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Old 03-24-2006, 02:47 PM
 
Location: Ghent, Belgium
11 posts, read 135,924 times
Reputation: 40
Arrow What is it like to live in California????

hello everybody,

Me and my husband are planning a trip to the US.
So what, I hear you probably think
It will be a special trip for us because we are planning to take a year off and go visit all 50 states. (Our aim is to do this in 2010/2011 because we need this much time to collect and save the needed money)
And we would like to see and feel and hear how it really is in America.
Here in Europe (we live in Belgium) we hear and see all kind of things trough the media concerning the Americans but we realize that this is probably not always correct. Because we are openminded (and also curious) we want to check it out for ourself.

Can you give us tips and info on how to really get a realistic view on the californian way of life?

Thanks
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Old 03-25-2006, 10:05 AM
 
1,398 posts, read 4,621,008 times
Reputation: 1749
Please concentrate on seeing the best aspects of the entire, huge state of California, since this is going to be such a special, extended vacation for you. You shouldn't have to get close to the uglier aspects of living here, as in Los Angeles, rather than going for a wonderful tourist experience all over the state.

California has an extremely varied terrain and different climates, for a state with the reputation for eternal sunshine: deserts, snowy high mountain ranges, redwood forests, coastal beaches, farmland, etc. There's so much to see, and such a huge expanse to travel. Concentrate on the most beautiful, genuine tourist sites. And drive yourself, as most of the interstate freeways have a lot of scenic pleasure to behold, and are well away from dangerous inner cities.

A suggestion would be to drive up and down the western coastal routes, depending on whether you first land in San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Diego. Let's say you arrive in San Diego. It has a world-famous zoo, and also, 40 minutes north of it, a huge wild animal park that offers experiences completely unlike that of zoos: you go ride out into the animal herds. San Diego has a year-round, very pleasant climate, so you never have to worry about when to visit. The Del Coronado Hotel is an architectural landmark. Its original facade actually influenced the illustrator of the first "Wizard of Oz" book.

Drive between San Diego and Los Angeles, and you'll see the Mission of San Juan Capistrano, and many amusing large coastal towns like La Jolla and Newport Beach/Balboa Island. Disneyland is in Orange County, just south of L.A. county. In Los Angeles, you should see Melrose Drive, which has modern shopping boutiques with a trendy young crowd like Tokyo's; you should drive through Beverly Hills and its shopping district to see what unlimited wealth looks like, and drive along Hollywood Blvd. to see a) landmarks like the Hollywood sign in the hills above, the sidewalk with the movie stars' names, the Chinese theatre, and lot of unsavory looking hookers and junkies amongst the tourists! I do not recommend sightseeing by yourself without the help of someone who lives here were you to want to go in other areas of our 4 million-person city of Los Angeles. It's a genuinely dangerous place in so many areas that don't "look" dangerous, and you'll be very conspicuous speaking a language other than Spanish.

Drive north to Santa Barbara, which has the most perfect climate on the entire Earth, and a very nice downtown area with elite shopping and pleasant outdoor dining.

Drive north to the Big Sur/Carmel area between Santa Barbara and San Francisco. Its redwood forests right next to the ocean are stunning scenary! I think it's the most beautiful area in all California.
Then drive north to San Francisco. S.F. is quite small in area for a major American city, so it's not hard to traverse, and all its delights are easily gotten to. Check other threads here for specifics.

You could venture east from S.F. to visit Sacramento and see a lot of "old" (for the U.S.!) California, or further north up to Oregon through more beautiful (but frequently very foggy so beware!) routes amongst conifer forests to Oregon.

I would love to live in Northern California, but it's very expensive. In fact, most of California is very expensive, even by European standards. A small 2 bedroom home in a dangerous place where you are sure to be attacked by gangsters in Los Angeles would cost over
$650,000.00. Most people who live in "safer" areas of Los Angeles are VERY VERY rich, as the "median" price for a basically nice neighborhood is close to a million dollars.

Last edited by fastfilm; 03-25-2006 at 10:12 AM..
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Old 03-25-2006, 11:53 AM
 
Location: Los Angeles, CA
5 posts, read 34,810 times
Reputation: 24
I live in Venice, which is a beach community within the city limits of Los Angeles, and this is probably the best place I have ever lived, although I did like Vancouver, Canada a lot. There is a lot of variety to Los Angeles, but I have found the people in Venice to be friendly, pleasant, and interesting. I've read in guidebooks from GB that Venice is a dangerous place, but that has not been my experience. A lot of paranoid people seem to attract of find danger more easily than I do, however, and I do know people (generally only women) who find Venice a scary place. However, when my sister and neice visit, they find it quite delightful. I've also lived in San Francisco, and I found certain neighborhoods there to be a bit on the dangerous side, but mostly at night. In general, you mainly have to be careful of neighborhoods at night, and the dangerous neighborhoods are really quite few and easily identifiable. Downtown L.A. is not nice at night, but certainly safe enough during the day.

I've worked in both Culver City and Inglewood and my commutes averaged about 10 to 15 minutes each way, and so I have never had a problem with traffic, although I would if I had to go a long distance. From where I am, however, I can get on PCH and take a beautiful drive north through the Palisades and into Malibu in a very short time. When I go to Ventura (to visit a client), I take Hwy1, which is a beautiful and delightful drive.

You might want to try house swapping, to get an idea of what living in California is like. I've considered doing this with someone in Italy because I live in an area extremely popular with tourists (Venice Beach gets more visitors than anywhere else in CA except Disneyland). The only problem is that the bike paths in my neighborhood often get congested with pedestrians who cannot understand the "Bikes Only" signs - since there are many foreign tourists here in the summer, mainly from Germany, Italy, France, and Japan, it seems.
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Old 03-27-2006, 02:38 AM
 
Location: Ghent, Belgium
11 posts, read 135,924 times
Reputation: 40
Hey Fastfilm and Lars,

Thank you for the great info.
yes, it's gonna be a verry special trip for us.
According to our provisional travel plan were coming from Arizona. We will drive thru California, heading for Oregon.
The trip you discribed, fastfilm, would be great. Do you think we can do this in 10 days?

How easy is it to get in contact with the locals? Do they have a problem with strangers/tourists coming up to them to have a talk?
I am rather curious and would gladly talk with people conceirning their life.

Because we do not belong to the rich and wealthy people, we're looking for cheap places to sleep. Do you have tips for motels or other possibillities?

Fastfilm, I read here on the forum that your husband is a theacher. I work also with children. Can you tell me some more about the schoolsystem in America.

greetings
Daisy
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Old 03-27-2006, 08:52 AM
 
1,398 posts, read 4,621,008 times
Reputation: 1749
Miss Belgium I'm going to post my first reply here, and I'm going to put a reply to your question about L.A. Education as opposed to U.S. educations on a separate thread because this forum said my reply to both was too long to post. So go to "Los Angeles education" thread here for what is actually my reply to you, although I think others might find it eye-opening as well...

Yes, you can do the driving trip I described in 10 days. Don't exceed any speed limits while driving, because many small towns, in California as elsewhere, count on speeding ticket income as part of their planned revenue for their town, hence they'll be looking for you!

Lars brought up Venice beach as a wonderful destination, and he's completely correct. It is unique in Los Angeles for being a place where people gather to genuinely have fun (the beach) and shop for really inexpensive, amusing items in the vendors' booths on the weekends. Don't buy from individuals (they're crooks) just the booths, which are in fact licensed no matter how casual they look. This would also be the best place to talk to "the locals," as people are there to have fun, and are not in "survival mode," which is to say rightly suspicious of strangers. Don't forget, Los Angeles is a deceptive place. It can look lovely with the houses, but like any huge city, there are many, many dangerous people. Don't be too conspicuous.

Also, it will be easier to talk to people in Venice Beach boardwalk and Melrose Blvd. since tourism is what it's about there. Also, you'll find people with whom to speak English (and your English is excellent.) It is actually hard to find areas in Los Angeles where people speak English.

The educational system of the entire United States is too vast a subject for me to know or impart to you. Overall, it is mandatory for children here to attend school from First Grade (usually age 6) throughout 12 th grade in High School (usually age 17.) Towards the end of the High School terms, the law gets less stringent, and we have many "drop-outs," kids who choose not to complete school or graduate. I've never understood this choice, even with economic pressures, because school in the United States is free, unlike so many other countries.

College attendance is so very expensive in the U.S., even at the state funded universities, that it is impossible for all but the wealthy without loans, grants and scholarships. This is a fairly new phenomenon. Thirty years ago I put myself through UCLA on a very modest income. Nowadays, kids must pay off their student loans for many, many years.
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Old 03-29-2006, 06:04 AM
 
Location: Ghent, Belgium
11 posts, read 135,924 times
Reputation: 40
[quote=fastfilm]
So go to "Los Angeles education" thread here for what is actually my reply to you, although I think others might find it eye-opening as well...Thanks

Don't exceed any speed limits while driving.....hence they'll be looking for you! Yes, we know of this here in Belgium also so I'll be watching out.

Also, it will be easier to talk to people in Venice Beach boardwalk and Melrose Blvd. since tourism is what it's about there. But will I not get a wrong image of Californian people when I only talk to people who live in the nice tourist-liked places? I'm not seeking for danger but when I want to see the real life I know it will be not always pleasant. But that's part of life. And I think you learn more out of life by seeing all the different aspects of it.

(and your English is excellent.) Thanks for the compliment I think ist due to all the american film and tv-series I see without subtitles That's a great way of learning a language.

Overall, it is mandatory for children here to attend school from First Grade (usually age 6) throughout 12 th grade in High School (usually age 17.) Towards the end of the High School terms, the law gets less stringent, and we have many "drop-outs," kids who choose not to complete school or graduate. They must come to Belgium, school here is mandatory from age 6 till age 18 but we all go to school from age 2,5-3 We have also school drop-outs but than they have to do some other kind of education till there 18. For example go to school one day at the week and also go to work at a special place to learn a typical job.

Daisy
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Old 04-15-2006, 11:40 AM
 
1 posts, read 23,505 times
Reputation: 12
Default california

Quote:
Originally Posted by missBelgium
hello everybody,

Me and my husband are planning a trip to the US.
So what, I hear you probably think
It will be a special trip for us because we are planning to take a year off and go visit all 50 states. (Our aim is to do this in 2010/2011 because we need this much time to collect and save the needed money)
And we would like to see and feel and hear how it really is in America.
Here in Europe (we live in Belgium) we hear and see all kind of things trough the media concerning the Americans but we realize that this is probably not always correct. Because we are openminded (and also curious) we want to check it out for ourself.

Can you give us tips and info on how to really get a realistic view on the californian way of life?

Thanks
After 40 years of living in California I would like to offer some thoughts on the subject. First, it has become very much more crowded in Los Angeles so that crossing town may take more than an hour and a half when it once only took 20 minutes. In Los Angeles, you will encounter very rude drivers. Parts of Los Angeles are less safe than others and I have experienced burglaries, car thefts, etc. Check safety and crime stats. In the Los Angeles area there are varied climates: the valley can be 20 degrees hotter than the beach or central Los Angeles, although only a few miles away. Smaller towns are friendlier. There are earthquakes here so it is wise to take a good look at any building you consider as a place to live. Re: English - don't hate me, but it is never correct to use "me" as the subject. "I" is correct. The word "me" is correct as the object of a sentence. It is a common mistake among native English speakers, but will sound uneducated to anyone who knows the language well. Good luck on your trip.
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Old 04-16-2006, 09:07 PM
 
1 posts, read 23,505 times
Reputation: 10
HELLO DAISY--
just saw your posting---
i am a belgian living in Ca since 1997---and i am married and we have 2 kids---hmmm should i write flemish now to you??
California is just great to live in--not what you hear in Belgium--We will be visiting Belgium beginning 2007--for the first time--maybe we can tell you a lot about our great state!!!
email me if you have questions!!!
marijke
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Old 04-18-2006, 04:50 AM
 
Location: Ghent, Belgium
11 posts, read 135,924 times
Reputation: 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by jt40
Re: English - don't hate me, but it is never correct to use "me" as the subject. "I" is correct. The word "me" is correct as the object of a sentence. It is a common mistake among native English speakers, but will sound uneducated to anyone who knows the language well. Good luck on your trip.
I don't hate you for pointing this out to me. I know I don't speak perfect English but I'm learning something new everyday so thanks. I will try to get it right next time.

And also thanks for the tips about LA.
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Old 04-18-2006, 04:56 AM
 
Location: Ghent, Belgium
11 posts, read 135,924 times
Reputation: 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by kozykreations
HELLO DAISY--
just saw your posting---
i am a belgian living in Ca since 1997---and i am married and we have 2 kids---hmmm should i write flemish now to you??
California is just great to live in--not what you hear in Belgium--We will be visiting Belgium beginning 2007--for the first time--maybe we can tell you a lot about our great state!!!
email me if you have questions!!!
marijke
Hey Marijke,
Just a quick hello. It would be great to hear all the things you have to say about CA so I will write you one of these days a flemish mail
Must be exiting for you to visiting Belgium for the first time.
See you around
Daisy
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