In this past year alone, I have lived in five cities. LA, by far, is the most different from each of them.

Two of the cities were places that I had been living in for awhile. I grew up in Chicago: born downtown, grew up 30 minutes outside of the city. I started off 2013 there enjoying the end of the holidays with my family.

Then, I entered my third semester in Syracuse, a place I grew incredibly fond of largely due to the school. I was, however, starting to branch out and get to know other areas of the city and its hidden gems. The Sound Garden maintains as one of my favorite record stores.

The summer of 2013 I lived in New York City. I was in one of the NYU apartment buildings from the end of May until mid-August. It was the first time I lived outside of my house and my school. A new environment. It was also the first time I lived downtown since I was 8 months old in Chicago. I had to take upon myself learn how to live and work in Manhattan – along the way I learned the art of exploring.

Last semester I was in London, another major metropolitan city. This time, though, I was in a completely different continent, let alone country. Studying abroad brought its own elations and challenges, but ultimately it was a fantastic experience. It was like I was living in a dream bubble.

Next stop was LA. As the plane descended, I looked out onto the sprawling neighborhoods and residential areas from my window. This was not a study abroad bubble; this felt like a foreseeable reality in less than two years. This was LA – not a place of specific landmarks like Navy Pier or the Empire State Building or Big Ben. This was a place that stretched out instead of ascending up. A closer look and I saw that there were sound stages on all of the studio lots. This was new. This was very, very new.

The driving was the biggest thing to get used to in this massive city. Freeways and side streets rule the land. As someone who hadn’t driven recently, I was terrified of commuting.  After commuting to work, I learned something very important: people can be crazy here, but there are crazy drivers everywhere.

The presence of the entertainment industry is everywhere and it is infectious. I loved being part of the industry and working for my internship. I was able to contribute to an industry that I have always been so invested in. I loved being able to talk to as many people as I could about what they did for their job, what they wanted to do, where they had come from. Everyone’s story is so different. All you have to do to know it is to ask. It’s as simple as that.

LA is a city for the scavengers and the explorers. There aren’t the normal touristy hotspots like how there are in London. There are some, but the best parts of LA are the places where I found a concert or a screening in Glendale or in Burbank or in Studio City. There are so many areas worth getting to know, with nooks and crannies of amazing restaurants and brilliant theaters.

This is a city that takes time to get to know. But I can honestly say that I am willing to come back and getting to know it some more.