This time five years ago I was just starting one of the greatest adventures of my life. I was 19, dying to start travelling alone and in love anything American. With a dream of one day living there, I decided to look at my options for a summer in states.
Turns out there were lots of choices, but the one I decided would suit me best was BUNAC’s Work America program, as there seemed to be a lot more freedom than a summer working at camp.
After just a month of planning and a lot of “oh my god, what was I thinking?“, I packed my bags and moved across the globe to Orange County, California on the 18th June 2012. Which makes me feel incredibly old, by the way…
I don’t know why but this year I am missing California more than ever (which is an unbelievable amount), so I thought I’d write a little post about all of the things - big or small - that I miss about the golden state.
This one is a pretty obvious one, isn’t it? Californian beaches are known for their beauty and they really did not let me down. I actually got the chance to explore quite a few of the different beaches while I was there and I loved how each and everyone had something different that made them special. My favourites were definitely Oceanside Beach, Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Laguna Beach.
It’s going to sound really bad now when I say most of the time I made myself a grilled cheese or ate at a fast food place, isn’t it? I tried so many different fast food restaurants but I fell in love with the infamous In-n-Out and my favourite - Panda Express. We didn’t have one near our apartment but my roommate always took me there, as long as I’d buy hers in return.
Every single person I met in California has made a lasting impression on me, even the people I met only once - everyone was just so friendly and went out of their way to make my American adventure so amazing!
I made some lifelong friends after just four months and will probably say they’re the thing I miss the most.
The Long Drives
I was living with locals so every now and again they’d take me to see new places and for some reason, I feel extremely nostalgic about the drives. A group of friends, nice weather, windows down, music blasting and cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway - perfect perfect perfect.
As you can imagine, the weather in California June - September is INCREDIBLE. It was 30+ degrees most days I was there and then even hotter the further into the desert we would go. The only day it rained while I was there was the fourth of July, which I didn’t mind at all as it was refreshing during all of the Independence Day celebrations at Huntington Beach Parade.
I lived pretty close to a lot of shopping malls, so I took advantage of this and went shopping pretty much all the time. I remember on my first day I had to go to Target to get new bedding and essentials and I must have spent hours in that one store alone, it was incredible! UK Shopping centres will never be as good in my opinion.
Strangely enough, I also miss American supermarkets and I really can’t figure out why…
The Non-stop Exploring
I know I can do this in the UK, but seriously, exploring in California is so dreamy. I got to do so many cool things that I probably wouldn’t have done if I was only there visiting the ‘touristy spots’ as I had insider knowledge from the locals. In the time I was living in Orange County I also got to go to Los Angeles, Orange County, Oceanside, Mexico and Boston!
The Walk to Work
I know this may sound like a really strange thing to miss, but I used to really enjoy the walk to work each morning. I’d get up nice and early, have breakfast and then walk a long straight road up to my office. I never in a million years expected to enjoy walking, but as it was cool enough in the mornings I’d take a leisurely stroll and still get there in good time. With my headphones in and the sun shining, it was the perfect start to the working day.
I would give anything to be back in California right now.