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!