From the moment I arrived at Humboldt State University I know I was going to love my time on exchange. So much so, that I started the process of extending my exchange period on day 2.
Before my first semester at Humboldt came to a close I decided that I wanted to make my second semester a new experience in itself. I loved my first semester, but I knew a lot of things were going to be different this time around; firstly a lot of the friends I made (not all) were also exchange students, and they would all be travelling around the US or be back in Australia. Secondly I had applied for a position as Co-Director of an amazing student run/live in demonstration house for the use of appropriate technology and sustainable practices (CCAT). If I got the position I would be one of the 3 students living in the house in a work/trade position, co-directing this NGO, who’s aim it is to teach, experiment and involve both students and people from the surrounding communities in how to reduce our impact on the earths resources through the use of appropriate technology. And thirdly, I wasn’t new here anymore, coming back from winter break would feel like coming back to what feels like home while being away from “home”.
Winter break was a whirlwind of travelling around mostly California, but there was also a little side trip out to Vegas for Christmas.
The road trip was spent with two sisters I had met over the Thanksgiving break, who kindly gave myself and a friend a car share ride back from Chico; we had got on so well, that we decided a 10 day road trip would be awesome! The road trip started in Arcata where we bought supplies and headed south to San Francisco and Berkeley for a crazy sweater party, this was great, but short lived as the following morning we would be heading further south to Santa Cruz for the next couple of nights. Santa Cruz is a beautiful spot with amazing beaches, cliffs overlooking the water and some really nice breweries and coffee shops. We spent time running along the cliff tops and along the beaches, drinking great coffee and beer and enjoying the view from the house we were staying in (Ashley and Calyn’s friends place).
Sunset in Santa Cruz
Next it was on to Vegas…
From Sam & Tom Hotel room in Vegas
Vegas was interesting… not in the kindest way. I’m glad I went, so I know have an understanding of exactly what a wasteful, consumerist wonderland it really is. There were some great times spent with Sam Herbert, another exchange student from CSU, whom I met out here at HSU. We went to a Cirque Du Sole show (The Michael Jackson ONE) which was phenomenal! Definitely the highlight, and we spent the next day (Xmas) lounging by the pool and the evening strolling along the strip. The next morning the two sisters, Ashley and Calyn would be picking me up and getting me away from the bright lights and horrific display of what no one can call reality.
On to Red Rock and Joshua Tree…
The outskirts of Vegas… the beautiful Red Rock Canyon
The 3 of us spent some time with their family on the outskirts of Vegas and the beautiful rocky outcrops known as Red Rock Canyon. Here we explored, bouldered and celebrated a belated Christmas with their family. It was nice getting an American Christmas experience, good food and great people.
Joshua Tree was our destination for New Years Eve, and here we would be meeting up with some other friends I had met during my time over here, who were camping and climbing at a spot called Hidden Valley in the Joshua Tree National Park; a climbers paradise. It was an amazing place that’s for sure! It almost felt like we were in Bed Rock, the home of the Flintstones, and a friendly dinosaur would peer out from behind one of the huge boulders at any moment.
Hidden Valley was a great place, we met all the campers around us, went climbing everyday and spent the evenings sharing Whisky and stories around the camp fire. Every day leading up to NYE we received more campers, friends of friends coming to join us to camp, climb and celebrate the start of another year with us. The celebration was hidden away out in the desert, where a huge fire pit had been set up and people gathered to share in dancing, fire twirling and being merry.
Driving Vegas to Joshua Tree
Another stop on the way to Joshua Tree
Out of the desert for a quick shower
After New Year, the campsite slowly emptied, but the true climbing community remained. Ashley and Calyn had to head north to go back to work, so we said our good byes and I headed into LA with Omar, another friend from Humboldt who invited me to see go and see LA, where we would stay with his sister, and Vista San Diego where we would stay with his parents.
LA was short but sweet. It’s so much nicer travelling with locals, rather than being a “tourist”. We hiked up around the mountains surrounding the big city, cooked BBQ’s for dinner in Omar’s sisters backyard, and met up with some of Omar’s friends from school.
We caught the train south to Oceanside, San Diego and came into town as the sun was setting; a magical view out of the train window. Omar’s parents were so accommodating, and would cook amazing food for us all to share. Some of our days were spent harvesting fruit from Omar’s parents amazing garden, and make spreads, sauces and other delicious treats. Other days we went exploring the sights San Diego has to offer, and there were some great sights that for sure.
A week went by and it was time for me to make my way north, back to Arcata to settle into my new place, and role as CCAT Co-Director. I said my thank yous and goodbyes, and made the 24 hour venture by train and buses back to Arcata.
It was nice to have a week to settle into my new place and get my head around the role I would be taking on. CCAT (Campus Center for Appropriate Technology) is an amazing part of the HSU campus, and has been running since 1978. Each year 3 students are chosen to run this organization where they manage 15 employees, implement new projects, run classes and workshops and put on big events for the campus and greater community. I was so excited to be a part of this organization, and it just so happened that one of the past Co-Directors had taken on too much in terms of their school load, so a 1 semester position had arisen.
I was super excited for this experience and challenge, as trying to balance CCAT, school work, Ultimate Frisbee and trying to travel around the area during the limited free time I had would definitely be a challenge!
My first month of semester 2 has taken of with a bang! Already it’s speeding along at a rate which makes me feel like it will be over before It even began!
My classes are great, CCAT is amazing, and I am still loving every minute.
Follow @ccathsu on instagram to see what we get up to around the grounds…