November 13, 2012

San Francisco!!

On a scale from 0 to 10 my mood went from possibly 0 to 30 this weekend!
As you can read in THIS POST I went to San Francisco with my host mom, host sister, and some other exchange students.


Friday:
The organisation had rent 6-7 big cars and had parents drive us back and forth.
(Our rented car - With space for 7).
My host mom was one of those parents and since we had to pick up a couple of other students, we had to get up early. I think I woke up around 4.45am and got ready. We then went to meet with some of the other drivers at Stowell Rd exit McDonal's, Santa Maria to pick up Filip from Germany and Sophie from Belgium.
(I love these palms)
After a short chit-chat between the parents, we drove off and picked up Jae from South Korea one hour later.
At first I had thought we would be just a few exchange students.. those from my school, maybe some from Lompoc, and then some from Santa Maria ... HECK NO! We were 51 students!

First stop was at some random gas station where we got to get outside, breathe in some fresh air, and stretch our legs - We had a long drive in front of us. Here I found Hendrik from my school and as we were talking, another guy came up to us and bowed. (I love how certain exchange students bring their culture with them to America). He was a friend of Sophie - Kong Kong was his (nick)name and he was from South Korea.

The second stop was at In N' Out Burger, 641 Leavesley Road, Gilroy, where we had our lunch around 11.30am.

Since we were so many people, some of us had to go outside. Here you got Sondra and I stalking the stalker birds. Short before Rebecca took this picture, I had accidentally dropped a fry and suddenly the birds were all over the place!
After this picture was taken, we were being called over to sing a birthday song for the Polish guy, Wojtek. When the song was over, I made eye contact with a girl and sat down as we started talking. I had made my first friend c: Uyanga was her name and she was from Mongolia. She was soooo nice and her English was just incredible.. It was WAY better than mine :o We shared our dreams and thoughts about America and we figured that we were pretty much alike. Even when it came to the bad sides of being an exchange student..
We decided to hang out later as the adults told us to split up and get back into the cars.
Also, as we were sitting there talking, one of her friends came up to us and introduced himself - I never caught his name though...

We met up and checked in at Comfort Inn & Suites around 1.30pm.

We had been parted into groups of  3-4 people that were supposed to share a room (We were 5 in ours though). It's been forever since last time I was at a hotel but in my opinion the rooms were pretty neat - I just didn't like that I had to share a bed with my sister -.- I mean.. that'd have been okay if it wasn't because that we had to share the blanket too. I survived though so no worries!
(Sondra in our room)

After we finished unpacking, we went back inside the counter where the other students were waiting - Their rooms were still not ready yet. 
Here I met Risa (a Japanese girl) and we started talking. She told me that she loved American schools because she felt so free. In her school in Japan she wasn't allowed to wear make-up. She wasn't allowed to pierce her ears (She told me that as she saw my ears), she HAD to wear a school uniform, she couldn't paint her nails and they couldn't be too long, and she couldn't dye her hair. Furthermore, she couldn't even have long hair... well she could but it would have to be tied up in a bun or a ponytail. 
Holy cow... I get why she's so happy about staying here :O
Risa was one of the girls that I talked to the most during this trip - She was so nice and open.. and I absolutely LOVED how she dressed ~

When the rooms were ready, we took off to drive into the city and walk over the famous Golden Gate Bridge!
... Well that was the plan. 
They had given us the wrong address and my host mom had troubles finding it.. this resulted in us ending up in random neighborhoods. She had Filip holding the GPS, trying to get to the right place and I think she called Dorothy (The Area Coordinator) like 15 times because she was so desperate... I wish I could say that I had never seen her freak out like that but... nope :/

Life is like a rollercoaster and so is San Francisco!! I never imagined it being so... filled with hills. SERIOUSLY! (We got some GREAT pictures though). 
Random hill in a random neighborhood..

We came there half an hour later than the other students and this resulted in us missing the group picture.. We weren't the only ones though! there was one more car that didn't make it in time.
My host mom just dropped us off here and then she'd be waiting with the other adults on the other side of the bridge~

Le group~

Some pictures before the bridge~

 Sophie, Jae, me, and Sondra. Filip took the picture :P

From the beginning of the bridge~
Up high!

Jae being... Jae

When we reached the end of the bridge, Rebecca, Sondra, and I went to take more pictures while the others went to the restrooms.
(These pictures were taken in the dark and later edited by my host mom, that is why they quality may be bad). 

San Francisco in the background~


Golden Gate girls! 

We got back into the cars and drove to Union Square.
We found some "stairs" and crowded up until all 60 of us (including adults) were there. We each got a number that we'd have to remember for the rest of this trip.. this was the way they could make sure that we weren't missing anybody whenever we met up - If you were late you'd have to sing in front of everybody! :O

Random photos from Union Square as we were crowding~ 
Looking to the right~ 
And to the left.. (I loooooove how they put the light on the palms).
What we were facing as we were standing on those steps.. (Sorry for the bad quality).
And behind us - Tadaah!

We then parted again to go have dinner on our own. I went with Hendrik, Simon (from Belgium), Johanne (from Denmark), Sophie, and Sondra to Panda Express which is some reeeeally yummy Chinese food~ 
After that we still had time so we went shopping- Hendrik had found an Abercrombie&Fitch boutique and got super excited .. So we ended up going. He pulled me into the guys' section and short after came Sondra. We ended up being his fashion gurus and helped him find the right stuff. You should have seen his face when he had bought his stuff, he was like a little puppy!

As he was paying, one of the cashiers turned to us and said:
So where are you guys from? (I guess he had heard my accent)
"Uuuh.. from all around the world" Sondra said (Funny how they always think she's foreign too)
"We're exchange students" I said
How long is the program? When are you going home? 
10 months, we're leaving in June
Are any of you looking for a job?

He was offering us jobs in the end but we had to say no - Both because none of us are living close to SF, and because we're not allowed to work while we're in the program. 
It would've been pretty cool to work in there though~ Wish I could

We got back to the hotel around 9.30pm or something like that - Some went to the hot tub while some (like me) were too tired and went to bed almost straight away~ 

Saturday:
We had to be ready and packed for 8.30am~ We drove off to catch the BART (which is some kind of metro) and go into the city.

(Waiting for the Bart).


Unfortunately, my friend Calvin and I came in after the others and had to stand all the way~

There was a big line that we were standing in for almost an hour - From here we took the Cable Car on Lombard St and rode it all the way down to Fisherman's Wharf Pier 39
Look at our beautiful line hahah. We were all super excited to ride it!

The Cable Car~  
My tickeeeeeet~ 


Risa and I sitting in the Cable Car 



 (Look how the railroads have just been put on the streets - Normal cars would pass us from time to time).

 Unfortunately I got one of the seats and wasn't able to take pictures but thanks to Vee (exchange student from Thailand) I got this one :P Thank you Vee!

As we arrived at Fisherman's Wharf (11.40am or so), they told us that we were free to explore and that we should go have lunch on our own. We wouldn't have to meet up before 2.15pm~

I went with my friends Calvin, Risa, Wojtek, Uyanga, Vee, and my sister Sondra. After we had walked around Fisherman's Wharf, we decided to go have lunch at Subway.

After exploring, we took the Cable Car once again - Since we were so many students, we took up the whole Cable Car and as we passed a big group of people, the man who was controlling the Cable Car was like: 
"Are we going to stop and let those people on?!" He yelled, as he slowed down..
HEEELL NO!! He then said and sped up.
Hahhah poor people... but it was hilarious!

Chinatown was .. different from what I had expected, but it definitely didn't disappoint me!
Again they let us go explore on our own (Which I'm really happy they did, everything is just way more fun when you won't have to worry about adults keeping an eye on you). This time it was just Risa, Vee, Sondra, Calvin, and I and we went into almost aaaaall of the stores!
All the sign outside the stores would be written in Chinese (some in English too) and you would see Chinese people EVERYWHERE. (Duuuuh... But yeah.. not all people would expect this. Trust me).

I looooved those lamps. They were hanging absolutely EVERYWHERE... I bet it's beautiful at night when they light up~

After Chinatown ,we walked back to Union Square. Again they gave us time to shop until 6.30pm as we would have to meet up again to have dinner at Blondie's, 63 Powell Street.
This time they paid and we all had pizza :P Because we were so many, we took up the whole basement.

We took the "Bart" back to the airport from where we then drove home. Most people hung out in the "huge" (not at all) hot tub while I was hanging at the counter.


SundayWe went to the very famous prison Alcatraz! Bam bam baaaaam!!!


We left the hotel 9.30am - Packed and ready to go back home... but FIRST we went to Alcatraz!
Alcatraz is said to be one of the hardest prisons in the world to escape from and they may be right.. 
There has been made several movies about the prison and if you're interested, I found a link to some fact about it. 

Sunday was less fun though... This time we HAD to stay in our group (The driver's group), which meant that my sister and I had to stay with our mom instead of going with our friends :/ 
Alcatraz is located on an island (Alcatraz) so to get there, we had to get on a boat (duuuh). 
(Uuuuh creepy tickeeet).
The boat had 3 levels with space for around 400 people and the view from it was just A-MA-ZING!
On one side of the boat you could view the city with all the tall buildings, the skyscrapers, the lights, and the cars. On the other side you would see an island with some big big (warning) signs and some creepy buildings... 



When we came to the island, they informed us that we could not do certain stuff; like chewing gum, feeding birds, or bring back rocks etc. We also got these little black cases and a set of headphones - This was an audio tour. When you came to a sign saying "Audio tour starts here" you would have to turn on that little black box, and suddenly you would hear all those cool sound effects from the prison while different voices would be telling you stories and facts about the prison. The voices would guide you through the hallways and tell you where to go to see different things. It would even show you the cells that some people had been killed in. It was a very interesting tour ... that I sadly had to be on alone since I wasn't allowed to go with my friends :/ 

I was the very first one to "escape" the prison so I stayed in the souvenir shop until the rest of my group was done. We couldn't find my mom but since we had been told to meet up at the boat at 11.30am, we decided to walk down there. People were getting ready to get on the boat and we grew more and more worried about if we had missed the right boat. We hadn't.. after 5-10 minutes my mom and sister finally showed up. 
We all sailed back to the mainland and just as we were about to leave, we realized that one group was missing - We then had to wait half an  hour for them to come.

We split up into our small groups and drove to a Chinese restaurant to have lunch - I had my very first kimchi!
It was a buffet but the food there wasn't good... "Is not fresh" as some of the Asian exchange students would say. When we were done eating, the atmosphere quickly changed... We realized that we probably wouldn't get to see each others again unless we went on the LA trip in February. It was a sad feeling but my nearest friends and I all agreed that we would do all we could to go on the next trip together~ I hope we can all keep that promise :)

I want to thank my host mom Rebecca and my very good friend Calvin me for letting me use some of their pictures in this post~ You're awesome! 

Random pictures from the trip!

Gathering up on the "steps" at Union Square

I loooooove their big palms .. and the lights on them made everything movie-like
I love this picture because it's so weird! I have noooo idea what we're doing
You meet rather... "different" people in San Francisco. 

The beautiful bridge~ 
San Francisco seen from the bridge
The bridge from... the bridge o.O

The Cable Car~ 

Driving through the neighborhoods was like riding a rollercoaster! Up and down constantly~ 
Hendrik the happy German
Once again.. you meet straaaange people here.
Chinese for a day
Just enjoying San Francisco~ 
Vee found a sexy hat
Team Denmark!!
I really don't know... 
The prison rules
Heading to Alcatraz!
Jae...
I can't help but love this picture of Risa and Wojtek :)
Simon, King King, Calvin, creepy Sondra in the back, and I ~ 

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