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5 Things You Should Do in Your First Week as an International Student

September 8, 2017

Moving to the U.S. to study English is exciting, but it can also be a little scary! Follow these suggestions for the 5 things you should do in your first week as an international student at CISL San Diego or San Francisco and you will feel adjusted and comfortable in your new home in less than a week.

5 Things You Should Do in Your First Week as an International Student

Things You Should Do in Your First Week as an International Student

#1: Learn the transportation system

Make it easy to see your new city! Learn your transportation options immediately. Here are some suggestions:

  • Get your transportation passes. Check out our Guide to Transportation for San Francisco and San Diego Students for information on city buses, the metro, and trains.
  • Buy a bicycle (if you want to own a bike). Check out Craigslist to buy a used bicycle for a good price. (As always with Craigslist, be sure to meet the person in a public location, like a coffee shop, to make your purchase.)
  • Download apps for the ride-share services in your area (like the apps Uber and Lyft) so that you can get a ride for a good price.
  • If you’re in SD, download FRED (The Free Ride). You can get a free ride to anywhere Downtown!
  • If you are interested in getting your driver’s license, visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for information on how to take the test: the process is quite simple in California, but you will need to show proof of address (like an electricity bill). This may take some time for you to set up.

Things You Should Do in Your First Week as an International Student

#2: Get your phone card

Get connected to family and friends back home! Pre-paid SIM cards can be purchased from many locations and are very affordable. They can be purchased from a local convenient store (such as 7-11) or at a mobile phone carrier such as T-Mobile or AT&T.

Things You Should Do in Your First Week as an International Student

#3: Find your grocery shopping locations

Where will you do all of your shopping? When you are exploring your new neighborhood, try to locate all of the area’s grocery stores. Usually you will be close to a large grocery store (such as Von’s, Ralph’s or Safeway), but there will probably also be small stores close to you that have many of the items you need. In addition, see if your neighborhood has a farmer’s market: usually these are once per week on a scheduled day.

More information:

Things You Should Do in Your First Week as an International Student

#4: Find out where you will exercise

The quickest way to feel like you are at home is to have a routine: make sure your routine includes staying healthy! Find a gym, yoga studio, or other exercise studio in your area and join it so that you can make friends and stay healthy. Check out our International Student Guide to Exercising in the U.S. for some tips and information on U.S. gyms.

Things You Should Do in Your First Week as an International Student

#5: Enjoy some of the local restaurants

The best part about living in a new country is of course the food! Explore your neighborhood and try a few restaurants and cafes that are close to you. See which ones are open late (in case you get a late-night craving for something delicious). Don’t be afraid to talk to the employees: people are very friendly in the U.S.! Chances are, the employees will love to give you some tips for things to do and see in your new neighborhood.

More information:

California Life Featured Grammar San Francisco Travel Tips Suggested student activities Writing

English Capitalization Rules + A Trip to Sacramento, California’s Capital

September 1, 2017

Do you know the basic English capitalization rules? Stick with these simple guidelines and you will understand the majority of the times that we capitalize something in English.

Basic English Capitalization Rules

The first letter of the first word of a sentence

This basic rule is something we always follow in English.

  • The thing I enjoy most about living in San Francisco is the city at night.
  • She said she loves living in California because of its beautiful sunsets.

If the sentence begins with a number, be sure to spell the number (not begin a sentence with the number).

  • Fifty states are in the United States. (correct)
  • 50 states are in the United States. (incorrect)

The word “I”

The word “I,” the first person singular subject pronoun, is always capitalized.

The first word of direct speech

Direct speech (the exact words a person says, which are in quotation marks) should be capitalized.

  • She turned to him and said, “Do you want to hear a joke?”
  • He responded, “Only if it’s a good one!”

English Capitalization Rules + A Trip to Sacramento, California’s Capital

Proper Nouns

Proper nouns (the names of people and places) are always capitalized.

There are many types of proper nouns: here are a few.

The names of people

The names of people are always capitalized.

  • Andrea and Whitney are coming to dinner on Friday evening.
  • Tim needs to respond to my email.
  • Has Mark called you yet?

Continents, countries, cities, and regions

Does a place have an official name? Capitalize it!

  • I would like to study in North America, but I can’t decide between the U.S. and Canada.
  • Where is she from in Central America?
  • We are going to Puglia, Italy next summer.
  • I had a wonderful time studying in Southern California.

Planets, mountains, oceans, seas, rivers, and lakes

Are you talking about a natural formation that has an official name? It should be capitalized.

English Capitalization Rules + A Trip to Sacramento, California’s Capital

Buildings

Buildings that have official names are capitalized.

  • The San Diego Convention Center hosts ComicCon every year.
  • I think the Palace of Fine Arts Theater in San Francisco is so lovely.
  • Have you ever been to Pier 39 in SF?

Businesses, organizations, programs, and sports teams

Officially formed groups and programs are capitalized.

English Capitalization Rules + A Trip to Sacramento, California’s Capital

Days and months (but not the seasons)

This simple rule is always followed. Note: the seasons are capitalized when talking about semesters in college.

  • I will see you on Wednesday.
  • My birthday is in October.
  • I love the spring. The air smells so good!
  • I will attend Grossmont College for Fall 2018.
    English Capitalization Rules + A Trip to Sacramento, California’s Capital

Religions

Religions are always capitalized.

  • My family is Catholic.
  • My neighbors practice Islam.
  • We are learning about Buddhism in school.

Languages

Languages are capitalized when written in English.

  • I will be studying English in San Francisco this fall.
  • She speaks Farsi and German.
  • I would love to improve my English phrasal verbs.

English Capitalization Rules + A Trip to Sacramento, California’s Capital

Holidays and festivals

Official holidays, festivals, and celebrations are capitalized.

  • What are your plans for Thanksgiving?
  • I love dressing up for Halloween. It’s my favorite time to be in the U.S.!
  • San Diego’s Little Italy hosts the Art Walk every spring.

English Capitalization Rules + A Trip to Sacramento, California’s Capital

Periods of time

Periods of time that have official names are capitalized.

  • Dinosaurs lived during the Mesozoic Era.
  • I enjoy art from the Middle Ages.
  • When did World War II officially end?

Visiting Sacramento, California’s Capital

English Capitalization Rules + A Trip to Sacramento, California’s Capital

The word “capital” is often confused with the word “capitol.” Do you know the difference? A capital is the government headquarters, but a capitol is the actual building.

The most famous cities in California are probably San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles . . . but the state’s capital, Sacramento, deserves some attention! Have you been to Sacramento? This beautiful city is located between two rivers and is known for its diverse population, tree-lined streets, historic Old Sacramento, incredible restaurants, and sports teams.

In honor of all things related to “capital and capitol” (in language, government, and architecture), we are looking at some of the highlights of Sacramento. Here are a few things you should see and do on a trip to Sacramento, California.

Old Sacramento

What did California look like in the 1800s? A trip to Old Sacramento will give you an excellent idea! This eight-block area has over 100 shops, restaurants, and many museums. Visit the old schoolhouse, take a ghost tour, ride a classic horse carriage, learn about the Gold Rush with the Gold Fever tour, and ride a riverboat before having dinner on the Delta King, a floating hotel and restaurant.

English Capitalization Rules + A Trip to Sacramento, California’s Capital

Sacramento Capitol building

Before seeing the government at work, walk the beautiful parks of the Sacramento Capitol. Go inside for a tour and to visit the museum: you will learn about California’s history while seeing beautiful architecture. Afterwards, visit one of the many award-winning restaurants in the area . . . or take the quick walk to Old Sacramento.

Farm-to-fork dining

Sacramento is known for its restaurants, particularly the restaurants that use farm-to-table (also called “farm-to-fork”) dining. In this concept, the chef has close relationships with local farmers and buys the restaurant’s ingredients directly from the farmers. This allows the chef to control the quality of the ingredients.

English Capitalization Rules + A Trip to Sacramento, California’s Capital

Sacramento Kings and Sacramento River Cats

While in Sacramento, check out a basketball or baseball game! An evening at a Sacramento Kings game is full of excitement and energy. During the warmer months, enjoy beautiful Raley Field and a River Cats baseball game. Play ball!

Photos from Pixabay. River Cats photo from River Cats Facebook. 

 

Aviation English California Life

Aviation English Vocabulary + What to Pack for Studying English in SD

August 22, 2017

Aviation English Vocabulary + What to Pack for Studying English in SDEnglish is the official language of the aviation industry; therefore, pilots and other aviation workers are required to have a high level of English. Do you know these aviation English vocabulary words? Learning them will help your career in this industry take off!

Aviation English Vocabulary

Airborne

Definition: In the air; flying.

Altitude

Definition: The vertical distance from the Earth (at sea level) to an aircraft in flight.

Cabin

Definition: The inside of the airplane where passengers sit.

Fuselage

Definition: The body of an airplane: the wings and tail are attached to the fuselage.

Hangar

Definition: A building at the airport where airplanes are kept when not in use.

Knot

Definition: A measure of speed. One knot equals one nautical mile per hour.

Aviation English Vocabulary + What to Pack for Studying English in SD

Land

Definition: The act of making the airplane contact the ground or water, ending the flight.

Landing gear

Definition: The parts of the airplane which support the airplane on land or water (usually wheels, although landing gear for planes that land on water include skis). Usually the gear is retractable and folds into the airplane during flight.

Pilot

Definition: The person who controls the airplane.

Propeller

Definition: A piece of equipment turned by an engine in order to help the plane fly.

Radar

Definition: A machine that uses radio waves to detect and locate objects. The objects are “seen” on a radar screen.

Runway

Definition: A surface or area on the airport designated for airplanes to take off and land.

Aviation English Vocabulary + What to Pack for Studying English in SD

Tail

Definition: The back part of the airplane.

Take-off

Definition: The part of the flight when the airplane reaches flying speed and becomes airborne.

Velocity

Definition: Speed.

Visibility

Definition: The distance at which objects can be seen and recognized. Smoke, fog, and storms can hinder visibility.

Aviation English Vocabulary + What to Pack for Studying English in SD

What to Pack for SD

What is something that everyone associates with travel? Packing! You don’t need a career in aviation to enjoy our list of things to pack before moving to San Diego. Make sure these items are in your suitcase before you begin your CISL adventure.

Bathing suit

Yes, even in the winter, a bathing suit is a good idea. Hotel rooftop pools (and even the beach!) will be accessible during warm winter days. (Don’t believe us? Check out these statistics about the weather in San Diego throughout the year.) These days aren’t an everyday occurrence, but they do happen! Don’t regret not having your bathing suit on a warm January day.

Casual clothes

Californians–especially San Diegans–are very casual. Jeans, t-shirts, sundresses, and comfortable sandals or sneakers are everyday wear for practically everyone.

 

Aviation English Vocabulary + What to Pack for Studying English in SD

Comfortable walking shoes

You will want to see the many sites of the city, and most are best seen on foot. Walk down the Embarcadero, explore the Gaslamp District, walk along Pacific Beach or Coronado, shop in La Jolla, or spend the day walking the beautiful outdoor mall in Mission Valley. Your feet will thank you for wearing comfortable shoes!

Exercise clothing

Californians love to exercise! From hiking to organized sports, there is always something to do. Make sure that you are dressed for these activities (and check out our Guide to Exercising in the U.S. for tips on how to stay healthy while studying abroad).

Light jacket

Even in the summer, San Diego is perfectly cool during the evenings. Always go out with a sweater or a light jacket so you can sit outside and enjoy the cool evening weather.

Sunglasses

These are a staple of any Californian’s wardrobe! The year-round sun will always make you want to grab your shades before going out.  

Sunscreen

Californians wear sunscreen every day, and you should, too. This is something you can get at most stores throughout the year, so if you don’t pack it, you can buy it as soon as you arrive. Make sunscreen application a part of your daily routine!

 

Come fly with us in beautiful San Diego! CISL San Diego offers Aviation English classes for students interested in (or currently working in) the exciting field of aviation. The Aviation English course teaches English skills necessary to meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) language proficiency requirements. It focuses on improving the client’s ability to communicate effectively and with confidence in all six skill areas specified in the ICAO Rating Scale: pronunciation, structure, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and interactions. Contact CISL for more information.   

 

California Life

10 Reasons You Should Study English in California

August 13, 2017

 

10 Reasons You Should Study English in California

It is the state of Hollywood, Napa Valley, Silicon Valley, Yosemite, stunning coastlines, and some of the U.S.’s most iconic cities . . . do we really need to make a list of OTHER reasons you should study English in California? We will go ahead and try, just in case you aren’t convinced you would have the time of your life on the “Best Coast.”

10 Reasons You Should Study English in California

10 Reasons You Should Study English in California

#1: Culture and diversity

New York likes to claim that it wins the “diversity award,” but California has some of the most diverse cities in the U.S. In fact, the majority of California’s population is made of minority races and San Francisco and San Diego have both been listed in the top 20 cities in the U.S. for cultural diversity. Settlers originally came from China, Japan, and even Russia (have you heard of the Russian River?) Today, immigrants from throughout the U.S. and around the world make California their home. The result? A state filled with open-minded people, many cultures, unique architecture, and delicious foods.

10 Reasons You Should Study English in California

#2: Natural landscapes

California has scorching desserts (Death Valley!), beautiful beaches (too many to count!), and everything in between. In one day, you can start your morning in Lake Tahoe (located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range), then you can end that same day dipping your toes in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. The most beautiful national parks, such as Yosemite and Redwood National Parks, are must-see natural landscapes.

10 Reasons You Should Study English in California

#3: Amazing food

California is famous for its beaches, but many people do not realize that the state has a massive agriculture industry. In fact, California’s agricultural industry is twice that of any other state! California’s 76,000 farms and ranches produce some of the highest quality vegetables, fruits, and meats. (This explains why there are so many great farmer’s markets for residents to enjoy!) Wine regions throughout the state produce world-famous wines, and olive trees are also common in this Mediterranean-style climate: the state has more than 400 olive growers and olive oil producers. Of course, with its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, fresh seafood is always an option in California. All of these high-quality ingredients create the tastiest California foods!

The population diversity’s influence on California cuisine is clear: San Diego’s Little Italy restaurants serve hand-made pastas and wood oven-baked pizzas; delicious Mexican food abounds, and California-style sushi (a unique fusion of California produce and Japanese food) are popular meal options. Of course, when all else fails, there’s the best (and freshest) fast food: In-N-Out!

10 Reasons You Should Study English in California

#4: Exciting cities (and charming towns)

Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego are world-famous favorites, but California also has many small towns with charm and beauty. Explore mining towns such as Julian and Nevada City to feel as if you have been transported back in time; gorgeous towns such as Yountville and Cambria are perfect for weekend trips.

10 Reasons You Should Study English in California

#5: The coolest English accent (and slang)

Maybe we are biased, but the West Coast really is the “Best Coast” when it comes to its accent! The California accent was made famous by Hollywood, and many think it is the most clear and easytounderstand accent. Learn how to speak like a Californian in our article How to Speak Like a Californian and pick up some surfer slang with our Surf Slang Guide.

10 Reasons You Should Study English in California

#6: Active lifestyle

With the beaches and beautiful weather, is it any surprise that Californians love to exercise? In California you can find state-of-the-art gyms, incredible yoga and Pilates studios and instructors, fun classes such as Body Pump and Barre, and Crossfit. You can also enjoy the weather and go hiking, take part in water activities such as surfing and kitesurfingcanoeingkayaking, and paddleboarding. During the winter, try some of the nation’s best skiing in Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, and Big Bear.

10 Reasons You Should Study English in California

#7: Sunsets

There are no words to describe the California sunset over the water. For many Californians, stopping to enjoy the sunset is a daily occurrence: just become friends with a few Californians on Instagram and you’ll see how beloved the sunsets are. Learn how to describe the sunset with our Guide to Sunset Vocabulary.

10 Reasons You Should Study English in California

#8: Laid-back people

Is it any surprise that the same people who stop to watch the sunsets and love to surf are also happy, laid-back individuals? Californians are often told they are the friendliest people in the U.S. Come see for yourself!

10 Reasons You Should Study English in California

#9: Fun neighborhoods

San Diego’s Little Italy was voted one of the best neighborhoods to live in the United States, while San Francisco is home to famous neighborhoods such as the hippie area of Haight-Ashbury. From famous neighborhoods such as these to more hidden gems (like San Diego’s surfer-filled Ocean Beach), there is an area that matches the personality and interests of everyone.

10 Reasons You Should Study English in California

#10: Daytrips to incredible locations

It’s difficult to grow tired of California’s beautiful cities, but if you ever feel the urge to explore, the rest of California is waiting for you! Napa ValleySanta Barbara, Yosemite, Hollywood . . . even neighboring Las Vegas is a quick trip. Where will you go, what will you see, and who will you meet?

 

California Life Featured San Diego Vocabulary

Bodyboarding vs. Surfing (+ Surfing Vocabulary and Slang)

August 6, 2017

Bodyboarding vs. Surfing (+ Surfing Vocabulary and Slang)

Surfing is a way of life in California, so it is no surprise that surfing vocabulary and slang are parts of the language on the West Coast! We are providing an infographic from Finbin (a website about water sports) about the bodyboarding vs. surfing debate. Do you know the difference? Have you tried both, and if so, which do you prefer? The language in the infographic is for advanced students, but students of every level can learn the surfer slang it includes!

Surfing Vocabulary and Slang

Blackball (black ball)

Definition: The black flag (with a large black circle) that lifeguards use during “no surfing” times. The word is now also used to talk about prohibited areas or actions.

Example: Who is most likely to get insanely barreled in that black ball beach break?

Barreled

Definition: Hit by a wave

Example: Who is most likely to get insanely barreled in that black ball beach break?

Beach break

Definition: When waves break over a sandy area.

Example: Who is most likely to get insanely barreled in that black ball beach break?

Home break

Definition: Your preferred surf location.

Example: If your home break is a spot shared by surfers and bodyboarders alike, you’ve probably heard side comments about the unspoken rivalry.

Lineup

Definition: The line of surfers waiting (in the water) for a wave.

Example: It became easier for all types of individuals–young, old, and older–to paddle to the lineup and catch a wave to get their fill of stoke.

Bodyboarding vs. Surfing (+ Surfing Vocabulary and Slang)

Paddle

Definition: To place your arms in the water and use them to move your surfboard.

Example: It became easier for all types of individuals–young, old, and older–to paddle to the lineup and catch a wave to get their fill of stoke.

Prone position

Definition: The position a bodyboarder is in: holding on to the board, stomach on the board.

Example: The prone position offers more stability and balance.

Radical

Definition: An expression meaning “cool.”

Example: You’ll get to ride waves in more radical ways and you sure will have the biggest smile on your face.

Stoke

Definition: “excitement.”

Example: It became easier for all types of individuals–young, old, and older–to paddle to the lineup and catch a wave to get their fill of stoke.

Wipe out

Definition: To fall off the surfboard.

Example: You also won’t have to worry about falling off and wiping out.

Bodyboarding vs. Surfing

Thank you to Finbin for this infographic about the differences between bodyboarding and surfing! CISL often arranges beach activities such as surf lessons: ask the Front Desk for information or check out the month’s Activities Calendar.

Additional Vocabulary

Attest to

Definition: To affirm something is true.

Example: Global surfing competitions, giant surf brands, million-dollar surf movies, and all the images circulating on print and digital media can all attest to the overgrown bubble that has enveloped much of surfing.

Avid

Definition: Enthusiastic.

Example: Morey himself was an avid surfer.

To burst (a/one’s) bubble

Definition: To destroy a feeling of happiness or a commonly accepted idea.

Example: Tom Morey burst that bubble when he invented the bodyboard in 1971.

Catch on

Definition: To become more popular.

Example: The trend has caught on.

Charge (something)

Definition: To run to something with great speed (or, in this case, swim to something).

Example: You can charge bigger waves like it was a walk in the park with a bodyboard . . .

Bodyboarding vs. Surfing (+ Surfing Vocabulary and Slang)

Downside

Definition: Disadvantages.

Example: It’s hard to think of a downside to bodyboarding.

Dwellers

Definition: People who live somewhere.

Example: History has it that the first surfers among the Pacific dwellers were those who had royal blood.

Elevated

Definition: A higher level.

Example: Surfing has always enjoyed an elevated status as the sport of kings.

Exclusive

Definition: Not available to most people.

Example: This status gave surfing its sublime appeal, make it aspirational and somewhat exclusive.

Game for

Definition: Prepared; ready for.

Example: What are you game for?

Bodyboarding vs. Surfing (+ Surfing Vocabulary and Slang)

Physiques

Definition: Physical forms (bodies).

Example: Bodyboarding can be enjoyed by riders of all ages and physiques.

Overgrown

Definition: Enlarged; too large.

Example: Global surfing competitions, giant surf brands, million-dollar surf movies, and all the images circulating on print and digital media can all attest to the overgrown bubble that has enveloped much of surfing.

Tug-o-war

Definition: A game in which two teams pull on a rope and try to pull the team towards them.

Example: Nobody knows who declared this psychological war between wave riders and their differing weapons of choice, but it looks like the silent tug-o-war is here to stay.

Tune out

Definition: Stop listening to someone or something.

Example: If you can tune out the haters, you’ll have no reason to regret picking up a bodyboard.

Sublime

Definition: A level of spiritual happiness and divinity.

Example: This status gave surfing its sublime appeal.

Would you like to learn more surfer slang? Check out our articles The Word Gnarly, and California Surfer Slang for English Students