Are you thinking of studying English in California? The state’s laid-back culture, beautiful beaches, and amazing weather are of course appealing . . . but what else makes California so special? We asked some of our California natives and then compiled a list of some of their favorite things about living in The Golden State.
The beautiful weather and laid-back vibe of California attract people from all over the world, so it’s no wonder that the state is so diverse. In fact, California is known as a “minority-majority” state, meaning that no one group of people makes the majority of the population. (Click here for more info!)
Not surprisingly, languages are important to Californians: while English is of course the spoken language of the state, over 40% of Californians also speak another language at home. The beautiful diversity of Californians means you are in constant contact with many cultures, languages, people . . . and great food! (See “Food Culture” below.)
Californians are also known for being incredibly friendly, happy people. Perhaps it’s the sunshine? The beautiful landscapes? The delicious food? We aren’t sure what makes Californians so happy, but you see it on the faces of residents, and this upbeat attitude is infectious.
- Walk through San Diego’s charming Little Italy.
- Experience San Francisco’s Chinatown (incredible!)
- Drive to Solvang, near beautiful Santa Barbara, and see a Danish-inspired village.
- Join a MeetUp group and get to know some locals.
The Food Culture
California’s cuisine is in a class of its own: check out world-famous chefs like Alice Waters and Thomas Keller to gain a better understanding of exactly what defines this delicious, casual-yet-refined cuisine. And make sure to sip a glass of California wine or craft beer with your meal!
What makes California’s food so delicious? As an agricultural state, California offers the best and freshest locally-grown fruits and vegetables, meats, and cheeses: it comes as no surprise that it also has some of the best farmer’s markets in the U.S.!
A Wide Selection of Cuisines
California’s diverse population also means that you can get great fusion foods and authentic ethnic meals. Korean barbecue? Yep. Real Italian pizza? Absolutely. Vietnamese pho? Everywhere. Japanese sushi? Check! Plus, when Mexico is your neighbor, great tacos are practically on every corner.
- Check out the food trucks in your city for fun, inventive “fast” food.
- Stroll through the farmer’s markets in your city.
- Check out Convoy Street in San Diego for some of the best Korean, Japanese, and Chinese food.
- Take a trip to a local cheese shop and learn all about California’s award-winning cheeses, like those from Cowgirl Creamery.
The state’s great weather, wide open spaces, and incredible urban settings make it the best place for music, food, and film festivals. Coachella, Burning Man, and Lightning in a Bottle are a music-lover’s dream, and venues like House of Blues offer concerts throughout the week.
California epicureans have access to festivals celebrating everything from wine and beer to oysterfests, crab feeds, and even garlic! (Garlic ice cream is a thing. And it’s actually pretty delicious.)
The craziest and coolest convention, ComicCon, takes place in San Diego every summer. For one week, the city is transformed into a comic book and action hero fanatic’s dreamland.
For the movie buff, San Diego, San Francisco, and even Napa also host film festivals throughout the year, and the glamour of Hollywood is at your fingertips in LA!
- Check out this list of California music festivals.
- Eat and drink! Summer and fall are typically the seasons for food festivals, but remember that you can visit local wineries or breweries at any time.
- Explore some of the state’s beautiful old theaters, which are themselves a work of art.
- Visit Bodega Bay, where Hitchcock’s “The Birds” was filmed.
The California Gold Rush of 1849 is one of the most exciting events in U.S. history, and the mad dash for gold has left its mark on the state: mining towns up and down the foothills of California’s mountains still hold that old Western vibe of the 1800s.
- Visit a local mining town like Julian or Nevada City.
- Go gold mining!
- Visit a California Mission to learn a little more about California’s history and the Spanish Franciscan monks.
Californians love the outdoors! From water sports like surfing to casual activities like skating, it seems like every Californian is on the move. In fact, residents are often voted some of the most active and fit people in the U.S.
California also beckons you to take advantage of its incredible mountains, which offer hiking, mountain biking, and climbing. Or, channel your inner Zen and escape to the nearby California deserts to experience some of the most peaceful sceneries (and gorgeous starry skies).
- Kayak in the warm waters of beautiful La Jolla.
- Canoe the Russian River.
- Ride horses in SF.
- Go camping!
- Explore Death Valley’s beautiful desert.
- Go skiing in the California mountains.
With so many professional sports teams, it seems there is always an event to attend! Check out what football, basketball, baseball, hockey, or soccer team plays near your city (and remember to check the CISL Front Desk for any tips on how to get discounts on tickets).
- In addition to checking out your local professional teams, also be sure to check out the collegiate sports teams, like San Diego’s SDSU. College sports are incredibly exciting!
- Get involved yourself! San Diego and San Francisco are also known as some of the best cities in the U.S. for yoga, and pilates and barre method studios are also abundant. Classes for boxing, MMA, and spinning are also common, and there are numerous biking, hiking, and local sports teams to join. Click here for our exercise guide!
Spanish mission-style ranch houses, Victorian homes, beach cottages, mountain cabins . . . like the state itself, California’s architecture is a beautiful mix of many styles and cultures. You don’t have to be an architecture nut to appreciate the beauty of California’s buildings and homes: their beauty is everywhere!
- Visit the California universities campuses (some of the most beautiful in the world) and enjoy grand collegiate architecture.
- Check out the Painted Ladies in SF.
- Explore San Diego’s Balboa Park to see fine examples of Mission-style buildings.
- Stroll through beach towns like Mission Beach and OB to see adorable beach shacks: a surfer’s dream!
Photo titled “Mission San Diego de Alcalá church” is by Bernard Gagnon and licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.