Being in the desert

This weekend some friends and me did a little road trip to the Joshua Tree National Park. We left LA early on Saturday to avoid traffic and to be able to make most of our day. It is amazing how vegetation is changing in California. You drive for 2 hours and have the feeling to be in a completely different country. Last weekend when we went to Big Bear I felt like being somewhere in Canada and this weekend I felt like being in the middle of a western movie. I really love that about California 🙂 I figured out that nature is amazing. Trees are growing in the middle of rocks, and flowers give color in the most monotonous vegetation. We spent the night in a motel in 29 Palms, after having a great day in the park.

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On Sunday we stopped by in Palm Springs, after driving through a sandstorm on our way there. Like the earthquakes we have here, this is my first sandstorm ever. Scary as you could not see anything but only hear the sand smashing against your car. I am glad we were inside of the car though! When we arrived in Palm Springs we had the most beautiful weather again. We ended our road trip with frozen yogurt, which was the perfect choice regarding the weather. All in all it was a really nice weekend, and I am looking forward to the next one 🙂

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100 days

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Before I came here I made a little countdown in my pocket diary to see how many days I have left and how many days I have already been in the States. This morning, when writing down some appointments I saw the number 100, meaning I have 100 more days left here in beautiful California. I can’t believe how time is running. On one hand I have the feeling I have been here in LA forever, as I already had the opportunity to see a lot and made some great new experiences, but then on the other hand there is so much more to see and to do. The list is endless. So it already feels like I am a little bit under pressure, because of course I want to make the most out of my time here. I guess I don’t have to worry though, by just looking back at all the post I wrote, I get a good summary of what I have been doing while being here. And when looking at my pocket diary and all the upcoming things I have planed, I can definitely say that I am using my time right. There has been no weekend so far, on which I didn’t at least go out one day and explored different parts of the city, and there are so many things planned still.

So talking about my time left here I in general thought about the value of time.  We can have an influence on basically everything we do, we are making hundreds of choices everyday, we can choose how we spend our day, what we spend our money on, what we will eat, but time ultimately is something we cannot change, 24 hours will always stay 24 hours, and that is what makes the value of time so special. Thinking about it we all plan our days by hours, depending on when we get up we make choices for breakfast, we make plans for the evening depending on when we will get off from work, we calculate the hours of sleep we have left deciding if we should watch another episode of our favorite tv show and so forth. And mostly everybody at least at some point has the feeling of being time-strapped. I read a good article about the price of time published by Forbes magazine. Not being able to change or extend the time we have we all should make the most of our time we have, and by this I not mean doing as most as you can on one day, but doing things you love and that make you happy. We all should stop wasting our time on things that we do not value, that do not bring us further in live. Just realize what time can mean:

To understand the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.
To understand the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
To understand the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To understand the value of ONE HOUR, ask lovers who are waiting to meet.
To understand the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the bus.
To understand the value of ONE SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident.
To understand the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a gold medal in the Olympics.

Time waits for nobody, so make the most out of it 🙂

 

Trying something new

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On Monday a couple of friends and me decided to try something new food wise. So we went to a Japanese barbecue. When I normally think about Japanese food sushi, rice and miso-soup pop into my mind, which I love. I seriously could have sushi every day 😀  So if sushi is that good, other Japanese food must be as well I thought. And I was proven to be right later 🙂 We went to a place called Gyu-Kaku in Beverly Hills. A friend, who has been there before, recommended it. It was really crowded and quite noisy as they had all-day happy hour going on, which was nice for us because it meant we could try more for less money 😉 It was a mixed crowd, mainly younger people though. I would definitely recommend making a reservation, as waiting times on Mondays can be 45 minutes depending on how big your group is.

So what is Japanese barbecue like? Basically there is a grill in the middle of the table. You order raw meat and fish, for example we ordered different versions of beef, duck, shrimps and scallops for all to share, but they have more on their menu. They have a great variety of vegetables as well, but we were more into meat that day 😉 The raw meat and fish is grilled by yourself, but they offer already prepared snacks as well, as garlic noodles, different versions of rice, crispy wasabi shrimps or spring rolls only to name a few. The food was really yummy and I really liked to be able to try a little bit of everything instead of having one dish, like it is if you go to other restaurants. What I liked as well is that it takes longer to eat, of course this is mainly due to the fact that you have to wait for the meat to be done, but this allows for more chatting in-between, and this is a big factor when going out with friends, at least for me. I would definitely recommend trying it by yourself if you have a Japanese barbecue place in your city. There might be even a  Gyu-Kaku one as they are present in different states. Or stop by at Gyu-Kaku in Beverly on your next trip to LA 😉

Later we figured that the area where the restaurant is located, is like a little barbecue area as there are a Vietnamese-, and a Brazilian-barbecue right around the corner. So next time we agreed it will be the Brazilian one, as I never had Brazilian food before. I am excited 🙂 And this is what is so great about LA, especially comparing it to Germany, you just have a million of options to go to and to try. I guess I could be going to a new place here every day during my internship and wouldn’t have tried half of the places here. But the best about all those places is the variety. I am definitely having on my to-do list to try out as many different cuisines as possible while I am here, hopefully without the result of gaining too much weight 😉

Where are the bears?

On Saturday me and a couple of friends decided to do a day-trip to Big Bear Lake. We left cloudy LA, just to be above the clouds 1 1/2 hours later as you can see on the following picture. I felt like being on a plane, as this is a view I am normally just exposed to being on an air plane.

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Big Bear normally is a ski resort, but when we arrived there was no snow anymore in the village, only some parts of the mountains around us where still covered with snow. We did a hike on the Cougar Trail, which was definitely worth doing as we had a beautiful view of the lake and the mountains surrounding us. Unfortunately it was a pretty busy day, so I guess all the bears were scared away by all the people.  But we saw a coyote, which was roaming around the streets close to the houses.

The village has some cute shops, restaurants and a delicious ice cream place as we figured out. All in all it is a nice place, where you can definitely spend a weekend, just enjoying the beautiful nature around you.

 

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Getting closer

Yesterday I finally had time to check out my new camera lens, which I got on Sunday. Previously I have been using the standard kit lens (18-55mm), which came with my camera. It is a nice lens and absolutely sufficient for getting started when buying your first dslr camera and I was always pleased with the pictures I took. Especially because of the wide angel you can achieve, which is great for some nature pictures. But especially since being in California I wanted a lens with a greater focal length, with which I could zoom in a little more and get closer to objects. So I ordered a Canon 55-250mm telephoto zoom lens. I figured this would be a good adaption to my standard lens and I got a really good deal on it. I have to say that at the moment I don’t have the resources to spend a lot of money as I am on a budget here in California, but the value of the dollar compared to the Euro really works to my advantage, so I figured when expanding your camera equipment I should do it here in the States.  I was really excited the entire week after opening the package, but I simply didn’t have enough time to go somewhere to take pictures. The weather was really nice yesterday throughout the day, and since I simply love the beach, I decided to again take some pictures of the sunset. First because it would let me compare the lens better to my other one, because I have been taking pictures of a sunset several times and second no sunset is the same here. Each one is beautiful and my mood improves instantly the second I step onto the sand. I still can’t quite believe how lucky I am to be able to go to the beach whenever I want! This is a privilege, which I will miss the most when going back to Germany and of course the good weather, as this makes the perfect combination.

So here are some outcomes, which turned out pretty good in my opinion 🙂 For example the birds, of which I would have never been able to take a closer shoot without such a lens, as they keep running away if you get close, just as they run from the water every time a wave approaches 😉

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Tomorrow I am going to Big Bear Lake with a couple of friends, so hopefully I will be able to capture some nice shots there. I am excited for the weekend 🙂

International Dinner

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So some of my friends and me decided we will do an international food dinner, which we had yesterday. Meaning everybody brings a typical dish from their country of origin. As we are a group being from different countries around the world, this is quite interesting. I was wondering about what I should bring for a while, because I think it is quite hard to say what is typically German. Especially if you have to bring something that is supposed to be like finger food, not an entire meal.  “Rolladen, potatoes, Bratwurst and Sauerkraut” is something that comes directly into my mind, but first of all these are things, which I am not a big fan of (except for potatoes, I could eat them every day in all varieties 😉 )  and secondly you serve an entire meal with it. So I was thinking why not making a cake, the cake I used to bake with my grandmother since I was really young a hundred of times, called “Kaesesahne Torte“. The hard thing is that we use to bake it with something called quark, which is not common in the States. I was doing research online and I finally found a post saying you can buy it here at Wholefoods. I was really excited when I found the product in the store. So I was even more disappointed when I started making the cake, realizing this is normal creme cheese spread but not what I wanted. Oh well, since I had bought all the other ingredients I though why not try to make the best out of it, and make a cream-cheese-mandarin cake. I have to admit, baking is an adventure here 😀 I don’t know who had the stupid idea of measuring everything in cups and ounces instead of just using a scale and doing it in grams, so much easier! As I didn’t have a mixer or blender I had to do everything by hand, I can still feel my arm hurting 😀  The base of the cake turned out to be really hard, not fluffy like it is supposed to be. All in all it was a completely different cake, but to my luck nobody could compare it to the original recipe and everybody said it was yummy. Besides my cake we had stuffed chicken (American), lasagna (American), mashes potatoes with beef and carrots (Belgian) and french crepes for dessert. Everything was really yummy 🙂 I couldn’t move after eating all of this but it is a great way to try new things. Definitely a must do again 🙂

Reach for the unknown

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

Yesterday for some reason I was thinking about what brought me here, what made me decide to come to Los Angeles to do an internship instead of going the easy way and staying home in Germany. I came to the conclusion it is curiosity, curiosity for the unknown. If I think about the last couple of years I always was searching for something new. I was constantly exploring. Starting from my high school year in Virginia in 2008, going backpacking in Thailand, getting my scuba diving license, making the decision to study in the Netherlands, going parachuting, attending a surf camp in Portugal, to my move to Los Angeles, my upcoming 4 week road trip around the west coast of the States as well as my study abroad in Scotland starting in September of this year. These are just a couple of things I did, but I was and am constantly opening new doors and try to do new things. Why? Because it makes me happy! I want to explore the world, meet new people and experience different cultures. I want to try as many new things as possible, because you never know how much fun some things can be until you try.

So many people ask me how I am able to afford all what I have done at my age. They are telling me they want to do the same thing but don’t have the resources to do it. For me there is always a way to do it, I rather say you can’t get something from nothing. I have been working since I was 16, constantly saving money. I am glad that I have a family supporting me with my study, but all my trips and so forth I have mainly financed by myself. You just have to set priorities in your life. And trying new things does not necessarily mean spending a lot of money, it can be small things like attending a new sports club, trying out a restaurant with an unknown cuisine, attending a cultural event in your hometown, or doing a weekend trip.

For me curiosity does not only mean to discover new paths but it means growing personally. Because every new experience we make shapes us somehow and makes the person who we are. If we are not curious and stay in our ‘safe haven’, we are stuck. And yes, staying in my safe haven can be great sometime or just the thing I need in certain times, but then my curiosity calls for attention, and there I go again looking forward to a unknown place or new activity 🙂

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

Walt Disney

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/waltdisney132637.html#GmjbJt7wifJvDhdb.99

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

Walt Disney

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/waltdisney132637.html#GmjbJt7wifJvDhdb.99

Getting Up Close

Photography is such a fun thing to do and to learn about. It not only allows me to capture beautiful moments that I can share with my family and friends who unfortunately cannot be here, but also encourages me to be creative. Being a photographer, even though only doing it as a hobby, makes you wander around the streets differently. I walk around trying to figure out what could be a good angle for a photograph and try to look for little things that are hidden, not the most obvious ones. It makes yourself being more aware about what is around you! Two weeks ago I attended a photography class, where we learned the basics of photography, but also got some explanations about lenses and filters to use. As I like to go outside sometimes and take some pictures of things I can find in my neighborhood, like flowers, I though it would be a good idea to try some close up lenses/filters. This is the cheap way to go, if you can’t afford spending a lot of money on a macro lens, or just want to try some shots first. Close up filters allow your lens to focus more closely to the subject than it otherwise would without the filter. This is a great way to capture details. So my amazon order arrived last Friday and sure I had to go out and try out my newly bough equipment. Here are some results. I have to say I am pleased with my outcomes for making use of the equipment the first time and definitely not being an expert 🙂

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Weekend résumé

This weekend the temperature climbed up and reached the 90’s on Sunday (over 30 degrees Celsius). Can’t believe it, it is only March and we get temperatures we only reach a couple of times in July and August in Germany at all. So of course this meant spending as much time outside as possible to enjoy this beautiful weather 🙂

On Friday night I was invited to a farewell get together. One of the interns at my company is moving to Boston, so we all had to say goodbye. I guess this is the part that sucks the most about spending time abroad. You make new friends knowing that sooner or later you have to say goodbye not knowing if or when you might see each other again. In this case if was sooner than expected. But this is something you just have to take into account when being abroad. I mean it definitely is a plus getting to know so many people from different countries of the world! I just hope one day I will be able to see everybody again, I guess I just have to make a trip around the world 😉

On Saturday I went to the Getty museum with one of my friends, attending an internations event again. It was a guided tour, talking about the architecture of the place, which was really interesting. We had lunch before and enjoyed the beautiful view and the weather. Of course I got a little sunburn on my shoulders, because there simply was no shade during the entire tour. I enjoyed a coffee in Beverly afterwards and then was invited to have real Italian self-made pizza. It was good, better than the typical American one you get at restaurants here. The day ended with some live music in a bar.

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On Sunday I went to Malibu with my roommate. We wanted to do a hike at the beach, but the tight was so high that we couldn’t go all the way. The other hiking place we went to, was so crowded that we couldn’t find any parking spot. Not even a mile away! This reminded me that we are in LA again, crazy traffic -.- I guess everybody had the idea to go hiking since it was such a nice day. So we decided it wasn’t meant to be for us to go on a hike that day, so we went to Lake Shrine directly. This is a recreational area, where some of the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi are kept. It is a nice place to relax and to get away, even though being in LA. Afterwards we went to a Thai restaurant, called Cholada Thai Cuisine, in Malibu and I have to say this was probable the best Thai food I had since having been in Thailand in 2011. Definitely will go there again! When we got home I relaxed at the pool for a couple of hours, but I guess all the neighbors with kids decided to invite their friends with even more kids…so it was really noisy and you get splashed even though it wasn’t on purpose. Oh well at least I have a pool to use here 😉

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So all in all I had a great but packed weekend. Can’t believe I am here for more than 6 weeks now. Time is flying so I guess I have to continue like this, just making the most out of the time I have here 🙂

Weekend Review

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So this weekend we had the perfect Californian weather. My weekend started with some Mexican food on Friday night with my roommate and ended with a walk around the neighborhood to get rid of some calories 😉

On Saturday morning I had enrolled myself for a free photography class at the Bel Air Camera Superstore. We learned about the basics of photography like shutter, aperture and flash but also got some information on different lenses and filters. Even though the information were basics I learned a lot of new things and got a better understanding of some things that I knew before, but which weren’t really clear for me. The Bel Air Camera Superstore itself, is a pretty big store, offering a great variety of products. The class was hold next to the developing room, in the basement of the store, meaning we could see some amazingly beautiful pictures displayed at the walls making your way downstairs. I will definitely come back to have a closer look at all the stuff they offer and to get some information on different lenses. As the weather was perfect I was invited to have lunch in Malibu and to try a traditional Italian gelato place. We had to wait half an hour in line until we finally had our ice cream but both the lunch and gelato were good, so it was worth the waiting. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to go to the beach as we were stuck in traffic on our way there as well as going back. I guess for some reason everybody had the idea to go there, as the weather was simply perfect. So I was dropped off at Venice Pier to meet my roommate there to have a walk at the beach and to enjoy the sunset. And of course I wanted to apply what I had learned in the photography class early 🙂 I ended my day with a pina colada raspberry smoothie at a pizza place with my roommate and a piece of see’s candy. She had some delicious looking pasta, but I was so filled up from the gelato and lunch that I have to try their food another time 😉

On Sunday I was invited to have lunch at the King’s Road Cafe in Beverly Hills. Unfortunately we couldn’t sit outside because my companion had a really bad sunburn in his face from skiing the other day. But the lunch was really good, so definitely a place I would recommend 🙂 After lunch I decided to relax at the pool for about 1 1/2 hours before meeting with a friend at The Urth Caffe in Santa Monica. Because of the LA marathon which had just ended parking was a pain in the ass but oh well I know already that traffic in general is one of the few things that suck about LA.

All in all I had a nice weekend with a little too much food and a little too less exercise, but I will work on that by going to run at the beach after work today 😉