California Countdown

I had meant to write a post exactly 4 weeks before I fly out to California, but I was away from home and a computer, so that scuppered my good intentions. It seemed like a good time to talk about how I was feeling, what was happening with the year abroad etc. So now I’m writing this post with LESS than 4 weeks till take off, which is crazy. I know this time will flash by, and that’s equally exciting as it is scary. Quite a few of my course mates are now at their respective universities across the Pond, and I’m getting twitchy to start my own journey and experience.

The anticipation for my time in California has definitely intensified in the last week or 10 days. That feeling has been there all summer, and it’s been a process of balancing this and meeting people/ spending time with and visiting family/ sorting out formalities for the year abroad/ working to earn some money. So it has been a strange summer really, juggling all that has made me feel I can’t get it all done, see everyone I wanted to, do everything I had planned. But I’ve done all I could given that I was being pulled in various different directions, and that’s just how it is. The only major concern I have with regards to the summer is that with work (I have had two jobs this summer, my regular work at a beach cafe, and recently some extra work doing some labouring with a stone mason to renovate a house as he knows I have done physical work like that before) I haven’t had the chance to meet some people at all yet, and others I haven’t seen as much as I’d like to. I’m worried I’ll lose contact with some of them, but hopefully the last few weeks and the opportunities that Facebook/Skype offer will remedy that.

However, summer isn’t over yet, and I still have a lot left to look forward to: a family holiday in the Dordogne, a childhood friend’s 21st birthday, a farewell party which I’m only just starting to organise, and other bits and bobs. Moreover, I have been speaking to another Warwick student who is going to UCSB as well (who also happens to be in the Dordogne at the moment, not far from where I’ll be, how freaky is that!? Small world), and she seems really motivated and positive about it all, which is fantastic. She’s going to be arriving earlier than me as well, so at least I’ll have a tour guide who’s already been through exactly what I will be going through in those first few days of adjustment. I hope it goes smoothly, without major hiccups, for all of us!

There’s not really much left for me to do at the moment, and my to-do list includes:

  • Get the address for the nearest T-Mobile branch in Isla Vista/Santa Barbara, so I can sort a stateside rolling contract ASAP when I land.
  • Get the address of the “Student Hotel” at UCSB which will be my immediate crash pad before moving into Tropicana Del Norte.
  • Google some of the main locations in and around the campus Isla Vista that I will need to know about: supermarkets, ATMs, the health centre etc.
  • Exchange some sterling into dollars for those (most probably expensive) first few days, where taxis and takeaways will be the name of the game.
  • Double check the forms and identification etc I’ll need for entering the States. There has been some talk on a Facebook group for British students studying in the US about horror stories where incoming students haven’t gotten the Visa page of their passport stamped, and have faced frustrating legal problems because of this small error by the airport staff.
  • See if any of my reading lists have been released (so far, only two of my 4 classes have released them) so I can try and get them cheaply before flying across, to save myself some hassle in the States.

Basically they are just final checks that need seeing to, so I’m as prepared as I can be. I know a lot of my course mates are much more pragmatic than that, and some of my friends are going over without having sorted accommodation, and plan to wing it a lot more than myself. Admittedly, some of them (those going to Argentina, for example) haven’t really had much of a choice, but I still admire them for undertaking all that! I have to feel as prepared as I possibly could be, otherwise I freak out a little. Not that I envisage that I can foresee every tiny development or unexpected twist, and I’ll deal with them as they arise. However, I don’t think being organised before big events like this is a bad thing, by any stretch of the imagination!

But overall, it’s an exciting time. The beach, the surfing, the weather, the parties, new people, new cities, and new classes all await me. 25 days left to go. California, prepare yourself!