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All Abroad! California dreamin'

Follow the relay of UCPH exchange students as they narrate tales from abroad. Second stop, the University of California, USA

Most bars in California close at 1 am! This is difficult for Europeans to get used to.

And as many Americans are used to living their lives on the go, unless you go to a really nice restaurant you don’t really sit down to enjoy your food, hence the one hundred thousand fast food chains. Sitting and enjoying you dinner with friends over a glass of wine or something, as we normally do in Denmark, is not as popular here.

Another big difference is the quarter system used by American universities. A couple of weeks into the quarter you are already half way through. That can be very weird for Europeans who are used to the semester system. Homework and attendance, if you are taking studio classes or discussions, are a big thing here. So you’d better get used to coming to class every day.

Stunning natural landscapes

Having never been to the US before my exchange, when I would hear ‘California’ and ‘Orange County’ I would picture sunshine, beaches, and surfers – basically holidays all year long. But there is so much more to California than that. Nature here is very beautiful and diverse. Not far from Irvine is Laguna Beach, where in close proximity to one another you can find a beautiful beach and a wonderful high hike route that provides you with a wonderful view of the bay area and Catalina Island.

You will have to look for the dodgy hole-in- the- wall joints, if you want to find the real Mexican food.

If you want to experience the desert, Joshua Tree Park is a great place for a hike. It’s only a 2-hour drive from Irvine. Bombay Beach not far from Joshua Tree Park is an interesting destination that shows a very different aspect of the rich Southern California.

California is full of natural beauty

You can also get some great Mexican food in the area, however not in Chipotle or any other chain restaurant. You will have to look for the dodgy hole-in- the- wall joints, if you want to find the real Mexican food.

Make local friends through clubs and stay warm

Being an exchange student there are always plenty of events organized by the International Center that aim to help you meet people and make friends. However, even though they are great, many of those events only ‘mix’ the international students. So if you want to make American friends, your best shot is signing up for a club or a free time activity. I made many friends working on different projects outside of class – on film sets, hike trips etc.

Even though the weather is warm, don’t forget a couple of cardigans or sweaters because the evenings can get chilly, and Americans love putting the air conditioning up to the maximum.

Classrooms are usually quite chilly, because the air conditioning is always on, even if it is 20 degrees celsius outside…

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