California Road Trip Trough Big Sur

Adele Fadier, France

Does the idea of a California road trip makes you dream? From Santa Barbara to Monterey you will discover all the best spots of the Pacific Coast, driving on Highway 1.

The California Coast is one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world. By this way you can discover all the California’s amazing natural life. Obviously, when you drive alongside the ocean you are going to see incredible places and views. That’s the upside of a road trip-you can stop everywhere you want. So, now I will show you the most famous spots of this Highway 1.

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After leaving Santa Barbara, your first official stop will be in San Simeon. In fact, this city located on California’s Central Coast offers drivers many reasons to stop and stay a while. San Simeon is home to 17,000 different animals, offering many opportunities to commune with wildlife and especially the elephant seals. Thousands of these sea mammals can be viewed sun bathing on a sandy beach or having a jolly good time in the water. The second famous place to visit in San Simeon is the Hearst Castle. It’s a National Historic Landmark which was a residence for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst between 1919 and 1947. Actually many people come to visit this castle because of its amazing Roman architecture.

Then, you can continue on the road until you reach Sand Dollar Beach, which is the largest unbroken stretch of sand in Big Sur and is considered to be one of the best surfing spots in Big Sur. Visitors said Sand Dollar Beach is a beautiful and relaxing spot to lay out or have a picnic. The beach is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and it costs $10 to park your car, but another thing that is important to know is that swimming at Sand Dollar Beach is considered dangerous – so be careful.

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22.1 miles later you will arrive to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. A main feature of the park is McWay Falls, which drops over a cliff of 80 feet (24 meters) into the Pacific Ocean. In the same area you will find the Henry Miller Memorial Library, a nonprofit arts center, bookstore, and performance venue, championing the late writer, artist, and Big Sur resident Henry Miller and other creative individuals living in or near Big Sur. But that’s not all, in this place you can also find the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and the Pfeiffer Beach. This state park is massive with several hiking trails, picnic grounds and watering holes where you can see picnickers swimming with joy. About the Pfeiffer Beach, I strongly recommend coming in just before sunrise so that you can have the beach all to yourself. Moreover, it’s an amazing place to take pictures of the sunset or sunrise thanks to the impressive rocks situated in front of the beach.

In the same area, there is Partington Cove which is a beautiful hike to take in Big Sur. As you make your way through a tunnel, you will start to see the beginning of one of the most beautiful coves you will ever see – the water is so clear you can see the kelp and what seems to be the ocean floor below.

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A few kilometers further you can find Point Sur Lighthouse. That’s the only complete light station open to the public in California and it offers you an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean.

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Then, you can continue your road until one of the most famous spot of the Big Sur, the Bixby Creek Bridge. It’s also one of the most photographed bridges in California due to its aesthetic design. It’s like a gate away to Big Sur.

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Now we arrive at the last area of this road trip, Monterey County, but don’t worry there are still many beautiful places to discover.

First, Garrapata State Park, an unknown Big Sur jewel – it’s a treasure to those who have discovered it. Garrapata State Park’s unpopulated hiking trails provide access to both the beautiful Big Sur coastline and the breathtaking Santa Lucia Mountains. So, you can’t miss it!

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After this, you can go to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. This place is outstanding for sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, scuba diving, and jogging. The offshore area forms one of the richest underwater habitats in the world popular with divers. Wildlife includes seals, sea lions, sea otters and migrating gray whales. In this reserve you ought to go to China Cove and Gibson Beach, two amazing places to enjoy the view and the wildlife.

Point Lobos State Reserve at Highway 1 in California

Then, we will arrive at the penultimate city of this road trip called Carmel-by-the-Sea. Carmel is known for its natural scenery and rich artistic history. Here you can visit all the pretty streets of the city and the famous Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo.

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Finally, we will arrive at Monterey, the last place of this road trip. This is one of the most beautiful coastal cities of California. It was originally the state capital of California but today it is best known for its beautiful coastline, its world-class aquarium and from the many John Steinbeck novels set there.

As a conclusion, Big Sur will offer you an amazing road trip to discover the California central coast trough the Highway 1. Do not hesitate to stop whenever you want to enjoy the view or the atmosphere of a place. Let appreciate the nature and the wildlife without human intervention. So enjoy it, but be respectful of all the places you will visit. Another important thing to know is that you have to work on your itinerary before you go. Sometimes, some parts of the Highway can be closed for any reasons, so it’s better to be informed in time.

You can find below a video of a road trip in Big Sur with some places to sleep and to eat.

Enjoy your trip!

History of China

Written by,  Sebastiaan Han, Netherlands

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The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC from the Shang dynasty. Ancient historical texts such as the Records of the Grand Historian (c. 100 BC) and the Bamboo Annals (296 BC) describe a Xia dynasty (c. 2070–1600 BC) before the Shang, but no writing is known from the period, and Shang writings do not indicate the existence of the Xia.

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The Xia Dynasty (2070-1600 BC)

The Xia dynasty is the legendary, possibly mythical first dynasty in traditional Chinese history. We never found any written records of this dynasty, but there are a few ancient texts which indicate the existence of this dynasty.  The Xia dynasty was the first government to emerge in ancient China and became the first to apply to the policy of dynastic succession; and so making it the first dynasty of China

The Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC)

Archaeological findings providing evidence for the existence of the Shang dynasty, c. 1600–1046 BC, are divided into two parts. The first part, from the earlier Shang period, comes from sources at Erligang, Zhengzhou, and Shangcheng. The second part, from the later Shang or Yin period, is at Anyang, in modern-day Henan, which has been confirmed as the last of the Shang’s nine capitals (c. 1300–1046 BC).

The Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC)

This is the longest-lasting dynasty China has known. The Zhou dynasty began to emerge in the Yellow River Valley. They captured the territory that belonged to the Shangs. The Zhou lived west of the Shang, and the Zhou leader had been appointed Western Protector by the Shang. The ruler of the Zhou, King Wu, with the assistance of his brother, the Duke of Zhou, as regent, managed to defeat the Shang at the Battle of Muye.

The Zhou people were not invaders; they were Chinese-speaking people descendant from the Longshan Neolithic culture. During the course of several centuries, the Zhou moved away from barbarian pressures, migrating towards the westernmost agricultural basin of North China, the lower Wei River valley, present-day Shaanxi province. Here they began to develop Shang-style agriculture, and they also built a city in an area named Plain of Zhou, which gave its name to the state and the dynasty. The Shang ruling class considered the Zhou “semibarbarious country cousins”. For many years the Zhou and the Shang coexisted alternating peace and war.

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The Warring States period (476-221 BC)

After further political disagreements, seven prominent states remained by the end of 5th century BC, and the years consolidation in which these few states battled each other are known as the Warring States period. Though there remained a nominal Zhou king until 256 BC, he was largely a figurehead and held little real power.

Numerous developments were made during this period in culture and mathematics, examples include an important literary achievement, the Zuo Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals, which summarizes the preceding Spring and Autumn period and the bundle of 21 bamboo slips from the Tsinghua collection, which was invented during this period dated to 305  BC, are the world’s earliest example of a two digit decimal multiplication table, indicating that sophisticated commercial arithmetic was already established during this period.

As neighboring territories of these warring states, including areas of modern Sichuan and Liaoning, were annexed, they were governed under the new local administrative system of commandery and prefecture. This system had been used since the Spring and Autumn period, and parts can still be seen in the modern system of Sheng & Xian (province and county).

The final expansion in this period began during the reign of Ying Zheng, the king of Qin. After he got the approval and trust of Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong and Guangxi in 214 BC, this enabled him to call himself the First Emperor (Qin Shi Huang).

The Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC)

The Qin Dynasty is well-know because of the great Terracotta army. The Qin dynasty was the first dynasty of Imperial China, lasting from 221 to 206 BC. Named for its heartland in Qin state, the dynasty was founded by Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of Qin. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the Legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the fourth century BC, during the Warring States period. In the mid and late third century BC, the Qin state carried out a series of swift conquests, first ending the powerless Zhou dynasty, and eventually conquering the other six of the Seven Warring States. Its 15 years was the shortest major dynasty in Chinese history, consisting of only two emperors, but created an imperial system that lasted, with interruption and adaptation, until 1912 CE.

The Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD)

Han dynasty

The Han Dynasty was founded by Liu Bang, who was victorious in the Chu–Han Contention that brought to the fall of the Qin dynasty. A golden age in Chinese history, the Han Dynasty’s long period of stability and prosperity created the foundation of China as a unified state under a central imperial bureaucracy, which was to last intermittently for most of the next two millennia. The Han Dynasty saw an age of economic prosperity and witnessed a significant growth of their economy first established during the Zhou dynasty (c. 1050–256 BC). The coinage issued by the central government mint in 119 BC remained the standard coinage of China until the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD).

This in particular is a special era for me personally because my ancestors originate from China and specifically from the Han Dynasty. Before my family came to the Netherlands, they lived in Indonesia for many centuries. They came there from China to trade opium and to begin a new business. Several big Chinese families have been settled in Java for centuries, but so far very little has been done to investigate the social integration into the Javanese society and their part of the local economy, but my ancestors are traced back all the way to the 18th century and they played a significant part in the economic development of the “Oosthoek” or Eastern Salient. The family grew bigger and bigger until the Second World War. When the Japanese army came to Indonesia, they took almost everything from my family for their own usage. My grandfather decided to move to the Netherlands, but a lot of family members are still in Indonesia and other parts of the world.

Three Kingdoms (AD 220–280)

By the 2nd century, the empire declined amidst land acquisitions, invasions, and feuding between clans and eunuchs. The Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out in AD 184, happening in an era of warlords. In the ensuing turmoil, three states tried to gain predominance in the period of the Three Kingdoms.

After Cao Cao reunified the north in 208, his son proclaimed the Wei Dynasty in 220. Soon, Wei’s rivals, Shu and Wu, proclaimed their independence, leading China into the Three Kingdoms period. This period was characterized by a gradual decentralization of the state that had existed during the Qin and Han dynasties, and an increase in the power of great families.

In 266, the Jin Dynasty overthrew the Wei and later unified the country in 280, but this union was short-lived.

The Jin Dynasty (AD 266-420)Jin-Dynasty

The Jin Dynasty or the Jin Empire was a Chinese dynasty traditionally dated from 266 to 420. It was founded by Sima Yan, son of Sima Zhao, who was made Prince of Jin and  declared the founder of the dynasty. It followed the Three Kingdoms period, which ended with the conquest of Eastern Wu by the Jin.

The Jin Dynasty was severely weakened by internecine fighting among imperial princes and lost control of northern China after non-Han Chinese settlers rebelled and captured Luoyang and Chang’an. In 317, a Jin prince in modern-day Nanjing became emperor and continued the dynasty, now known as the Eastern Jin, which held southern China for another century. Prior to this move, historians refer to the Jin Dynasty as the Western Jin.

The Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618)

The Sui Dynasty was a short-lived imperial dynasty of China of great significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties and reinstalled the rule of ethnic Han Chinese in the entirety of China proper, along with the reuniting of former nomadic ethnic people within its territory.

A lasting legacy of the Sui Dynasty was the Grand Canal. With the eastern capital Luoyang at the center of the network, it linked the west-lying capital Chang’an to the economic and agricultural centers of the east towards Hangzhou, and to the northern border near modern Beijing. While the pressing initial motives were for shipment of grains to the capital, and for transporting troops and military logistics, the reliable inland shipment links would facilitate domestic trades, flow of people and cultural exchange for centuries.

The Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907)

The Tang Dynasty was founded by Emperor Gaozu on 18 June 618. It was a golden age of Chinese civilization and considered to be the most prosperous period of China with significant developments in culture, art, literature, particularly poetry, and technology. Buddhism became the predominant religion for the common people. Chang’an (modern Xi’an), the national capital, was the largest city in the world during its time.

Underlying the prosperity of the early Tang Dynasty was a strong centralized bureaucracy with efficient policies. The government was organized as “Three Departments and Six Ministries” to separately draft, review, and implement policies. These departments were run by royal family members as well as scholar officials who were selected by imperial examinations. These practices, which matured in the Tang dynasty, were continued by the later dynasties, with some modifications.

Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (AD 907–960)

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The period of political disunity between the Tang and the Song, known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, lasted from 907 to 960. During this half-century, China was in all respects a multi-state system. Five regimes, namely, Liang, Tang, Jin, Han and Zhou, rapidly succeeded one another in control of the traditional Imperial heartland in northern China. Among the regimes, rulers of  Tang, Jin and Han were sinicized Shatuo Turks, which ruled over the ethnic majority of Han Chinese. More stable and smaller regimes of mostly ethnic Han rulers coexisted in south and western China over the period, cumulatively constituted the “Ten Kingdoms”.

Amidst political chaos in the north, the strategic Sixteen Prefectures (region along today’s Great Wall) were ceded to the emerging Khitan Liao Dynasty, which drastically weakened the defense of the China proper against northern nomadic empires. To the south, Vietnam gained lasting independence after being a Chinese prefecture for many centuries. With wars dominated in Northern China, there were mass southward migrations of population, which further enhanced the southward shift of cultural and economic centers in China. The era ended with the coup of Later Zhou general Zhao Kuangyin, and the establishment the Song dynasty in 960, which eventually annihilated the remains of the “Ten Kingdoms” and reunified China.

Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271–1368)

The Yuan Dynasty, officially the Great Yuan, was the empire or ruling dynasty of China established by Kublai Khan, leader of the Mongolian Borjigin clan. It followed the Song Dynasty and preceded the Ming Dynasty.

Genghis Khan and his sons set the foundation for the Yuan Dynasty by defeating the Western Xia and conquering Central Asia, Mongolia, and the Hexi Corridor. This gave them a base of manpower, horses, technology, and experience to finish the conquest of the fierce Jin army and then to go on and conquer the Dali empire and the Song empire.

Genghis Khan died in 1227 and had named his son, Ogedei, to be the next emperor. Ogedei was said to rule the whole Mongol empire from 1229 to 1241, but he concentrated his efforts in the eastern part of it. In 1232, he invaded the Jin Empire in alliance with the Song Empire. Jin was defeated in 1234. From 1235, Ogedei started a campaign with the Song Dynasty.

Kublai was a grandson of Genghis Khan. He had a comparatively long rule and reformed the empire to increase his power and make the empire prosper.

In 1253, he captured the Dali Kingdom in Yunnan Province.

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In 1259, Kublai campaigned against the Southern Song Dynasty.

In 1260, Kublai took the throne after his elder brother, Mongke, died.When he heard that his elder brother, who was the Great Khan Mongke, had died, he and another brother went to war. Both of them wanted to be the Khan.

They fought a series of battles and Kublai won. This caused a division in the Mongol Empire. The Golden Horde that controlled the area of Russia and Chagatai Khanate did not recognize Kublai Khan as their ruler.

Kublai sent large armies against the Song people in the 1270s. In 1276, the Mongols captured the Song capital of Hangzhou and most of the Song Dynasty clan. However, two young brothers of the captured Song emperor escaped and went south.

In 1227 , the Song Dynasty court fled to Quanzhou.  They were attacked there by a rich Muslim merchant. They fled again to Hong Kong and the court attempted to make a stand there in 1279, but they were soundly defeated by the Mongols. The last emperor died there at the age of 9 in 1279.

The Ming Dynasty (AD 1368-1644)

The Ming dynasty was the ruling dynasty of China – then known as the Great Ming Empire – for 276 years following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Han Chinese.

Urbanization increased as the population grew and as the division of labor grew more complex. Large urban centers, such as Nanjing and Beijing, also contributed to the growth of private industry. In particular, small-scale industries grew up, often specializing in paper, silk, cotton, and porcelain goods. For the most part, however, relatively small urban centers with markets proliferated around the country. Town markets mainly traded food, with some necessary manufactures such as pins or oil.

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The Ming Dynasty intervened deeply in the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98), which ended with the withdrawal of all invading Japanese forces in Korea, and the restoration of the Joseon Dynasty, its traditional ally and tributary state. The regional hegemony of the Ming dynasty was preserved at a toll on its resources. Coincidentally, with Ming’s control in Manchuria in decline, the Manchu (Jurchen) tribes, under their chieftain Nurhaci, broke away from Ming’s rule, and emerged as a powerful, unified state, which was later proclaimed as the Qing dynasty. It went on to subdue the much weakened Korea as its tributary, conquered Mongolia, and expanded its territory to the outskirt of the Great Wall. The most elite army of the Ming dynasty was to station at the Shanhai Pass to guard the last stronghold against the Manchus, which weakened its suppression of internal peasants uprisings.

Qing Dynasty (AD 1644–1911)

Qing dynasty

The Qing Dynasty, officially the Great Qing, was the last imperial dynasty of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and succeeded by the Republic of China.

The Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) was the last imperial dynasty in China. Founded by the Manchus, it was the second conquest dynasty to rule the entire territory of China and its people. The Manchus were formerly known as Jurchens, residing in the northeastern part of the Ming territory outside the Great Wall. They emerged as the major threat to the late Ming Dynasty after Nurhaci united all Jurchen tribes and established an independent state. However, the Ming Dynasty would be overthrown by Li Zicheng’s peasants rebellion, with Beijing captured in 1644 and the Chongzhen Emperor, the last Ming emperor, committing suicide.

In response to calamities within the empire and threats from imperialism, the Self-Strengthening Movement was an institutional reform in the second half of the 1800s. The aim was to modernize the empire, with prime emphasis on strengthening the military. However, the reform was undermined by corrupt officials, cynicism, and quarrels within the imperial family. As a result, the “Beiyang Fleet” were soundly defeated in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895). The Guangxu Emperor and the reformists then launched a more comprehensive reform effort, the Hundred Days’ Reform (1898), but it was soon overturned by the conservatives under Empress Dowager Cixi in a military coup.

At the turn of the 20th century, the violent Boxer Rebellion opposed foreign influence in Northern China, and attacked Chinese Christians and missionaries. When Boxers entered Beijing, the Qing government ordered all foreigners to leave. But instead the foreigners and many Chinese were besieged in the foreign legations quarter. The Eight-Nation Alliance sent the Seymour Expedition of Japanese, Russian, Italian, German, French, American, and Austrian troops to relieve the siege. The Expedition was stopped by the Boxers at the Battle of Langfang and forced to retreat. Due to the Alliance’s attack on the Dagu Forts, the Qing government in response sided with the Boxers and declared war on the Alliance. There was fierce fighting at Tientsin. The Alliance formed the second, much larger Gaselee Expedition and finally reached Beijing; the Qing government evacuated to Xi’an. The Boxer Protocol ended the war.

Modern China

Republic of China (since 1912)

Frustrated by the Qing court’s resistance to reform and by China’s weakness, young officials, military officers, and students began to advocate the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and the creation of a republic. They were inspired by the revolutionary ideas of Sun Yat-sen. A revolutionary military uprising, the Wuchang Uprising, began on 10 October 1911, in Wuhan. The provisional government of the Republic of China was formed in Nanjing on 12 March 1912. The Xinhai Revolution ended 2,000 years of dynastic rule in China.

After the success of the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, Sun Yat-sen was declared President, but Sun was forced to turn power over to Yuan Shikai, who commanded the New Army and was Prime Minister under the Qing government, as part of the agreement to let the last Qing monarch abdicate (a decision Sun would later regret). Over the next few years, Yuan proceeded to abolish the national and provincial assemblies, and declared himself emperor in late 1915. Yuan’s imperial ambitions were fiercely opposed by his subordinates; faced with the prospect of rebellion, he abdicated in March 1916, and died in June of that year.

Yuan’s death in 1916 left a power vacuum in China; the republican government was all but shattered. This ushered in the Warlord Era, during which much of the country was ruled by shifting coalitions of competing provincial military leaders.

In 1919, the May Fourth Movement began as a response to the terms imposed on China by the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I, but quickly became a nationwide protest movement about the domestic situation in China. The protests were a moral success as the cabinet fell and China refused to sign the Treaty of Versailles, which had awarded German holdings to Japan. The New Culture Movement stimulated by the May Fourth Movement waxed strong throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

 

Sources:

Wikipedia

https://www.ancient.eu/

https://www.britannica.com

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 !

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.

What To Do in Madrid?

Andrea Rojas Fernandez. Spain.

Madrid is the famous city in the capital of Spain. In this wonderful place you can find many places to visit. There are a lot of museums, parks, historical places and you can discover the magic nights of Madrid. You have to enjoy the fantastic gastronomy that we have here and enjoy the typical afternoon eating “tapas” with your friends, family…

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One of my favorite places to pass a fantastic afternoon or night with a couple or my friends is Salvador Bachiller. It’s a place where you can enjoy a fantastic cocktails and also a fantastic dinner with a beautiful and cozy atmosphere.

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The most important place that you have to visit is “Puerta del Sol”. You are going to find the statue of “El Oso y el Madrono”, also you are going to find “El Reloj de la Casa de Correos” is the clock with which we celebrate the new year’s chimes. This place is the Kilometer 0 of Madrid because it is where all the radial roads begin.

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An important museum in Madrid is The Prado Museum which is the main Spanish national art museum. It is widely considered to have one of the world’s finest of collections of European art. Founded as a museum of paintings and sculpture in 1819, it also has important collections of other types of works.

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A place that is going to impress you also is the Royal Palace of Madrid. The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family in the city of Madrid, but it is only used for state ceremonies. The palace has 135,000 square meters of floor space and contains 3,418 rooms. It is the largest royal palace in Europe by floor area.

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In my opinion, you have many places to visit in Madrid, but you cannot leave without seeing these wonderful places and experiences. I’m sure you’re going to want to go back to this gorgeous city.

Tips to Organize your Trip

Alejandra Cabanas, Spain.

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In my opinion, one of the funniest things, is to organize a trip. Choose a destination, the hotel and what you will visit. So I will give you some tips to those persons that doesn’t like to do organize these trips as I do, to do it easier and faster.

First of all, and the most essential, you must choose a destination which will fit in with your pleasures for that trip: beach or city, cheap or expensive, relax or stressful…

 

a map of the world

After this first step and have clear the budget that you can spend on the trip, I will recommend to book your accommodation and flight through the apps Air BnB and Booking, these networks that became so famous are actually the bests to find the best place to accommodate and the cheapest flights that for sure will fit with you. You should  check both to make sure that those are the best options.

After have a place to sleep you should take a look on the area that you had chosen for your accommodation. Take a look about the restaurants, clubs, laundry, the services that you think you will go. For this step there are a lot of networks that could help you, but what I used to use is Google maps, it will say you all he services on there with just sending the direction.

At the end, you must plan your activities. Outline the major activities you want to enjoy and how much they cost. Make any last-minute adjustments to your savings so you can ensure you have enough money. This will also help you figure out if you need any reservations for your chosen tours or activities.

plan the perfect adventure overseas

And after do all these steps, what you just need to do is to wait until he day of the leaving, and of course, enjoy your trip!

 

Animals Facing Extinction

by Malena Julia Banjavcic, Switzerland

Help. What does help mean? Who needs help? And what help do they need? What can we do to help? These are questions we should ask ourselves every day. We are not alone in this world, even if it sometimes feels like it. There are people, who need help, but also animals. And we all need to start to ask ourselves how to make a change, because there are animals facing extinction and their time is running out.

So what does it mean when animals are in real danger facing extinction?

Plants and animals which are facing extinction are called Endangered Species. Particularly, it says that these species are very likely to become extinct in nearer time.  Of course, there are reasons in nature why animals become endangered, but for the most part we, humans, are the reason. Evidence of this is provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). According to it, we are now losing animal species at more than 1,000 times the normal rate. In 2012, the IUCN featured 3,079 animals and 2,655 plants as endangered worldwide. Whereas back in 1998, the figures were 1,102 animals and 1,197 plants.  People often don’t even know that animals, which are well known, are critically endangered. Examples of species which are facing extinction are the Amur Leopard (pic. 1), the Bornean Orangutan (pic. 2) or the Malayan Tiger (pic. 3).

 (pic. 1)     (pic. 2)    (pic. 3)

If nothing changes, we put ourselves in danger, too. The world is a whole, big ecosystem. Ecosystems depend on healthy plants and animals. Without them an ecosystem is not even possible; they are the foundation. When one of the species becomes endangered, the whole system slowly starts to fall apart. So every loss of a species triggers the next. Just like animals and plants, we, humans, also depend on healthy ecosystems like forests, oceans or grasslands. So we’re risking our health and environment when we don’t do anything about the contamination.

We, humans, cause the extinction of a lot of species only by living, but this can be changed. We have to live together with the animals. I once heard someone saying “it’s not our world, we just borrowed it” and I think that is the truth.

I  think something important to do is to educate. We need to teach people and especially children about what is happening right now. If people do not know about the problem, they can’t do anything, but it’s also the job of our governments. How do people still sell furs and skins of all these endangered animals without being punished for it? Another thing which helps, is ,of course, the support for several organisations which work on this problem. Support can mean financial for those, who either don’t have the time or the will to go to the affected places where help is needed, but volunteer work is also support. Not only do you help, but you also experience beautiful countries and learn something about our world, the different cultures and also about yourself. “Work” doesn’t always mean it’s not fun.

It’s not that difficult to change something, so why isn’t there a change going on? – Ask yourself.

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Things To Do in Switzerland

Alyssa Knutti, Switzerland

Switzerland is officially the second happiest country on the planet, according to the 2016 World Happiness Report. And while you read this article you’ll soon realize why Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. There are so many things you can do in this small country from exploring the Swiss Alps to passing the spectacular Rhine Falls or sailing around Lake Geneva.

  1. Go skydiving

An amazing place where you can skydive is Interlaken. Interlaken is close to the capital city and is surrounded by peaks of the alps. It’s one of the most spectacular spots on earth to go skydiving.

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2. Take the Glacier Express

You should definitely ride with the famous Glacier Express through the mountains. Riding the train is pretty spectacular because it has huge panoramic, glass windows. If you want to take the whole ride you have to get in from Zermatt and then you go out at Davos or St. Moritz.

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3. Visit the James Bond Restaurant

The famous James Bond restaurant in Switzerland is located at the top of the Schilthorn, a 2970 meter high mountain in the middle of the country. The restaurant is called Piz Gloria. It is where the 1969 James Bond movie was set. It’s also a revolving restaurant. That means you can eat and the view changes all the time.

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4. Get soaked by the waterfalls

If you want to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Switzerland you have to go to Lauterbrunnen and take the one hour hike to Trummelbach. You’ll actually pass about two or three other waterfalls along the way. Trummelbach is the most famous waterfall. It has been formed by the melting snow breaking through cracks in the rocks.

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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!

Let’s Ride the Wave!

assorted colors of surfboard

Yuki Mizumoto Japan

In the year 2020, Tokyo, I see a new official Olympic event. What is this? Surfing! I’m so happy because I can see many professional surfers in Chiba, Japan. I love surfing, but I don’t know the history and details of surfing. Do you know where the origin of surfing is? Surfing was born in Huntington Beach, California so this is the best place for beginning and enjoying surfing. There are a lot of surfers are surfing at Huntington Beach.

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Surfing is pretty profound because it’s going to change depending on which surfboard you choose. This sport uses three different board length. These are longboard, funboard and shortboard.

Longboard

A longboard is 9 to 14 feet (2.7 to 4.3 met). If you choose this board, you can walk on the board while riding the wave. This board has strong buoyancy. Therefore, you’re able to ride even small waves easily so you don’t have to check weather charts and wave conditions. Even though there aren’t big waves, you can enjoy surfing almost everyday. However, when hurricanes and thunderclouds are coming, don’t go into a sea, please.

RinconDo you know Rincon? This place is a very famous and holy place for surfing so if you begin surfing, you should go there.

Funboard

A funboard is 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 met). This is the best choice for beginning surfers. A funboard is thick and wide like a longboard so it will catch the waves easily. This has  a wide nose like a longboard so you can stay afloat on the wave face, balance easier, and  do longer rides. This board works exceptionally well in small and middle waves.

Shortboard

A shortboard might be classified as anything under around 6 feet 6 inches. That is about 2 metres, however the definition is not specific. Whatever the board size, the meaning of shortboard is a board someone chooses for high performance surfing in small to medium waves.  In addition, a shortboard has a pointed nose, a rounded or squarish tail, and typically with three skegs (fins), but sometimes with two ,or as many as 5, since the late 1960s, when Gordon Clark found the optimum formulation of urethane foam. I think if you begin surfing, you should choose a thick board because a thick surfboard has better buoyancy than  a thin surfboard.shortboard

Surf Brand

A lot of surf brands exist in the world. Surf brands sell clothes, shoes, watches, surfboards and wetsuits. These are very stylish and cute!! So if you go to a surf shop, you should see clothes and other things. Quicksilver, Hurley and Volcom are representative surf brands. On other hand, Vans, Patagonia and Stussy are surf brands, too. So many famous companies have surf lines.surfbrand

Therefore, surfing is a complex and cool sport. I’m in Santa Barbara, California. My favorite surf point in Santa Barbara is Campus Point. Anyway, I want to surf at Huntington Beach, but surf points are around the world. I think most of surf points are so beautiful! So, if I have money and time, I want to go on a surf trip!! For sure. Let’s ride the wave and go trip to beautiful place!!!