My Weekend in SF

Luna, Belgium

Day 1

I arrived on Thursday morning at 10 am in the financial district. I reunited with my best friend from Belgium and it was kind of an emotional moment. To catch up and start slowly, we ate brunch in a Starbucks, which was really nice and chill. After dropping my stuff at her house, we went straight into the center of the city where we walked around a little bit and in the evening we went to the cinema and saw The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. We came back home quite early because we needed to have a lot of energy for the next day which was Black Friday!

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Day 2

Black Friday was a really hectic, but super fun, day. We woke up at 5 am so we could start our shopping at 6 am. Our first stop was Urban Outfitters where we found matching Champion sweaters for a really good price. After that, came Sephora where we spent 75$ for an initial value of 240$ ! Then came Westfield which is one of the biggest malls in San Francisco. We went a little crazy and got really good deals at Pacsun, Hollister and Footlocker ! Forever 21 was also a success and overall we managed our time and money really well. We stuck to our plan and it was one of the most successful shopping-sprees. At 7 pm there was the tree-lightning on Union Square which was like a winter wonderland…

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Day 3

We decided that Saturday would be tourist-day! First thing we did when we woke up was take a little walk in the neighborhood because it was really vintage-looking and quiet. After that we visited famous places like : The Painted Ladies, Golden Gate Bridge, Ghirardelli Square, Fishermans Wharf. That took the whole day and in the evening we went back to Union Square and did a really festive activity : ice skating! This was the most magical moment of the whole trip and the whole place really looked like a winter wonderland. After that we went up to Macy’s rooftop because that is where the Cheesecake Factory is located. We ate the most delicious cheesecake, one was tiramisu-flavored and the other one was raspberry-lemon. We called it a day and went back home for a good night sleep.

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Day 4

For our last day together, we really wanted to enjoy each other’s company so we just did what made us happy. In the morning we went to the Golden Gate Park  where we had coffee. We saw amazing buildings and the weather was great, too. For lunch we tried a typical Frisco-dish which was soup in a bread-bowl. Because we are both vegetarians we ordered a tomato soup and it was delicious! The best place to eat this is on Fishermans Wharf at the pier and it is called Boudin Bakery. For desert we tasted a holiday doughnut from Krispy Kreme Doughnut and it was the best doughnut I have ever had … This day passed by quite quickly and it was now time for me to come back to Santa Barbara.

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It was really hard to say goodbye again, but I had the best time with my favorite person in this world. Even though I miss her like crazy I know we will see each other again soon!.Thank you, Lou !

The Effects of Cyber Bullying in Adolescents

Luciana Pesce, Chile

All the teenagers in our society have a mobile phone that allows them to be permanently connected in social networks, but if used incorrectly also can bring serious problems. Nowadays cyber bullying occurs  very frequently with teenagers. This a very substantial problem because this can lead to depression, anxiety, impotence and even suicide. Cyber attacking can be very bad for the person affected by this, because it influences their self-esteem and spreading rumors and intimidation is nothing good. Also this type of bullying is particularly worrying because it is constant, general and very, very public.

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Firstly,  cyber bullying can occur at all times and affect the mental health of adolescents  to have depression and isolate themselves from their responsibilities, family and friends, leaving them helpless to the insults directed towards them. To show that, many teenagers end up committing suicide since they can no longer live with the insults, or being humiliated, and even the harassed cannot afford to rest from the fear when they arrive at home or anywhere else away from the environment of their stalker.

Furthermore, once published, the content shared on social media and instant messaging applications become uncontrollable, making it impossible for the victim to know who the message has reached or if it will be repeated. As a result of this, the harassed person does not know when or by whom he will be bothered, generating anguish and the desire to end everything around him to feel relieved.

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Finally, the victim hides his situation as a result of the shame, until he even think that he is to blame for what is happening to him, and think what they say about him is true. This leads to parents not knowing what is happening to their child, and that they try to solve it without any positive results. If the parents knew, they could solve it with psychological or even legal help, getting beneficial results for their child.

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As I said before, cyber bullying is very bad, but there are some ways to prevent it. The first one is to talk with the kid about what is cyber bullying, if he knows someone who is being bullied and what the child should do if notices acts of bullying. Secondly, parents should monitor social media activity, including Facebook and Instagram, view all text messages, call logs and general online behavior.

There is no simple solution to cyber bullying or the best way to handle a bully, but, since cyber bullying is rarely limited to one or two incidents, it’s far more likely to be a sustained attack over a period of time. But you can handle it with not blaming yourself, do not beat yourself up, try to view bullying from a different perspective. Report the threats of harm.  Do not seek revenge or do not respond to any messages or posts.

Why Danes are The Happiest People on Earth

Louise Mohr, Denmark

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Again this year the Danish people are dominating the World’s Happiness Report and ranks among the top three happiest of 155 countries surveyed. On the other hand, the U.S. is with a four-spot drop, ranked 18th this year.

So why is it that these pastry-loving, LEGO building people are winning the happiness race? And how do they compare to the States?

The Danish welfare state works.

Danes pay some of the highest income tax rates in the world (45% on average), but, in exchange, every Dane gets free health care, free K-college education (the students are paid approx. $900 a month by the government to go to school), highly subsidized child care and generous unemployment benefits.

Some might lift an eyebrow over the high tax-rate, but the Danes don’t look at the tax rate as a burden, but as an investment in our society and quality of life.

If you lose a job in Denmark, it’s not a big deal. Unemployment is built into the system. This is in connection to the “flexibility model”, which, quickly explained, is a system built on freedom for employees. The government programs retrain workers and position them better for the job market. By doing this, we create strong connections and also provide a guaranteed safety net, giving unemployment benefits for up to two years.

The government also has a great retirement system, providing for the elders over 65+ population through a combination of state-founded pension and private employer-funded pension programs. This not only relieves the stress for the elderly, but makes them feel secure about their retirement.

Here’s a video that explains further: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=095ULhvaH5E

The perhaps most important aspect of the Danish culture is “hygge”, which they value as a cultural construct. It refers to high-quality social interactions. It’s used as as a noun, adjective or verb, and events and places can also be “hyggelige” (hygge-like). “Hygge” is most commonly translated as “cozy”, but is more an intentional intimacy, which can happen when you have safe, balanced and harmonious shared experiences.

“Hygge” is the Danish sense of well-being. Although Denmark is a highly individualized country, “hygge” promotes egalitarianism and strengthens the trust between people. It’s fair to say that “hygge” is fully integrated into the Danish culture psyche and culture.

But Denmark is not the only  country that has a concept similar to hygge – the Norwegains have “koselig”, the Swedes “mysig”, the Dutch “gezenlligheid” and the Germans “gemütlichkeit”.

The U.S. also places a high value on individualism, but there’s no real cultural equivalent of “hygge”. Income is generally associated with happiness. Even though the GDP is on the rise and the unemployment has been declining, levels of happiness in the U.S. have been steadily decreasing.

The U.S. income also continues to be an issue. There’s been a marked decrease in interpersonal trust toward institutions like the government as well as the media.

At it’s core, “hygge” is about building trust and intimacy with others. Americans could probably use a little more of that in their lives.

As a Dane in America, i find the the lack of free healthcare the most problematic. The United States reminds to be the only industrialized country in the world that fails to provide universal healthcare for all citizens. The concerns regarding this are significant and continues. Most people here are scared to get sick, and because of the high cost they avoid the doctors. American healthcare is the source of innumerable issues for many, both those withe and without coverage. These issues are not limited to the financial prospect, but has a far-reaching influence on their quality of life, psychological stability, and fundamental happiness for society at large.

After spending 3 months here, i can vouch for the rudimentary differences between America and Denmark. The divergences extend beyond policy, logistics or political agendas. There is a complete different feel to the place, a different tone to the culture on a fundamental level. I truly believe that America could learn something extremely vulnerable form the danish culture, if they had the trust to do so.

Halloween in Santa Barbara

Mohammed Alnasser, Saudi Arabia

First of all, this is the first time I have visited the U.S.A. and of course it is a nice fun and good experience at the same time. During my stay there were beautiful events and festivals including Halloween.

This was an interesting event for me because it was the first time I have been involved in this event and it was a beautiful experience in my life.

I participated in this celebration with the wonderful EF Institutes and it was a wonderful celebration. My costume was about a character in the circus. We were in competition with most of the students at the institute for the best costume and for the first time I won and I took fifth place.

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My Experience in Halloween in US

By Victor Potenciano, Spain

This was my first Halloween in another country, and the first Halloween in the United States. I had so much fun. My first idea of my costume was Jeff the Killer, but I didn’t have time to do it so finally I made up my face with white and black paint.

After all the people finish with their costumes, there was a tournament to see who had the best costume, first the teachers and then the students. IMG_20181031_105927.jpgFor the teachers Mr.C and Jeneen won and they wore a costume about spaceman. For the students my last roommate won, Jens and he had a zombie costume very well done.

When we finished the tournament, all the people were free to go where we wanted, so my friends and I went to eat lunch at The Habit, one of the best place to eat hamburgers.

One thing that I love about the United States is the form that the American people do Halloween with the decoration on the houses, and then in the night all the kids with their costumes go out to do trick or treat. In Spain some people do the same at the houses, but it is not like here, but the kids do the same. I went trick or treating a lot of times.

I think experiencing Halloween is one of the best times that I have had in the United States, because I love Halloween, and I recommend to all the people to come here at this time of the year.

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The Perfect Thanksgiving in San Francisco (on a budget)

Luna, Belgium

Thanksgiving is a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. It has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Together with Christmas and the New Year, Thanksgiving is a part of the broader fall/winter holiday season in the U.S. This year I’m going to celebrate Thanksgiving in San Francisco, so let’s see what activities I could do during this little trip!

WEDNESDAY 11/21/2018

Arriving on Wednesday evening, the best thing to do first is to check into the Airbnb : cheaper option than a hotel. A nice and free evening activity  in San Francisco is walking to the Golden Gate Bridge and see it completely lit up with a beautiful sunset. Enjoy the breathtaking view with a nice hot chocolate or coffee to take away from Philz Coffee!

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THURSDAY 11/22/2018

Thanksgiving is already here! To make the most out of this celebration you need to make sure to wake up a little early. This way you can enjoy the city when it’s calm and empty. In the morning you can visit the Japanese Tea Garden which is a really peaceful environment. For lunch, enjoy a nice picnic in the park in front of the Painted Ladies. In the afternoon a nice and not too pricey activity is the cinema ! This year, Disney made a movie based on the Nutcracker story and this certainly is a must see during the wintertime. If you’re not into musicals you can always go see another movie in the winter sphere. Ice skating is also something on your To Do list especially in front of the Macy’s Christmas tree, it’s a magical sphere.

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FRIDAY 11/23/2018

BLACK FRIDAY! This is a day you want to wake up super early to be in front of the stores cause this happens only once a year. Black Friday is an informal name for the day following Thanks Giving in the unites states, which has been regarded as the beginning of the country’s Christmas shopping season since 1952. Essentially, it’s a huge event where all the stores open early, close really late and  have a lot of sales and deals. If you don’t feel like being in a really crowded mall they also have plenty of deals and sales on their websites. There have been some scary stories in the past from people fighting about products and especially electronics but I still think it’s something you need to experience when you’re in the USA.

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In San Francisco the best places to go shopping are:

  • Union Square
  • Union Street
  • Market Street
  • Stonestown Galleria
  • Pier 39
  • Embarcadero Center
  • Ghirardelli Square

SATURDAY 11/24/2018

Take a day off! Try to make this day as chill and cozy as possible. Wayfare Tavern is one of the cutest restaurants that is really going to put you in the winter sphere. It has a beautiful fireplace and delicious winter food. You can also just enjoy the city and visit the most popular places like the Alcatraz prison, the Coit Tower, Fisherman’s Wharf and travel around the city with the cable cars.

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SUNDAY 11/25/2018

Every Sunday morning at 10am, you can catch the two-hour Champagne and Mimosa cruise around the SF Bay. This relaxing ride offers amazing views of the SF Bay including the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and Sausalito. You will also ride past the Palace of Fine Arts, Angel Island and Fort Point National Historic Site.

Farmer’s Markets are an important start to Sunday in San Francisco. Each week, you will find several throughout the city. Here are the details on the largest and most popular (all are year around unless noted):

  • Heart of the City in the UN Plaza in Civic Center: 7 am to 5 pm
  • Divisadero’s Farmer’s Market on Grove at Divisadero: 10 am to 2 pm
  • Fort Mason Center Farmer’s Market: 9:30 am to 1:30 pm
  • Inner Sunset Farmer’s Market in the parking lot between 8th and 9th Avenue south of Irving Street: 9 am to 1 pm
  • Glen Park in the parking lot of the Glen Park BART Station: 10 am to 2 pm; Late March though late November

If you love live music, then you are in luck! Every Sunday night, you will find at least four of five live shows in San Francisco. Larger shows are at venues such as The Warfield, The Fillmore and The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. However, you will also find smaller shows at The Independent, Slim’s and The Great American Music Hall.

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If you are planning on living this experience, which I highly recommend, enjoy it as much as you can whit your love ones. And be thankful !

New Season for the Los Angeles Lakers

Adele Fadier, France

Can I tell you something? My interest in the Lakers team this year began because of  LeBron James.

This famous NBA player, who began is career in 2003, is a smart man on the ground and in his life. Everybody knows that he enters in the Lakers franchise for this 2018/2019 season. Obviously, this decision brings many questions and especially why has he chosen the Los Angeles Lakers ?

This new team is very young and maybe it’s the time to trust in these youth. The French football team was a good example during this FIFA World Cup. Like LeBron said, they’re “not on the Warrior’s level”. Despite this, they will work hard to progress with LeBron’s experience and confidence. But before that, we have to wait for the beginning of the NBA regular season, that will be the 18 October against the Portland Trail Blazers. At this moment we can see the team’s real level of the Lakers and what they can do on the ground. This team is like a white sheet with a new story to write.

Everybody talks a lot about LeBron James but, like when he was on the Cleveland team, he can’t do all the work alone. So now we’ll take a look at the rest of the team.

Indeed, to strengthen the King, the Lakers’ staff has searched some players with play making skills, speed, experience, motivation and high level of competitiveness. Let’s see the result. We have a team of 15 players. There are Lonzo Ball, the youth, and Rajon Rondo, the experience, as point guard. Lonzo Ball who suffered an operation of the knee last July. LeBron James even said that he was impressed by Lonzo’s form and vivacity in so little time after his operation. Is it a good sign to see Lonzo Ball as a headliner? In any case, it’s good news for the pro-Lonzo fans, conversely for the pro-Rondo team.

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Moreover, Los Angeles Lakers’ shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is like a new player coming into this season. He seems to be a pillar member of the team, alongside Lebron James, thanks to his impressive 3-point shooting and defense. Another shooting guard arrived in the Lakers team for this season, Lance Stephenson, who is really excited to play on this team but mainly with the King. Despite this enthusiasm, Stephenson has to improve his performances compared to his last season (28.9 % at 3-points with the Pacers last year). The last shooting guard for this new team is Josh Hart, who was a really good deal for the Lakers with Kyle Kuzma during the 2017 Draft. Josh Hart has really good statistics as a 3&D player, but he doesn’t want to stay at this place. So let us see what you can do, Boy.

Then Brandon Ingram, small forward in the Lakers since 2016, looks like he will be a team’s pillar for this season with LeBron James at power forward. Finally, JaVale McGee joined the Lakers as main center of the team. Indeed, the 30-year-old led the Warriors in true shooting percentage (64.1 percent), which was among the top-10 in the NBA last year among players that appeared in at least 60 games.

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So the new season means a new great team for The Lakers. Indeed, the Lakers’ staff put a lot of money this year in recruitment.

But, you know that a team also needs a good coach. And what coach? Luke Walton, a guy who played 10 season in the NBA, who won two NBA championships with the Lakers and won one with the Golden State Warriors as an assistant coach. This year is his third season with the Lakers team as head coach. The start will probably be difficult for Walton. In fact, he had to find a fine mix between youthfulness and experience. This team is really eclectic so it will be a real puzzle for Walton to compose the starting line-up.

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To finish how can we describe this team : crazy, versatile, promising, overvalued? In any case, they are intriguing on the basketball planet. Can’t wait to see their evolution and how they will mark this year.

I think that this new Lakers’ team will suprise us. I believe in this group, they can do great things and why not win the NBA championship this year?

You can find below a video about their first preseason game.

 

Santa Barbara: a New Home

Francesca Vinciguerra, Italy

“One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things,” said Henry Miller, an American writer. My destination was not Santa Barbara, but was seeing a different culture. I came here to improve my English and to become more fluent in speaking, but now that I am almost at the end of my trip, I can say I had learnt much more.

I understood that, wherever you go, you will find a new home where you feel yourself. Home is not just a pretty building, but also an ensemble of friends and people that take care of you. I have been living in Carpinteria for a month with other four lovable multicultural girls, Anna from Germany, Solene from France, Didem from Turkey, Hikari from Japan, and with a big family composed by Michael, Lucy, their daughter, her husband and their three grandsons.

Before coming here, I was afraid of leaving my family and my country completely alone. I was longing for years to come to America, but I have never thought my dream would be concretely realized. America is the many European students’ big dream because someone says that here every dream could come true. My dream is to reach my personal success: becoming a biotechnologist and helping the research to find new solutions for diseases such as Alzheimer Disease, Obesity or Infertility.

Why right in California and not in Italy? I love Italy, but no sooner had I entered in University than I had understood that I would have to move abroad to practice my lab skills.

In just one month, I have recognized that I fit well with the way of living and working. People here are open-minded, out-going and like talking with foreigners. The weather is warm and you can go hiking and tanning at the same time because there are both mountains and seaside. The only flaw is food. People here love fast food and rarely sit down to eat. In Italy, we are used to sitting down around a table for lunch and dinner and the mealtime is a sacred moment. I enjoy high-quality cookery and sharing the mealtime with friends and with my family. I prefer simple and not too spicy food where you can distinguish each different flavor and tastes rather than a mix of a hundred ingredients. Except for food, in Santa Barbara I feel at home. I suppose that the reason why nobody makes me feel as a stranger or a tourist is that in California there is a mix of people coming from all over the world, accustomed to live and work together.

I hope to come back soon to be part of this “big American team”.

Living in a Host family

by Sophia Zimmermann, Germany

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In a few days, I will be back in Germany and will talk about the amazing experience I had with my host family here in Santa Barbara.

It is my first time in the US, so I was really afraid what it would be like living in a new family. You don’t know the people that you are going to live with, but you have to live with them. It’s a whole new culture, especially when you’re from Germany living with a Mexican family in the US.

All my fear was taken away when I saw my new family for the first time. When I got out of the car they were waiting for me at the door. They hugged me, brought my suitcases upstairs and showed me the whole house. Since the first moment I was a part of their family.

They took me to family parties, they went shopping with me, they cooked the meals I like, they made me feel so welcome in this family. I couldn’t be more grateful to call this people MY American family.

My American family is like my German one. Three children, a son and two daughters, mother, father and a pet. All family members didn’t treat me like someone they barely knew, they treated me like one of them. It was so nice to see that they cared for me and that they did everything for me so I felt good. And I did, it felt like home there and I think that is the most important thing.

But I also heard a lot of other students say that they don’t like their host families because the parents didn’t care much about the students. I feel so sad for them. You are miles away from your home and when you don’t feel comfortable or welcome your whole experience won’t be as you would like it to be. When I hear about their experiences, I feel even more grateful to have such an amazing family.

After one month in California, I will go back home with a lot of memories and new experiences. On the one side I don’t want to leave Santa Barbara, but on the other side I am really excited to go home and see my family and friends again. It will my host sister’s quinceanera in four years and I definitely will be here and celebrate this big party with her.

Santa Barbara stole my heart and I will never forget the wonderful time I had here!

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The 5 Scariest Roller-Coasters in Six Flags Magic Mountain

Isabelle Gerig, Switzerland

First of all, there are many different roller coasters you can ride and all of them are really exciting. However, if you visit the park for one day, you don’t have the possibility to ride all of them. So I will show you the five scariest and funniest ones! So here we go:

LEX Luthor; Drop of Doom: There are no words to describe it, watch the video and you will see!

 

X2: That’s a fifth dimension roller coaster. With its 360-degree  rotating seats and head-first, face down drops, X has been one of the most popular thrill rides on the planet. There is nothing ordinary about this roller coaster.

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SUPERMAN: This is my favourite one! 1,315 feet of track that bends straight up into the sky 415 feet high! It’s really beautiful, but daring. You and 13 others would-be super heroes must escape by piling into a sleek car that will blast you off this frozen rock, where the whole adventure starts.You’re about to shoot from 0 to 100 miles per hour in seven seconds. This is a record breaking speed and has never before been achieved in a thrill ride, let alone backwards.

 

 

 

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BATMAN: When you ride this roller coaster, it really feels like being BATMAN. The roller coaster was introduced at March, 1994. It reaches a top speed around 50 mph. During your ride you watch the ground under you and see your feet whipping around. It starts with a full 360-degree loop, then you are a superhero and you don’t need to warm up. This roller coaster will grind you into submission just like the criminals of GOTHAM CITY.

 

 

 

TWISTED COLOSSUS: Wood meets steel at this roller coaster Twisted Colossus – one of the longest, most innovative hybrid coasters in the world. When you think your ride is finished, it starts over again and you can feel the adrenaline a second time. During that, there is an other one starting and so you do the ride next to each other. This is a really special, scary and unforgettable experience.