Year Abroad: Los Angeles Please
My five months spent studying at Occidental College, LA, were the best five months of my life.
I realise that LA doesn’t appeal to everybody, as thoughts of shiny Hollywood with shiny people can be quite distressing and unattractive.
I would suggest that you do not allow knowledge of Hollywood to prevent you from going to California.
It is an amazing state, with everything to offer.
I really mean everything.
Beautiful, endlessly blue coast, arid red desert in Apply Valley, lush pine forests and mountains in the North, and two of the most exciting cities in the world: LA and San Francisco.
I am a lover of nature and the great outdoors, and, when applying, I didn’t realise that, if I got in to Occidental College, I would be heading off to an area of such absolutely astounding natural beauty.
Once the semester had ended I road-tripped California for a month and a half.
I’ll explain a few highlights.
Swapping stories of the term and of previous travels, my friends and me wind along Highway One, 656 miles of coastal road that connects LA to San Francisco.
There is constantly a sheer, exhilarating drop down to deep blue sea.
We pull over and get out of the car.
Thousands of feet below us there are a colony of sea lions; their barks reverberate up the cliff side.
We reach the end of Highway One and pass slowly through San Francisco – a two week stay – then cross the Golden Gate Bridge, up to Marin County.
This was my favourite of all California’s secrets.
We look up in awe at the gargantuan Redwood trees in Muir Woods, and then drive further north, through tiny lakeside towns along the Tomales Bay.
I must mention that in the small town of Inverness, Marin – that has only one shop and a few boathouses – I had the best pulled-pork bap I have ever had.
After recovering from this delicious incident, we drive to Reyes Point.
There were beaches so untouched and remote, one could hardly believe we were only a few hours north of San Francisco, the second most expensive city the USA has to offer.
Of course, I didn’t only travel.
The actual studying I undertook at Occidental College was fascinating.
The American education system is smart, makes sense, and offers help right when you need it.
The tight-knit community at Occidental College gave me the chance to make some friends for life, and meet some very intelligent and friendly professors – one of my professors invited the British students to his house for thanksgiving, since he knew we didn’t have our families there; another of my professors has written me some very complimentary references for MA programmes.
The combination of studying while having the freedom of being abroad was an invaluable experience that taught me more than I’ve ever learnt.