We invited students to participate in an Essay Contest for our CISL blog. We were on the lookout for creative and interesting short essays about their experiences studying at CISL, or living in San Francisco, any cultural differences they have noticed, or a CISL activity they participated in. This presented an excellent opportunity for students to show off their writing skills no matter what their English level is.

Five students from Wendy’s Level 9 class wrote about their cultural experiences and we are proud to announce that the winner from her class is Eva.

Below is Eva’s blog entry:

What did I know about San Francisco before coming here? First of all, I knew that it was a big city with a lot of streets going up and down – like those pictures you see in films – and that on these streets there were driving the famous cable cars. Of course I had also seen pictures of the famous Golden Gate Bridge furthermore friends had told me that America was the best place to go shopping and that you could meet a lot of friendly and multicultural people. I think that was more or less my background information when I got on the plane to San Francisco.

One of the most important things you learn very quickly is not to think about European scales. Also distances may seem very small on a map. You will soon realize that in reality they are much bigger than expected.

Actually when you look at a map of San Francisco the distance is not the only thing to worry about. As I mentioned before, the city is not flat at all. When you take one of the cable cars or the buses, better listen and “HOLD ON”. You will also soon notice that the Americans are very friendly people for instance a complete stranger starts talking to you on the bus to tell you that he likes your shoes… however could arise some subject comprehension problems considering the differences between American slang and our European school English. I was quite surprised when the receptionist at the hotel told me that he couldn’t “break” my dollars after having asked him if he could change my money. So here my hot tip: listen to what your teacher tells you and do the pronunciation exercises (even though they bore you silly…). After a few days you will discover how easy it is to sound like an American: just use “like” at least twice in a sentence and pronounce the whole sequence as if it was one word.

Once you get more confident about the language you are ready to discover the many beautiful and interesting sites of San Francisco, one of the most liberal and gay friendly cities of the Unites States, go to the Ghirardelli Square and enjoy of the of world’s best chocolate or go watching the sea lions at the famous Pier 39. If you get too stressed with all the sightseeing, you can relax in the Japanese Tea Garden and refresh your energy drinking a cup of Jasmine or Green tea in the tea house or you can take some sun at Ocean Beach.

San Francisco has so many sites that you will need at least a week to get a full impression of its variety of people of cultures, of sexes, of shapes, of fast food restaurants and of so much more.

Have fun and don’t hurry around. If you take it easy you can make the best out of your vacation in S.F.