Hello, Bonjour, Hallo, Olá, Ciao, Hola, marHaba, nin hão, konnichiwa, hej
These are only a few different greetings and languages you will hear throughout your stay in Santa Barbara. Nestled between the Santa Ynez mountain range and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara is an idyllic small town often referred to as the American Riviera. Beautiful palm trees, sandy beaches, sun all year round, and tons of outdoors activity make Santa Barbara a favorite travel destination on the West coast. But the city is more than that; it is also a huge meeting point for international students from all around the globe.
EF, Kaplan, ELS, ELC, SBBC, SBCC, UCSB, and Antioch attract hundreds and thousands of international students each year. Some are coming to improve their English skills while meeting new people and exploring new places. Others decided to enroll at SBCC, UCSB, or Antioch to pursue their Bachelor degrees. No matter what your goals are, Santa Barbara has a lot to offer. For international students, it often functions as a gateway to American culture.
It is understandably scary when you first arrive in California and you feel out of your comfort zone in this huge and fast moving environment. Like thousands before you, including me, Santa Barbara functions as an introduction point to US culture, US lifestyle, American food, and the English language. Keeping this in mind, it is always important to try and get out of your comfort zone so that you can enjoy the full extend of the Californian and American experience. Having people around you with the same native language is awesome, but trying to explore the US culture, interact with locals, meet with people from other places, help you making the most out of this experience.
Being enmeshed with people from the same country helps you feel more at home and keeps more in touch with your home country, but stepping out of your comfort zone is what this experience in Santa Barbara is all about. For me, improving my English did not solely come from language schools; it came from my interaction with locals, Americans, and other amazing people you meet along the way. And interacting with people from various countries also helps you to get to know their culture, learn about their language, their food, their lifestyle, etc. Being at a language school in Santa Barbara is not only about learning English, it is about broadening your horizon and learning new things and making friends from all around the world.
It might seem frightening at first to interact with people in a language different than yours, but it is exactly this feeling of insecurity, which makes your English language improvements so great. Instead of “playing it safe”, take a risk and go outside your comfort zone, you will be amazed what you will find in this beautiful town called Santa Barbara.
So here are a few tips on how to get the whole American experience:
- Don’t get too enmeshed with people from back home: Take this opportunity and learn about new cultures, new languages, new people.
- Enjoy every free minute to the fullest: Go explore the city, walk up and down State Street, enjoy the beach, have coffee at one of the many coffee shops, visit the Mission, the Zoo, the Courthouse, etc.
- Interact with locals. This might seem scary at first, but people in Santa Barbara are incredibly friendly, helpful, and curious about other places. Engage in a conversation with locals and learn more from them. This will also help you with your English skills.
- Don’t just stay in Santa Barbara, but use your free time to travel to Los Angeles and explore the many different cultures and atmospheres in Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Hollywood. Or travel to San Francisco, you will be amazed by this vibrant and multicultural city.
- Stay in contact with people from all around the globe. Catch up with them from time to time and go visit them when you have the chance.
- The most important tip that I have, however, is to have fun. Learning the language and doing as much as possible are important, but focus on doing things that make you happy. The 9 months I spend at language school were some of the finest, most exciting months of my life. These memories will last a lifetime.
Taking this into consideration, this Sunday, February 8, you will have the amazing chance to experience a main US event and a part of US culture on TV. The National Football League’s (NFL) yearly Superbowl will take place in Santa Clara (South of San Francisco) this weekend. Americans love football, and the Superbowl is one of the most amazing events of the year. Even if you don’t know much about the game, watching it is worth the while, as you will experience US football madness, see commercials that cost 5 million USD for 30 seconds, and experience some of the best halftime entertainment on national TV. And if you are unsure whom to root for, go with the Denver Broncos.
Enjoy your stay in Santa Barbara and thank you for reading.
In this sense,