24 hours, 3 flights and a fair few Heineken’s later, and I’ve made it to Long Beach, California. Though any anticipatory excitement that had been building inside me during the long journey was severely numbed by the elongated wait at customs – a truly nerve-wrecking experience. It definitely didn’t help that the airline left my luggage in Paris, so I did what any irate Brit would do in my situation…and complained in a reserved and overly polite manner. (Air France, the dirty swines, eventually managed to get my bag delivered to me at 11.30pm the following night). I guess that’ll teach me to not fly directly next time.
After finally making it out of LAX courtesy of a pre-booked airport shuttle taxi, I was quickly exposed to the typical welcoming attitude of the US people. After twenty minutes of chatting to an older couple sharing the taxi with me, I had already been invited round for dinner if I was ever ‘in the neighbourhood’. On that note, the first thing that struck me as we entered Long Beach was the stereotypically American appearance of the streets and neighbourhoods. Apparently it’s not just on TV shows that US flags fly outside houses and white picket fences do actually encase the gardens here.
After a few minutes of blindly searching for my apartment on 7th street again allowed me to experience the general amicable nature of Americans (or perhaps just Californians?) as several people were more than glad to try to help me find 4470 East. The only problem came in finally realising that 4470 East doesn’t actually exist and that I lived at 4700…
Me and two other students from Leicester were lucky enough to sort out an apartment with an American girl who had spent a semester at UoL whilst we were freshers. Having an American flatmate has proven to be an absolute godsend in every way imaginable, from showing us round the CSULB campus (following a less than adequate Uni-organised tour), to buying us beers since we’re not of legal age yet over here. Thus, whilst there have been several hurdles to overcome already, they are certainly easier to cope with when you wake up every morning in an exciting new country, especially when it looks like this.