Goodbye San Diego

Time goes by so incredibly fast. I can’t believe that’s it’s already been four months. I guess it’s like people say – time flies when you’re having fun. And fun it definitely has been! But what about all the fun I haven’t had the time to have yet? There are still some things I wish I had gotten around to doing – like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park. On the other hand I have done so many other things. And at some point the days started to look alike – they always tend to do that don’t they. The feeling of being on vacation went away once in a while and even though I was in San Diego, it felt like everyday life. Looking back I can’t help but wishing I had appreciated every single moment more than I did. Now that my time here is almost up I can’t help but wonder if I really enjoyed every single moment the way I should have. Did I pause for a second once in a while just to appreciate how happy I was in that exact moment? Some times… but not as often as I could have (and maybe should have). Time truly does fly (I know, I sound like and old lady now, maybe that’s what this whole adventure has made me… it has definitely aged my liver remarkably). In a couple of weeks I’ll be back in Denmark. With no palm trees. No Pacific Ocean 50 meters from my doorstep. No surfboard under my arm. And missing all those awesome people that I got to know and care so much about while living here. So did I truly appreciate what I had these past months? I guess I could have been more present in the moment sometimes. I really want to get better at doing that. But then again I wasn’t on vacation for four months. I was living my life for four months. And life isn’t just a long vacation. It has ups and downs – just like this adventure has had. Life doesn’t stop just because you go to San Diego. Your life is where you’re at. Then it’s up to you to make the best of it. To deal with the lows when they hit you. To remember to pause once in a while and appreciate the wonderful moments. To allow yourself to just be in the moment. And when it comes down to it San Diego is a pretty awesome place to do that.

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The thing about San Diego…

…is that the world doesn’t revolve around it. For the past few months I have been blogging about San Diego and her surroundings – which of course seems appropriate for a blog called “sandiegoandme.” But San Diego isn’t the centre of the universe. It’s part of a bigger world. In several of my blog posts I have talked about many material goods that we have been enjoying here in SD – fancy cars, new clothes and the likes. But recently I watched the following video, which had a really beg imprint on me. Watch it, think about it and try to incorporate the way of thinking in your lifestyle. I admit I’m sure that I will continue to enjoy the occasional shopping day, but the video has definitely made me think more thoroughly about what I buy and whether or not it’s something that I truly need (or a a want that would be unhealthy to ignore). Watch this preview it and see how it affects you… if you wanna know more see the entire video here.

A blonde, a brunette, and a redhead walk into a bar…

…or to be fair they might have stumbled. As I informed you of you last week one of my very best friends the amazing M is visiting me these days. More specifically she arrived last Friday and is flying back to Denmark on Monday. One of M’s other best friends H is also studying here in San Diego at SDSU – I met her through M back in Denmark and we have also become really good friends over here. Lucky for M we travelled to the same place and she got to visit two of her best friends! Naturally H and I agreed to share her – civil as we are (fighting for her undivided attention would simply have been way to exhausting). Since M didn’t arrive until pretty late un friday we didn’t go out then.. but I’ll tell you that we more than made up for it on Saturday! One of the Danish guys K had a birthday party… that started at 3pm in the afternoon! He had arranged for both beach volleyball and crochet (both games converted into drinking games of course) as well as the classic (and here in PB also mandatory) drinking game flip-a-cup. In case you’re not familiar with the flip-a-cup game it goes a little something like this video (these are not friends of mine, but a random video from YouTube). They guy on the left demonstrates the perfect flip-a-cup performance:

Needless to say we didn’t go home in a completely sober state that afternoon… I was especially surprised to find out how challenging a game of beer-crochet could be! But come nightfall we were ready to celebrate K in the famous PB party manner!

During the week H and I arranged a lot of other stuff to show M San Diego at its best. We had some fabulous brunches at some of the very best breakfast places like The Olive Cafe, The Eggery and The Green Flash (which is right on the board walk). Of course we had to go to Sea World  (THE most famous place in all of San Diego!). It’s a good idea to arrive there early to get a chance to see all of their amazing shows (I ❤ Shamu!). But  I do have to warn you about one thing.. the shows have these very touching Disney-like soundtracks which are very likely to make you cry! Just so you know… Not that I did… a lot.

Of course we also did all the mandatory things like the Point Loma viewpoint, surfing, shopping, Sushi Monday at Surfside Sushi, Taco Tuesday, Thursday night happy hour (the $1 bar) at Beachcomber and driving around in the gold convertible! Now the thing is that M happens to be a redhead. She has very bright beautiful red hair, which always gets a lot of attention. H happens to be a (natural!) blonde with bright, golden, very pretty Scandinavian hair. And I happen to be a brunette. We all happen to have very long hair. I can tell you that when you combine all three of us we are a “A blonde, a brunette, and a redhead-joke” just waiting to happen. People do notice. But being the Scandinavian version of Charlie’s Angels isn’t all bad. It’s also kinda fun! And now we are going to LA for the weekend and staying in Venice Beach! Hopefully the famous board walk there can handle a few more weirdos… And tonight we get to be part of the audience at the shooting of the brand new TBS show called Men at Work, which I’m sure will be a big hit show (it is SO incredibly funny!!!). I just can’t wait…

The thing about presents…

…is that they need to be special! As I might have mention a few times in previous blog posts we tend to celebrate quite a lot of birthdays here in PB… What I haven’t mentioned before are all the presents that come with these birthdays – they do tend to add up. But we’ve managed to figure out an appropriate price level. With a fixed price level it can be a challenge to find something really nice though. But if you get together a few people its actually possible to raise a decent enough amount of money to get the birthday boy/girl something they really want! The past weekend we had yet another birthday. It was for the lovely A – such a cool girl!!! She deserved nothing but the best of course! Her biggest wish was the Miss Dior Cherie perfume, so a big bunch of us got together and made it happen!

To get the gift I went to Fashion Valley – as you might be able to guess this a shopping mall. Compared to other American shopping malls it might be quite normal, but compared to the malls I’m used to in Denmark it is quite big! It is beautifully structured so that you can walk outdoors from shop to shop (with 200 of them to choose between!). They have quite a good selection of the brands that you either can’t get back in Denmark (like Victoria’s Secret), that are far cheaper to buy here in the US (like MAC cosmetics) or that you know from TV and therefore just HAVE to see (like Tiffany’s!!). In addition Fashion Valley have some of the big department stores that you also hear about on TV – like Bloomingdales (whom Rachel works for in Friends!) or Macy’s (who BTW carry my all time favourite brand Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply!). The place has a great selection of brands and stores, and yet I managed to only buy the gift for A and not a whole bunch of stuff for myself that I didn’t need (go me!). Now, before I went here I was told that EVERYTHING is cheaper in the US compared to Denmark – well that is not completely true… but some things are though! Especially if you go to an outlet! I can definitely recommend the Las Americas Premium Outlets right by the Mexican border (on the US side!). Here I’ve made several great bargains! Just to mention a couple I got Converse All Star shoes for a fragment of the usual price as well as Tommy Hilfiger clothes at insane prices! Love that place!

Anyway, I got the perfume for A, who was absolutely thrilled and overwhelmed. The party was incredibly awesome and everybody had a great time (lot’s of singing along to boy band songs and lots of weird but fun conversation!). I couldn’t help but wonder why we don’t have more private parties at home. We used to, back when we were too young to get into clubs and bars, but not so much anymore. Here we have them ALL THE TIME and they are so much more fun (and so much cheaper!) than going out to bars and clubs! I think I will make it my mission to carry on the PB tradition and throw more private parties when I get back home. Speaking of home, one of my very best friends M is coming to visit me for a week and she is arriving tonight! SO EXITING! I promise to tell you all about our adventures next week…

Taco Tuesday FTW!

So after having my sister visit me for the past 2 weeks I haven’t been doing any drinking… This week I’ve started to make up for that and I’m confident this upcoming weekend will more than accomplish it! This Tuesday a big bunch of us Danes (we are a strange species that always travels in large groups!) decided to go to PB Bar & Grill to celebrate the mere fact that it was Tuesday and the taco’s were cheap. After living here for a few months this has sort of become the regular spot – party because it’s pretty much the only place where we can find a table big enough for all of us and party because the food here is better than most places. Compared to some of the other places that celebrate Taco Tuesday, PB Bar & Grill is a mellow place with a laid back atmosphere – despite the fact that the margaritas are only $3! And boy are they good margaritas! The very best one is the frozen banana-strawberry version which is not on the menu any longer, but they still serve it at requests. If you plan to get a little tipsy (or very tipsy) it’s a good idea to try out all the different flavours of frozen margaritas that they have, that will definitely get your buzz going! (of course I have never accomplished that myself, the weak drinker that I am…) Anyhow, the part of the party that wasn’t ready to go home after dinner continued the night at Typhoon Saloon a bit further up Garnet. This place is probably one of the more famous Taco Tuesday venues… It. Is. HUGE! And the amount of people filling up the space is accordingly big. Every Tuesday there is the same never-ending line in front of Typhoon. But you shouldn’t let that scare you, the line moves very fast. Once you’ve stood in line and paid the $5 entrance fee you get to experience the regular meat market that Typhoon is. In case you’re not familiar with the expression “meat market,” it refers to the type of bar/club/venue where everyone seems to be there for the sole purpose of getting attention from and checking out the opposite sex. Under such circumstances people have a tendency to look at you as if you are a piece of meat – hence the expression “meat market.” Typhoon is a classic example of such a place. It’s not all bad though. They do have VERY good music! And it is possible to dance practically anywhere there, since it is so crowded that no spontaneous dancer will ever feel exposed. As well as PB Bar & Grill, Typhoon also offer cheap margaritas on Tuesday nights. You get a HUGE glass that ways approximately a little less than a ton, which will cost you $5. There is a way to avoid the giant glasses AND save money though (promise you wont tell anyone). If you go up the few stairs to the small bar at the left of the dance floor, you will be able to get $3 margaritas in lightweight plastic glasses – and I promise you the amount of drink in the glass is exactly the same as the $5 ones! Just to sum up, Typhoon is a fun place to go if you want to be where the rest of Pacific Beach seem to spend every Tuesday night and want to have a fun night of dancing and drinks. I can tell you that that night when we were all dancing in a circle and Big Sean – Dance (A$$) Remix ft. Nicki Minaj came on people just went crazy! It felt pretty awesome.

Spring break woop woop!

So back in Denmark spring break is called “Easter Holiday.” It has a different ring to it doesn’t it… when I think of Easter Holiday activities such as “blowing eggs” (not as dirty as it sounds… it’s a Scandinavian tradition where you make two tiny tiny holes in a raw egg and then blow out the stuff in the middle and paint the shell with water paint), making hot cocoa, hunting for easter eggs in the forest in Sweden and decorating branches full of small new green buds with easter eggs come to mind. When I think of “Spring break” other activities come to mind. In Europe the concept of spring break has become quite famous from various teenage/high school/college films and TV shows. The concept now has quite a reputation. I would like to say now that I was only drunk once during my spring break. And I wasn’t even that drunk that time. As I informed you last week my sister was visiting me during spring break. She happens to be 20 years of age which as you might know s not a legal drinking age in America. To a girl of Danish origin, who has been allowed to drink legally since the age of 16 that tends to be kinda frustrating. Anyway we had to find alternate sources of amusement and entertainment. And I betcha we did! She just left yesterday (and I already miss her SO much!!!). What is it about sisters that is so awesome? First of all they are destined by blood to love you unconditionally (and who doesn’t want unconditional love…). Secondly they know about all your otherwise extremely well hidden and very unlikeable character traits and they still like you. Up until the beginning of 2009 when I was 19 years old and my sister was 17 where I went on a round the world trip for 6 months, my sister and I had never been apart for more than 2 weeks at a time. During our childhood we travelled a lot with our parents in connection with sailing events around the world (my dad’s an umpire). Naturally we’ve always been very close. It was so great to have her here during spring break! Who would have guessed that there were so many wonderful non-alcohol related things to do in San Diego! We had a spa day at the Catamaran Spa in Pacific Beach – if you book any appointment you’ll have access to their facilities (gym, hot tub, pool) from 8 am to 9 pm! We also went to LA / Hollywood for a few days to visit family and experience the city of angels (very disappointingly we did not see any celebrities). Back in San Diego we spent a day at the San Diego Zoo, spent another day in Old Town (where they have the most amazing salt water taffy!), hung out on the Pacific Beach Boardwalk, went to La Jolla to watch both seals and sea lions play in the waves, visited Coronado Beach with the golden sand (literally!) where shirtless navy seals were running forth and back (lucky us!). We also drove to Point Loma to experience the absolutely incredible view of San Diego and the North Pacific Ocean (it’s totally worth the $5), had a barbecue party with some of the other Danes, tried the Pinkberry frozen yoghurt in Fashion Valley (big highlight!) and went a bit crazy shopping at the Las Americas Premium Outlets near the Mexican border. All in all a very fun, laugh-provoking, great tasting and joyful spring break. I love my sister!

The problem with what you want is…

…that it’s not always the same as what you need. This week I watched the film Confessions of a Shopaholic. In this movie the main character is given a mantra to help her stop over-shopping… every time she is about to buy something she has to ask herself “do I really need this?” This got me thinking about the difference between needs and wants. What happens if you don’t have a want fulfilled versus not having a need fulfilled? I guess the consequences to not having a need fulfilled are more serious than if you choose to ignore a want. We definitely have basic psychological needs that are literal requirements for human survival. If these requirements are not met, the human body simply cannot continue to function. Air, water, and food are metabolic requirements for survival in all animals, including humans. Clothing and shelter provide necessary protection from the elements. The intensity of the human sexual instinct is shaped more by sexual competition than maintaining a birth rate adequate to survival of the species. So if our basic needs aren’t fulfilled there are serious consequences. According to Abraham Maslow  we in addition have safety needs, needs for love and belonging, needs for esteem and needs for self-actualization – listed in order of importance and size (apparently we need security of our health more than we need sexual intimacy…). To be truly happy all these needs have to be fulfilled. But where do our wants come in then? Fulfilling all of our basic needs seems pretty time consuming to me. Of course, sometimes our wants happen to be the same as our needs. Sometimes we do need that bowl of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food to keep our blood sugar stable (shh, yes we do!). But sometimes we want something just because it’s there and not because it fulfils some subconscious need (except for chocolate, I believe, that fulfils the basic need for… well, chocolate). So isn’t what we want just as important as what we need? I guess fulfilling our needs is what makes us human – and like everybody else. And fulfilling our wants is what makes us us. I think it’s healthy to sometimes think about what we really want – not just what we need – and let ourselves have what we want. As long as it doesn’t turn us into screaming, kicking, crazy shopaholics! Yesterday my sister arrived here in San Diego. I can’t figure out if having her here is fulfilling a need or a want. I think I did really need to see her (family being a basic need and all…), but luckily I also really wanted to!

The thing about surprises…

…Is that they are only a good thing when they have a positive message. This past week has just been full of surprises… And they all been the good kind! Last weekend we actually had a good ol’ fashioned surprise party! (Now, I know we have a LOT of birthday parties all the time, but birthdays just keep coming up, so what to do?) It was for our friend and room-mate T. It was his birthday on Wednesday this week so we decided to throw him a surprise-party last Saturday! He had no clue whatsoever… I’ve never thrown a surprise-party before, but I’m telling you it’s such an awesome concept. I’ve rarely seen anyone that overwhelmed. TOTALLY worth the trouble of throwing the party. We were no less than 30 Danes waiting for him when he got home. The second he turned on the light we all yelled SURPRISE (like it is often done at surprise parties…) really loud. If it had been his 70th birthday he probably would have had a heart attack. So I would like to emphasize that this is probably not a good way to celebrate you grandfathers next big birthday! But T seemed very touched though and all of our guest had a great time partying aaaall night looooong. So big success.

Last week we had two midterms. And the other surprise this week were my grades from these midterms… I got an A- on one and a B+ on the other one! Right after both exams I a had a feeling that they hadn’t gone too well. I knew I could have studied more diligently… But SURPRISE! I passed! We (my room-mates and I that is) don’t even need to get good grades while we’re here, since we only get credit for passing the courses transferred onto our Danish transcript. This fact makes it a bit easier not to stress too much about exams over here. These exams were the second ones I have done in both courses, so by now I have a pretty good idea of how much effort I need to put into studying to be able to get a reasonably respectable grade. And luckily that effort doesn’t require me downsizing time spent on surfing, sailing, tanning, partying and just having fun in general. Life. Is. GOOD…

Surfing USA

So I’ve taken up surfing. The sport seems to be mandatory here in California, so I figured it’d give it a shot. And of course the title “surfer chick” doesn’t sound to bad either! So a while ago now I tried it. K’s sister’s boyfriend’s sister’s boyfriend (yes that is not a grammatical mistake) is from here in San Diego (and lucky for us a surf instructor!) and he gave us a 3 hour surf lesson (connections are the best!). It. Was. AWESOME! I absolutely loved it. I’d done it twice before during my round-the-world trip in 2009 – once in Australia and once in South Africa. Even though that felt like so long ago, I guess it was like riding a bike. Not to brag (I just can’t help it cause I was so proud!), but I stopped counting how many times I’d gotten up on the board when I passed 7 (that was my Australian record…) So the first time felt like quite the success. I had to get a board. K’s sister’s boyfriend’s sister’s boyfriend told us that the best place to buy the foam surfboards (the beginner ones, we don’t want to flatter ourselves) is at Cosco. It’s this giant mega superstore that apparently has EVERYTHING – including a $100.000 diamond necklace!! You have to be a member though (again, it’s all about the connections!) – but luckily my family and I have a friend here in San Diego that was nice enough to take us there. So K and I got surfboards. Unfortunately the weather turned bad right after, and then it was a full moon (which apparently means the waves act weird? something to do with the tide I guess..)

Anyway it took me a few weeks to get an opportunity to use the board, but eventually I did. And lately I’ve been getting out whenever I feel I have the time. Some days are not so good. The waves might be acting weird or I just simply might have a day where I’m not doing my best. And them some days are crazy fun! This week I decided to go out in the water by myself because none of the others had time. The first thing I saw when I got down to the beach was perfect even waves. They were rolling in in predictable intervals and they weren’t too big. My kinda waves! I paddled out and when I had almost gotten to where the other people were catching waves I saw a dark shadow in the wave in front of me. My heart skipped a beat as my first thought was “SHARK!”, but then a beautiful looking dolphin jumped out of the wave, turning and playing. It was such a moving sight and I was instantly filled with certainty that this would be a very good day. And it was. I got up about 9 out of 10 times (success!). I hope I’ll get more of these days, cause in that moment, just a few minutes after seeing a dolphin up close, when I was standing up on the board riding a wave almost all the way to the beach, I felt pretty damn happy.

VEGAS BABY!

I know… it’s not a very original title. But then again going on a girls trip to Vegas isn’t very original either. But anyway, that’s what we did! Nine of us Danish girls living here in San Diego decided to go to Las Vegas last weekend. And it. Was. Awesome! Now, you know how people say that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? I’m going to try to respect that as well as I can. But what I WILL do is tell you about some of the less secret stuff we did! We drove off towards the desert as soon as we were done with classes for the day on Thursday. This means the trip through the desert was like driving inside the mind of Marylin Mason – it was pitch black. Even the desert has hills so whenever we were on top of a hill all we could see was this very long red and white shiny snake twisting through the blackness. It was kind of beautiful in a way and also sort of exciting because we knew that at the end of that snake was the City of Light waiting for us. Trying to stay awake we spent the entire trip gossiping and screaming along to classic party songs from our distant youth. When arriving in the city we decided to take the top of our (very fabulous) gold Sebring and I can say without a hint of irony that we definitely arrived in Las Vegas with style (and a LOT of expectations!). We stayed at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel, which was the third resort to open on the Strip (oh yeah, we were kickin’ it old school), and is the home of a family of LIVE flamingos! So, since we only had three nights to go out we decided that Thursday shouldn’t be wasted at the hotel rooms – even if the beds did have white leather headboards and the bathroom lights were pink. So we went out. We had hardly gotten more than three steps out of the hotel before we were stopped by a very eager club promoter offering us drinks and free admission to the nightclubs he were promoting. We exchanged contact details with him (you never know turn down free stuff, right?)  but made sure not to promise anything. We had a plan and that plan was Studio 54, the club at MGM Grand hotel. We never made it to Studio 54. About half way there we got a better offer. $20 for open bar all night. So that was Thursday….

Friday we had brunch at this wonderful French restaurant just across from the Bellagio Fountain called Mon Ami Gabi. I can definitely recommend this place – not too expensive (considering the location) and the food was really good! We spent the day looking at theme hotels like The Venetian which (surprise surprise) has an Italian theme with indoor canals like in Venice. Her ewe were head-hunted to attend the Friday night “Dirty South” themed party at TAO nightclub. So that’s where we went Friday night. Now the ONLY way to transport yourself to a club in Vegas is of course by limo, so we had to do that. I gotta admit sitting in a limo with eight HOT looking girlfriends on our way to one of the hottest nightclubs in Vegas, where we were going to get free admission, get in front of the line, our own table and open bar felt pretty damn fabulous.

Saturday we were pretty exhausted (apparently our bodies are no longer 18 even though our minds seem to be…) So we decided to spend the first part of the day by the pool. The problem was the pool was closed. Filled with rage and a strong feeling of injustice we went to complain at the reception. Our rage was very quickly turned into excitement though, when we were informed by the nice lady that since the Flamingo pool was under construction we would have permission to use the pool at Ceasar’s Palace (aka. Heaven on Earth!!!) After tanning and going to more hotels we tried the famous buffet at the Bellagio – pretty expensive, but SO worth it! I’ve rarely seen such a great selection of seafood! After eating our hearts out (and then some dessert), we spent the rest of the evening/night at the Bellagio nightclub called The Bank. Sunday was all about the last sights before heading back to San Diego in the afternoon. Driving through the desert while the sun was setting I felt like I’d been in Vegas for both 2 weeks and 2 hours at the same time. I’d seen and experienced so much and yet it felt like I’d just arrived that same day. Time can be weird that way…

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