Journeys, Travels and Adventures

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Having traveled to California during winter break, I have had so much fun and exciting moments in seeing new and amazing things in some cities.  I stayed with my relatives in Long Beach most of the time, and they gave me a very warm welcome and took me to many places. We went on a tour to San Francisco for 3 days. During this tour, we went to see the Hearst Castle, Stanford University, Golden Gate Bridge, the City Hall, San Francisco Bay Cruise, Palace of Fine Arts, 17-mile Drive, and many other places. Amazingly, I got to experience my first real Christmas party here in U.S. since my relatives celebrated a Christmas lunch in their families with some games for gift exchange. One of them is called “White Elephant.”  It sounds somehow weird to me, but I really enjoyed playing with my relatives.

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A few days after Christmas, we did a road trip to Las Vegas which is one of the coolest places I have visited. I would call it a city of lights and entertainment since we can find whatever form of entertainment in Las Vegas. It is one of the most amazing experiences I have had. I went to the top of the Eiffel Tower there and a roller coaster on the top of New York New York Building. Also, we went to Hoover Dam which is the border point between US states of Arizona and Nevada. All in all, I have had a wonderful time during this winter break, and I really enjoy traveling from places to places to see different kinds of scenery.

– Rachana Nget, Cambodia, Florida Gulf Coast University

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Isidora 1I had the best winter break ever. I visited Los Angeles, CA for 2 1/2 weeks. First, I was glad to spend time with my brother and that he had time to take me to different places. I visited Venice Beach and Santa Monica. Even though it was windy, I enjoyed the view of the ocean and sand on my feet. I went to Hollywood Walk of Fame, Museum Madame Tussauds, LA County Museum of Art, and hiked to the Hollywood sign. The peak of my break was when my fellow UGRADers from Serbia all came to LA. I spent a couple of wonderful days with them. I must admit I missed them very much.

I also went to the movies and watched great movies. I would definitely recommend watching Tarantino’s new movie “Django Unchained”. Considering my cultural enrichment allowance, I think I couldn’t have spent it better. I went to Disneyland, Madame Tussauds Museum and LA County Museum of Art where I saw two special exhibits on Stanley Kubrick and Caravaggio.

I had a great time here and special exhibits were inspiring. I had the opportunity to visit some places from the shooting of one of my favorite movies “A Clockwork Orange.” My visit to Disneyland was one of the best days in my whole life. I wore a tiara, ate ice cream and was a child again.

– Isidora Danilovac, Serbia, Florida Gulf Coast University

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After a truly long and tiring fall term, I finally received a big present: a relaxing vacation. I did many things I wanted to do during this time. I went to Los Angeles and Boston and the trips were filled with fun! The trips were the most adventurous things I have done in my life.

Traveling to LA was the first time I went to another city just with a friend.  Before, I always went to a place with my parents and they booked the hotel, planned everything for me. I did not need to worry about anything, however, this time I had to do everything by myself.  I tried to find the cheapest traveling plan with my friend to save money and I had to find the way and memorize all the sights.  I had to depend on myself when I was on the trip.

There were many adventures in my trips as well: I went to Universal Studios and Disneyland.  I went to Chinatown, Koreatown, and Little Tokyo; I experienced Asian culture in America. I found that during the trip communicating is such an important ability, and as a shy girl, it was a challenge for me to ask people for help. I tried my best to train myself and encourage myself to open my mouth and speak. I learned a lot from the tour, not just the ability to solve problems in an independent way, but it also helped improve my English speaking.

I also encountered culture shock, even though I did not travel to another country, I still felt the differences between the west and east coasts: LA has such a different lifestyle from Chicago. People look so happy and relaxed in LA, however, in downtown Chicago, I always see people talking seriously about policy issues. The buildings are all white and colorful in LA while there are so many black buildings in the east.

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This unforgettable vacation makes me understand an old Chinese saying “you can learn more from a meaningful trip than reading many books.” This trip made the knowledge come alive.

– Jiajia Qumu, China, North Central College







Diego GomezI had the best vacation of my life! I went to California and spent most of my time with a friend of mine and her family. We visited several places in California: First, I stayed a couple of nights in Chico. I went to a class with my friend at Chico State University because by the time I arrived in California, she hadn’t finished classes yet. I met lots of people while I was in Chico. After that, we went up to Northern California where her family lives. It was snowing really bad (yes! Snow in California, hard to believe, huh?). So there, I enjoyed the snow a lot! I went sledding with some friends. During these weeks, we had dinner and lunch at different places every day. One day in a friend’s house; another day in my friend’s relative’s house. After New Year’s, we went to San Francisco and the Bay area. Since I am a big fan of computers and Internet, I managed to visit Google, Facebook, and Apple headquarters; I also visited Stanford University. Later on, my friend and I went to San Francisco and spent a couple of nights there. It is a lovely city! The thing that I enjoyed the most was the tour in cable car throughout the city. It was fascinating to be in the middle of the streets of such wonderful city; something which I had never done before!

After San Francisco, my friend drove me all the way down to Los Angeles. What a big place! There, we went to the places everyone wants to go: Hollywood, Universal Studios, Beverly Hills. It was hard to think that I was in the place where tons of stars live; who I never got a chance to see, unfortunately. Once we visited all these places, my friend suggested me to go to Las Vegas, which is relatively close to LA area. Indeed we went, it took us longer than expected, but we made it. Las Vegas is such an incredible place! All those huge hotels are amazing! Each one of them has its own attraction. While in Las Vegas, we met some friends who invited us to join them in a tour of the Grand Canyon. I couldn’t say no since it has been one of my biggest dreams! However, I didn’t know it was that close to Las Vegas (relatively close, though). So, my friend and I joined them! I couldn’t be happier to have made this decision since it was perhaps the most exciting adventure I have ever had!

After so much traveling I am really tired, but I am also very happy to have had the opportunity to visit so many places in such a short period of time.

– Diego Gomez, Costa Rica, Nazareth College



Uyanga 1I spent Christmas with my Hmong friend’s family. It was such an unforgettable experience. Her family lives in La Crosse, so I had a tour around the city of La Crosse including a park full of Christmas lights. It was really pretty and I liked how they decorated the whole park. You will see that I really loved the giant reindeer. After coming back to Eau Claire, I went to a ski jumping competition with my host family. It was a little bit cold but I really enjoyed the competition since it was my first experience.

– Uyanga Ganbold, Mongolia, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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