Tuesday, 15 October 2013

San Francisco

A trip to San Francisco for +Emma Langschied's 21st birthday - Living the dream doesn't get much better than that! 

Over two years ago I first spoke to Emma about the dream to study abroad in America, and by some miracle we have found ourselves here together. So for her 21st (the much anticipated birthday in the States) we planned a trip to San Francisco to truly celebrate in style. I promised a memorable weekend, and I think we certainly delivered!

Friday Oct. 11 
An early start for the drive from Long Beach to San Francisco. With seven of us travelling together in a rented car we found ourselves in a giant Dodge durango, also known as 'The Tank'. We took the coastal route for the drive, and with our many stops the trip took around 10 hours.

The exciting arrival in San Francisco was slightly dampened by the fog, the traffic, and a sat nav without a sense of direction. Eventually we found our way to our rooms for the next two nights, and with all our maturity we moved in by jumping on the beds.

After the long drive, as the late night closed in, we found our way to Pier 39 and started our weekend celebrations at Bubba Gump's, where I could finally enjoy real fish & chips. The night of course would not have been complete without an ice-cream and singing surprise for the birthday girl!

Road trip, Bubba Gump & room mates

Saturday Oct. 12
In true tourist fashion we managed to cram in most of our sight seeing in one day; A foggy trip over the Golden Gate Bridge, driving down the crooked Lombard Street, up to Coit Tower - and that was all before lunch.

Golden Gate Bridge

Coit Tower

In the afternoon we headed to China Town, which is one of my new favourite places, especially for the delicious pork buns! I also succeeded in solving my chocolate withdrawal problems with a trip to Ghirardelli Square. Following the recommendations of many of our local friends, we also went to Fisherman's Wharf, which gave us a true taste of San Francisco and a chance for some tourist shopping and sneaky present buying.

The bay, China Town, Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf & Lombard Street

Our night was spent back at Pier 39, where we were treated to clam chowder bread bowls (highly recommended!) and watching the fireworks, before heading home to a night of obscure conversations and laughter with the girls in our room.

Pier 39

Sunday Oct. 13
Bright and early on Sunday morning we were lucky to see clearer skies so went back to the Golden Gate Bridge where we could look across the bay and see the amazing views. Before starting the journey home we returned to China Town to stock up on fresh baked treats for the car, and then said our goodbyes to San Francisco.

On the route home we stopped in Santa Barbara for dinner at The Brewhouse, our final celebration of a truly incredible and memorable weekend. Thank you all for the amazing company and collecting the great pictures. Happy 21st birthday Emma! We won't ever forget this one!

Golden Gate Bridge & Santa Barbara 

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Dorm Life

Settling into life in the dorms with the Hillside A-Team at CSULB

While at the University of Hertfordshire I commuted from home in Knebworth. This was mainly for financial reasons and I wasn't sure that shared living was for me. I enjoyed my independence and never felt like I was missing out.

This made the decision to study abroad even bigger, not only would it be my first time away from home, it would be over 5,000 miles away.

I chose to live on campus to embrace the full American university experience, which meant a room mate and the scary prospect of shared bathrooms. CSULB made this an easy process, with a choice of buildings and online room mate selection.

So I found myself in Hillside A, the place I can now call home until next summer. I'm one of the lucky people with an amazing room mate which makes the whole experience even better. My building has also formed it's own family, congregating in our common room.

We've given our bland room the homely feel, by moving the furniture for movie nights, adding lights and decorations, and our very own tea corner. Perfect for my personal mission to convert the Americans to English tea!

Last weekend we even had a Hillside A sleepover, with pyjama clad residents taking to the sofas and lining our mattresses on the floor, to the slight dismay of our RA!

Settling into American life and coping with homesickness has been made so much easier with the support of some truly lovely people (who have all been invited to visit in England) and by living in our personalised surroundings.

I'm looking forward to the months to come to see what other antics the Hillside A-Team family can get up to!