Why Do We Travel?

Alberte Lynge, Denmark.

I love to travel. I have traveled quite a bit already and I want to travel even more. I know that a lot of people like to travel as well. When I travel, I often think of the question, why do we travel? What’s the reason for us to get out of the environment we’re used to and where we feel safe?

I found a whole bunch of answers to this question. Of course, it’s a question to which there is no right or wrong answer, but I found 5 reasons that I think are the best.

#1. We travel to learn.
Whether it’s learning a new language or learning about a country’s history, traveling allows us to learn so many different things. We get to learn about the diverse cultures and ways of living. We learn about how our lives are intertwined and how we can impact one another.

#2. To escape.
Traveling gives us a momentary break from our daily routines and everyday lives. It provides us with adventure and excitement. When we travel and experience a new space or environment, we’re intrigued by all the new and different things that surrounds us. We forget about our jobs, our classes, and all our other responsibilities.

#3. To discover.
This goes hand in hand with the previous point, but traveling allow us to discover, whether it’s an interesting location or a new favorite dish. We travel to not only see more of the world and the people in it, but to also discover more about ourselves in the process.
Through the challenges that we face and the experiences that we gain, we discover our strengths, our limitations, and our potential while traveling.

#4. To make new friends.
When you travel, you meet people of diverse backgrounds and experiences and every single one of them has the potential to play an important role in your life, whether that is a new best friend or your soul mate, who knows.

#5. To experience.
Last but not least. We travel to experience all that we can and all that the world has to offer. We can experience the local culture by eating delicacies and dishes that are unique to the country or a certain region.
We can experience what it’s like to communicate solely through gestures when we don’t know how to speak a language. We might even realize how life in a foreign country is not that much different from our own back home.
Experiences help bring meaning to our lives. They both shape and define us.

These were the reasons I found the best and most relatable. If you have a different answer to why we travel or a point of view then please write it in the comments.

Our Past Is Who We Are

“Maybe the past is like an anchor holding us back. Maybe, you have to let go of who you were to become who you will be” – Carrie Bradshaw

Alicia Rank, Germany

For sure, our past is what shaped our personality. The decisions we made to this point and the friendships we build, define who we are. We don’t have to let go of all those memories to move forward, but that’s just what I think. We should be proud of who we have become.

The first thing to become who you will be is to accept your past. With all the mistakes you might have made, they made you who you are now. Without accepting your flaws it’s impossible to move on. Always worrying about old decisions will make you feel “stuck”. You cannot change spoken words anymore anyway, so why keep worrying about the past? Open your eyes and realize how much time has already passed by, in which you could have made decisions for the future. Don’t miss out on those opportunities; you might regret it.

Your past might have left some scars, either on your body or in your mind. Ether way, accepting them is the only way to guarantee future happiness. Trust me, once you have had your first heartbreak and you get over it, you know what I’m talking about. Life will put you in situations where you have to make choices. And you might not always make the right ones, but you will learn from them and next time you will do it better.

All of this is who you are, and you should be happy about it. Your past is a part of you that will never go away. “One moment doesn’t define you. The people around you define you. And you’re loved” – Raquel, Hit The Floor

Love, Alicia

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.

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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A Letter to My Future Self

Dear Future Self,

You are probably reading this, maybe ten years later from the day you’ve written it to yourself. You might remember the day you were sitting in class at the EF school in Santa Barbara, and got the assignment to write about something you’d like. Then you came up with the idea to write about the most exciting experience of your life so far, to give yourself something to look back on when you’re older.

When you were only fourteen years old, you first visited the United States. After growing up in such a small country as the Netherlands, coming to the States was a huge eye- opener; it was the real experience of seeing everything big, bigger and biggest. You loved it, and from the first visit on you already knew you’d be coming back to this country one day. That whole plan started to come together during your last year of high school. You really din’t know what to study after your graduation, so you decided to take a year off from school. First a few weeks of hard work to make some money, then off to the USA for three months to take an English language course with EF.

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That’s where we are now. Let’s help you out a little: the day you wrote this letter, was your 12th day in Santa Barbara. The arrival wasn’t completely as expected; you had some struggles with your visa at the border and the welcome in your host family was not what you’d hoped for. Anyways, the first week of school was full of fun activities and you already met lots of new people, so there wasn’t any moment left to actually think about home. The second week you slowly started to settle in; the jetlag was over and you started to get familiar with the everyday school routine. You couldn’t believe that almost two weeks had already passed, and that you’d be flying to Miami Beach in five weeks to stay there for another seven weeks.

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And after that? I can’t tell you yet. I decided to take every day as it comes, and to not worry too much about ‘what will happen next.’ I can only tell you about my hopes. I hope my time in the States will be so memorable, that when you are reading this in the future, you will still look back on this time as the best time of your life. I also hope, that this year off from school helped you to figure out what you wanted to study at university in the next school year, and I hope that this trip helped you to become the person you are today. In this moment, I have already met a lot of people, but I believe there are way more people to get to know, and more beautiful places to be explored. I truly hope that all these new connections will slowly turn into true friendships that will last for a lifetime. How amazing would it be, if you can say that you’re still seeing people you’ve met during your time in the USA? I can only hope for the best.

Lot Steenvoorden, The Netherlands

 

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”.

The Differences Between My Hometown in Germany And Santa Barbara

Paula Krumme, Germany

I live in a little city in West Germany. The name of the city is Stadtlohn, not far away from the Netherlands. My city has only 20,000 inhabitants, so Santa Barbara is much bigger because Santa Barbara has around 92,000 inhabitants. I will have only been here for 6 weeks in SB, nevertheless, it is a big change for me. Not only the number of people who live there is a big difference, but also the style of the houses. The houses of Santa Barbara have a very special style. They have white walls and red tiled roofs. The houses in my hometown are all different. I cannot say how a typical house in Germany looks, but what I can say is that the houses are often much bigger than in Santa Barbara.

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Santa Barbara :

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Added to that to go shopping is a very different thing, too. When I want to go shopping for some clothes in Santa Barbara, I only ride with my bike to State Street and there are a lot of different clothing stores. When I want to go shopping in my hometown, I have to drive around one hour with the car because in Stadtlohn there is only one great clothing store.

Moreover, in Santa Barbara there is literally always something happening in the city. It does not matter what time is it. There are always many people walking around. Also you can do many different activities. For example you can go to the beach, surfing, stand-up paddeling, hiking, bowling or you can go to a disco in the evening. In my hometown, there is never really much going on, because we do not have many activities we can do. The sea is really far away (around 2 hours by car) and, in addition, we haven’t got a lake to swim in. So when it is really hot we must drive to another city or we must go to the public outdoor pool, but this is not very much fun. In addition, we do not have a disco, a cinema or something like this. For activities like these we have to drive to the next city.

But a big advantage of my little city is that everything is reachable by bike. All my friends live only a maximum of 15 minutes away from me. So it is really easy to meet them and I am independent because my parents do not have to drive me and I do not have to wait for a bus. Also I do not have to pay for something. Compared to Santa Barbara, this is a big difference. For most students who live in a hostfamily must ride the bus every morning and sometimes the way is longer than 1 hour. I had a lot of luck in that I have the possibility to ride a bike to school every day here in Santa Barbara. Also my way is not too long. I only need around 15 minutes. But on the first days it was really stressful and complicated to ride the bike because the driving rules are really different to the driving rules in Germany, too. Here in Santa Barbara there are many streets, where all cars drive in the same direction. So you don’t have oncoming traffic. Every second street goes to the left and the other streets go to the right. This is possible because all the streets are parallel. In Germany you always have two-way traffic. So you can drive on every street in every direction, also with the bike.

The last difference i want to talk about is that in Stadtlohn everybody knows each other. In Santa Barbara you are one in a thousand. On the one hand, in Stadtlohn, there is a strong family environment and it is fun when you go in the city and you can be sure you will see people you know, but on the other hand, they also talk about everybody. So when there is new gossip, everybody knows it directly, for example when somebody posts an ugly picture on Instagram. Compared to Santa Barbara, there are so many different kinds of people and it doesn’t matter what you say, do or wear.

In conclusion, I can say that Santa Barbara and Stadtlohn are completely different. In my point of view Santa Barbara is in every case the better city for a vacation because of all the activities you can do and the good weather, but for living, I prefer Stadtlohn because in Stadtlohn the living standards are higher. When you want a big house in Santa Barbara you need a lot of money. Also you need a lot of money in Stadtlohn, but most of the people can afford this. I think the reason for that is that in Stadtlohn you have better chances to get good jobs.

 

 

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.