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.

It’s Fiesta Time

Patrycja Iwaniuk, The Netherlands

The Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara is a week of celebrating the traditions, history, heritage, and culture that has been in Santa Barbara for hundreds of years. Since the beginning of the week, the first preparations can be seen. Music can be heard on every corner of the street. The first Fiesta eggs can be bought and smashed to color the streets with colorful confetti and even the people dress up in beautiful and traditional costumes. They proudly walk through State Street giving it wonderful ambiance.

Also, here at the EF school and in the Santa Catalina residence the feeling of Fiesta is in the air. More and more decorations are being hung up in the school and even some teachers can be seen wearing some great colorful outfits. Wednesday was Tamale Day and some students had the opportunity to make some beautiful Fiesta eggs, which are by the way strictly forbidden to use in the residence. Luckily for us, there is enough space outside to break these eggs and throw some confetti on our friends. As Wednesday night was the grand opening at the Mission, Thursday morning the decorations were even greater. In the afternoon students were welcome to enjoy some chips with salsa and delicious churros. To add to that, in what way can you end the day better than having people break a piñata in the middle of the schoolyard?

The big days, however, were without hesitation Friday and Saturday. Before the big parade, everyone started to get out their chairs and blankets to save the best spot for the whole family. After a very long wait in the sun, the parade had begun. Dozens of beautiful horses gaited through State Street and the music played by the musicians completed the picture. It was really a new experience for me as a foreigner, since I have never seen or been to this kind of a parade. Over the past couple of days, I have really seen that the people of Santa Barbara cherish this week of joy and a lot of tourists who walk down the streets with the biggest smile when someone throws confetti to them. We can still savor the moment for a few weeks until the confetti disappears and then the first eggs can be eaten as a preparation for next year. As for me, this was my first time and hopefully not the last… VIVA LA FIESTA!

Homeless People in America

Melinda Bilmez, Belgium

This is one of the phenomena that you can see everyday, one of the things that increase through the years, one of the things you don’t worry about when you’re walking into the street.                                                                                                                                                    Homeless people are ” Individuals without permanent housing”.  I was wondering why there are so many more homeless in America than in Europe?

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The first things to understand about this phenomena is to look at the cause of homelessness in America.                                                                                                                                                  If we look at the statistics,there were 549,928 homeless people in 2016 counting 60% of male, 40% of women with 35% with children.                                                                                Since the financial crisis in 2008,the amount of homeless people has increased. Unemployment took a large space in this period, one of the reasons why people began to be homeless. Also, the decline of social services has had an impact on homelessness. That means that if you have less help you will probably decline, that’s what happened to some of them. The cost of housing had increased in this period,but not the salaries which can explain why some families had to go to the street.                                                                            We can talk about those “children” who were out of the foster care. At this age a child is not able to take care of herself as a parent would do which can lead to homelessness. The inmates who were leaving the prison can join this theory. The integration into society after years of jail isn’t easy.

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The second thing to understand about homelessness is the consequences of this situation. First of all, they can have many health problems such as illness, nutritional deficiencies, sleep deprivation, drug dependency, death and more. Homelessness causes also personal problems for example, less self-esteem, changes in behaviour, and increases in the chances of entering into the criminal system. Homeless people are not alone, sometimes with children. These will have consequences and it will start before the birth of the child, such as health problems, low immunity and emotional problems. They won’t have the chance to go to school, to learn and being cultivated. Their social or academic developments will be behind the expected level. The chances that they will leave the homelessness situation is low and very difficult. People who have been living in the street for a long time do not reach the age of 62, or not that often.

 The last thing to understand is how you can help those people. They don’t deserve this. Nobody does, so we should help them. There are many things that you can do such as donate money or items to an association like “whamministries”. You can show your respect by saying hello or goodbye and you can be a volunteer  to your local homeless shelter. If you want to go further you can buy them some food or invite them to go eat with you ; they need moral support. It is also important to encourage people around you to hire homeless people so they can have salaries to get out of this horrible situation. In San Francisco, Atlanta and New York you can download an app to help directly the people by giving them blanket, gloves, coat.

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In conclusion, we can notice that homelessness as I said is a very common situation in America and it continues to grow with the years. California is the state with the biggest amount of homeless people and people don’t pay attention. You have many solutions to help them; you would be happy if someone would do the same for you.

A New “Lifestyle”



Federica Capuzzoni, Italy

The Zen philosophy is more than a simple religion, it is a life style near Buddhism. The “Zen” is a philosophy of life that helps the individual to find happiness and serenity, and it helps to remove a negative thoughts and stressful things. To understand, and to catch the real meaning of this religion, it is not necessary to become a real follower of it, but it is only necessary to open our hearts and live with broad minds.

The most important teachings of Zen are:

  1. the JOY IS NOW: Often people concentrate more about their past actions or think about a future instead to live in the moment but, it’s wrong. We need to learn to live every moment of our lives and to appreciate every thing. For the Zen’s philosophy the individual’s joy depends only on himself and how he lives in the world. So how can we be happy ? We need to remove negative thinking. We should’t get swayed by external factors and also every human has the conditions to be happy.bbb
  2.  LIVE WITH A BROAD MIND: Living with serenity without any stress means living with a broad mind. We need to always stay ready for the changes that happen in our lives, because if you have a narrow mind this prevents you from understanding what is happening in your life. If we want to see life from another view, you must forget the rules that the society requires of us. To understand better what is meaning we can use this quotes:

“In the sky there is no difference between east or west, but the people create this difference in their minds and after they start to think that it is real.”

3.     PAIN IS UNAVOIDABLE, SUFFERING IS OPTIONAL: People can only be hurt by what they decide to give importance to, so that means that is possible to avoid the suffering in vain; in fact, if you decide to emotionally break away, you can see the problem from another point of view. This teaching takes time and diligence, but it is  important for your life.ddddd

Simplicity in the Buddhist lifestyle is essential. Simplicity as way of life focuses attention on the really important thing. How can you practice simplicity?

First, you must examine your life to see what stressful habits clutter your life. Are you running around too much? Are you trying to do too many things at once? Once you ask yourself these types of questions and make an inventory of habits, then you can change to simplify your life. Simplicity is the way of life that helps us put more attention on what is happening in our lives every day, and helps us to search all the positive things that are happening every day.

After this you must realize that you have choices. Every person is the writer of his/her own life. You are 100 percent unique in your own special way. You have the right to spend your life doing the things you love to do, and experiencing things that bring you massive joy.You-have-a-choice

 

The trick is to enjoy your life. Don’t waste away your days, waiting for better ones ahead. You must give the possibility of every day to be the best day of your life.

Marjorie Pay Hinckley

When the day is finished and you are in your bed, close your eyes and think about the whole day and search all the “happy moments” and reflect about all the good things that  happened. It helps you to appreciate your life more!