3. September 2013 | Von Nicole Kiefner 

California Love

“Now let me welcome everybody to the wild, wild west – A state that’s untouchable like Elliot Ness”

California Love

It’s been only a month since most of us arrived in the U.S., but we feel like we’ve been here forever. So much has happened those last few weeks. Let’s back up a little:

California, the golden state. This is where 51 of the MHMK-students will spend their semester abroad. To be more precise: Camarillo, California. Camarillo is a town in Ventura County, home to about 800.000 people. And it will be our home for the next four months. Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Ventura, Camarillo – those are the cities where we live. Some of us rented a house, a bunch of people live in apartment complexes, a few people stay on campus or in the Marriott Hotel in Camarillo. As most people who have been to the United States know, a car is essential. You couldn’t get anywhere without one. So that was one of the first things we had to figure out: where can we buy a cheap car? And well, we’re Germans. We know cars. It shouldn’t be a problem to find one, right? Yeah, guess what. It was pretty hard. But eventually, we all bought decent cars.

Since Los Angeles is not too far from Camarillo, we headed there a couple of times. For those of us who haven’t been able to visit L.A. before, it was a great experience: the Hollywood Hills, the Walk of Fame, Venice Beach and so on. There are two ways to get there by car: you either drive on the freeway, which is the faster option (if there was no traffic. But there always is) or you drive along the pacific coast. Let me tell you, the view is just breathtaking and you get to see parts of Malibu, too. The houses in the hills are just insane. How could you not want to live there?

After a week or two, reality caught up with us. It was time to get serious. No more road trips or partying (during the week, of course!). We were pretty excited to see how the campus looked like. The California State University ‘Channel Islands’ used to be a mental institution and we heard a bunch of creepy stories from former exchange students. When we actually got there, we almost couldn’t believe them. The campus is simply beautiful, very green and quiet (since it’s in the middle of nowhere). Some CI-students showed us around and gave us background-information, which made finding the classrooms a lot easier in the first week.

Yeah, the first week has been rough on us. We got used to hanging around, doing nothing, sleeping until noon and just enjoying the fact that we’re no longer in sad, rainy Germany but in California. When we heard that homework is a common thing here and how much we have to do outside of class, we were shocked. Mandatory attendance? Really?

Those things are not the only ones we had to get used to. Although the American culture is not that different, there are a couple of things that seem simply weird. I’ll just give you some examples:

  1. Drive-Thru. Why the hell can’t you just get out of your car to pick up your 23 burgers? Are you really that lazy?
  2. Drive-Thru. Why the hell can’t you just get out of your car to get money? Are you really that lazy?
  3. Drive-Thru. Why the hell can’t you just get out of your car to get your coffee? Are you really that lazy?
  4. Drive-Thru. Why the hell can’t you spell it properly? Are you really that lazy?

Well, that’s how it is. By now, we figured out where to buy good food and when to stay off the freeway because it’s so much traffic that once you’re on it, there’s no way of getting off. We regularly crash house parties (we went to an ABC-party which means anything but clothes. True story.) and everyone already knows and loves ‘ZE GERMANS’. In only a few weeks, we met so many nice people who are eager to get to know us, talk to us and show us a good time. We really appreciate the American kindness and it made everything so much easier.

There’s only one thing left to mention: the surfing. A lot of people got their own surfboards and wet suits. And since the ocean is not too far from where most of us live (some people live right at the beach. I hate you for that.), surfing has become a daily habit. We’re real Californians now, I guess.

That’s it for now. I hope everyone’s having a great time, wherever they are. Because we sure have.

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