Archives for March 2011

Tahoe Travels & Yosemite Adventure

Students explore the Bay Area and beyond

Tahoe travels

David and host parents traveled to the Lake Tahoe area this weekend for some fun in the snow. Located just 4 hours from here, we can usually count on snow there when there is rain here. David and Ethan, his host brother, were thinking they would be snowed in and have to miss school today; however, the host family made their way home for a very slow and careful drive home on Sunday, arriving quite late. I hope they are not sleeping during class today! Several families, including ours, are planning to go up next weekend.

Yosemite adventure

Nino and his host family traveled to Yosemite park to enjoy beautiful scenery – Yosemite is one of the best National Parks in the U.S. Visitors can camp or stay in lodges inside the park; camping during this season is for the very hardy. Luckily, Nino and his host family slept indoors, although Nino enjoyed making Snow Angels and participating in a new sport called “Snow Diving.”

By the Bay

I spoke with a few students and teachers who had visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium over the weekend – a fantastic place to see seals, otters, sea lions, and other marine life, as well as to learn about the unique ecosystems of the Northern California coast. The Aquarium was funded by a large grant from the Lucille Packard Foundation, wife of the founder of Hewlett Packard (computer maker with HQ in Palo Alto). A very generous woman, Lucile also started a children’s hospital here where children come from around the world for treatment.

In Class Now

As I write this blog, your children are in class with our children at the High School. Our children were so excited to bring them – I have had several requests to add an additional day so they can spend more time with their new “sister or brother”; however, I think the visiting students would prefer to keep it to just the two days, something about sitting in class for 8 hours is just not as exciting as going on adventures around San Francisco.

Open campuses

They were welcomed at each school before the first class and found their way to at least their first period class before the rain started again. We have open campuses here, which means they walk from building to building between classes, not inside. Normally this is wonderful as the weather is quite mild; however, today they may have been sprinkled upon during some of the class breaks. The sun is now out; however, so hopefully the rest of the day will offer some drying off time. Many students have after school activities – it is the season for lacrosse, swimming, track & field, tennis, girls’ softball, and boys’ baseball, all sports are offered at high school after school. We also have students in our group who are dancers, debaters, boy scouts, etc. and their guests will often accompany them, or they can go home and rest.

Big day tomorrow

We’ll be up early for a trip to Alcatraz, the famous former prison on a rock. Keeping with the rock theme, we’ll enjoy lunch at Hard Rock Cafe. Sun is expected tomorrow – fingers crossed!

– Jennifer Devine, Local Leader

Return to the U.S. this summer with ECI!

Want more opportunities to improve your English and explore California? Then enroll in one of our summer immersion programs for European students. You’ll find all the details on the Edu-Culture International, Europe website.

Visiting Stanford & San Francisco

Austrian students enjoy their first week in California

Well, the beautiful California weather is not showing itself to our guests from Austria. Luckily we did not have any rain on Wednesday when we toured Stanford, and Thursday was beautiful walking around in San Francisco.

Stanford visit

We started out in down town Palo Alto, and got a great tour of the Police station. Our guide was a lot of fun and the Austrian students got to sit in a police car, turn the lights on, and have their picture taken on a police motor cycle. The policeman also gave the students some tips on how to stay safe in San Francisco. We then went into Stanford University, and saw the Memorial Quad, the Church, and the Museum. We ended the day with some free time at the Stanford shopping center to eat lunch and do a bit of shopping.

Seeing San Francisco

Everyone was thrilled to be going to San Francisco on Thursday. Thanks to all the American host parents, we were at the station on time for our train. We filled up the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) car, as you can see in the photo. We enjoyed Yerba Buena Gardens, especially the Martin Luther King Memorial. Next the students gathered for the official orientation, under our first blue skies of the week, and then we went on to see the city.

Chinatown and Cable Car Museum

We discussed the history of San Francisco briefly while we gathered in Union Square. We happened to be there on St. Patrick’s day, ask your student if they saw the Irish Dancers. So many people were wearing silly green hats and necklaces! Then we went up into china town, the largest in the U.S. It truly is like stepping into another country. We saw fortune cookies being made! The cable car museum was 2 short blocks from China town, so we went to see the machinery that keep the cables running under the streets of San Francisco. You can see the gears behind the students in the photo.

Rainy Friday bus tour

Friday we had a bus tour of San Francisco. Unfortunately the rain started early in the morning and continued throughout the day. We walked around in the Japanese Tea Garden, and stopped for photos at the Pacific Ocean and on the Golden Gate Bridge. However the rain and wind were strong enough that we decided we should not walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. We looked at Haight Ashbury, and drove past the original Mission San Francisco and Mission Dolores.

The upcoming week

I am hoping that the clouds will go away now so that our students will be able to see some better weather. According to the weather predictions, Tuesday should have variable clouds with a shower, and Wednesday cloudy but only a chance of rain. These are the two days we will be in San Francisco. Monday the students will be attending a local high school with the host families’ son or daughter.

Thanks for reading this. I will write again soon!

Return to the U.S. this summer with ECI!

Want more opportunities to improve your English and explore California? Then enroll in one of our summer immersion programs for European students. You’ll find all the details on the Edu-Culture International, Europe website.

Saturday Fun at the Bowling Alley

Austrian students enjoy their first weekend in California

Due to rain, rain, and more rain on Saturday, host families looked for fun things to do inside, or escaped the bay area. Those who chose to travel to Tahoe are enjoying tons of powdery snow…28 inches fell on Saturday alone. This winter has been a record for snowfall in the Lake Tahoe area, the most since 1984. Other families were visiting Yosemite, Monterey Bay, and other locations. For those who stayed local, movies, bowling, laser tag, and going to the theater were other popular choices. Oh yes, and shopping too!

Sunny Sunday

Sunday was a better day for us weather-wise. We woke to sunshine, although brief, but in the late afternoon the sun came back again. The weather on the beach was even better: at noon at Half Moon Bay the sun came out for nearly an hour. Our family enjoyed showing Emmanuel the “killer waves” and eating at a local Chowder House. Later in the day back in Palo Alto we hopped on our bikes for a tour around town, touring the gardens of the Proctor and Gamble founder, Elizabeth Gamble (now a city park), drove by the homes of notable locals such as Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, and Steve Young, football player, before returning home for some college basketball watching and dinner.

Plans for Tomorrow: Attending School

Monday is the first shadowing day where the students attend high school with our students. The teachers will also be joining the students. The group is nearly evenly split between Palo Alto’s two High Schools, Gunn High and Palo Alto Senior High, located just a few miles apart. Both high schools are known for great academic programs and high college acceptance rates. The teachers will also attend class at both schools. Friday is the final shadowing day for the students.

Return to the U.S. this summer with ECI!

Want more opportunities to improve your English and explore California? Then enroll in one of our summer immersion programs for European students. You’ll find all the details on the Edu-Culture International, Europe website.

Farewell to Klasse 6C

Saying goodbye to our Austrian friends

Hello all! Saturday I sent your students off on their trip home. I am writing this on the train home from the airport. Everything went smoothly at the airport and I waited until they all cleared the security check.

We had a tearful goodbye with all of the host families in Livermore, full of hugs and many promises to stay in touch via facebook and skype. Host parents talked amongst themselves, musing “it’s amazing how quickly they become part of the family” and “we are already making plans to go and visit Austria.”

While your students were sad to leave America, I know it is their host families that they will miss the most. The bonds created and friendships that grew during the time they were here will flourish for a long time. I am still in touch with my host families that I lived with in France six years ago, almost seven.

Please know that it was an absolute pleasure guiding your children around San Francisco these last 2 weeks. We had a wonderful time together, and I was sad to see them go. Thank you for sharing Klasse 6C with me!!

Warmest regards,

Return to the U.S. this summer with ECI!

Want more opportunities to improve your English and explore California? Then enroll in one of our summer immersion programs for European students. You’ll find all the details on the Edu-Culture International, Europe website.

Education Everywhere

At high school, university, in nature, & on the baseball diamond

Hello all! I am sorry for the delay in this post. We have been so busy that I have hardly had time to sleep! What a fun week we have had here in California. Your students experienced some amazing days.

Monday – Shadowing at Granada

Monday your students had the chance to experience American High School, by shadowing their host brothers or sisters. They saw firsthand the major way that American high school differs from school in Austria – Students spend their day changing classrooms, while teachers spend all day in one room, and the students come to them.

Some impressions of the day:
“It’s strange that they go to every class every day” – Stefan
“It was cool, and easy” – Lucas
“Good behavior [of the American students] overall” – Prof. Horvath

Tuesday – Cal Berkeley

Tuesday students had another American education experience. We had a wonderful visit to the University of California at Berkeley. We were treated to a tour of the campus – we saw the Natural Sciences building, which has a Dinosaur skeleton! From there, we went to Haas Pavilion, where the Cal Bears Basketball team plays. We were able to look inside the beautiful reference library – it has been featured in movies.

After the library, we had the opportunity to attend a class! There were three different options – An astrology class about the planets, a history class about Tokyo, and an American Studies class about culture in the US. For those in the group that went to the Astrology class, we were treated to the chimes of the UC Campanile, ringing out the noon hour. Student had the afternoon to explore Telegraph Avenue – a fun street near the University.

Wednesday – Muir woods and Golden Gate Bridge

Wednesday we had the incredible chance to go to Muir Woods – an old-growth Redwood forest north of San Francisco. The entire California coast used to be covered with these trees, but the gold rush and development of California in the 1850s destroyed much due to logging. The Muir Woods area is the only National Monument of its kind near San Francisco.

When we arrived, the sun was peeking out through big fluffy clouds. We walked to the ranger station, where we were greeted by Ranger Tim, who would be our guide. He walked us along the path beneath trees that have existed longer than the USA has been a country. He spoke about how Muir Woods came to be a protected monument, and the thousands of visitors that come every year. We finished our tour in the Cathedral Grove, a group of trees that are around 800-1000 years old.

That afternoon, we finished our visit with a walk along the Golden Gate Bridge. We were treated to lovely blue skies, dotted with fluffy white clouds. While it was a bit chilly, it was not cold. Students had the opportunity to walk the bridge, take photos and to marvel at the majesty of the bridge itself. At 2.74km long and 67m above the Pacific Ocean, it is something incredible! After exploring the area, 6C met with 6A and 6B for photos with the incredible bridge in the background.

Thursday – Baseball Game and Farewell Party

Our last day together as a group. (Friday your students were back at school). We spent the morning rehearsing the grand spectacle for the evening’s Farewell Party – a chance for your students to put on a show as a “thank you” to their wonderful host families. They worked hard on two dances, a traditional Waltz and a hip-hop routine that some of the girls learned at school.

We had lunch at the High School, with some of your students spending more time with their host brothers and sisters. The sun was out and we all took a little sun!

After lunch, we headed off to the softball field at Granada High School, where your students learner about American’s Favorite Pastime, Baseball! With the help of Aleks’ host father, Mr. Klingmann, we played many innings together. Although baseball can be a complex game, your students caught on quickly and were able to grasp the basics. It was such a fun afternoon. Some of your students even hit Homeruns!

Thursday evening we met as a group once more, this time for the Farewell Party. Your students came with their host families, and we all had cookies, cake and drinks while everyone chatted and the students prepared for their show. It was an amazing show. Even more than the waltz and hip-hop, there was singing (Rock Me Amadeus and SpongeBob), a slideshow and thank yous from the students. The host families were entertained and pleased – and also a bit sad, because this was goodbye! Your students only have 2 more days with their host families.

Today your students are at school again, shadowing their host sisters and brothers in their classes. Tomorrow we will meet again to go to the airport, and they will begin their journey home.

Return to the U.S. this summer with ECI!

Want more opportunities to improve your English and explore California? Then enroll in one of our summer immersion programs for European students. You’ll find all the details on the Edu-Culture International, Europe website.