Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Final Post

With so much that has been happening, I haven't had the opportunity to post. Many apologies for this being after the semester, but I would like to say one final goodbye from my house in England! I also promised Melanie some graduation photos!

Firstly, graduation was a really fitting end to the two years. I was really moved by the President's speech along with the Student speakers, who had overcome such adversity with cancer battles to achieve. It was brilliant having some loved ones in the crowd cheering my name, when I went up to get my diploma. There could not have been a more beautiful venue overlooking the ocean, it really begun to sink in how lucky I had been to go here. I also felt a sense of achievement, not too long ago I was told I would need three years at CC before transferring. There weren't the finances to do this, nor did my visa allow, so I did everything in my power to cram in as many classes, assess into a higher math, so I could celebrate this day in May 2014. I am immensely proud to have gone to CC, to be part of a community that continually pushes you to thrive, grow in confidence, and open doors for you if you work for it. I can't wait to visit in the future! Aftwards, my dad took us to dinner at El Encino Hotel, above the Mission, it has lovely views over SB and was a really yummy celebration dinner.

However, the celebrations came to an abrupt end on our way home with the news of what had occurred in Isla Vista that night. After seeing numerous ambulances drive past my house, I felt heartbroken by the news of what had occurred just a few moments from my house. There are no words to describe how shocked, heartbroken, angry I have felt ever since. I cannot imagine the grief that the families and loved ones of the victims feel.
But, the Isla Vista community is incredibly close knit, regardless of whether you go to CC or UCSB, it is a friendly hub of students. It will heal and continually support one another in this time. Leaving the following morning in the wake of this, was incredibly surreal. It was not a news story for us, it was something terrible that had occurred in our home.There was an uncomfortable silence all around and the grey clouds seemed as if they were mourning too. The emotional goodbyes were said with even a little more heart, and I was on my way. I think now more than ever, it is extremely important to remember to love and appreciate our loved ones and life. Isla Vista and CC will always stay with me. If anyone needs any support , please refer to CC Pipeline email with support services and help listed.

The following two days were spent in Berkeley. I loved campus, the surrounding area and of course San Francisco. I toured an apartment complex, I may live at which is very modern and just a block from campus. Campus is beautiful, which you can see from the pictures. I can't wait to start in late August, i'm sure there will be challenges that await but i'm ready to have a great time at my dream school! I have just arrived back in England, luckily with so many errands in Berkeley, the highs and lows of graduation night, and four finals, I slept the entire plane ride. I don't think i've ever hugged my family so tight.
On a final note, I have enjoyed writing this for the past year, it has been a really adventure. I hope you all have a great summer, and if you are starting at CC, enjoy! Or continuing at CC, I will always be a little bit envious, but enjoy and best of luck for the future!
Helena x

Friday, May 9, 2014

Making the most!

As we tie up the end of the semester, I hope everyone is not feeling too fatigued, and can enjoy their time away from school as well.

Last weekend, I went to Red Rocks again, it is fast becoming my favorite place in SB. The next time it is hot here, I really encourage you to go. The water is so clean and cooling, it is like a little paradise. I always find it amazing how you can just drive up the freeway, and then you are in the mountains, and can find a spot like Red Rocks. I'm going to miss this place.

But, as the days go by I am excited for Graduation, finishing up here, but the more I look into going to Cal. I literally cannot wait. As i've mentioned before my goal is to work in Conflict Resolution for the government back in the UK, known as the Foreign Office, or the United Nations. Cal has one of the best programs in the world known as 'Peace and Conflict Resolution', this is what i'm going to minor in and I cannot wait. My friends would tell you, I can be quite nerdy. I will happily spend a few hours in the library researching a conflict, trying to know everything there is and then not shut up about it. My latest one is the girls being abducted in Nigeria. This heinous crime is at last catching the worlds attention, but it may take up to ten years to recapture the girls. It just shows how backwards places can be on women. The group whom have captured them 'Boko Haram' literally means Western Education is sinful. It sparked a memory of watching a TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who is now a world famous author from Nigeria, she speaks about the way girls are treated in Nigeria. I wondered what she would make of what was occurring. I am extremely pleased that the worlds attention is now on this. 5 Questions- a brief summary of what is going on

At last, I was so happy to visit the Getty Museum in LA. I've wanted to go for ages, and it was so relaxing. I guess it is beginning to get quite hard with the realization i'm leaving so sometimes it's nice to escape SB. I really love art, both modern and old, my parents are keen lovers as well, so they have always encouraged me to think and appreciate art. There was a huge Jackson Pollock hanging, which was great to see, but my favorite was all the old Italian exhibitions of paintings, and manuscripts from the Byzantine Empire. The items are literally priceless, and after that the Getty is situated looking over LA, which is so pretty. Afterwards we went to Pizzeria Mozza, which is a really authentic Italian placed run by one of the Mastcherchef judges Joe Basitanich, it was really yummy. Definitely a memorable day.

I have a few more tests and things due in before finals. Don't get too stressed at this point of the semester it's nearly over! Have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Stats on more Stats

Ambassadors 'working'
It's been a pretty busy few days so I haven't really had a chance to blog. I really enjoyed meeting with the other bloggers on Friday, to kind of celebrate the year of blogging and for me was a nice send off. I've really enjoyed blogging, actually it's been my favorite job i've ever had. I like writing, and this has made me really focus my writing on topics I wanted to, with the kind support of the marketing team. I felt like I learnt to balance time far better than I ever had before, and doing this never felt like a drag. It definitely encouraged me to do more on the weekends, and i've loved keeping my extended family in the loop. But, the best part is knowing that I can maybe help people in some way, if this makes your experience any easier than this makes me really happy. These blogs were a brilliant idea by the marketing department, and I hope they continue for years to come. I was really excited to learn that Berkeley have their own blogs set up, I would be actively looking to join their team if possible.

Pangea Feast!
Friday, also was my final ambassador meeting and my final meeting as Pangea President. We celebrated the end of Pangea for this semester with even more pizza. I loved being President of this club, watching its numbers grow and helping people create bonds with one another, have some fun and learn how to be an ambassador. The ambassadors have just one final lunch on Friday. This all feels really unreal for me. I remember being interviewed to become an ambassador not so long ago. On a personal note, everyone always says get involved in things. I personally have always been pretty reluctant to, partly because I can be very lazy. However, I wanted to meet international students, I wanted to develop my leadership skills, and I was aware when I transferred the more I had put in the greater my application would look. What I didn't expect from the ambassadors was for me to grow and really enjoy organizing events, leading a club, be able to speak to a group of people with confidence, and find a real support team of friends. So, whilst I cannot lie and say it isn't extremely hard work at times, to manage your commitments to the program, school, social life, relaxing etc. It is worth it, and I think it's important to say because there are the type of people who get involved in everything. I'm not one of them, but this has been such a worthy investment, and i'm truly sad that it is ending.

Story of my life!
Right now, I have a fair amount going on. I'm trying to tie things up in SB these next few weeks to make the move up to Berkeley a little less strenuous. I need to sort my visa for the next two years, the release of those documents, get a cap and gown, sell my full bed (any takers let me know!), pack and get rid of any junk (i'm a hoarder), say my goodbyes for now (absolutely dreading), find a place to live in Berkeley, which I hope i've done, accept my offer to go there, move up there, put my stuff in storage, visit the campus, fly home! Oh, and take finals, and a big Maths test tomorrow, which for maybe 7 hours for (this is a welcome break), but it will all get done and i'm excited. My mums even more excited about the prospect of me going, she found out that there are pet hugs to be had and a botanical garden (her favorite things)! Plus, she went there so i'm carrying on the family tradition. I want to blog some of my pictures from my visit to the Getty museum this past weekend and Red Rocks (again, it's amazing when it's so hot), so i'll be posting later this week.

Have a great week!

Not ready for goodbyes!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Red Rock

I was definitely feeling in a great mood over the weekend, actually I did not feel like it was real life at all. On Friday night it was my roommate Shannon's birthday, so we went downtown to dinner and tried out a place called 'The Brewhouse', it was quite homely food, which was pretty nice. And we got her a huge cake to have when we got home, always the best part! Actually the meal became a celebration also really, my other roommate has also been admitted to Berkeley for Spring, and two of my other friends there are off to UCSB in the Fall, happiness everywhere. Whether staying here or moving on, these next few weeks will be the last as we've known life for the past two years. Both sad and exciting really!

On Sunday, we headed up to the mountains to visit Red Rock, we've wanted to go for so long. Last time we went it was closed because of the past storm. This time although it was pretty windy it was open and the water was so pretty. It was really great to have our old roommate Dayna back visiting from New York. I definitely think she appreciated California 100 times more, after their horrid winter. She says she misses SB so much and is itching to come back and start her Radiography program at CC. This place is really great that once you get away from it, you just have to come back! I'm hoping we are going to go back up there on Saturday because the weather is going to be really hot, so we can actually swim. Beautiful place, and not a hike as I am so lazy, I was glad it was just a stroll away from the car. On the way back, unfortunately our car hydroplaned off the road, over some rocks and got stuck. We were all okay, if a little shaken up, but with our strength we managed to move the truck back onto the road. Pretty dramatic end to the peaceful day. Enjoy the song below if you need any cheering up or something to put on when you're lying in the sun!

This week I am trying to get the majority of my work done for the rest of the semester. I had a bit of a worry on Monday about moving to Berkeley. I really didn't want to worry about it at all, just celebrate the few years of hard work, but I was really brought down to earth by peoples questions. Then my Dad had a good talking to me, he made me realize that I have done the huge move from England to Santa Barbara, so moving to SF is really not a huge deal. It's still 12 hours from home, and 8 hours behind, and i'll still go home twice a year. Now i'm really not worried, i'm excited to make new friends, to be academically stretched, and to live in a city, it's just going to be absolutely amazing. Life is too short not to embrace success and just enjoy it for a bit!  I'm really going to ensure I get the best out of my last few weeks here, I am really sad that this is ending. It couldn't have been more brilliant, but when you get too comfortable it's time to go. I have one more paper due in for the semester, I want to finish some Maths this week and study for one final midterm before finals. This will ease up the weekends completely to have some fun:) Today, I realized how lucky I have been this semester, I spent most the day lounging in the sun in my front yard, relaxing and reading my book. What could be greater! Have a great rest of your week!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

I didn't think I could have anymore great news..

Firstly thank you everyone for your support about my last post, I really really appreciate everyone's kind words. Today I found out something I did not see happening in my wildest dreams. I had been accepted to UCLA and there was just one school remaining. I had completely ruled out ever, ever getting in, especially for Political Science, the most renowned major at this school. Then today, I checked my status and I have been accepted to UC Berkeley's Political Science program. I am speechless, as you saw in my last post I was ecstatic at being accepted to UCLA. Now, my mums former school, a school I thought would never,ever take me, that was so unreachable I was not sure I should even apply, but they have offered me a place for Fall 2014. Wow. I guess dreams do really come true, so now where to go? I never ever thought I would be in this position. I know people say, they thought they would not get in anywhere, but I really didn't. For now, I am just going to celebrate my admittance to UCSB, UCB, UCLA, UCSD and UCD!

Onto Coachella, that was an incredible weekend. If you can ever afford the $$$$$$ of dollars it costs to go, go! I hate camping, I am the biggest princess but I managed to survive, with only one minor breakdown! There was no mirror :( I forgot a mirror, and I realized I couldn't straighten my hair for 4 days! But it was worth it. My favorite people to see were Disclosure, Flume, Pharrell Williams because he brought on Jay-z, Lana Del Rey, Ellie Goulding, Rudimental, Calvin Harris, Foster the People and Lorde. Actually I could go on, but then i'd list everyone we saw. But i've been to festivals before, but Coachella is different, it has the most amazing art. The imagination and time that has gone into it is amazing. It was pretty nice to sit in the shade and just watch the lights change color, or the huge robot move around the polo field. It really adds something to the atmosphere, especially when it is so so hot. It was really bizarre how many international people there were, the majority were British so that was really nice! I definitely want to return next year, now I know I can handle the camping. A truly incredible weekend, and a really amazing period of my life at the moment. Even though I returned from Coachella, voiceless and exhausted,  I am on cloud nine! I can't believe there is less than a month left and so much has happened, so much that I didn't think could happen or would. I am going to need a few days for everything to sink in.

Tomorrow is the annual International Ambassador Soccer Tournament, there is meant to be a lot of teams playing so that will be exciting. I hope to attend for a few hours and part of my job will be handing out this survey. This is what the International Studies Association and Pangea Club have been working on for weeks, to look at the relationship of International students and domestic students. If you have a spare moment, please take it! Oh and below my favorite the British boys that are Disclosure, featuring Mary J Blige.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Huge Relief

Hi everyone,
Hope you are all having a good week.

I am a little worse for wear after the most incredible weekend of my life at Coachella. I will separately post about this when I have all the pictures together. But I just wanted to share some good news with you. Whilst at Coachella the UCLA decisions were released. I frantically ran to the charging station to get some life to my phone, and then tried to log into the UCLA website to find out my decision. After ten painstaking minutes, trying to find my ID number, I found out that I have been accepted to the Political Science Program at UCLA for Fall 2014. I can honestly say this is one of the happiest moments of my life. I was surrounded by two of my closest friends, and I let out tears of happiness and relief. I have wanted to attend a UC and really UCLA since I was 11. I don't think even for a moment I thought i'd actually get in, i'm full of self doubt, and i've had to check that i've got in about 20 times since Saturday. The last few weeks I decided that the only way to cope with the worry and the stress of not knowing, was just to convince myself that I hadn't been accepted so to save myself the downfall.   

Whilst these last two years have been extremely hard work to try and put myself into a position where I would be accepted, it has 100% been worth it. And I know my parents regularly read this and i've said it over Skype, but I would just like to say a huge thank you for their continued support, everything I am, is because of them and the fact they have given me the opportunity to even apply, I will very much always be grateful for. I don't think for people that knew me a few years ago that they or myself would ever think this was a feasible reality, but it's strange how things turn out.

 I do have one final school that I am waiting to hear back from, which is one of my top choices also, but for now I am just going to relish this moment! As my mum said, now I can have a decent nights sleep without waking up worrying! So now I enter my final few weeks of Santa Barbara living and of course this blog. I hope my final posts can give some long lasting advice and the emotional day of leaving is now fast approaching. Scary, but also exciting, I am excited for this new path, but I will be visiting SB a lot because I adore a lot of people here. Well, I will post later on this week when I have a little more energy, but for now have a great rest of your week! Enjoy the sunshine if you're in SB! And if you are still waiting to hear back from places good luck, everything always has a funny way of turning out!

Few tips for applying to your dream school:
1) Get involved- if they want to see leadership, if they want to see you are more than just grades, get involved in things to do with your major, or not but do something!
2) A's don't hurt, strive to achieve as higher grades that you can, even if you are not straight A's, keep working at it will pay off.
3) Choose a major you love, that you feel passionately about, it shows in your personal statement.
4) Research the school, what do they want, what are they looking for, are you right for them?
5) Acceptance or Rejection- know that if you put the hard work in that is the most important thing. But mostly BELIEVE in yourself, if I had some more of that over the last two years, I would have been a lot happier! Good Luck! Nothing is impossible!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Coachella Bound

On Thursday I am off to Coachella, with three of my closest friends here. I couldn't be more excited. For me, this will be one of our last adventures together, and this has really been dawning on me.

These last few days, I've felt really unwell, really tired, and drained. The pressure of not knowing where i'm going next year is whilst most the time really manageable, but sometimes its all you can think about. I think the pressure is building because i've come to the realization now, everywhere i've gotten in so far, is not really the right place for me. I go a lot on what I feel when i'm on campus, how does being there make me feel? I think this is a sure way of knowing whether you're in the right place. Even the first time I came to SBCC, about two days before the start of term, I was amazed. Two years on it's still unbeatable, and truth be told I only wish it was a four-year so I wouldn't have to move. Actually it is only one of three campus' that i've ever felt so at home in. It's not just beautiful, there is a really friendly and energizing vibe going on.

I thought about writing this week a little about my expectations vs reality of life here over the two years. I want my blog over these final few weeks to be left with lots of advice and help for any new students.

1) I definitely expected to feel more homesick. The reality: There have only been two occasions in two years I have felt truly homesick. Maybe it is different for everyone, but for me, I am really close with my family, I love my home, but it has not dragged me down when I have been here for the most part. I would say tricky times can sometimes be when you are really stressed, maybe the last few weeks of the semester, and when you return from Summer.

2) I'll become more American. The reality: Nope, not at all. In fact quite the opposite, I think you learn to embrace your culture much more being away from it. I am a lot more patriotic then I ever was back home. There are elements of American culture I much prefer, like their friendliness and their huge portion sizes, but for the most part I still feel 100% British. I think knowing you are different from everyone else, makes you want to hold onto that originality far more.

3) I can coast for two years (not do that much work, relax on the beach and socialize). Reality: I don't think i've ever worked harder in my entire life. Of course you can coast, you can do that anywhere in life, but don't expect to transfer anywhere good. The education here in my major has been brilliant, i've found it engaging and my thinking has improved no end. Yes, last semester was a really hard, long slog, but this semester has been way, way easier. So you can find the balance, and have 
some fun too.

Alrite, that's it for now, I shall continue after Coachella!