Catherine Sodar Interview

By Miriam Clemente – Barcelona, Spain

Catherine is a young girl, aged 18, who has come from Belgium to live the EF Experience for six months.
She came here a month and a half ago and  will stay until June. Catherine is bilingual (French and German) and she thinks that languages are one of the most important things for her professional life. That is why she is learning English and Spanish as well.
She is curious, passionate, kind and loves to travel. She has shared  all the details of her experiences in the interview below.
1. Where do you come from, Catherine?
I come from Belgium, from Liege, a city located in the French part of Belgium.
2. How long have you been here so far?
I have been here for one month and a half.
3. Are you going to stay for long time?
Yes, I will stay here until June. My plan is to improve my English and to visit as many cities in California as possible.
4. Why did you decide to go on this adventure?
Next year, I’m going to start the university, and before that, I wanted to spend some time abroad to improve my English skills. It was the perfect occasion to leave Belgium and go to a different country.
5. What were you studying in your home country?
I will continue with the International Business degree next September.
6. Why did you choose Santa Barbara?
Actually, I don’t really know. I wanted to go to an English speaking country, but not Great Britain because it’s too close by my country. So, I decided to go to the United States. Then, I wanted warm weather  and  I chose Santa Barbara because it’s not a big city.
7. Do you think English will be useful in your future job?
Absolutely. If I want to work in the international business environment, I need be fluent in many languages.
8. Are you learning other languages besides English?
Yes, I am. I’m learning Spanish at the university.
9. Do you like travel? Which countries have you visited so far?
Yes, totally. I love travelling. I have been to Greece, Croatia, France, The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Turkey, Kenya and Benin, where I was doing a volunteer project for 3 weeks.
10. What has been the most amazing moment you have experienced here so far?
I don’t have one only amazing moment. To me, the moments I appreciate the most are those times that I share with my friends.
11. Do you think everyone should go abroad in order to have this experience?
Yes, definitely. But maybe I’d advise to choose other living situations, like to be an Au-pair, that way you can have more relationships with local people and you can discover all the traditions.
12. What other things have you learned here apart from English?
I have learned how to live far from my family and doing things by my own.
13. What are the things you miss the most about Belgium?
The things I miss the most are my family and the food, of course.
14. Which are the things you want to do before going back home?
I want to travel around. I’d like to visit the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco and Universal Studios, in LA. and, if I have a chance, I’d like to see dolphins!

Who Is the Greatest Athlete of All Time?


By Dorian Grenson, Belgium

The 31-year-old football pro smashed goal-scoring records, won the prestigious FIFA Ballon d’Or award for the world’s best player, captained his native Portugal into the World Cup, and led his professional team, Real Madrid, toward an unprecedented 10th European title in the Champions League.


For me he is the  best ever because he works harder than everyone else. He trains for two more hours a day than his teammates and he lives a healthy life. He trains in his home, lifting weights. He uses a bicycle in a pool to train harder in order to be stronger. A famous trainer says that when Cristiano was really young that he knew that by the way Ronaldo trained he would be the best in the world and he is. He has broken a lot of records. He has been voted the best player in the world three times winning the Ballon d’Or. He has the record for the most goals scored in the European Champion Leagues.

He is thirty-one years old, which is old for a professional football player, but he still at the top of his game, scoring a lot of goals.


He doesn’t drink alcohol because his father was an alcoholic and died when he was young. So he decided to never drink a single glass of alcohol ever in his life. He doesn’t smoke either.


He has no tattoos on his body which is very rare in the professional football world. He keeps his body clean and respects himself.


He works to control everything he can so that he is in optimum form.

He makes a lot of charitable donations. He is very generous with his money and time. For example, a child who was very sick and needed an expensive surgery was paid for by Ronaldo because the child’s parents couldn’t afford it.


For me he is a great example. He had a poor childhood and despite that he became the man that he is today.




Life Starts at the End of Your Comfort Zone

By Bastien Julien, France

“Life starts at the end of your comfort zone” is something I learned from Neale Donald Walsh’s book. I spent long time thinking about the meaning of this sentence, and I definitely started to take more risks after I determined what my comfort zone was.

People tend to be satisfied with what they have; we all have experienced routine in our lives. Some people get bored from working for the same company for many years; others get bored from studying a lot, and last, but not least, there are those who are unemployed.

Fortunately, there are many ways to end the routine. The goal is to experience new things, doing something you never done before, because the definition of routine is to live every day the same way. By doing new things every week, by planning unusual trips, and by meeting new people, all these things will help you to live an amazing life.

For some people, only little changes will lead to a happier life, but, for other people, they will need to plan a lot of new activity such as a travel, relocation, or changing one’s job.

Finally, one important advice is to find the motivation which will make you ready to change your way of life.Routine

Culture Awareness

 By Maria Villarejo from Paraguay.

 Being here in Santa Barbara learning a new language, meeting new people, and getting to know different cultures can be a big challenge for some. Coming to an EF institute means leaving behind all our previous thoughts and normal lives at home. It opens our minds to experience new things with new people.

   EF introduces you to a whole new life; by the time you are here you do not realize that you are sharing personality characteristics and values with others. I believe that we, EF students, will go back home different that the way we came.

   People said that when someone travels she/he returns home different than the way she/he left. In my case, I think that phrase will be applied a hundred percent. I am not just learning English, but I am also learning different ways of living from others. When I am talking about “ways of living” I mean not only the different language or culture, but also about the way people behave in variety of situations, what they eat and their characters.

   Something I learned here in Santa Barbara is not to judge from the physical appearance or the home country. Stereotypes should not be applied to everyone. Your opinion should depend on the character of the person. Sometimes the people you least expect become your friends and you end up spending most of your free time here with them.

Four Seasons of Finland

By Julia Konttila, Finland

One of my favorite things about living in Finland is the fact that we have four totally different seasons. All year –around-summer sounds amazing but I couldn’t live my whole life without snow, fall colors or rain and actually, living moths in coldness makes summer feel ten times better. When summer finally comes you feel like you have deserved it.


Here in California, I have learned to appreciate the Finnish summer even more, the stunning views, midnight sun and clean nature. In the north the  sun doesn’t set below the horizon in over 70 days. I can’t imagine anything better than long summer nights with friends and family. Winter, on the other hand, is a very cold and dark season in Finland. In the same way as in the summer, the sun doesn’t set for a very long time. Now the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon in the north, and in the south the days are quite short. Luckily we have something to replace the sun, the northern lights.  A white natural landscape with a dark sky full of northern lights is truly a breathtaking view.


You can see clearly when a season turns to another. When summer is over, the leaves start changing colors and it begins to get windy. People start to spend more time inside, having cozy nights burning candles and drinking tea or hot chocolate. Before you even notice, it is December and the weather gets a lot colder. Everyone is wishing for a white Christmas. When the snow finally comes, the whole country wakes up again. Everyone wants to enjoy the first snow, kids are playing outside, families are making snowmen  together and a lot of people are ice skating or skiing. After a long and cold winter, it is time for nature to wake up again. The snow starts to melt and nature turns green. Flowers blossom, rivers start to flow and everyone is ready for the summer.

What Comes After EF?

By Jennifer Spielmann, Switzerland

Before you’re starting with your study abroad, you aren’t thinking about anything els111e other than your upcoming journey, even when you know that you have no future plans after coming back from your long trip. After arriving at our destinations, we are all trying to enjoy the amazing time we have here in Santa Barbara, but sometimes while you are here with friends, you are starting to think about what is next, what is coming after EF when you go home. There are so many questions and only you can answer them.

222When I started here in EF Santa Barbara, I knew that when I was going home in February, that I would have to look for a job, but I thought it was a long way into the future, so why the rush? The months have passed and soon I am leaving this pretty place, still enjoying the time I have with my friends here, but I am also getting scared to go home because I don’t have a plan. I am not sure what I should do when I go back. The only thing I know now is that I have to look for a job so I can save some money to come to America again.

The process of deciding what you want to do is difficult but you have to go through it by yourself. Sure, you can ask somebody for 333help but still you have to know what you really want to do. I would say that this topic is very important to think about because it is our future. I have one more week here and I am trying to pack as many memories I can into the time left. I will work on my future when I get hom

Saying Goodbye to the Best Experience Ever

By Maria Reyes Gherardelli , Chile

It’s really hard to say goodbye to my new life , when I have just gotten used to it .I have my new friends, my new favorite places . Santa Barbara has become my new home.yyyyyyyyyy2

During my experience I have said goodbye to many friends who have left before me , but I hadn’t thought much about my own time to leave, that is until now, when  I realized that I  have only a few weeks left . On the one hand, going back home makes me happy because I will see my hometown friends, my family, and I will return to my old life in Chile .On the other hand I’ll miss Santa Barbara very much, this amazing experience where I met people from many countries, visited the most beautiful places in California, saw amazing sunsets, and, most importantly, I made really good friends who became my family.

Actually there is one thing I’m sure, when I go back home, my life  is not going to be the same.I’ll keep in my heart all the moments which I spent  here . I won’t say goodbye, I’ll just say see you soon SB.