Third time is a charm. (San Francisco, Art School, Fog)

Hello!

It’s been a while–I KNOW. And I truly sorry, but this year has been a little bit crazy for me. I am not trying to just give you guys excuses, so I’ll just write about all that has happened in the past months.

Last time I posted (before the Jeff Goins post) was about Greece. I do intent to finish that post but I feel like this is more urgent.

Around July last year, I moved from my city in Brazil (Curitiba-PR) to come study Advertising at a school called Academy of Art University, in the city of San Francisco, in California. I live in a small town about 15-20 min from SF, in Pacifica.
I have previously written about how I was an exchange student here and all. I love California. I love this place, everything about it.
San Francisco is such an amazing city, it never ceases to amaze me. Every time I am there (which is every day, haha) I feel so lucky, so ”blessed.” And Pacifica is great, as well. Absolutely different, but it has its advantages. While San Francisco is upbeat, full of colors and craziness (if you’ve been there, you know what I am talking about) and there’s always something going on. And it’s awesome. But it is always great to come home in the end of the day, to a peaceful town like Pacifica (which, for the non-latin languages speakers, means ”Peaceful” anyways!).

I do, though, want to eventually move to the city to be closer to school and all, but for now, what I’ve got going on, is absolutely what I need.
Since I’ve moved here, so much has happened.

I had a slightly easier time with the change because since I had already lived here before, I knew a lot of people. The funny thing is, I ended up becoming good friends with people I just knew because of an ex boyfriend. These people turned out to be the greatest things that have happened to me since I got here.
Traveling is fun and all, but it is also hard. Being away from HOME, from family, friends…from your comfort zone….it’s rough. Having people to keep you busy is really good. I felt less homesick on the first months here, than I thought I would have.

Ok, I’ll go by parts.

I got here on July 28th. It was cold, even though it was technically summer. That’s the thing about Pacifica: it’s foggy and it’s crazy and it’s cold and it’s windy. And believe me, I haven’t gotten used to it yet. I am always the girl wearing pantyhose under my pants and wearing hella layers. I am always cold. I am quite aware that people sometimes might think that I am over reacting or being dramatic. But then they touch my hand and see me shaking and go ”damn, you really ARE that cold”. YEAH. I am not lying. Me and cold, we don’t get along. Zero tolerance.
And then of course, I get that comment ” Well, it’s understandable, you’re from Brazil.” Nu-uh. I am from the south of Brazil. From a city known for its ridiculous cold weather. But somehow this still feels colder.

ANYWAYS.

I got here, went straight to Sprint to buy a new iPhone, since my had been stolen a week before in this house party back home. Then I got some In-n-Out burgers with my ”host dad” Jack. In-n-out are the best thing since Betty White. No joke. I came home, looked around and got that really strange feeling ”This is home, for now on” and just sort of stood there. Staring at my suitcases… Then I went over to my friend Natalie’s house. She gave me a bag of mini reeses cups and it was all good.

The strangest part though, was that I felt like I had never left in first place. The situation was completely different, I was here on 100% different terms, was about to have a totally different life, but it felt…it felt right.

My classes would only start in September, so I had plenty of time to enjoy my break. Later that same day, I ended up going to my friend’s house for a little house party. It was nice to see everyone and it was good because I didn’t have time to feel homesick.

all one needs anyways.

all one needs anyways.

A few days later, I went down the coast of California with my host parents. OK, I feel like I need to explain the whole host parent deal. I am living at the same house where I lived at when I was an exchange student. They were my host family and I still call them that. For now on, to make things easier to understand, I’ll call them Jack and Elena. Those are their names, after all.

Anyways. Me and Elena drove down to Yosemite National Park and Jack flew to Pasadena, where he had this Mars Society Convention and we would meet up with him 4 days later. The drive from San Francisco to Yosemite is about 3 hours. We took our time, stopped in a couple places to eat etc. It’s a beautiful drive.

Screen shot 2013-05-17 at 11.43.39 PMWe stayed at a camp ground but we didn’t camp, with like, tents etc. We were in these little house thingys (YES, please, Luah, be more vague.)

Here’s a photo because I suck at describing it.

this!

this!

We were there because Elena (who is 53!) went hiking, she climbed Half Dome. It’s pretty awesome, if you ask me. I just walked around the camp ground, went to a little beach area, tanned, explored, read. It was really warm, exactly how I LOVE it. And it was very pleasant, calm, relaxing.

After 3-4 days, we drove down to the LA area, to Pasadena, to meet up with Jack. He is a big Mars lover and the Curiosity rover  was about to land in Mars and there was a big convention going on. I ended up being very interested about it, it was a big thing! And it was freaking summer, and WARM. Did I mention I LOVE warm weather?!?! Well. I do.

I also went to Los Angeles with a friend and walked around, got to go to the US Open of Surfing and even got an autograph from Kelly Slater. Yes, the 11 time world champion surfer, that guy.

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We had some good days in South California.

I actually had a little thing to solve down there. You see, I came to the US 40 days before my school started. I could only get in the US with my STUDENT visa within 30 days before school. So I got in with my tourist visa and thought I’d be alright until this guy at the airport pointed out I’d have to get OUT of the US to come BACK IN! CRAZY!!!!

SO I DID. I was in LA, we were going to Catalina Island anyways, so Jack said it would work out perfectly. We drove down to San Diego and crossed the border. Yup, I went to Tijuana and walked around, to come back in.
Reasonable huh. ¬¬

It wasn’t bad. I got to meet a new place, get some dulce de leche lollipops, and some other cool random things. Then we walked back in, waited in a huge line, felt like an illegal immigrant but it all worked out. That border is insane, many people with families and lots of bags trying to go to the US. Many of them got rejected at the immigration part and went back crying. It was heartbreaking. Quite the reality check.

The next day, we went to Catalina Island, a beautiful island off the coast of San Diego. Also known as ”fucking Catalina wine mixer” place. (oh please please tell me one of you got the reference!)

We took this cruise ship kind of thing to get there and it was amazing. I was mesmerized by everything. Getting there was the breath taking part. It sort of looks like a greek island but still very California.

We took a gold cart around the island, got to pet some deers (which I would have never done a couple years ago because I was terrified of those things!), ate great food, enjoyed the awesome weather, and took photos of gorgeous sceneries. It was such a great day and I am so grateful to Jack and Elena for the opportunity.

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Then we spent one more day in Pasadena and came back home. The drive back was also great, the coast of California is espectacular.

Ok, I PROMISE you guys I will finish this post soon. School is over, it’s not like I’m all busy and whatnot ;)

This was just the first week, you see. But I had to update it here. I do like this blog.

I hope you all do, too!

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Love at first sight (or almost) (PART II)

”Those girls, later, became sisters to me. We didn’t go to the same school since I had a different visa than they did. They went to the ”cool” public school while I went to the boring Christian one (which wasn’t that boring. At least not all the time).
But we still talked a lot, laughed a lot, went places together, hung out with the other exchange students etc. It made my first months in a new country a lot easier and I am very grateful for them.”

I lived at Orton’s house for about two months. Again, I was not supposed to stay there, so meanwhile, I was looking for a new family to host me. I did enjoy living there even though I did have a few problems with Orton and his wife. A few big ones, too. But I will always appreciate everything they did for me. Orton was the one who told me I should apply for college there, helped through most of the process etc.

In February, was Alma Heights’ winter retreat, to Dodge Ridge. It was the fist time I saw snow in my life–where I live in Brazil, is pretty cold, but the last time it snowed I wasn’t even born yet. So when we were all in the bus and I saw the first snow flake fall, I had to try really hard not to act all stupid and overexcited, especially since everyone there had seen snow,  they had snowboarded, had snow fights etc.
I was excited, though. I thought it was simply beautiful. Everything was white, shiny… It sounds silly but it made me really happy.
Well, I obviously did not have a lot of snow gear, really warm clothes, snow boots…I was absolutely unprepared for that trip. My friend Lucy was the one who acted all mom-like and gave a beanie, let me use her boots, a jacket, layers…everything I needed. That was my favorite thing about the people from Alma: they did not know how to be anything but nice. And believe me, when you are all by yourself, sometimes all you need is someone to make you feel safe, comfortable…like you’ve been friends forever. Lucy, Tati, Claire, Sara, Joy, Pei, Esther…they were those kind of people, they treated me like I was their best friend, not as if I was just some exchange student. I still talk to them, and miss them a lot.
At this retreat, we had some activities (religious activities) like reading the bible, singing songs about Jesus and God and sharing how they have made a difference in our lives. The thing is… I am not religious. My entire family is Catholic, like most of Brazil, but I just don’t believe in anything. I do respect  who does, though, I really do. I did all the activities, shared experiences, talked, asked questions about the things I didn’t understand and it ended up being an amazing experience. I heard people’s stories, their reasons to believe in God and it was very emotional for everyone. They shared things that hurt them in the past, they were trusting everyone there, and that touched me, too. The girls, my friends, they told me stories about their lives and all I could think of was ”How are they always smiling? This girls are amazing!”.

After this specific activity where everyone cried and hugged, I got a little more emotional than I usually get, when I watched everyone call their parents to say hi, tell them how the retreat was… I had no one to call. Orton, his wife and Marilyn were in Hawaii, Martina was at a friend’s house… and my family was all the way in Brazil. That’s more than 6 thousand miles from Dodge Ridge. I felt so lost, so lonely….Everyone was super nice, hugged me, asked if I needed anything, but I just didn’t know how to explain what it was that I was feeling. That’s when the art teacher, Esther, came to talk to me. It was all so quick, we talked for two minutes and she told me she had already spoken to her husband and at that exact moment, he was cleaning the guest room at their house, for me to live there!!! I was shocked, it was a big mix of emotions. I was extremely happy, of course, but then I remembered I had to talk to Orton when I got back to Pacifica, and I wasn’t sure I knew what to say. But I decided that I was not going to think about that, at least not till the retreat was over. So I enjoyed every second, made amazing friends, had the best time….I had finally found a host family!

 

Eva (exchange student from Albania) and Esther (my host mom) and the blonde...me!

 

Tati, me, Lucy! Most amazing girls ever!

Me and Sara and the beautiful SNOW!!!!

 

More about Cali in the next posts :)