The Tran-Siberian Experience

By Lisa Pistocco, Italy

Have you always dreamed of travelling through Russia to the border of Mongolia? Seeing the most beautiful landscapes of Siberia? Discovering the Russian culture by meeting locals?
Here’s my story.

Walking on the Baikal Lake was incredible

After my second year of applied languages, I decided to spend my last year of college in Russia. I had the opportunity to travel a lot, and moreover, to experience the Tran-Siberian Railroad.
For the ones who don’t know, let me explain to you what it is. The Tran-Siberian Railroad is a railway in Russia, extending from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Pacific. This railway was constructed from 1891 to 1916, and is now one of the most famous railways in the world.

Joanna and I waiting for our train in Ekaterinburg

I decided to experience it because, while I was there, I was so impressed by all that had happened in the country. I was impressed, but also curious. Curious about Russian people’s way to live, to be, and above all curious about this huge country.

Because yes; Russia is the world’s largest nation. It borders European and Asian countries as well as the Pacific and Artic Oceans. Russia has incredible landscapes ranges from tundra and forests to subtropical beaches. How could I not be curious? Most of you know Moscow and St. Petersburg, but in my opinion, Russia is not –or not only- Moscow and St. Petersburg. Russia is all the other things that nobody knows. Russia is humanity, culture, landscapes, and mutual aid for each other.

Novossibirsk, Capital of Siberia

Joanna –my favourite German friend in the whole world- and I talked about taking this trip one day. “Do you want to do the Tran-Siberian?” she asked me. My answer? “Yes of course!!” and 3 weeks later we were good to go.

Of course, it wasn’t easy to plan, to collect all the information, to book the train tickets, but we had enough motivation to go through with it.


First of all, we had to find which cities we wanted to visit, because the Tran-Siberian Railroad crosses all of Russia, and stopping in every city wasn’t possible as we had only one month to do it.
We decided where we wanted to go and our decision was to the border of Mongolia; Ulan-Ude.

Ulan-Ude, capital city of the Republic of Buryatia

To make this trip possible, you need to be conscious of the hard weather in Russia during the time we were going to be there. Of course, if you do it during the summer time, you’ll not have that much of a problem, but we did it during the winter period, which not everybody is able to do.

Temperatures were most of the time below -4F°. The most important to think then is to buy enough warm clothes that allow you to keep you warm!

It’s really cold in Siberia, but so much fun also

Once we bought our clothes, our train tickets, and booked all the hostels, we were good to go.
Oh, I forgot something really important to take: FOOD.

Because, of course, while you are on the train –for 14h, 21h, 37h, 73h- you need food. And in the train, it’s not really possible to eat. It depends on which train, you can have the possibility to find a restaurant wagon. If there isn’t, you need to buy some dry noodles, and food that you can eat without warming and putting in the refrigerator.


34hours of train on our way to Irkutsk


It was one of the best experiences I ever had, I had the opportunity to meet amazing people and I made so many unforgettable memories. I can only recommend to you to take this trip, but also just to enjoy your life. Enjoy your life by meeting people, travelling, and be happy.


Dogs for People with Challenges

By Luca Wislsperger, Germany

For many years people had to go through difficulties and had to struggle with doing certain tasks or activities by their own, but now they can have a support dog.

Emotional support dogs are dogs that provide comfort and support in forms of affection and companionship for an individual suffering from various mental and emotional conditions. An emotional support dog is not required to perform any specific tasks for a disability like service dogs are. They are meant only for emotional stability and unconditional love.


There are 2 different types of support dogs:

One kind is the emotional support dog which can assist with various kinds of mental and emotional conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder/mood disorder, panic attacks, fear/phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts/tendencies.

The Therapy dog which provides affection and comforts to individuals in hospitals and nursing homes. It is also used, as you can guess, for therapies so the clients have certain lessons together with these dogs to cure different types of diseases.

The second one is the service dog that is helpful for people which are limited by their disabilities so they function as an assistant for performing a normal life.


Have you thought of making your dog a service, therapy or emotional dog?

Some people say that the dog is the humans’ best friend. Whether or not this is true, it is certainly a fact that dogs can provide a lot of help and companionship for those with disabilities. If you have been wondering how to make your dog a service dog, an emotional support dog, or a therapy dog, there a lot of companies like “USA Service Dogs” that help you to train your dog to these kind of assistant.

Here is a link to a website where you can train your own dog:

How much does a service dog cost?

The price range for a service dog can be anywhere from $3,000 to train it personally to as much as $35,000 if you use a popular and expensive organization.


It generally takes 1–2 years to train a service dog. The dog must be trained to mitigate your disability and must behave appropriately in public to avoid being removed. This means there are two main facets of service dog training: first of all public access behaviors and secondly disability-related work and tasks.

Rescue Dogs:

There is also another type of support dog. It is used for environmental catastrophes like the heavy mud slides in Montecito the previous month.


For this disaster the firefighters use highly trained search dogs, most of them were schooled by the “National Disaster Search Dog Foundation”, located in Santa Paula.

It’s a private non-profit organization where the dogs are trained for about 8-10 months. Afterwards they can tell you if a body is either still alive or dead. Furthermore, they can differ between a live body and fresh clothes. The dogs which are only trained to detect dead bodies are called “cadaver dogs” or “HR” which stands for human remains dogs.

15 Question Interview with an EF Student

  1. If you could drink only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

– Water.

  1. What is your biggest goal in life?

– To be happy all my life.

  1. How old do you think our substitute teacher Kevin is?

– 28.

  1. What do you think you will be doing in 20 years?

– I think I will have a good job and my own family, and hopefully be married.

  1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

– I think, in Spain.

  1. Who is the most important person to you?

– My sister.

  1. What makes you happy?

– The sun, going out with friends, my family, and eating.

  1. What makes you sad?

– If I see other people being sad or unhappy.

  1. Who is your biggest inspiration?

– My grandmother.

  1. Do you have any big regrets in life?

– My ex-boyfriend.

  1. Why did you come to Santa Barbara?

– Because I wanted to learn English in a sunny place and I heard a lot of good things  about Santa Barbara.

  1. What do you talk about to avoid awkward silence?

– Always asking the other person questions.

  1. Where is the best place to spend a Saturday night?

– In a good club.

  1. What would be the first thing you bought if you won 10 million dollars?

– A car and a house.

  1. What is important in a best friend?

– That you can always go back to the same person, knowing that she would never abandon you.


By Sakura Muto . Japan

The reason why I chose eclipses as a theme of this article is that there was an eclipse phenomenon here in Santa Barbara. I couldn’t watch the eclipse because of the weather, but I could see it on TV and it was very amazing.

Now I’m going to show you what an eclipse is.

There are four types of eclipses

  1.  Partial solar eclipse: it occurs when the Moon only partially obscures the Sun’s disk and casts only its penumbra on Earth.
  2.  Annular solar eclipses: it occurs when the Moon’s disk is not big enough to cover the entire disk of the Sun and the Sun’s outer edges remain visible to form a ring of fire in the sky. An annular eclipse of the Sun takes place when the Moon is near apogee, and the Moon’s antumbra falls on Earth.
  3. Total solar eclipses: it happens when the Moon completely covers the Sun and it can only take place when the Moon is near perigee, the point of the Moon’s orbit closest to Earth. You can only see a total solar eclipse if you’re in the path where the Moon casts its darkest shadow, the umbra.Sakura eclipseWhen we can watch the next total eclipse?

    You can see the next on July 2, 2019 in the southern region of North  America and much of South America.

    You can often see eclipses if you travel around the world.


By, Ali Alghamdi, Saudi Arabia.

And, Ali Ahmad, Saudi Arabia

Traveling is one of our hobbies. We have traveled since we were young. We have many reasons to love traveling, such as changing our daily routine, learning about other countries culture, meeting new people from different countries, and visiting museums help us to learn the country’s history.

We have visited about 30 cities in 17 countries in the last five years.

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One of the most beautiful cities we visited was Auckland in New Zealand. The weather was perfect and the people were more friendly there. We loved this city because it was amazing.

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Also we would have so much fun in Milan, There was a big mall that has many brands, Italian foods and it was beautiful .

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We visited Selangor also in Malaysia and it was amazing city for tourists to relax. And if you need to marry you can go to there as a honeymoon.

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Eventually, traveling has positive and negative sides but we will keep traveling until the last day of our lives.










Wanderlust – the Need of Travel

Stella Pioli, Italy

I love to travel. Don’t you love that feeling when your first waking thought is, “Oh, yeah…I’m going somewhere today!”?. My parents and grandparents always told me to explore the world, because if we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet.





A word that we always hear more often is “Wanderlust”. For those who don’t know what it is, it means a strong desire for or impulse to travel and explore the world. It may reflect an intense urge for self-development by experiencing the unknown, getting to know unfamiliar cultures, ways of life and behaviors, or may be driven by the desire to escape. For them, it’s not only travel, but a challenge; they explore places where they are likely to be pushed out of their comfort zones or encouraged to take risks.


Not everybody is meant to travel. There are some people who never feel the urge to leave the house. Staying in the city they came from, hanging out with the people they have known since they were kids, sitting on the same the couch, and staying in the 360 degrees that immediately surrounds them: they’re happy with that. A lot of people in this world don’t see the point of travelling, and most say it’s a waste of time, money, or it’s scary to travel to places that are far away.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” – Saint Augustine

Then there are the rest of us: the people who can’t sit still and always keep their passports on them – just in case. In fact, if we did not love to travel and explore a new culture we would have never taken this trip to Santa Barbara. It doesn’t matter if you stay for 4 weeks or 9 months, you had the impulse to travel, you were bitten by the travel bug. We are still finding and preparing ourselves for school and career. The skills and experience we gain from traveling abroad gives us life-long personal benefits as well as a leg up in the professional world.



But have you ever wondered why some people need to travel more than others? For those people, it becomes one of life’s essential needs, as important as food and shelter.

Well, a study shows that such behavior traits with a gene variant known as DRD4-7R, which is thought to be present in around 20 % of the population. Some have even nicknamed it as the “wanderlust gene”. DRD4 is a dopamine receptor that helps control the levels of dopamine in our brains. The 7R allele is associated with increased risk-taking, curiosity and various psychiatric disorders including ADHD, alcoholism and drug dependency.


The Earth is filled with infinite experiences, wonders and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Imagine, camping out underneath the aurora borealis in the Canadian tundra or hiking through the Sacred Valley of Machu Picchu. I believe that a lot of education is experienced in a classroom or through a textbook, but it isn’t nearly as fulfilling or effective as traveling the world.


We are inspired to live better, to be happier and to give back to those in need. Our lives are defined by experiences. The greater the number of experiences, the better the definition of life becomes.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough” – Mae West.


Santa Barbara Moments

Michaela Kopecna, Czech Republic

For someone who wasn’t born in Santa Barbara some things can be completely new and strange. Every country has its own customs or traditions. Some of them could be normal, but some of them could seem little bit weird.

I am a girl from a small city in Europe and I have never traveled across the ocean before. So the words like “jet lag” or “culture shock” were, for me, completely new. I never understood the meaning of them because in Europe we all go to sleep at same time. That means that we have different traditions, but close and similar to each other.time

What time is it?

When you land at the airport your first thing you must check is the time, because in Europe it is 12PM. What time is the right one? That’s the question. Here in Santa Barbara it’s 12AM, so should I go to sleep? No! And that is what jet lag is.

How to use the toilets?

It could be strange, but the toilets are also different. And for someone from Europe it’s a shock. Are there really gaps when you close the doors? So everybody can see me through the gaps, right?hands

Are people here my friends now?

This could happened that you are standing at a bus stop and some stranger starts to talk with you. Just in Santa Barbara. The people here are so kind and helpful. They just talk with you and at the end of the conversation you are friends. How easy. That’s why I feel so welcome in this country.

How to say hi?

Hear Spanish in Santa Barbara is really common. All the names of the streets are in Spanish and also in some public buildings you can hear this language. That is because Santa Barbara used to be a Spanish colony. However, for every day use, just learn how to say hi in Spanish. That will be enough. So “hola” and “gracias senora”!freez

I’m freezing!

Sometimes you can feel cold here because of the air-conditioning or cold weather. Don’t underestimate it and take a  warm sweater into your classes. Even if Santa Barbara has the ocean it isn’t warm all the time. Suprisingly.


You can say you are citizen when you help tourists get to the beach. You won! Santa Barbara is not so hard to orient oneself. So after a short time you will feel here like you are at home. Culture shock is gone and jet lag is your very old friend.

WELCOME TO SANTA BARBARAsanta-barbara-lifestyle-itineraries


The Maldives

By Patrick Schnauffer from Stuttgart, Germany

Do you want to travel to paradise?

The Maldives are definitely the perfect destination for you

Located in the Indian Ocean the Republic of Maldives consists of several atolls with altogether 1196 islands. On 220 of them live the Maldivian citizens and 87 are for touristic purposes. Back in the past when the Maldives were under British occupation the local people gained a living just with the fishing industry. This has changed in 1965 when the Maldives became an independent republic. Since this time the importance of tourism has grown enormously, so that the country developed into one of the most significant travel destinations worldwide.

If you travel by plane, you will arrive in Male which is the largest and likewise the only “city” of the Maldives as well the capital of the country. There are living approximately one third of all the citizens what makes this main island quite crowded.

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So if you want to spend your vacation on a lonely island having the feeling of being apart from the rest of the world, instead of experiencing city life, you can choose several types of accommodation located on the beautiful atolls spread around the capital island of Male.

Beginning from common hotels till the most luxurious resorts, you can barely imagine until you have visited them, there is a wide range of apartments where you can select from.

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Typical for the Maldives are the resorts where you live in your own house out in the ocean which is built on wooden stakes. A private pool and direct access to the sea is included! Those apartments are connected to the main island of the hotel with a wooden footbridge so that it’s easy to reach the restaurants and SPA areas of your resort.

While spending your vacation on the Maldives it never gets boring. You definitely should not miss to go diving in the Indian Ocean and exploring the amazing coral reefs all-round the atolls which provide unique flora and fauna waiting for you to be discovered.   Moreover it is quite worth it to rent a kayak and paddle to some lonely islands by having the chance to relax where you are the only one far away from mass tourism. Likewise I would recommend to you a scenic sightseeing flight over all the Maldivian atolls.

Depending on the hotel you are staying in you are being offered the possibility to enjoy a dinner directly at the private beach of your hotel meanwhile watching one of the most beautiful sunsets you have very probably never seen anywhere else before.

So in my opinion it is a perfect decision to travel to the Maldivian Republic because you got so many different things to explore on those amazing islands with its unique nature. Nowhere else in the world you will have that feeling of being definitely in paradise. So pack your suitcases now and book your unforgettable trip to this gorgeous country. I promise you won’t regret this decision!

Just have a look inside this travel destination by checking out the link below!!

Maldives Introduction Video