I am writing from a living room in Long Beach, in the Los Angeles County. I am sitting on the carpet (of course), with my laptop on my lap. If I look outside there is that warm almost boring sun that never leaves the Californian sky.
I was given the opportunity by Ca’ Foscari University to spend a semester of my Master Program in Linguistics at CSULB. (California State University Long Beach, USA).
It seems like just yesterday that I said goodbye to my friends, family, to Venice and my kids at Inglese Dinamico. Several times I found myself counting the days I have been here and pinch myself to make sure this isn't just a dream.
Although I have previously lived in the States during my last exchange experience, it was on the other coast, in Atlanta. But every state is different, and has its own virtues and vices. The air I breathe is even different here. It has a heady scent that is strangely intoxicating and even if I could escape it, I refuse to. In this country of opportunities I feel like I can do whatever I want (in fact,-make a movie and – make a record are on my bucket list).
When I first got to Long Beach, things were easy. I adjusted to this life almost immediately. We bought a Money Tree for our apartment because as my mum says: it is not a home without a plant, we started going to the gym and eating super- healthy.
The first week at CSULB was Orientation Week. They want to make sure you understand how an American University works, they give precious tips regarding On Campus jobs, bank accounts and cell-phones. Everyone was very nice, but they make quite clear that you are in the country because they let you, and with just one word you can be sent home. In fact, with the kind of Visa that I have, I have to be enrolled in, at least 12 units, and have a good GPA. ‘Orientation’ is also meeting a lot of international students from all over the world: smart people, always ready to have some fun.
My classes started a week after I got here. This year, I decided to concentrate on Linguistics. I am taking Psycholinguistics and Language Acquisition. They are very demanding courses which are organized in a seminar style. The course expectations include: open-discussions in which you interact with your peers and there is a lot of reading! The professors give assignments every day and expect punctuality, participation and initiative from each student. They do not slow down because ''you are from another country'’. Most of the time, they do not even know that my first language is not English. These two subjects are really important for the work we are doing at Inglese Dinamico in order for me to better understand how the mind works in relation to language. It will help gain perspective (in addition to the Chomsky)on first language acquisition, and improve my knowledge on second language acquisition processes and techniques.
In addition to these two, I am taking the second level of American Sign Language, and Children’s Literature. These two classes will help me in gaining confidence with some issues that we are examining and resolving with our little preschool students at Inglese Dinamico.
Last but not least, I am in the 49er choir at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, a well-known university choir that will perform on and off campus throughout the semester.
And now, the fun part: weekends!
Weekends are a big deal here, after a whole week of studying, eating healthy and working out, I can finally sleep in, party and relax. We have the fortune to have two Asian- American roommates. They are great. They take us out to eat the best food, and I am not just talking about burgers, but Chinese dim sum, sushi, Korean and Vietnamese food.
I hiked, cut my hair, drove to Los Angeles, had a BBQ, went to the beach, lost my wallet, had house-parties, applied for a California ID, swam in our pool, burned in the hot tub, celebrated the Lunar New Year, and much more.
Everyday I try to catch that special moment, do things, or just hold on to a feeling I wish will never go away.
Here, you can be different, you can be whatever you want. You can be… almost famous.