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SD Gaslamp + “nightlife” idioms

October 23, 2016

Sure, San Diego is all about beaches and beautiful weather, but did you know that Downtown San Diego is home to a beautiful, historic, and exciting area called the Gaslamp Quarter?

SD’s Gaslamp Quarter, called “The Historic Heart of San Diego,” is located just a few streets from CISL San Diego. The streets are lined with historic buildings hosting some of the best restaurants and shopping in SD. When combined with Petco Park, Gaslamp is one of the coolest and most interesting areas in SD!


San Diego Gaslamp Highlights

Here are some of the few things to see and do when visiting the Gaslamp


“Nightlife” idioms

Before going out in the Gaslamp, make sure you know these idioms about partying and nightlife.

Paint the town red

Definition: go out and enjoy oneself flamboyantly.

Example: We are going to paint the town red for your birthday!

Let loose

Definition: relaxed and party without inhibitions/be yourself.

Example: She’s always so stressed. She needs to let loose a little!

Go out on the town

Definition: an evening where you go out to various restaurants, bars, etc. with friends.

Example: Did you guys go out on the town last night?


Have a night out on the town

Definition: the same as above

Example: Let’s have a fun night out on the town. I need to let loose!

Let one’s hair down

Definition: to behave in an uninhibited or relaxed manner.

Example: After all this studying, we need to let our hair down and go dancing.

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Best bike routes in SD and SF + biking vocabulary

October 17, 2016

There are so many ways to enjoy nature and stay in shape while studying English at CISL San Diego or CISL San Francisco. From the running routes to the hiking trails to the yoga classes, there is always something to do that will keep you in shape!

Another great way to exercise while you are an international student in California is by biking. San Diego and San Francisco both have great bike paths to help you see the cities while exercising. Check out some of the best sites to plot your next ride, but before you do, be sure to learn some bicycling vocabulary!

Bike paths in San Diego

It probably isn’t surprising that many of the bike paths in San Diego are near the ocean. Ride with the ocean breeze in your face and the smell of the salty sea in the air, and make sure to stop along the way to enjoy some of the boutique shops and beautiful natural sights!

Mission Bay’s scenic 12-mile route

CISL students love the Mission Bay ride, which is 12 miles in total. The many bike rental companies in Mission Beach make it easy to rent a bike if you don’t have one! Check out the City of San Diego’s website for an excellent article about the Mission Bay Bike Ride.


San Diego Union Tribune’s Guide

The local SD newspaper, the San Diego Union Tribune, has published an excellent guide to biking. This detailed article provides information on the level of difficulty for each trail, tips on where you can stop for bathroom breaks, and other pertinent information such as where to park, things to look out for (such as traffic, or pets on the trail), and ways to extend the trail if you’re not tired once you’ve reached your destination.

Silver Strand Bikeway

This trail, which takes you from Coronado to Imperial Beach, is a favorite for San Diegans (it can also be walked)! Choose between starting or ending in Coronado, home of the famous Hotel del Coronado and the beach voted the Best Beach in the U.S.


Bayshore Bikeway

Are you ready for a strenuous ride? Check out the Bayshore Bikeway! This route, which is recommended by the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, is a total of 24 miles: 13 of these miles are car-free, and the remainder is on designated bike lanes or bike routes. After a ferry ride across the San Diego Bay, your route begins at the Coronado Ferry Landing. Cyclists go through Coronado, the Silver Strand, Imperial Beach, and Chula Vista before ending Downtown.


Bike paths in San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito

See the iconic bridge in an entirely different way with this famous cycling trip! Starting in San Francisco, make your way across the bridge and ending in charming Sausalito. (Don’t forget to enjoy the view from this side of the Bay!) Numerous cycling companies offer bike rentals and tours.


SF Gate’s Guide to Flat Routes in SF

Don’t want to bike uphill in a city known for its steep terrain? Check out SF Gate’s excellent Guide to Flat Routes in SF. The secret to avoiding the hills? Knowing when to turn off of heavily traveled streets onto smaller, less-traveled ones in a way that avoids inclines. These routes are known to locals as “wiggles” and, according to SF Gate, “The best known of these serpentines is the one Weiss now correctly uses to connect central Market, via the path behind Safeway and through the Lower Haight, to the Panhandle and the western neighborhoods beyond.”


SFist’s Guide to Bike Paths

In addition to some of the more popular routes, SFist’s Guide to SF Bike Paths provides routes that are slightly lesser known, such as the beautiful Baker Beach ride that’s just 5 miles from the Panhandle. Locals know best!

Bike Vocabulary


Do you know each of these words? If not, look them up!

Bike parts

  • Handlebars
  • Pedals
  • Gears
  • Brakes
  • Spokes


  • To pedal
  • To brake
  • To switch (gears)
  • To pump (tires)



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Paddleboarding in Mission Beach + “Paddle” Idioms

August 28, 2016

“Always behave like a duck. Keep calm and unruffled on the surface, but paddle like hell underwater.”

Paddleboarding in Mission Beach + "Paddle" Idioms

San Diego is a dream for water sports lovers: the warm weather makes it possible to enjoy the water longer than other parts of the U.S., and the city’s many beaches provide the perfect places to surf, bodysurf, kayak, swim, snorkel, kitesurf, and sail! (Don’t know all of those vocabulary words? Check out our article on Beach Vocabulary and Activities to learn more!)

Stand up paddleboarding (also known as SUP) is a Hawaiian sport that has become popular for many San Diegans. With this fun water activity, you stand on a large flat board and use a paddle to move. Many variations have been created, like SUP yoga, SUP while surfing small waves, and SUP with fishing. Creative!

Paddleboarding in Mission Beach

Mission Bay is an excellent place to try SUP: the protected waters of the bay are calmer than other areas. Rent a paddleboard at one of the local shops and give it a try! (Click on this link for a list of all the places you can rent SUPs in Mission Beach and Mission Bay.)

Paddleboarding in Mission Beach + "Paddle" Idioms

English Expressions with “Paddle”

Before trying SUP, check out these idioms with “paddle.”

Paddle one’s own canoe

Definition: To be independent and self-sufficient.

Example: After a month of training, it’s time for you to paddle your own canoe. Good luck!

Doggy paddle

Definition: An elementary swimming stroke in which the swimmer uses his/her hands to swim in a manner resembling a swimming dog.

Example: Last year I could only doggy paddle: this year, I can finally swim!

Example: The kids can doggy paddle, but they can’t really swim.

Up the creek without a paddle

Definition: To be in a difficult situation with no apparent solution.

Example: I lost my cell phone and my wallet, and I was in a strange part of town. I was up the creek without a paddle.

Example: When the presentation began, his computer froze. He was up the creek without a paddle!

Note: this expression can be shortened to “up the creek.”

Example: You’re going to be up the creek if you don’t start saving your money now!

Keep (on) paddling

Definition: To continue something that is difficult; to persevere and not give up.

Example: I know studying for this test is hard. You just have to keep on paddling. You’ll pass!

Example: It took weeks to finish the project. They just kept on paddling, and eventually, they finished.


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The best SD Instagram accounts to follow + hashtag vocab

August 9, 2016

“Nowadays, social media is the easiest place to go to find something.” -David Nail

Instagram isn’t just the place to post the perfect selfie: it’s an excellent tool for finding out what’s going on in your community! Check out these awesome Instagram accounts based in San Diego and enjoy the travel tips, restaurant recommendations, and (of course) the beautiful San Diego sunset photos that every SD IG account must have.

The best SD Instagram accounts to follow



Why we love this IG account:

Sandiego_ca does an excellent job of showing photos from San Diego’s many beautiful regions. Sunset and beach photos are of course included, but they’re alongside photos of beautiful natural scenery, baseball games, local events, and local culture (such as the craft beer trend in SD). When you browse this account, you get an excellent feel for the lifestyle and culture of sunny San Diego.




But, of course, you get a few of these gorgeous shots as well!


Why we love this IG account:

Professional photographer and surfer Ronald Hons captures beautiful images of what makes San Diego special: the Pacific Ocean and Southern California’s surfer culture. His photos inside waves will take your breath away!





Why we love this IG account:

Want to know what’s happening in San Diego? Visitsandiego‘s IG account is where you need to go! Find out about upcoming events, the most beautiful locations to visit, and the coolest things to do (and, of course, enjoy a sunset photo or two!).




Why we love this account:

San Diego’s Little Italy has been voted the best Little Italy in the U.S., and it’s no wonder why: this beautiful neighborhood’s restaurants, incredible architecture, and plethora of events and festivals will make you never want to leave!



Did we mention there are puppies? There is even a “Dogs of Little Italy” calendar published each year!


Check out the Little Italy Farmer’s Market, held each Saturday!


Why we love this IG account:

There are plenty of food accounts based in San Diego, but this relatively new account does an excellent job of showcasing food items we don’t normally see in SD. This account is a great resource when you’re trying to plan your next meal in San Diego!


Plus, of course, it has plenty of taco photos.

Popular Hashtag Vocabulary

The following hashtags are some of the most popular in the Instagram community. Do you know what they mean?


IGERS means “Instagram users.” It’s often combined with the location of the users, such as #igersd or #igerscalifornia. Should we begin an #igersCISL hashtag?


Adding the word “insta” to other words is common in the world of hashtags. The #instagood can be applied to practically anything that is positive, so it’s no wonder that it’s so popular!


The same applies for #instamood: whether we are in a good mood, a bad mood, or any other mood in between, we can use this hashtag. What’s your #instamood today?


If it’s not cool, it’s probably not on Instagram! Therefore, this hashtag is incredibly popular. What’s #instacool to you in San Diego?


Are you a part of the #IGERS community? Find us on Instagram and join ours! #CISLSanDiego #CISLSanFrancisco

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“Heat” Expressions in English + Water Parks in California

August 1, 2016

"Heat" Expressions in English + Water Parks in California

The weather is heating up, but in California there are plenty of places to cool off! In addition to exploring California’s many beautiful beaches, lakes, and rivers, CISL students have the option of enjoying some of the world’s best water parks. Check them out: but first, learn some expressions with “heat!”

Expressions with “Heat”

In the heat of the moment

Definition: Doing something quickly and without thinking, usually because you are overcome with anger or excitement.

Example: In the heat of the moment I said some things I regret.

Example: I forgot my phone was in my pocket, and in the heat of the moment I just jumped into the pool! Oops.

Take the heat (for something)

Definition: To take the blame or criticism for something.

Example: I broke the window, but my brother took the heat for me.

In a dead heat

Definition: Tied while in competition; neither side seems to be the winner.

Example: Right now both Olympic teams are in a dead heat for the gold medal.

Example: The horses were in a dead heat until the very last seconds of the race!

Turn up the heat

Definition: Increase the pressure to do something or complete something.

Example: Production is low, so we have to turn up the heat and get the workers to perform better.

Example: She really turned up the heat in our exercise class today! I’m exhausted!

Beat the heat

Definition: To escape the heat and cool off.

Example: We would beat the heat in the summer by going to the local pool.

Example: I beat the heat in the summer by sipping on cold drinks.

Grammar Quiz

You just learned some new expressions with the word “heat,” but can you use them properly? Check out the following sentences and decide which ones have mistakes with the expressions and which ones don’t. The answers are at the bottom of this post.

  1. It was in the heat of the moment that I decided to buy a ticket and fly to Italy.
  2. This summer we have beated the heat by staying at the pool every afternoon.
  3. It looks like the two teams are in dead heat.
  4. I need you to turn up the heat on Tim so that he sells more this month.
  5. Who is going to take the heat by this failed project?

Water Parks in California

How do you beat the heat in the summer? We suggest checking out some of these spectacular water parks in California!

"Heat" Expressions in English + Water Parks in California

Waterworld (Concord, Bay Area)

Bay Area’s most popular water park just might be Waterworld: it has more water slides than any other park in Northern California! It has some of the scariest water slides, which makes this park a dream for the adventure-seeker!

1950 Waterworld Pkwy
Concord, CA 94520
(925) 609-1364

Waterfront Park (Little Italy, San Diego)

One of the newest additions to the Embarcadero on San Diego Bay is the beautiful Waterfront Park. Have a picnic on the grass while looking at the boats and cruise ships on the Bay, or jump into some of the water fountains and cool off!

1600 Pacific Hwy
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-7275


Belmont Park’s Wave House (Mission Beach, San Diego)

"Heat" Expressions in English + Water Parks in California

We’ve often written about Mission Beach’s Belmont Park and Wave House: it’s a favorite for CISL students! Sip on some cool drinks, take a dip in the ocean, attend one of the concerts or events, or try to surf on the artificial wave maker. There’s always something fun to do at the Wave House!

3125 Ocean Front Walk
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 228-9283

Sea World’s Aquatica (Chula Vista, San Diego)

Sea World is known for its marine life and animal shows, but there’s something new to check out: its awesome water park! Formerly called Knott’s Soak City, the new Aquatica is entirely renovated and is now a summer “must” for San Diegans. Swim in the pools, take a ride down the lazy river . . . or get crazy and try one of the intense water slides!

2052 Entertainment Cir.
Chula Vista, CA 91911
(800) 257-4268

Quiz Answers

How did you do on our little quiz? See if you found all of the grammatical errors for our expressions with “heat.”

  1. It was in the heat of the moment that I decided to buy a ticket and fly to Italy. Correct! (Note: you could also remove “that” from the sentence: click here to learn about Relative Clauses.)
  2. This summer we have beated the heat by staying at the pool every afternoon. Incorrect: “beated” is an incorrect past participle of “beat.” The tense, the Present Perfect, is correct: click here to learn more about the Present Perfect.
  3. It looks like the two teams are in (a) dead heat. Incorrect. You are in A dead heat because “heat” is a noun.
  4. I need you to turn up the heat on Tim so that he sells more this month. Correct! In this case, Tim works in sales and needs to improve his earnings.
  5. Who is going to take the heat by (for/on/with/regarding) this failed project? Incorrect: we must use one of the words given (for, on, with, regarding) and we cannot use “by.”