When someone hears the term, “college kid,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Broke? Poor? Lazy? The stereotypes that surround students do not exist without a measure of truth. For many college students, school can seem overwhelming, especially when they are unfamiliar with the area they live in. Students who are unsure of what their area has to offer may wind up feeling homesick, stressed and out-of-the-loop with the rest of the community. Without proper knowledge of the area, many can also make the mistake of spending too much money in one trip.

Since the Metro Gold Line runs down to Los Angeles, students can visit the city for events without worrying about gas prices or carpools.

For many people, music propels culture and community. It is one of the few things that transcends every culture to bring people together through various forms of expression. Los Angeles County is well-known for its musical culture, whether Latinx, hip-hop or classical. Different cities may bring different preferences, but Los Angeles has the most of everything in one spot. Some venues are more expensive than others but the most expensive option is not always the best.

Some musical venues and events that students might consider include Jazz Night the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), open mic nights in the area or the classic karaoke night with friends. Search online for venues that best suit your interests. Many are free or around $20. Consider attending a music festival, such as the second annual Comfort LA Music Festival in Los Angeles on Oct. 7 which is free with an online RSVP.

One of the benefits of being an APU student is living so close to the hills and nature. Although a quick look around campus might not show it, APU is surrounded by nature. The school is located in the foothills, close to the San Gabriel Valley and near several parks, hiking trails and campsites. Hiking trails and parks in the area include the Colby Trail in Glendora, Calif., Azusa River Wilderness Park in Azusa, Calif. and Azusa Fish Canyon Falls in Azusa, Calif., among others. Perhaps one of the most noteworthy campsites and places to hike is up in the mountains at San Gabriel Valley’s Crystal Lake. With a little cafe available towards the entrance of the recreational area, visitors can sit on benches to enjoy the scenery or enjoy basking in nature first-hand. Set a day to go to a park with friends for a picnic, walk a winding road for fun, sit among the trees or tell stories with loved ones. Nature can curate a time of renewal in some and opens a path of opportunities to connect with others.

“Culture” is a word as diverse as the people, places and things it refers to. Culture can refer to ethnic identities, community tendencies or interests shared by the masses. Needless to say, California offers a lot in the way of culture. For instance, many APU students might be surprised to learn that their is a castle in their own backyard. Yes, a castle.

Rubel Castle in Glendora, Calif., is an example of community and culture interacting as one. The castle was built in the late ‘60s by Michael Clarke Rubel, who had a fascination with construction as a child. As he grew older, he took up the challenge of building a castle, which was aided by friends and neighbors. Equipped with a drawbridge, tall rock-filled walls and unique trinkets all over, the castle is anything but boring.

For more information on available days, check the castle’s opening hours online at the Glendora Historical Society website. Since the castle is not open all day every day, it is important to mark calendar dates in advance. All visits require a payment of $10 for adults and $5 for children 8–12 years old. Due to the nature of the castle, waivers must be filled out prior to arrival and must be handed in before entering.

However, if castles and drawbridges are not fascinating enough, students can also visit La Plaza De Culturas y Artes in Los Angeles. Tourists and Californians alike know the major tourist attraction that is Olvera Street, the first street built in Los Angeles. But not as many people know of the museum that resides right across from it. As the name indicates, La Plaza is an art and culture museum that showcases the past and present talents and histories of California. As a tall brown building in Downtown Los Angeles, La Plaza does not seem to be anything special, but inside is a world of culture. There are various displays people can see from Victorian clothing to old propaganda against the Latinx community. Visitors can watch videos of Latinx people who have experienced difficulties throughout their lives and hear their stories first-hand. They can also see a historical reenactment of Los Angeles in the 1920s.

Yet the museum is more than history. The art it showcases is culturally relevant, which often times brings up the hard truths of different communities, such as last year’s exhibit, Queer Latinx Expressions. Other exhibits tend to be more educational, such as the current exhibit about Rafael Cardenas’ photography styles.

The museum is located at 501 N. Main St, Los Angeles. It is open every day from 12–5 p.m., and is free to everyone.

Movies and Plays 
Also available at APU are the many plays and musicals the theater department holds every year. This year they will host a contemporary retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Other plays include: The Women, Almost Maine and The Addams Family. Students get a discount option when they purchase tickets. Invite family and friends to support the department and aspiring actors within it, as well as have a good time embracing the talents our school has to offer.

Some students would prefer movies to plays, however. Consider investing in a group movie night, either at a theatre or as part of a communal get-together. Movies are also shown around APU in different departments. Pay attention to email notifications that air these special days. Or for those who prefer the buttery scent of a movie theater, stop by the Foothill Cinema Stadium 10 across from campus.

Outdoor movie screenings are also a great way to bond with friends, family and loved ones. Feeling nostalgic for the old drive-through movies? Visit any outdoor movie screenings in your area. The Rooftop Cinema Club hosts many throughout the year in Downtown Los Angeles. Visit their site for more details on specific
screenings and dates.

No matter what events you choose to participate in, the important thing is to have fun. Engage in community, learn about culture and become familiar with the world around you. Living as a college student should never be a dull affair. Explore the community and see how much it has to offer.