At long last reached Santa Barbara!!!

Wow, amazing and awesome are just some of the words that can describe my flight from Manchester to Los Angeles (LAX).  You actually get to see the snowy mountains of Iceland and Greenland. Never before have I been grateful for a window seat and actually appreciated the idea of flying. For those of you who don’t know me, I hate flying. On this occasion however, I was pleasantly surprised by the likes of British Airways. If you ever plan to come to LAX, I would definitely recommend taking a flight in the morning so you get the amazing view. For most of the flight, I was actually just gazing out of the window and completely forgot about the fact that I was on a 10hr flight.

Now, what awaits you at LAX isn’t necessarily amazing. Clearing customs and immigration is quite routine and you need to remember to not pet the sniffer dog 🙂 The airport was actually being refurbished, so I didn’t actually feel I was in LA. But as soon as I got out of the terminal building, I saw an enormous pimped-out Escalade with just one person behind the wheel. That moment was my America! From there on, I had to wait for an hour or so for the bus to Santa Barbara. I wish I could remember the bus ride, but in all honesty I was so tired that once I had paid for by bus ticket, I was dead to the world. The next time I woke up was when the bus was driving along the coast, almost an hour from Santa Barbara. The view was breath-taking as dusk was settling in and all the shades of orange and red seem to mix with the blueness of the Pacific Ocean.

As we pulled into Goleta (area near University of California, Santa Barbara), the bus driver had taken the liberty of calling a taxi to those who needed it. I collected my luggage and jumped into the classic yellow taxi. As I had managed to sort out the accommodation mess that I had been moaning about in my last post, I was relieved to go to the apartment that my flatmate Nicola had kept ready! It really was good to be received by Nicola and Jonathan (both EAP students from Glasgow).

So since the first night here, just been fighting jet lag and at the same time trying to take in as much as possible. The day after I arrived, we had to sign up for our first classes. In a sleepy daze I managed to stay awake during both lectures which were slightly worrying due to the prospect of exams in less than 3 weeks. Somehow, I anticipated a lot of project work but the mid terms (exams after 3 weeks) are all that count. So on one hand no project work but loads of continuous revision. The timetable has worked out quite well, lectures on mondays, tuesdays and thursdays. Wednesdays and Fridays off!!!

So having sorted out lectures, all that remains is our empty flat. We spent the weekend buying everything from pots and pans to shelves to make the place feel a little less empty. Lighting was also a crucial bit of shopping! Kmart has been an amazing place to get the essentials at a reasonable price. The university housing office was kind enough to provide mattresses, a desk and a chair for about $20. Even though it is a studio bedroom, the apartment complex as such is amazing with a decent sized pool and a fully kitted gym. A note, do not underestimate the distances you have to travel. The university really is outside santa barbara so the main shopping area in santa barbara really is a long bus ride. Thankfully, the uni matric card gets you free bus rides anywhere in santa barbara and goleta. Even if you’re not into shopping you’ll definitely have to make at least one trip to down town santa barbara to open a bank account as well as purchase a pre-paid sim card. The cell-phone system here really is quite different. With a tmobile $100 prepaid sim card, you get a thousand minutes. But what they don’t tell you, those minutes are used for everything from sending and receiving a text to making and receiving phone calls. USA is one of the few countries that charge to receive texts so be aware! As for food, I’d definitely recommend getting a Costco membership card before you leave the UK. The Costco here is much bigger and after conversion, the food is cheaper as well. At the same time, we’re still looking for a semi-decent Tesco/Asda like place. Can you believe Walmart isn’t in Santa Barbara???

But apart from all that, as I arrived later than everyone else due to various passport problems, I did miss orientation and at the same time still overcoming jet lag. Going back 8hrs does take its toll! Therefore, can’t really say much on the night life. But, Del Playa seems to be the street where all the parties are. Thankfully, due to my flatmate Nicola, I’m slowly but surely making friends. I must admit that, having missed orientation, you have another layer of cliques to overcome. But I know, that with my charm and my rather questionable looks I’ll make an impression that’s bound to impress 😉 Joining the buddy programme should also help get a local insight on things to do in Santa Barbara.

So anyway, it seems to be my turn to cook tonight, so as I prepare to cook some seafood linguine, I’ll leave you with a final thought. The campus is so big that they’ve managed to create a bike lane, a skateboard lane along with the foot-paths. Pedestrians seem to be the lowest of the low on the transportation chain, as we have to do all the watching out whereas the skateboarders and cyclists (who think they’re the bomb) just get to give us angry looks!

Anyway, more campus shenanigans to follow next time!

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