Welcome to Hollywood-land
New arrivals will find Los Angeles to be somewhere between an American Eden and a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah.
Palm trees sway beneath constantly sunny skies, bikini-clad beauties frolic in the sand by the glittering Pacific, nightclubs throb with hot young stars, and swingers cruise the boulevards in the latest pimped-out rides.
The vision of Hollywood as a neon hotbed of craven back-stabbers clawing their way to the top of the "industry" only takes into account one segment of this sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles extends ever outward as the second largest city in America, an endless expanse of culturally, ethnically and socially diverse neighborhoods.
But most young people do move to L.A. to make it in the entertainment biz, and it's never easy. You'll have to network, pitch and audition like crazy while still finding a way to pay the rent. That struggle creates a communal feel among aspiring actors, writers and filmmakers who spend their days as waiters, bartenders or personal assistants while pursuing their big break.
When your shift is done, the recreational options abound, from glitzy West Side nightspots to modish East Side dive bars. Nightly house parties are off the hook, and as long as you know someone who knows someone you're in. You'll want to dress sharp but casual. Blue jeans are standard issue, and tattoos abound.
L.A.'s traffic often proves infuriating. Find a place to live near where you work, or your commute might drag on for hours. Make sure to arm yourself with the Thomas Guide, the bible of L.A. navigation. It will help you unlock the unending labyrinth of freeways and boulevards as you discover the delights of your new home.
Another city that's been famously influenced by a diverse group of residents, LA is also well known for its Pacific surf culture and the glitzy Hollywood set. The city is trendy and fun, and locals are constantly coming up with new slang that works its way throughout the United States. There's also some tried and true native-speak to learn before you go.
One of the most infamous things about LA, the traffic, has spawned many local terms, like Sigalert. You definitely don't want to be stuck in the vicinity of one of these - it's a traffic accident that will tie up traffic for at least two hours.
Speaking of traffic, when you're talking about a highway or major road, it's referred to as "the (road number)" for example, "the 405." If you're a public transit kind of person, then you'll be taking The Metro in the city.
The general lower region of California is known to natives as SoCal.
Sam Lanckton graduated from Columbia and worked at The New York Times for four years before moving to Los Angeles. He will soon be absurdly rich and famous.
• Walt Disney Company
• DirecTV Group
• 20th Century Fox
• Sony Pictures
• Hilton Hotels
What do you love about working here?
It's always exciting. If you're pursuing something in the creative field, you're never totally secure in your work. It's a positive and negative. It can switch on you. For me it's challenging and creatively stimulating. I see the lack of consistency as a positive.
University of Michigan, Film Director/Editor