Monday, September 28, 2009

Halloween in San Diego: 10 Recommendations for International Students


San Diego is the best Halloween city in the United States. The perfect October weather allows everyone to celebrate both indoors and outdoors while our friends in Northern California and on the East Coast are already starting to freeze.

I've been teaching for years in San Diego, living in San Diego even longer, and celebrating Halloween even longer than that. Over this time I've learned some valuable lessons about how to make sure that your Halloween is safe and mega-fun. Here's a list of those lessons that you can use this Halloween:

1. Wear a costume. Really.

Dressing up in a funny costume may seem embarrassing at first, but I have surveyed hundreds of students in my time as a teacher. Students who wear costumes have a lot of fun and they tell all their friends back home about all of the Halloween good times they experienced. Students who don't wear costumes frequently regret it after Halloween is over. Believe me. Costumes don't have to cost a lot of money and don't have to be complicated. There are a lot of options that are not embarrassing at all, but are still a lot of fun. For example, a baseball player could be a great costume that's not embarrassing, not complicated, not expensive, and totally comfortable. Here's a good little list of costume shops and Halloween stores in San Diego.

2. Decide early which events you'd like to visit.

Don't wait until Halloween weekend to make your plan. There are many, many events happening around town. One of my biggest regrets of Halloweens past is having to argue with my friends on Halloween night about which event will be better. It's much smarter to decide a few days before the weekend. Here are a few famous events that are happening around San Diego this Halloween:

Through October - The Haunted Trail, The Haunted Hotel & The Scream Zone

Oct. 30th - 80s Heat: The Nightmare Before Halloween (Solana Beach)

Oct. 30th - 4th & B's Heaven & Hell bash with DJ Benny Benassi (Downtown)

Oct. 31st - Monster Bash (Downtown)

Oct. 31st - Halloween @ The Prado (Balboa Park)

Oct. 31st - Bar West Vampire Ball (Pacific Beach)

3. House parties are good, but sanctioned events are safer and are still a lot of fun.

Organized events around town have security staff and are properly planned so that they can accommodate large numbers of people. If you go to a house party, be prepared for long bathroom lines and the possibility of the police arriving and telling everyone to leave. Most organized events are pretty centrally located, too. This means that they're easy to reach by public transit, and taxis are easier to find afterward.

4. Organize your transportation plans early.

Make sure you have a designated driver or a bus/trolley/taxi plan. Do not drink and drive (ever!). There are so many people walking around town, and so many police. Don't take your chances. It's too easy to hurt yourself, your friends, or even strangers if you decide to drink and drive. There are plenty of safe ways to get around on Halloween if you plan just a little bit.

5. Keep a few taxi service telephone numbers in your phone.

Taxi companies are very busy over Halloween weekend. Frequently it will take more than an hour to arrange for a pick-up. If you have three or four numbers saved in your phone, you'll be able to get home easily.

Here are some taxi company phone numbers that you can program into your phone now:

Orange Cab - (619) 223-5555
USA Cab - (619) 231-1144
Yellow Cab - (619) 444-4444
San Diego Cab - (619) 226-8294

6. Don't wear costumes with masks.

Do you like to eat? Do you like to drink? Do you like to talk? Do you like to see? Do you like to breathe? Imagine how difficult all of these things are when you have a mask covering your face. It's especially sad when the mask really completes the costume, but the person has to keep the mask pulled up over the top of their head most of the time so that they can breathe. You may find some excellent-looking masks at the Halloween store, but believe'll regret choosing them.

7. Don't choose a costume that has big fake props.

Most people spend their Halloween walking, dancing, giving high-fives and sometimes holding beverages. All of these things are a lot harder to do when you have to carry around a fake knife, a rubber chicken, a fruit basket, or some big, heavy part of your costume. Here is one good example of a costume that is not very smart. And can you imagine walking around with all this stuff all night? Forget it.

8. Wear costumes with wigs, makeup, funny hats, pockets, etc. instead.

All of these things make your Halloween much more fun and manageable than if you wear a bad costume with a mask or fake weapons and toys that you have to carry around all weekend (#s 6 and 7 above). A purse or a backpack is always a great idea for you or one of your friends to have as well. This way you can keep your wallet, your ID, your credit or debit cards, your camera and your cell phone secure. Can you imagine trying to carry all of those things around while wearing this tiny costume? Be prepared for event security guards to search your purse or backpack, though.

9. Bring a camera, of course!

You are definitely going to want to take pictures of the events you'll attend, the costumes you'll see, the people you'll meet, and the hilarious things you and your friends will do. Want to see some pictures of regular people having tons of fun on Halloween? Check out this public album on the Facebook fan page for Halloween.

10. Carve pumpkins!

If you have the chance to carve pumpkins, do it! You'll have a lot of fun. Pumpkins can be bought at your local Vons, Ralphs or Albertsons any time in the month of October. Connect English will have a pumpkin carving event/contest later this month, so keep your eyes open. You will never forget it!

Do you have more advice for San Diego international students this Halloween? Please write a comment below. With your recommendations, we can make sure that even more people have as much fun on Halloween as I have had in my life. Wow, I'm getting excited!

Pass this information along to your friends. It's the goal of Connect English for all international students to have a fun, memorable and safe Halloween in San Diego.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall events at Connect English. Want to participate?

Are you looking for opportunities to meet new people and have fun in San Diego? Sign up for Connect English events. Here's a list of some of the events coming up this fall. Let us know which ones you would like to participate in.

Tuesday, October 6th at 7:30pm: Root Beer Floats at Connect English

The weather will be nice and hot in San Diego for a long time, so bring your friends and meet the Connect English staff and students for a few of these famously refreshing American treats. It's not beer, it's root beer (no alcohol)! This mix of ice cream and soda is so delicious.

Saturday, October 17th at 9:00am: Kayaking on Mission Bay

The Mission Bay Sports Center will provide the kayaks. Our students provide the energy to have fun on the water. Spend the day paddling around Mission Bay, San Diego's premier water recreation area. We'll also stop to enjoy a picnic on Ski Beach. Don't worry- you'll stay dry all day!

Thursday, October 29th at noon: The Connect English Halloween Party!!!!!

Wear your costume and enjoy the best celebration of the year right here at Connect English. There will be food, team games, contests, prizes and a lot more. Get dressed up and bring your friends to be on your team. You can win big!

Want some advice on how to have a fun, exciting and safe Halloween in San Diego? Check out our Halloween blog post (coming soon!). These recommendations from Connect English will help you enjoy this great American event.

Tuesday, November 9th at 10:00am: Balboa Park Museums

Spend the morning learning new vocabulary and incredible facts at the Museum of San Diego history, the Museum of Photographic Arts, or the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center (or all three). After the museums, we'll take a walk around Balboa Park, one of San Diego's most beautiful recreation and relaxation areas.

Thursday, November 19th at 10:00am: Learn American Football

The Connect English American-football fanatic, Nick Sacco, teaches all of the students about the best sport in the world, American football. He'll help you understand what is happening on TV by introducing and describing the players, the strategies and the configuration of the game itself. This is your chance to learn about what all of your American friends have been talking about for the past few months. Are you ready for some football?!?!

Wednesday, December 2nd at 8:00pm: Chinese Dinner at Szechuan Mandarin
(on Mission Gorge Rd., right by Connect English)

Hang out for some conversation with your friends from Connect English and eat some of the highest-rated Chinese food in town. The place doesn't cost much at all, but the meals are huge and delicious. We have tried it a few times and loved it!

Sound like fun? We would love to have you along. Students and friends of Connect English are all welcome to participate. Please contact Connect English if you'd like more information or you would like to get involved in the fun!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Javier Peña Accepted to Musicians Institute

The summer is almost over, but that's not bad news for Javier Peña. His dreams will continue this fall as he begins his first semester of classes at Musicians Institute in Los Angeles. This accomplished drummer from Colombia will have the opportunity to work with exciting professors and other gifted musicians like himself. Congratulations, Javier! We at Connect English are happy to have helped you reach your goal!