As I already said in the previous section, I wanted to go back to San Diego for a longer term. I wanted to take a gap year after getting my marketing degree. 2015 was very stressful and exhausting. I was juggling saving money, studying for exams, my internship and writing my thesis. Seriously, I hated this year because too much was going on at the same time.
While I was balancing work and school, I looked for a productive way to improve my English and wanted to use this gap year in the smartest way possible to develop some skills to put on my curriculum vitae. So, I picked a program called ‘gap year’ with AILS agency. The program is basically studying at an English school as a second language then go to a college. It was a good way to improve my competence then see if I can follow along with classes with the Americans. It was the best experience of my life for several reasons.
By the way, there are a lot of agencies that offer different programs to go abroad:
After paying for the program, I just needed to focus on getting my degree. I succeeded in my internship, I had one exam left and needed to defend my thesis. Unfortunately, my plans didn’t go the way I wanted. I passed everything except one stupid Dutch exam! It was devastating to see all my friends graduating and I had one more exam to take in November. I got my results the day before getting the plane to San Diego…
Once I thought through it, I decided that I would take a gap year before taking my exam again. No one understood my need to run away. Maybe it was a bad decision, maybe not, but I left anyway. It was a year of shame; however, I regret nothing. This program was the best thing to happen to me. It helped me to grow and become more mature.
1st semester in 2015
♡ Host family
For the first semester, I lived with an American family who became very close friends. They were so lovely and very kind to me. I don’t know how to thank them for everything they did for me and helped me to achieve. They are very good friends now and I hope to stay in touch with them and keep them in my life for long time. While I was staying with them, there were other students who came for a short stay.
I met a great Swiss girl there who I’m still in touch with. She came to Belgium twice to visit me.
Next, I spent my first semester at Converse, an English as second language school, located on Broadway street. Converse wasn’t bad for meeting people. There were a lot of Asians and Swiss people. It was perfect for me as we all wanted to speak English and English only. The only problem with the school was the way the teachers were evaluating. I found it very strange that some students who couldn’t understand an English native speaker talking got the same score as someone who could interact with Americans outside the school. Otherwise, the school and teachers were great. I learnt a lot at the beginning and I enjoyed going there a lot.
For instance, I was level 8 and my friend was level 10 at Converse. However, when we started at Grossmont College, my friend didn’t get the score needed to follow the same class as me.
The first semester came and went very quickly. I was kept busy between school, meeting people, going out, getting a boyfriend and keeping in touch with my family. By the way, I met my boyfriend online. After seeing each other, we decided to give our relationship a shot. Then he introduced me to his roommates and friends.
2nd semester in 2016
♡ Vantaggio State Street
After New Year, it was time for me to move to my second accommodation, Vantaggio State Street. Vantaggio is located in Little Italy, just blocks away from Downtown and the harbor. I was sharing my room with another French speaker who is from France.
Straight away, I hated Vantaggio. The furniture was modern, but the shared kitchen was a nightmare. It was smelly and wasn’t always clean. I was used to good food, a clean room and my independence at my host family’s place. So, I didn’t last long time there. After a month, I asked to have my money back and I moved with my Irish friends.
♡ Grossmont Community College
The campus was awesome. I took advertising class and English class. I didn’t want to take more than 12 credits because I wanted to have fun too.
♡ Living with Irish people
I moved in with 8 Irish people in a 3 bedrooms apartment. The living situation was ideal as It allowed me to improve my English a lot in a short space of time. Cohabitating with different accents and personalities was a great challenge for me. When I think about it, I don’t know how I coped with that. It was a great experience and I don’t know how to thank them for letting me be apart of that.
I enjoyed my American experience thanks to them. We did a lot together such as going out, cooking, watching movies, eating out, Las Vegas, … There was a lot funny drama between love stories, one-night stands, drunk stories, … At the beginning, it was difficult for me because of the language barrier. They are so lovely and they become real friends to me. I’m always delighted when I see them and have a night out with them. I hope they will stay in my life for a long time!
Irish people are very nice. They are caring towards one another and will always look out for their fellow countrymen. Their culture is great. They are not haters. Everyone needs an Irish friend in their life!
♡ California Road Trip
Before leaving San Diego, I did a romantic road trip with Cian J We rent a car and travel around California: Yosemite national park, Lake Taho, San Franscico, Big Sur, …
Thanks for reading xxx