It’s always sunny in San Diego
I’m not an English native speaker. To be honest, I took English as a second language when I started to study at university years ago. The reason was that I wanted to be a business woman and English is the business language. It’s basic logic, isn’t it? Not lying, I was good at studying vocabulary and the rules of grammar. However, what I studied was useless because I was unable to understand a conversation face to face or on the radio and TV, and I couldn’t speak fluently.
What I learned was only good enough to pass vocabulary tests, not to succeed an English exam. I didn’t understand how my classmates were so good at speaking this language while the vocabulary was only business based.
Every year, I failed my English exam because of my lack of listening skills and my incapacity to speak fluently. Regarding the listening problem, I thought I had some problem with my ears. So, I went to a specialist to have my ears tested. He said my ears were perfectly fine!
I was fed up of not having summer holidays anymore because I had to study for the repeat exam. Seriously, every year I had a second session of exam because of my incapacity to learn English. One day, I decided to improve my English once and for all. For 6 weeks, I would live in an English speaking country.
In 2014, I had to take my English exam again, except this time I didn’t want to be in my room or the library all summer instead of having fun. So, I decided to improve my English by studying abroad. My English skills were so bad that I couldn’t go through the process by myself. That’s why I decided to go with an agency called WEP. I knew this company because one of my friends went to America using them. Also, at school, I met one of the employees working there. They have a good reputation.
Anyway, I went to San Diego from June 25th to August 5th. I immerged myself in American English culture. I stopped talking French, no more texting or calling my family and friends. The program was living with an American family and going to school for 6 weeks. By the way, I went to Intrax, now called Stafford House. I improved my English a lot in a short term. To be fair, I went from not understanding someone saying ‘Hi, I’m Heather and I’m from London’ to a stage where I could start understanding English series with subtitles.
San Diego is a beautiful city and offers amazing scenery. My English wasn’t great so I didn’t enjoy myself like I wanted to. That’s why I promised myself to go back there for a longer time. That’s why at this stage, I have nothing to tell or show you. My routine was literally: waking up, getting the bus to school, school time, getting the bus back and then having dinner with my host family. Nothing extraordinary, isn’t it?
My English was so bad that the first day my host family showed me how to get the bus and where to go back home, I didn’t understand them and I was too shy to ask them to repeat. The first day of school, my host family drove me. They gave me a little tour from downtown to Old Town (where I was supposed to get the bus 105). I went to school and took the placement test to know my English level. The results were unexpected, I got a good score. I was very suspicious because the quiz was too easy. Anyway, the first day I just had 4 hours because of the placement test.
After school, I tried to find my way home and I couldn’t find where the bus station was. I walked from Ash Street J to Broadway, but the bus 105 just stops in Old Town. So I tried to ask a bus driver where to find the bus I have to take. OMG I was so stressed about never finding the way home and I didn’t bring my phone with me for the first day. I went back to school, then a teacher showed me to take the tram to Old Town then the bus. EASY, isn’t it?
Another problem occurred while I finally got the right bus… I didn’t know where to get out of the bus xD. Thanks god the bus driver, Kermit (yeah it’s his name, we become good friends and I had him on Facebook to stay in touch), was so friendly. When he saw me being the last one inside while it was at the terminal, he took time to understand me and drove me after work to my host family. I arrived at home at 10pm instead of 2pm.
After this day, I was more than motivated than ever to improve my English. After school I would study in my room. My host family said it wasn’t a good strategy because I spent time alone and even though I had more vocabulary in my mind, I was still afraid of speaking to someone. But I improved my listening skills and I understood people talking better. I started to spend more time with my host family so that I could improve my speech. I went to water polo matches in which host family’s daughter played and I spent time with her as often I could. That paid off because I started to feel more confident speaking in English and interacting with Americans.
Besides, my first day scared the shit out of me so much that I started to focus on spending time with native speakers only. That’s why I didn’t go to any school activities after classes because I didn’t want to be with foreigners and get their accents or keep their mistakes. However, my host family brought me to nice places such as the zoo, safari, on their boat, water polo games, their friends places, live concerts, etc. I didn’t go out except once before leaving, when I went to Fluxx night club with some friends.
Girls on the road
The only fun thing I did was to go to Los Angeles with my classmates to pursue celebrities in Beverly Hills. Even though I enjoyed spending time with my classmates, I hated being in LA. This city is too crowded for me and the celebrity hunting was too much for me.
It’s a poor experience of San Diego. Back home, I took my English exam again and I got only 10/20. I was so sad; so, I decided to save money and go back there for a year. This story is for another day!
Thanks for reading girls xx