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Los Angeles Student Activities Student Articles Student Life What's Up San Diego

4 Weeks in San Diego!

November 29, 2010

By CISL SD Student, Linda Sintniklaas
(The Netherlands)

San Diego’s Little Italy

When you are staying in Vantaggio in San Diego, you will live in Little Italy. This is a little village in the centre of San Diego with a lot of restaurants, cafés and bars. People here will speak to you in Italian and they are very friendly and hospitable. Well and if you do stay in Little Italy, at least visit Pappalecco, Vincenco and Yoghurtland. Pappalecco is a really nice coffee café where you can not only drink a delicious coffee, but where you can also enjoy typical Italian food. Breakfast, lunch or even diner! Vincenco is meant for de real connoisseur.  Do you like it to have diner and to eat good Italian food? Then you really have to visit Vincenco. Especially cheesecake in lemon sauce is excellent… My last recommendation is Yoghurtland, the true paradise for ice lovers. In Yoghurtland you can tap your own ice and you can pick your own toppings. Fresh fruit, m&m’s, chocolate, cookies, nuts… just name it, they will have it!

Universal Studios

This park, based in Los Angeles, has not only got many spectacular 3d attractions but also offers the well known studios of many popular Hollywood movies. You can drive through the studios by train, so you will have a good sight on where it all happens. You can see many recording places of famous movies. Besides the tour in the studios you will also be entertained with some small, spectacular attractions. Visiting the Universal Studios is absolutely worthwhile money.

Walk of fame

Well, and if you are visiting LA, then you should also visit the Walk of Fame. The Walk of Fame is made up of more than 2000 colorful tiles with on the tiles names of celebrities. Near the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre you can also find many concrete tiles in which celebrities pulled their hand- and footprints in the wet cement. I must be honest, the Walk of Fame was nice to see, but it wasn’t what I had expected of it. In Holland we would have said: I am an experience richer, and a illusion poorer.

Hollywood Boulevard

Many people and very much P.I.M.P. Yes, now I actually know what p.i.m.p. is… on the Hollywood Boulevard you can see many fancy cars and well dressed ladies and gentlemen on the streets. The nightlife of this boulevard was really impressive! Don’t go here alone in the evening, I didn’t felt really safe there. But you must visit this boulevard for sure, and of course have a look at the Hollywood sign. Tip-off: Pick a crystal clear night to look at the Hollywood sign J

Venice Beach & Santa Monica

Venice Beach is an awesome place to shop!

Both beautiful beaches! Really worthwhile visiting! I liked Venice Beach because of all the little market stalls with colorful jewelers and cloths. And besides this, Venice Beach also offers a lot of sports and recreation activities. Par example you can skate at the skate park, you can play soccer, basketball, fitness, squash and many more! Really nice to have a look at all the different  sports played with people from different cultures. In contrast with Venice Beach, Santa Monica is more touristic. On the boulevard they have a rollercoaster and many restaurants and shops. Tip-off: Have a look at Santa Monica Boulevard with a sunset, really beautiful!

Ocean’s Beach

Ocean’s Beach is a little, but beautiful beach. Not really impressive if you ask me, but well, I can wrap that off my bucket list! I wouldn’t really recommend going there.

Pacific Beach

This really is ‘the place to be’ if you like surfing and enjoying the beach. Pacific Beach is a large beach with a very cozy boulevard, and there are many nice restaurants and cafés to go in the weekend. And of course you can relax and enjoy the burning sun!

Coronado Beach

This beach is definitely my number 1. It’s a kind of feeling that I have when I am at this beach. Fine structured sand, a beautiful view on the ocean, a nice boulevard, great surf shops, it’s really worthwhile visiting! A great beach!

Old Town

In Old Town you will find the preserved historic State Park. This park memorizes the beginning of the city San Diego and has got many historic buildings dated from 1820 till 1870, still in the original condition. Besides visiting the museum at Old Town, you can also find many colorful restaurants, market places and shops there, which are great to see!

Seaport Village

If you walk a little further in the San Diego Bay, you will find Seaport Village. In this little harbor village you will find a lot of artists, drawers and even parrots and birds! You will also find many nice shops, under which ‘the Tile shop’ was one of my favorites. Besides all these lovely shops you can also go to some good restaurants and have a look at the see while you are enjoying a drink. Furthermore there are some fields where you can go to read a good book. Beautiful to watch the sunset in Seaport Village!

Kate Sessions Park


If you want to, you can go to Kate Sessions Park for a nice barbecue with your friends. This is a big park with a beautiful sight on the Pacific Ocean, really great! Take some nice drinks and food with you, and just enjoy…

Fashion Valley

The real fashion fans can enjoy it to their hearts. Fashion Valley is a true paradise for woman! Many shops where you can shop till you drop… To see all stores in Fashion Valley, you will need at least 3 days. Not really my kind of thing, but if you will go there I have a tip-off for you: go to Fashion Valley at a chilly day!

And of course all these things are not the last I have seen in California. The upcoming 2 weeks there is enough time left to visit some other places. This weekend we will do a little road trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon with some friends. Besides that, I would like it to surf at the Pacific Ocean and to visit La Jolla Beach and Mission Beach. And of course we have to eat a dessert at Extraordinary in the Union Street. They told us that they have the best desserts in whole San Diego. Well, I can guarantee you 1 thing for sure when you will visit California: you will never be bored! You can enjoy many beaches en beautiful cities. If you ask me what I liked the most during my 4 weeks stay in San Diego? In secret Old Town and Seaport Village stole my heart… J

Student Activities Student Articles Student Life What's Up San Diego

A Day in the Life of a Student Living Abroad

October 23, 2010

By CISL SD student, Linda Sintniklaas (Netherlands)




“This morning I woke up with such a good feeling! I felt really happy! Maybe you are wondering why I felt so happy this morning? It was because of my experiences as a travelling student in San Diego. During my stay here I came to know about all the beautiful places and all the beautiful people who live in this world. Sometimes there are those moments you think: where has the trust in people gone? And is politeness and hospitality still common? “


Last weekend for me those questions were answered. Friday afternoon I came home after a busy week of working and following English lessons. I was exhausted. After having checked my email and also checked my Facebook account, suddenly my cooking buddy walked into the study area. He asked me if me and my study friend would like to go to a barbecue somewhere in a park. He would give us a ride and he would leave within 30 minutes. Well fine, I thought, let’s go for it! Once in the car we first drove to a supermarket to buy some food and vegetables for the barbecue. Then we went further on to Kate Sessions Park, where the security guy from Vantaggio already heated up the barbecue for all students. The location? On top of a mountain with a beautiful view on the Pacific Ocean, really great! Wonderful to be here! After preparing the food, the barbecue started. It was a lovely evening and we met a lot new people from many different countries.

Well, and that’s how it supposed to go: “come to know people”. It happens at moments you actually don’t expect it, or you actually planned something else. It happens at those moments you need something, but you actually don’t really know what. It happens at the moments when you just have to go somewhere. Do not plan too much when you are travelling; people around you are already organizing a lot of things! And you’re in, for sure!

During the barbecue I met Alexandra, a girl of French that now lives in America because of her boyfriend. She’d invited us for the next day to come to Pacific Beach. So we did, and we had a great day and we shared a lot of laughter. We are now also planning other activities for the upcoming week, really fun.

Aside from Alexandra we also met another couple, Philip and Marielle. We had such a great time with them in Kate Sessions Park that we spoke planning a second dinner. And because of all that on Sunday afternoon my cooking friend dropped us off at Philips apartment. The barbecue was already prepared and they really arranged the whole thing. A lot of food and a few cold beers were already waiting for us, such hospitality! I felt happy and I was surprised to see such hospitality, because we hardly even knew about these people. And guess what? After having a nice warm bath in the jacuzzi we met nice people again! Friends of Philip. Very friendly girls with whom we spoke to for a while. Now we are already having some ideas to go on a road trip with a little group of persons. Maybe we will rent a car and go to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Wow, this happens fast “come to know people”. And yes, you can still trust people. And talk about politeness and hospitality? Yes, you can still find people that are! This conclusion brought a smile to my face!

Despite everyone’s complaining about ‘Mondays’, I felt great today! Upcoming travelers, I can give you some advice: 1) Go for every adventure and take every chance you can take; 2) Things do always come when you will not expect them to come, be flexible, don’t plan too much and enjoy all those special ‘unpredictable’ moments; 3) Be open to everyone, this weekend I have really seen the best of people. Trust and hospitality therefore are determining factors. Go for it and enjoy!

Well, a day in the life of a student living abroad? It blew my expectations!

Student Articles Student Life What's Up San Diego

What makes San Diego, San Diego?

October 1, 2010

By CISL SD student, Dianne Kuijs (The Netherlands)

Do you know the feeling of arriving in a new city? When everything is strange to you? When you even have to find out where the nearest supermarket or what the best way is to travel from place to place? I experienced all that when I arrived in San Diego. Even though I have been living in the student residence, Vantaggio, for three weeks now, I still have those “new” experiences.  I have had more than 10 English lessons at Converse International School of Language (CISL) and I have a life now, here in San Diego. You can say I’m becoming a local instead of a tourist. In my opinion the best thing about exploring a city is discovering the typical things that make a city unique. I can tell that San Diego has a lot of typical things, I will tell about a few of them.

“Hi, how are you?”

This is something that isn’t only typical for San Diego but it’s also typical for almost the whole of America. It doesn’t matter if you buy something in a store, travel with the bus or trolley, or just walk down the street, everybody says, “Hi, how are you?” In the Netherlands, where I am from, sometimes you may say “hi” to strangers. If you know someone you’ll ask how they are doing. In the beginning, when someone here greeted me with “Hi, how are you?” I responded with uneasiness.  But after a few days you notice that everybody greets you like that and that it’s commonplace. So you respond, “Fine, thank you.” and start to greet other people in the same manner. Because people all over the world greet each other differently, it doesn’t mean that some are kind, whiles others are not.  I think people are all very kind here. Not only at CISL but also in stores and on the street. They take time for you and are always willing to help you. This is one of the reasons San Diego felt like home to me so soon.

A mix of cultures

A lot of people who are living in San Diego have originally come from many different countries. They all preserve parts of their own culture. The great variety of restaurants here shows you that. From Italian to Asian and from Mexican to real American food, you can find it all. I already have eaten delicious Italian lasagna and tried sushi for the first time in my life. The most influential cuisine here comes from Mexico because it borders San Diego. Sometimes you hear people talking Spanish and you see a lot of different people on the streets. But be careful, when you order the smallest coke, you’ll still get a coke according to the large American sizes!


San Diego is one of the safest cities in America. Of course you still need to watch out and there are homeless people who are living on the streets. But in the evening, you can walk around without getting hassled or feeling unsafe. Believe me, this is true. Over the last three weeks here, I have never felt unsafe or got hassled. As a 20 years old girl, I never experienced that in another city.

We love sports!

I’m sure the people in California love sports more than in any other state of America. You see a lot of people running on the streets and the fitness centers are open 24/7! Actually, you see more people engaging in sports, than extreme overweight people. Before I came here I didn’t expect that. I assumed that most American people were dealing with obesity problems. But here, almost everyone is a real sport lover!

Like I said these are just a few things that makes San Diego unique. I only have one advice if you also want to ‘live the California life’ in San Diego and want to explore and experience everything about this beautiful city: just come here, you will love it, for sure!

Career English Student Articles Student Life What's Up San Diego

Baseball in downtown San Diego, such as sport must be!

September 12, 2010

By Linda Sintniklaas, The Netherlands (CISL San Diego Student)

If you think you can’t go to a good baseball match in San Diego, you’re totally wrong! The home stadium of the Padres is located in San Diego, named the Petco Park. This stadium is the property of the much appreciated San Diego Padres, ‘the’ baseball team in San Diego. The San Diego Padres were founded in 1969 and through the years they have their share of awards. One of which was the National competition. The stadium of the Padres is built in the middle of town, a beautiful location where you can join a baseball match combined with entertainment.

As an international student at Converse International School of Languages (CISL,) I wanted to go to a baseball match of the San Diego Padres too. Personally, I hardly know about baseball and that’s the reason I would like to know more about this sport. I think baseball is a very popular sport in America, more than it is in the Netherlands, where I come from.  

After requesting some information about activities organized by CISL, the school turned out to organize several trips. Tickets only cost you 10 dollars. Then you leave from school to the Petco Park with a big group of international students. This is not only great fun, but it is also a good way to get to know fellow students.

But if you’d rather go to a baseball match by yourself, with some friends maybe, that’s also possible. Like many others, I decided to buy tickets on my own. These tickets are a little more expensive, nevertheless the seats you will have in the stadium are better. On the website ( I easily bought some tickets with a credit card, and after buying they sent me a confirmation immediately. My pick was a match against the LA Dodgers, two rivals in California.

And now I can only agree with the fact that baseball is a fantastic sport here in San Diego. While enjoying churros, nachos and popcorn I was looking at the match enthusiastically: it was a great experience! During the match I quickly learned the rules of baseball and with great admiration I was looking at the players. To be good at this sport you not only have to be fast, being sharp and aware are necessary too. What an atmosphere! Baseball is not only a great sport to look at, but also a sport full of entertainment and sociability. In the audience you can find students, youth, elderly and even whole families fully wrapped in Padres regalia. Supporting ‘their’ team seems to be the only thing that matters. To me this is how sports should be: sportive, sociable and with respect for everybody. Without any violence or aggression.

After all the wonderful activities I’ve already done in San Diego, you definitely should visit the San Diego Padres. Baseball is really ‘it’ here in San Diego and you can see it everywhere you go. Even the streets are cleared off for a good game of amateur baseball! It’s good to see how American people are busy with sports. Yes, this is really how sports should be!

Career English Student Articles What's Up San Diego

Learning English, meeting people and having fun at CISL!

August 28, 2010

By Dianne Kuijs, The Netherlands (CISL San Diego Student)

After all the preparations, the journey to San Diego, and all the first impressions of the city, I began my lessons at Converse International School of Language (CISL) last week. Although I was already settled in San Diego, as I walked into the building of CISL I felt a little bit excited. CISL is located in the downtown area, on Broadway Avenue, and is very easy to find. I live in the student residence of Vantaggio. It is located on State Street and it only takes me 20 minutes to get to the school’s building.

My first day of class was Monday, and that day I had to take a test. This is mandatory at CISL so that you are placed in an appropriate class level. You also get information about San Diego and the school, like the computer room and the various activities offered in addition to daily lessons.

On Tuesday the lessons really started. When I arrived at school, I found out in which level and class I was placed in and shortly thereafter, the lessons began. I was placed in level 8, in a class with 6 other students, all from different countries.

I had a very kind teacher named Christine. The lessons were great and Christine really helped me with the individual questions I had. But after two days, I had a feeling that level 8 was to easy for me. Christine also thought that it would be better if I tried a higher level and told me that I had to visit Matthew, the director of CISL.

When I talked about the situation with Matthew we soon agreed that I should try the highest level, level 10. So I received new books and a form in order to attend a level 10 class the next day. I really enjoyed the lesson, and like before, I also enjoyed the students in the class and the teacher, Kristy. They were all very kind. I decided that this level was better for me, so I immediately transferred permanently.

Every morning the lessons start at 9:00 a.m. and continue until 12:40 a.m. You have a break between 10:40 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. During the break all the students talk and visit with each other. I really like talking with all the
students from different countries, and that’s how I have already met a lot
of people in such a short time.

During my lessons we do several things: we have discussions about many different topics; we improve our grammar and vocabulary; we may watch a documentary; or we will write essays. For the students that are studying for four or more weeks at CISL, they will do a presentation on a topic of their own choosing. So during the lessons you are not only improving your English but you are also learning a lot about other countries, cultures and other topics. The lessons are very interactive; in class it’s actually very cozy. When you make a mistake it’s not a problem at all and you can ask anything.

This first school week went really fast for me. My English has already improved and I’ve met a lot of new people. In addition to the lessons, I have also participated in different activities around town with other students. Most of the time school feels like an obligation, but here it’s just a lot of fun. That’s why I’m really looking forward to my upcoming weeks here at CISL!