From 28 July to 5 August 2017, Laura Garcia Zelaya (Westminster Academy) and Daniel Stone (Woodside High School) won a sponsored trip to San Francisco and Santa Barbara, California, USA as part of the 2017 One Degree programme.

This was made possible thanks to One Degeee, Riaz Shah and our California host, Cindy Park.

Here is Daniel’s blog from his trip…

“So it started with Roger getting lost on the way to my house, it turns out he was closer to Asda than to me…

Anyway the time came for me to say goodbye to the family and get in the cab for my flight the same day. The ride was long to Victoria and we had to wait another length of time to wait for Laura to arrive. She eventually got there, she appeared with burrito sauce on herself accompanied with her mother who i was glad to meet. Check in was very stressful for Roger dealig with visas, but i understood the situation. I got hungry with all the waiting along the way and so Roger treated Laura and I for lunch where Laura yapped on the phone to her boyfriend.

It came to that time where Roger had to leave us and Laura had to help me get through security, she got through but unfortunately I was stopped because i had i belt on, stopped again because my shoes had metal on it and stopped a third time because i had Vaseline in my pocket, I guess three was the magic number and i wasn’t stopped again. I got myself sorted out and we both walked over to our gate where we went to Costa for something quick to board with.

Laura and Daniel about to begin their California adventure

About a half hour later we managed to board my first flight it took a while for us to actually get off the ground but take off wasn’t as bad as i had anticipated to be perfectly honest.

I guess for a flight of annoying, angry crying children, no meals (thanks to Norwegian Airlines not having the food that One Degree paid for) and on a plane for 11 hours, the flight was not that bad, not my best first flight but i cant complain. We didn’t get much sleep on the plane with yes the crying child and the fact that our seats were right in front of the restroom and we heard flush every 5 minutes but at least the other passengers were friendly.

We arrived in Oakland where Laura had trouble with printing her receipt for landing and the security guard who by the way looked scary took Laura and had words with her, I didn’t think she was coming back. A little after that we had to claim our baggage where the problem of a broken conveyer belt was disfunctional and we didn’t get out bags for a good half hour. Mine came out first and Laura’s about 5/10 minutes after mine did. It was after that Cindy met us at the other side, first impressions are the same as when i left, super nice, generous and gentle. We got to have a small look around on the drive to San Marriott Hotel which was very grand and fancy where we freshened up to go out to dinner where we had a thick crusted pizza with toppings under the tomato sauce . We later went back to our fancy hotel room and i ended up watching pretty little liars for three hours before falling asleep.

Daniel with his new Nike trainers

The next day we went to San Francisco where i went to Nike and bought myself some trainers and on the way to our next flight drove over the golden gate bridge it looked amazing in the foggy weather that day we had to miss in and out burger for our flight and so we almost missed the flight for Burger King instead.

Foggy Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

We didn’t see much of Santa Barbara but the beach was beautiful and what i did get to see was amazing. Laura tried to get me up early in the morning to see a sunset that didn’t exist which i was really annoyed about but i still went back and got some sleep.

Early morning in Santa Barbara

For the rest of it we met a lot of new people who seemed to be obsessed with common British slang and my accent????? I got comfortable speaking to many people and i didn’t think I would because I’m not exactly an open book but these people were friendly from the start and i have made new friends that i am still in contact with. There were two guest speakers and i bought a book from one of them, Ramsey Jay, Jr he was very inspiring to me.

Thanks to Ramsey Jay Jr. for his inspiring speech

We had a banquet and a really energetic party later that week. We were ready to go home on the Friday but learned we had to stay another night which i wasn’t very happy about i was ready to go home??. But one of the leaders kindly offered to take us to the cinema to see Spiderman but i fell asleep because I’d already seen it??. People were celebrating something outside the cinema smashing eggs on other people’s heads. One of the the people we we were with had on smashed on her head??.

Santa Barbara to Oakland, San Francisco by car

The next day we had a four or five hour drive back to Oakland two hours in and i fell asleep and we stopped off for something to eat, we stopped off a bit later where we dropped one of the councillor, Diego and Laura got out to stroke the horses we started the drive again shortly after, Cindy saved us buying In-and-Out Burger for us which by the way is much better than Mcdonalds. Cindy left us and we said goodbye she might see us in October which is exciting, our flight was delayed by an hour so i had enough time to grab a Starbucks and this flight was shorter than the first i actually managed to sleep. We came back to rainy English weather but straight when u got off the plane i called my mum who was happy to hear and see me again after an amazing week, thank you Roger, Cindy and Jen.”

Thank you Cindy Park and CASC. You can find more photos from the camp Laura and Daniel attended here.