California, Here I Come
Updated: Jul 1, 2021
“One of the great things about travel is you find out how many good, kind people there are.” ― Edith Wharton
I decided to go on a year-long study abroad program to San Diego, California by myself in my senior year, knowing that I would not be able to graduate with my classmates. To me, a young Spaniard who wanted to become fluent in English, that was the right thing to do, but I was obviously frightened. I did not know anyone in San Diego, my English was still pretty rough, and I had to figure out by myself how the living and studying situation worked, as I did not have a coordinator or a travel assistant who would help me register for classes or find me an apartment.
My experience wasn’t off to a great start, as finding an apartment via Craigslist was more sketchy than I had imagined. I was scammed even before I had set foot in the US. After that, it was hard for me to trust people, but how do you find a place to live in a country you have never been to? I was fortunate enough to find a friend of a friend who knew someone in San Diego, and that person knew another person who was looking for roommates.
Finally, I was ready to initiate my American immersion. I went on the longest flight I’ve ever been on, I went through the scary customs and borders for the first time, and I landed in San Diego airport at 8 pm without having a clue how to get to my apartment in La Jolla. Buses to my destination at that time? None. Taxi to my apartment? That’s fine, if you want to spend $100 plus tip. Other options seem out of hand, since my English wasn’t good enough to explain my situation. And of course my phone did not get any reception in a foreign country.
So what did I do? I managed to get on a bus to San Diego downtown. Found the nearest Starbucks and connected to their Wi-Fi. I messaged my soon-to-be roommate, Erin, on Facebook letting her know who I was, where I was, and how terribly lost I was. Unfortunately,
she was near Fresno with her family that day, which was six hours away. But, despite not really knowing me, she put me in touch with our landlord, who was 80 years old and had a very kind heart. Luckily he lived in downtown San Diego. And there I was, waiting for my 80 year-old landlord, who I’d never met before, to pick me up in a Starbucks in downtown San Diego, to drop me off at my apartment. What an oddly comical situation.
I was impressed by how much of an effort everyone made to help me out that day. My trust in people had been restored.