freshman, you can read about real students’ experiences as an Aggie.
I can obviously share my own insight and advice when it comes to navigating your way through the school. However, I thought it would be best to ask the opinions of other students in different majors. There’s a lot of questions to ask when choosing a college, and these two undergrads answer a few.
Karla Estrada and Marianna Zaragoza are both third-year students. Karla is double-majoring in International Agricultural Development and Spanish.
Marianna is majoring in Animal Biology with a minor in Communications. They both offer unique perspectives on their experience as Aggies.
Why did you choose UC Davis?
For Marianna, it was a very simple decision when it came to studying at UC Davis. “I knew when I was in elementary school that I wanted to become a veterinarian and I wanted to go to UC Davis. So when I received my acceptance to this school, there was no way I was declining that offer.” UC Davis has been ranked many times for having one of the best veterinary medicine programs, so it is a no-brainer for pre-vets to want to attend for undergrad.
Karla’s situation when choosing UC Davis was very different from Marianna’s. She wanted to take a gap year, “UC Davis was the only school that would let me defer my admission for one year.” She was able to live in Germany for a year to learn the language and culture. It helped her realize that she wanted to do agriculture, and Davis ended up being perfect for that.
What would you say about the vibe of UC Davis?
Marianna believes that “UC Davis is a very peaceful, cozy, college town. Everyone here is super friendly and happy to help.”
Karla has a more personal outlook on the vibe of Davis as a city since she grew up there. “Davis is a really nice community of people, and it’s a fairly liberal place where everyone comes together and people from all over are welcome. It’s a very relaxed environment, where no one would bat an eye if you went to Safeway in PJs, and I love the fact that most people bike so roads are very safe.”
She also mentioned that “the student body is very diverse, so you’re bound to find people with similar backgrounds and interests as you which is something that made UC Davis very appealing to me.” UC Davis has been classified as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), a university that has 25% or more enrolled students who identify as Hispanic. The school is also recognized as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI).
What makes UC Davis unique?
Marianna stated location as well as transportation as unique factors to consider about Davis. “UC Davis is the largest UC campus. I feel that every quarter I was learning new paths and routes to my classes so I have yet to get bored of walking around campus.” Currently, the UC Davis campus is 5,300 acres.
To Marianna, “a bike is the smartest vehicle for transportation.” However, she mentions that” If biking isn’t your thing (it definitely isn’t mine), we also have buses called Unitrans which are run by students and can take you pretty much anywhere in Davis.” The city is often referred to as the “Bicycle Capital of America,” due to how biker-friendly it is.
Lastly, we can’t talk about Davis without talking about cows. My freshman year, the cows were my favorite to visit after a long day or if I wanted to just be with animals (I had to leave my home of 10 pets so I missed being with animals).
Karla believes that there are many aspects of UC Davis that make it unique. Accessibility, location, and actual education all set our school apart. She highlighted accessibility by mentioning transportation, “I personally didn’t have a car for 2 years and I would’ve been okay without one for the rest of college. Everything is within biking distance, and if you don’t have a bike or don’t like that, the bus is a reliable way for students to get around.”
As for the location uniqueness, Karla brought up that “It feels like you’re close to nature but at the same time you’re always a short drive away from the city. I absolutely love the campus, it doesn’t feel cramped at all and it has a lot of cool hanging out spots.”
She discussed the education of UC Davis as well, as a factor in its uniqueness. For Karla, her major is a very niche area of agriculture. This is something she didn’t even know was possible, nor did she think she would like. The opportunity to be at one of the best schools for her major, and to be with amazing professors adds to the nuance of UC Davis student life.
What do students do for fun at UC Davis?
Marianna mentioned that “UC Davis is known for being a cozy college town, which comes with limited sources for entertainment. However, that doesn’t stop me or my friends from having a fun night out.” She then proceeded to say all the attractions Davis has; movie theaters, restaurants, a bowling alley, beautiful parks, the arboretum, and great coffee shops. However, if you want something new you can always go to Sacramento for more options since it is so close. Marianna also brought up that she and her friends hold weekly game nights to de-stress from school (pre-COVID).
Karla had a very similar answer to Marianna, “Davis is a small town, but there are always lots of things for students to do.” She listed the Davis farmers market, Lake Berryessa for hiking, downtown Davis, the arboretum, and the cows. Karla also agreed with Marianna that going to Sacramento is another thing that is common for UC Davis students.
Do you believe you have a school work/life balance?
When asked this question, Marianna and Karla had two different answers. However, both agree that they have a lot on their plates as UC Davis students. For Marianna, she believes that she goes back and forth between having a balance or not, “…but when I really put my mind to it, I am good about managing my time.” It is just hard to get back on track after not having that balance.
Karla stated all the activities she is involved in while attending UC Davis, which seems to take up all her time. She has a part-time job Monday-Friday, classes, and coaches swim lessons seasonally. Even with all these activities she always makes time for the gym and for her friends. “We have game nights together or go out to eat and we’ve even planned bigger out-of-town trips like Seattle or Lake Tahoe.” Having activities and things planned outside of classes, it makes UC Davis student life less daunting. In the end, Karla believes she has a good school work/life balance and is very happy with how everything has worked out so far.
Recap of Student Life at UC Davis
Overall, Karla and Marianna both enjoy their experience as an undergrad. There can be some difficulties with having a balance, but it is doable.
My perspective is very similar to theirs, and I am proud to be an Aggie. For those who are considering applying to UC Davis, or are incoming freshmen, feel free to reach out!