Welcome to California, STEP 3

Greetings from Local Leader, Ashley

Hello, my name is Ashley Falke. This is my first year as a group leader for Edu-Culture International. I am so excited to spend the summer with your students from Spain! We have been off to a really great start. I’ll be updating this blog with photos and news about our adventures in San Francisco.

I took my first big trip abroad when I was 19 and spent the entire summer studying the Italian language and culture in Sienna, Italy. After graduating from University of California Santa Barbara with a degree in Psychology, I traveled over the course of a year to New Zealand, Australia and Southeast Asia.

I moved to the bay area 3 years ago for a School Psychology graduate program. I could not be more excited to participate in this immersion program, which will enable me to learn more about Spanish culture while also showing the students our culture here in America.

Bookmark this Blog!

I truly hope you will bookmark this blog so that host families and parents can interact with the blog by leaving comments and even interacting with visiting students. Every time you visit the blog, you will see the newest entries first.

– Ashley Falke, Local Leader, STEP 3 2012

Studying abroad with STEP 2

Greetings from Local Leader, Sarah

Hola! I’m Sarah Pederson and I am your US Trip Leader on the STEP 2 Burlingame trip this summer. You have made a great choice on your trip and in choosing STEP/ECI. This is the 10th trip I will be leading with STEP/ECI. I hold a Spanish degree from Pepperdine University. During my time at Pepperdine, I had the chance to live in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Madrid, Spain. While abroad, I fell in love with the Spanish language and its literature, so much so that I became a Spanish teacher. I have been teaching high school Spanish for 8 years. I currently teach at Alhambra High School in Martinez, California.

Activities abroad in California

The students spend some quality time with the Burlingame Police. The students got an intimate tour of the station. They got to see inside the jail (luckily, with no prisoners today), the 911 call center, the cop cars and got to ask the officers questions. 

We are known for our cable cars. The students had time to see San Francisco’s Chinatown, Union Square, the fortune cookie factory and the cable car museum. 

We also went to Berkeley and got a tour of the university and spent some time on the famous Telegraph Avenue.

– Sarah Pederson, Local Leader, STEP 2 2012

STEP 1 students in California

Meeting local police, dance class, and playing baseball

Our first morning together in California took us to the Danville Police Department.  The officers gave us a full tour of the station, including a turn in the back seat of the police car.

On our second morning in California, we climbed on board a commuter train in sunny Walnut Creek, and got off in a typical, beautiful San Francisco foggy day.  We hiked to a neighborhood dance studio where we were challenged to a high energy hip-hop dance class.  We each dropped our hats a few times.  

Learning baseball abroad

Many of the American host families joined us for a morning of baseball. After some batting practice and running the bases, we played a game together.  Here is Eukene at bat.  You can see the ball in the air in front of her. Next week when we go to see the Oakland A’s play the Texas Rangers, we’ll have a much better appreciation of the game.

Exploring San Francisco

The famous song about San Francisco, sung by Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, inspired a series of sculptures in the city.  Here are a few of the girls posing in front of the Union Square sculpture. I think many of them are falling in love with San Francisco already! One of our walks through San Francisco brought us to Chinatown, the largest in the world (outside of China of course.) Here, Itziar, Maitane and Nerea welcome us to the Grant Street Gate. Walking deeper into Chinatown, we visited a fortune cookie bakery. We watched as the cookies were made, and enjoyed a fresh sample.

Visiting the Cable Car Museum

We’ve seen the cable cars gliding up the streets, and heard the famous clanging of the bells. Here we visited the Cable Car Museum to learn how the system works. We watched the huge wheels move the cables under the streets of San Francisco, pulling the cable cars up the steep hills.

Waterpark Excitement!

One way to escape the heat of California is to enjoy a cold, wet amusement park ride. Here the girls recover from a good splash. If you look really close, you can see the boys enjoying an exciting raft ride at the Great America amusement park. Having survived their exciting raft ride, the boys celebrate their successful trip down the slide.

– Gerry Wiener, Local Leader, STEP 1 2012

Study Abroad in California Videos

Our Austrian students loved their time with their host families

ECI student talks about his experience abroad

Study abroad student Felix shares what it has been like living with a host family in San Francisco.

Traveling with friends and living with a host family makes studying abroad special even for students who have visited America in the past.

Study abroad students enjoying a tour of San Francisco

See the beautiful scenery the Bay Area has to offer if you study abroad with ECI in California.

Dramatic hills, the famous Cable Cars, Union Square shopping district, Lombard St, Alcatraz Prison, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Learn about the ECI Host Family experience

Host parents share their experience hosting a high school study abroad student from Austria.

Hosting a student from Europe is a fun way for American families to learn about a different way of life, while sharing what makes your hometown special.

Austrian study abroad students’ Farewell party

The visiting students perform for their host families at their farewell party.

Performance includes the Austrian national anthem, a piano recital, saying goodbye to host families, and demonstrating a traditional waltz.

American student shares her ECI hosting experience

Ashley found it very easy to communicate and get along with her Austrian host student.

Visiting Felix this summer in Vienna is an added bonus of hosting a student.

Farewell to our Austrian students

Visiting UC Berkeley and saying goodbye to San Francisco

It seemed to go by so quickly. It was great having the Austrians here for those short 2 weeks. The last couple of days with them were great. We had the farewell performance on Sunday and the day in Berkeley on Monday before they returned to the airport.

The students had fun at the farewell party. I know many of them were nervous to be on stage and speaking in English the entire time, but they did great. I hope all of the host families enjoyed the show. I hope every ones’ sweet tooth was satisfied that night!

Visiting the UC Berkeley campus

For the last day, we loaded all of their luggage onto the truck and took off on the long haul over to Berkeley. We had a quick tour around the campus where we learned about the freedom of speech rallies at University of California – Berkeley, saw some actual dinosaur bones, and checked out views of San Francisco from the hill. I don’t think the students were as impressed with the Berkeley campus as they were with Stanford, but enjoyed the day. They then explored and did some last minute shopping in Berkeley.

I asked several of them what their favorite part of the trip was and here’s what they said: their host families, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, learning and playing Baseball, hot dogs and hamburgers, shopping, Fisherman’s Wharf, their tour leader and one student said everything! They were excited to get home, but sad to leave. I hope everyone keeps in touch. I know I had fun!

Along with the group photos are a few pictures from the Roberts’ host family and their student Ina. They had a great time hosting, and took her on a special trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Auf Wiedersehen,
– Marya

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.