ECLA: Granting solo starts in showbiz

by Beacon Staff • March 17, 2011

, several Beacon staff members flew to Los Angeles for the Associated Collegiate Press Conference. While there, we checked in With Emerson’s LA program.

If you decide to spend a semester in the City of Angels, you are in for some serious city-shock — and not just because the hipsters there sometimes find themselves wearing shorts. LA is a cool city (but it’s warm!): There are famous beaches, famous people, and famous stars on the sidewalk with the names of famous people on them.

That said, it’s also a weird city — especially if you’re used to Boston. Public transportation is scarce and inconvenient, so you are likely to spend hours in traffic and cash at the pump. The buildings are low and spread far apart.

And the people...well, like most cities, LA has a stereotypical character. If a Red Sox cap wearing, affable, Dunkin Donut’s drinking dude is Boston’s, then a tan, fit, Ray-Ban donning, syrupy sweet character is LA’s.

For better or for worse, Tinseltown is no Beantown.

Similarly, Emerson’s LA campus (ECLA) bears little resemblance to our cozy campus on the Common. The program’s housing complex spreads students across 26 faceless buildings (A-Z) and is a five minute drive from the ECLA Center, where classes actually take place.

There’s no Max to grab food in, no awnings to hang out under, and no congested main street to bump into your buddies on. It isn’t really a campus to encourage bonding with your fellow students — the ECLA program isn’t an Emerson oasis on the west coast. It’s you on the west coast.

What the ECLA program effectively serves as, however, is a soft launch into adulthood. The program allows students get a foot in the door to the entertainment capital of the world. Marketing communication students may dream of celebrity publicity gigs. Journalism majors may train their craft at an LA-based magazines. But the city’s appeal is strongest for visual and media arts students. After all, Hollywood is the mecca of cinema.

Chances are you’ll learn more over there than just an appreciation for In-N-Out and Tupac. You’ll discover whether or not LA is the place for you. And if you’re film student, or interested in the entertainment industry, that’s something you ought to find out.

Just remember before you sign off one of your last semesters in Boston: Emerson College as you know it does not exist in Los Angeles.

Perhaps with a new campus center, more infrastructure, and a growing alumni base, ECLA will begin to develop its own distinct culture and community. But for now, prepare yourself for a solo experience: building a network in the city of the silver screen.