International student gets a taste of Southern California sunshine

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College is all about transformations. Some students have physical transformations, others have emotional transformations—but for some, the transformation occurs when a light bulb clicks in your head and you learn a little something about yourself.

As an international student, I wanted to transform my experience here in the U.S. by seeing and experiencing as much as I could in what little time I had here.

My American experience so far had only included two places, both beacons of American consumerism: Wal-Mart and Costco.

Now I love those two places, especially the free samples in Costco (hear! hear!), but I thought that perhaps it was time to move on to greener pastures, or rather sandier ones.

Since I’ve been here, the number one question everyone asks me after they find out I’m an international student is if I have been to the beach.

I decided to ask my Californian flatmate for advice.

She suggested that I check out Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, so I decided to go to the shore with my other international roommate, Nicole.

Now, going to the beach is not as easy as one may think, especially if you don’t have a car, like us.

We took the 57 bus at 8 a.m., and while it was tiring, it gave us a chance to see a lot more of Southern California than we would have in a car.

It was fun to see regulars get on the bus and greet and make small talk with each other while they commuted.

It was like there was a whole community inside that very bus.

Meanwhile, the non-regulars, or outsiders, as I like to call us, just sat by a window and stared avidly out of it, watching the intriguing flashes of grey, blue, white and green pass by us.

We had to transfer buses to get to Laguna Beach. (We found out that Newport Beach was a whole area, not just a beach—who knew?)

We went there first because my roommate had already seen Huntington Beach and she wanted to go somewhere new.

We reached the beach around 10:15 a.m. and opposite the bus station was a farmer’s market.

We decided to go and explore the fresh produce of the Californian farmers and I enjoyed the best strawberries that I’ve ever had.

After that, we hunted around for a place to eat and we came upon Shirley’s Bagels, a small, crowded shop in Laguna Beach.

The bagels were fresh and amazing, they even had their own variety of cream cheeses.

I got a chocolate chip bagel with strawberry cream cheese to satisfy my sweet tooth, while my roommate got something a little more savory, an onion bagel with chive cream cheese.

After eating—or rather, inhaling—those delicious bagels, we walked towards the beach, finally.

The beach itself was fun and the water so cold and numbing that I felt like I was plunging my feet in a bucket of ice.

Huntington Beach had a whole different energy than Laguna.

While Laguna was laid back, Huntington was bustling with people.

Unfortunately, we only got to see the Huntington Beach pier and while it was nice to look over the whole beach, I didn’t really get to see the whole place.

Now that my U.S. travel repertoire has expanded to four places, the only question left to ask is, where to next?

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