California Girls

In our ongoing series written by our interns visiting from Hong Kong, Tiantian explains what it feels like to be a California Girl. Culture-shock, delicious food and good times exploring with friends are all possible in the Golden State.


This summer, I spent two months in California traveling and interning at Wcities. I study in Hong Kong and was born in mainland China, so this has been my first time working and traveling in the United States. Along my journey, I found many cultural differences between the East and West which sometimes were beyond my grasp. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being a California girl!

No cheese, please.

I am amazed by American people’s appetites. Butter and cheese must be included with every meal. When I eat in American restaurants, I think, “Wait! This is an appetizer? I think I do not need to order any entrees.” I remember once I ordered a Philly Cheese Burger. After making my burger double cheese, the server put thick butter on both pieces of bread which made me lose my appetite immediately. He acted so fast that I could not say a word to stop him. American visitors to East Asia must be sad about the portions of dishes there. I seldom buy butter in Hong Kong. When restaurants offer butter together with bread, I hardly touch butter. So after getting my burger, I just wiped off all of the butter. It may sound strange and funny, but I learned a lesson: in American restaurants, tell your servers you do not need cheese and butter in advance!

How is it going?

“Hey! How is it going?” — American people use this sentence everyday in almost every situation. When you grab a cup of coffee, when you wait for your sandwich to be toasted, when you are shopping, you can hear people begin their conversation with this sentence. Here, it is quite usual for people to greet or chat with strangers, but in Hong Kong people do not care much about strangers. This does not mean people from Hong Kong are unfriendly, they are just too busy to struggle for their lives. One day on a train, I noticed a man and a woman begin chatting because the man loved the pattern on the woman’s bag. They talked about their careers and favorite foods and pets, but didn’t mention their names. A few stations past, the man needed to get off the train. So they ended their conversation with, “Nice to see you.” I was impressed with the way American people treat strangers. In Hong Kong, such scenes seldom occur. I have to say it feels warm when you see strangers smile and greet you.

Representing the West Coast

During the past three months, I have been to three cities in California: San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Though they are all West Coast cities, each has unique characteristics. I spent most of my time in San Francisco — a cultural and financial hub where people from every part of the world meet. I can tell that people here love their lives when I see teenagers ride by on skateboards. I can see their passion in cheering for the Giants baseball team. I can tell that they are peaceful when I see them playing volleyball and Frisbee on the lawn. I can feel their talent when I see them play instruments on the streets.

In Los Angeles, I see a lively and lavish city full of food, fashion and entertainment. With well-known shopping districts like Rodeo Drive, Wilshire Boulevard and Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles is a city where celebrities and style-conscious people crowd.

During the short holiday on July 4, we flew to San Diego. I enjoyed my four day trip in the tranquil city with beautiful coastlines, beaches and mild weather. You can tell it is a seaside city from the food, architecture and transportation network there.  Though we only stayed in San Diego for few days, we saw a memorable fireworks display, watched the Shamu show at SeaWorld and visited the famous La Jolla Beach. San Diego is an amazing city; I wouldn’t mind staying there forever.

Throughout these two months, I’ve had a great time with my flatmates. We planned trips, watched movies and felt home-sickness together. Without them, I would not have had such a colorful and meaningful internship. I love my flat mates and I love being a California Girl!

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