It is two weeks now since I arrived in the US, and so much has happened in that time! Today though is the last day of my semi-holiday, with classes finally starting tomorrow. I’ve had a busy few days since I last wrote, what with moving into my apartment and finding my way around the La Jolla area that UCSD is in.
On Thursday and Friday I took my last chances to explore downtown San Diego, and on Friday I got very lucky! I had begun the day with the intention of going to the Motor Museum, but on my travels I managed to miss it by miles. I wasn’t too disappointed though, as I managed to find my way to the San Diego Padres baseball stadium at PETCO Park. Before I left England I had thought about taking a tour there, being a big baseball fan, but somehow it had slipped my mind during the week. I arrived at 12:30, just as a tour was leaving – what luck! The tour was really interesting, partially as the stadium has number of quirky features. One of these is the warehouse incorporated into the left field stands. We also got a look at the Padres Hall of Fame, the press boxes and the field itself. It was at that point I got a good picture of me sitting in the Padres dugout. On Friday evening the I-Centre staff had organised a bonfire on La Jolla shores, so I caught the #30 bus from downtown at about 5pm. The #30 takes over an hour to get to the campus, but on weekdays there is the #150 express, which only takes 30minutes. It was good to meet the other international students again, and it became clear that this is a very popular place for Asians to come! The OA’s organised a number of events for us, including water balloon catching and a sand castle competition. We had a great Turtle sandcastle (not sure why a turtle, mind), and were the winners in all but actually winning! I got on pretty well with the OA in our group, so we hung around together most of the rest of the evening, usually chatting to a rather arrogant French bloke.
There were a few problems on check-in day on Saturday, mostly with the impracticality of getting myself and all my bags to La Jolla from downtown on a significantly reduced bus service. I managed it eventually though! Don’t expect move-in to be a big event. When I arrived at midday, no one was around and all the dining facilities were still shut. We have a really big apartment, with a kitchen (oven, microwave, fridge/freezer), bathroom, two sinks, and my double room is also a decent size. The best thing is the balcony, which I’m sitting on now, enjoying the sunshine! There is a shopping mall nearby at University Town Centre (UTC, catch #202 bus) with lots of places to eat, and a very useful Target store about 10minutes from UTC on the #41 bus. I bought all my bedding, some food and a phone there. I chose T-Mobile Pay-as-you-Go since it was only $20, no contract and I don’t know how much I’ll really be using it. Don’t go with the expensive contracts, as they are $40+ a month, and usually are for a minimum 2 years.
On Sunday I took a ten minute trip on the bus to explore the La Jolla’s beaches and downtown area. At 1pm, the first Chargers home game of the NFL season began, and with my new phones’ radio I was able to listen to it. They won, 38-13, which was a great result. I’ve booked up tickets to go see them play in 4 weeks against the New England Patriots, I can’t wait! That evening, after an ice-cream party for our building, I made my first embarrassing blunder here, when I locked myself out of my room with nothing but my pyjamas on. I didn’t really want to head out to the ResLife services place like that, and as my roommate hadn’t arrived, I had to spend the night on the sofa in our lounge. Opps! I went down very early in the morning and borrowed another key, but I certainly won’t be doing that again! Monday began with a blanket of pacific mist, which makes it feel quite chilly. I decided to go to San Diego to pick up some things at the CVS Pharmacy, and was rewarded with a downtown that was bathed in sunshine. That’s something worth remembering if you love the sun, downtown is nearly always sunny. It was so warm, that I justifiably got myself a very sinful chocolate ice cream.
On Tuesday I hit downtown again, this time hiring a bike to cycle the Coronado Bayside bike path. It was a pretty cold on Tuesday, so it was good to be exercising to warm up! I picked up another ice cream when waiting for the ferry back across the bay, this time a rather sickly Cake-mix flavoured one! In the evening, the RA’s had put on a film outside on Warren Lawn, ‘Remember the Titans’, which I would recommend watching. Today was washing day, and I hit the machines early. There were two girls from the 1st floor there, and we sat and played cards for a couple of hours. Washing takes a really long time! They made some comments about liking my accent which is always nice! This afternoon, there was the crazy experience of the UCSD Un-Olympics. It’s a bit like a school sports day, but with lots of hollering and chanting thrown it! Warren College almost won, but it didn’t really matter…
With tomorrow being the first day of classes, I’ve just come back from buying my books. They are not cheap – I’m taking 3 classes, and I forked out $518. Yes, that’s right, just for one quarter, $518. I’ve just noticed I’m beginning to go over the 1000 word limit, but I want to say a few things about living here before I finish. First off, my flatmates are great. Omead is a true Californian, who surfs and says things like ‘awesome’ and ‘cool, I’m down with that!’, while Jonathon (who I share a room with) is from Korea town in LA, and is also very nice. We keep similar hours, so I think it’s going to be a great year. As for food, if you are used to the joys of Pollock breakfasts or Lidl shopping, the options here may be a bit of a disappointment. There isn’t much food to choose from for all the meals, and it’s rather expensive considering students are supposed to be poor! Still, at least that means that you shouldn’t expect to get fat while living in America!