Student Recommendations in Asia: What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Would Have Known Before Traveling on This International Program Abroad?

Every year, in our post-program surveys, we ask our students for feedback on things they wish they had known about a specific location prior to going there to study. In this blog post we compiled answers to this question from our graduate students who experienced life in Asia as part of one of our programs. We hope that this information will help other students in the future!

Shanghai, China:

Shanghai, China. Picture by easyvoyage.com

Shanghai, China. Picture by easyvoyage.com

“Bring vitamins. Learn even more of the language. Reach out to friends or people you may know that are going. Pack light.”

“Smog can be bad. Be open to wearing a mask”

“Having a good understanding of PowerPoint and solid presentation skills can be very handy if you are doing a practicum.”

“Chinese rarely ever have napkins at restaurants…or you pay separately.”

“I didn’t really know what to expect going to China, but I had a great time. I would advise future students to really take advantage of sightseeing the first couple of days (or coming earlier to staying later) because once the project starts we were very busy!”

Hong Kong, China:

Hong Kong, China. Picture by chinatraveltrends.com

Hong Kong, China. Picture by chinatraveltrends.com

“I knew that Hong Kong is a good tourist destination but my knowledge about it having such a huge impact on every business around the globe was limited. Now I know that Hong Kong is one of the main links between the eastern and western parts of the world.”

“In order to buy an Octopus card at the airport, you need to have Hong Kong Dollars. I should have gone to an ATM before purchasing a train ticket from the airport so that I could have bought an Octopus card at the airport.”

“Do some research to figure out good places to eat before going. Also figure out where to exchange money and where not to exchange money.”

“Research: general tips on adjusting to a new time zone/avoiding jet lag. Research places to eat before going out. Most of us weren’t using smartphones while there and weren’t able to look up places to eat on the fly; also we couldn’t understand Chinese names of places when walking by. After a few days of learning the lay of the land this got a lot easier, but at first it was a little tough to find places to eat nearby that weren’t really overpriced tourist restaurants.”

“Learn some basic useful words/phrases in Cantonese. They are easy to look up, and I bought a Cantonese dictionary; but it would be helpful for everyone to have a basic cheat sheet.”

“The importance of having medicine to keep from getting sick!”

What about you? Have you studied abroad? Do you have any other suggestions for people who are going abroad this Intersession? Post your comments below.

Surviving as a Vegetarian While Traveling Internationally

In California, we are spoiled with freshly picked produce year-round, an abundance of vegetarian-friendly restaurants, and an ability to read menus in our native language. However, it’s a completely different story when going abroad! In many other cultures, meat plays a larger role in the diet than it does in the US, and the word “vegetarian” doesn’t always translate very well.  As a long-time vegetarian, I would like to offer some tips that I’ve found useful through my international travels and also share some of my favorite vegetarian-friendly restaurants throughout the world!

Tips:

  • If you are traveling on an Ahlers Center study abroad program, please remember to indicate your dietary restrictions on your application. We typically have several group dinners throughout our programs, and work very hard to accommodate whatever dietary restrictions we have.
  • Pack protein bars or protein powder along with plenty of vitamins! It’s oftentimes a bit more difficult to find quality sources of protein while abroad so I always keep extra protein bars/powder on hand. Also, days can get very long with city tours, company visits and classroom sessions so even non-vegetarians may want to pack some protein bars to keep your body and brain fueled. Along those same lines, your immune system can be compromised while traveling, and you may not always have access to as many fruits and vegetables as you are used to, so bring vitamins while you’re at it too!
  • If you do not speak the native language, translate and carry a card that says  “I am a vegetarian. I do not eat any meat, chicken or fish”. It is important to outline exactly what you do not eat since vegetarianism can mean different things in other parts of the globe.
  • Research vegetarian-friendly restaurants prior to departure. A quick search on happycow.net, Tripadvisor or Yelp should give you plenty of restaurants to explore throughout your journey! You may even want to add the restaurants you find to a Google map to keep organized and make sure you hit up all the best spots!
  • If you rent an apartment or have a kitchenette in your hotel room, be sure to visit the local farmers’ market and cook for yourself! Some of the best produce I’ve ever had came from local markets while traveling abroad, like these asparagus from Aix-en-Provence, which were bigger than my hand!
Cooking up asparagus with olive oil, garlic and herbes de provence….so simple yet so tasty!

Cooking up asparagus with olive oil, garlic and herbes de provence….so simple yet so tasty!

Favorite Restaurants:

While it’s usually easy enough to find cheese pizzas and sandwiches, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be craving more creative plant-based dishes in no time. Here are my favorite vegetarian (or vegetarian-friendly) restaurants in various parts of the world.

  • Istanbul-Istanbul has excellent food, with many vegetarian-friendly options. I stumbled upon Karakoy Lokantasi while exploring the city and knew I had to check it out since it was packed with locals and very cute inside. Vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike will find something to eat on the menu, but my suggestion is to simply make your meal out of a bunch of their mezes, or appetizers!  Everything I ordered was fresh and delicious. Be sure to try their muhammara!
  • Paris (Yes, you can survive as a vegetarian even in Paris!) – Le Potager du Marais is a cute and cozy vegan restaurant in a great part of town. They replicate several classic French dishes like soupe a l’oignon and boeuf bourguignon using plant-based substitutes. Great people watching too if you sit on the patio!
Enjoying people watching and plant-based cuisine on the streets of Paris!

Enjoying people watching and plant-based cuisine on the streets of Paris

  • Rome – If ever in Rome, be sure to sample the city’s famous pasta dish, cacio and pepe, a pasta with a cheese and pepper sauce. Anthony Bourdain and I both highly recommend trying it at Roma Sparita in particular, as they serve their pasta dish in a crispy parmesan cheese bowl and it is delicious! Make a reservation or get there early as this place fills up fast!
  • Rio – It seems as though Rio has a juice bar on every corner, so it’s possible to get almost any type of fruit juice and an acai bowl at any hour! However, I’ve found it a bit more difficult to find fresh vegetables in restaurants, as meat is a huge part of the Brazilian culture. Never fear though! There are plenty of vegetarian restaurants in Rio including two of my favorites: Universo Organico in Leblon and Biocarioca in Copacabana.
  • Madrid – Spaniards love their pork and patatas bravas. If you would like something a bit healthier, go no further than Yerba Buena. I recommend stopping by for their three course lunch special…but be warned, you won’t need to eat for the rest of the day…they serve insanely large dishes and all for a great price!
Course number two at Yerba Buena. You’ll definitely leave there stuffed!

Course number two at Yerba Buena. You’ll definitely leave there stuffed!

Overall, with a little forethought and a bit of research, it is absolutely possible to travel abroad while sticking to your normal dietary choices. Now, tell us about your favorite restaurants below. If you have dietary restrictions, what do you do differently while traveling?

Bon voyage et bon appétit!

– Danielle

Student Recommendations in Latin America: What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Would Have Known Before Traveling on This International Program Abroad?

Every year, in our post-program surveys, we ask our students for feedback on things they wish they had known about a specific location prior to going there to study. On this blog post we compiled answers to this question from our graduate students who experienced life in Latin America as part of one of our programs. We hope that this information will help other students in the future!

Bogota, Colombia:

Bogota, Colombia

Bogota, Colombia

“The altitude might be an issue, which can be mitigated by arriving one day early with no need to take medication. Colombians are very humble, friendly and very helpful, so don’t worry too much about safety. Public transport, in particular the transmilenio, is fast and safe, even faster than taxis due to constant traffic in Bogota. You can have a real local experience using the transmilenio.”

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic:

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by roughguide.com

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by roughguide.com

“Internet access can be poor in many parts of the city (i.e. at coffee shops and the hotel).”

“When entering the DR one must pay a $10 fee. This fee is ONLY payable in U.S. dollar, not pesos. One must also be very careful with safety. It seems that in a country that is visited by so many tourists, one must be aware that you have to bargain for prices all the time. This may become tiring.”

 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

“Research the subway transportation system prior to departure. Also, I felt quite safe while there.”

“How hot it would be so bring very light clothing. Also, sun tan lotion is extremely expensive in Brazil”

“The Portuguese language was very difficult. I would tell the students about the ‘onibus’ (bus) that runs to/from airport. It was a great value compared to the taxis.”

“The need to learn Portuguese. Socializing with locals is very hard otherwise.”

“English-speakers are uncommon in Rio”

“Research the social enterprises/organizations we visited beforehand to make the most of the experience.” (Social Change Class)

“International calling plans can be expensive but international data plans not so much so consider buying that before going abroad. WhatsApp is likely the only thing you’ll need to communicate with others during the practicum  (E.g. Verizon data plan gives you 100MB for $25). Especially if you’re going to a country where you can’t just buy a cheap SIM card off the street.”

“I wish I would have known there was very little free time during the day time.  I would have liked to do some more sightseeing.” (International Consulting Project Abroad in Rio)

“If possible, contact the client prior to traveling abroad. Some communication with the client could have helped develop a very loose framework and do some more targeted research prior to arriving.” (International Consulting Project Abroad in Rio)

“Do some team building prior to going abroad. Also, COPPEAD students were a BLAST as were the local business leaders.” (International Consulting Project Abroad in Rio)

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Avenida 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Avenida 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires, Argentina

“Have decent grasp of Spanish.  I knew very little and the language barrier was one of the most difficult of any non-English speaking”

“I wish I would have done more research into activities in the area prior to our trip.”

“Bring lots of US dollars to exchange, rather than withdraw from an ATM.  You get much better exchange rate that way.”

“It would have been nice to know the huge disparity in exchange rates on the blue dollar.  Many people brought cash and benefited greatly.”

“That laundry was not only available, but extremely convenient and affordably priced (I would not have packed half as much as I did).”

“I found two apps for my phone that were invaluable.  One was a free English/Spanish translator for Android that did not require wifi.  The other was a currency converter. Whatsapp was also instrumental.”

“You will be working a ton on your practicum, which doesn’t leave too much time to explore the city. Arrive early or stay late if you wish to do this!” (International Consulting Abroad)

“I wish I had learned more Spanish, had brought a detailed city street map, and had studied the area for restaurants and sites to see.”

“Buenos Aires is not as dangerous as people made it sound.”

“Read the material in advance! I wish I had been aware of how intense the course was going to be.” (Advanced International Negotiations Class with Professor Barkacs)

“The service at businesses and restaurants can be pretty bad.”

“I would have arrived a few days earlier and left a few days later in order to experience more of the culture and sights during the day when we didn’t have classes.”

What about you? Have you studied abroad? Do you have any other suggestions for people who are going abroad this Intersession? Post your comments below.

 

 

 

Madrid and Valencia Must Sees

This summer the Ahlers Center for International Business took 26 students from the MBA and the Masters in Science of Global Leadership programs to Madrid, Valencia (Spain) and Casablanca (Morocco). Students attended lectures with some of USD’s top business faculty members abroad while traveling and being exposed to the cultural aspects of these beautiful cities. As we have recently opened a new USD location in Madrid, and because we take students to Spain every year, we decided to compile a list of must sees and dos in this astonishing part of the world.

 MADRID

Madrid has been the capital of Spain since 1562. With a population of over 3 million people, Madrid is not only a cosmopolitan city, it is also a business center, the headquarters for the Spanish parliament and the Royal family, as well as an intensively culturally active city.

MUST SEES

When exploring Madrid, make sure you don’t miss these spots:

1. Prado Museum

The Museo Nacional del Prado is the main Spanish national art museum. It features one of the world’s nicest collections of European art from the 12th until the 19th century. El prado is also one of the most visited sites in the world! If you plan on seeing everything this museum has to offer consider spending the entire day here, otherwise the museum is free of charge for a couple of hours (from 6pm – 8 pm) from Tuesdays to Saturdays, and on Sundays from 5 – 8 pm.

Museo el Prado - Picture by The Australian

Museo el Prado – Picture by The Australian

2. Retiro Park

The Retiro park is a beautiful park in Madrid’s city center that was originally created as a royal park; it belonged to the Real Sitio del Buen Retiro palace and is now public for anyone to enjoy. Some of the places to see on this park are the Rosaleda rose garden, the Fountain of the Fallen Angel, the Crystal Palace and the Statue Walk.

Buen Retiro Park in Madrid - photo by www.spain.info

Buen Retiro Park in Madrid – photo by www.spain.info

3. Eat tapas on Cava Baja Street

Cava Baja street is a great place to explore Spanish cuisine. Here, people go from bar to bar trying different tapas (Spanish style bite size appetizers). For recommendations on the top 10 places to eat on Cava Baja street click here.

Students exploring Spanish tapas at Baja Street in Madrid

Students exploring Spanish tapas at Cava Baja Street in Madrid. Photo by MBA student Andrea Ruiz.

4. Visit Mercado de San Miguel for yet some more tapas

The San Miguel Market was declared Bien de Interés Cultural in 2000 (a category of the Spanish heritage register). The Mercado San Miguel is one of Madrid’s oldest markets and considered a ‘culinary culture center’ or the ‘Mecca of Spanish Cuisine’. Here you can order wonderful tapas and even more substantial plates from a variety of different vendors.

VALENCIA

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, and home to the Spanish Paella. Although the city is on the Mediterranean sea most residents say that “Valencia has lived with its back to the sea” due to the spirit and core of the city which is not necessarily integrated with its beach. Valencia was founded by the Romans and was held by the Moors from the 8th until the 13th century. Below are some must dos when exploring this wonderful city.

1- City of Arts and Sciences

The city of arts and sciences was designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, a native of Valencia who is now one of the top world’s architects. The City of Arts and Sciences has 6 main buildings: Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, which is an opera house and performing arts center; L’Hemisfèric, which is an Imax Cinema, Planetarium and Laserium; L’Umbracle — Walkway/Garden; El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, which is a science museum; Oceanografic — Open-air aquarium or oceanographic park; and Ágora — A versatile space for events.

City of Arts and Sciences - photo by MBA student D.J.

City of Arts and Sciences – photo by MBA student D.J.

2- Eat a paella at the beach

Paella is a specialty of Valencian gastronomy and you must try it while exploring the beach in Valencia! Paella consists of steamed rice and a variety of seafood, meat and veggies.  We indulged in this tasty dish at a place called L’Estimat.

3- The X Door

The X door is a fun team building activity to do in Valencia (and rated #1 attraction in the city by Trip Advisor). In this game you will do activities like trying to get out of a locked room by using the given clues as the clock on the wall tickles away your 60 minutes. Click here to read more on The X Door. Are you up for the challenge?

X-Door - Valencia activity

X-Door – Valencia activity

4- Plaza del Mercado

This public market in Valencia is one of the oldest markets in all Europe. Stop here to enjoy the beautiful Andaluz architecture, buy delicious traditional Spanish food items, shop for souvenirs or simply people watch.  The Plaza del Mercado is closed on Sundays.

We hope you enjoy your time in Spain! For a list of MBA and MSGL classes offered in Madrid/Valencia click here.

 

Executive MBA Students from Germany Arrive to Campus for a Marketing and Sales Conference

The Ahlers Center for International Business welcomed today 35 students and Dr. Richard Hofmaier from our German partner Universities FOM (University of Applied Sciences) and ITM (Institute and Society for BTB Marketing and Consulting Management).

Our German students will be attending a two week long conference on campus focused on Marketing and Sales.  Among the seminars they will be participating in are “Global Demographic Trends & Marketing Opportunities” with Dr. Maria Kniazeva, “Relationship Strategies for International Teams” with Dr. Phil Hunsaker, “B2B Marketing Positioning & Partnership Management” with Prof. Carlton O’Neal, “Innovation Management & Marketing” with Dr. Soma, “MBTI Assessment & Change Management” with Dr. George Reed, “Cross-Cultural Negotiations” with Dr. Dennis Zocco, “Content Sales and Marketing for B2B Strategies” with Mr. Vincent Moiso, and “International Business & Sales Strategy & New Business Creation” with Dr. Jaime Alonso Gómez.

They will also have an opportunity to visit and learn from San Diego’s top corporations Taylor Guitars, and WD-40.

Please join us in welcoming our German students to campus!

 

 

 

 

Rio Reflections told by an MBA Student: High Quality Opportunity for Learning Beyond the Classroom

By MBA Student Scott M. LaRocco; Edited by Renata Berto & Danielle Levanetz

The beauty of taking a class abroad is that besides being exposed to high quality lectures by USD’s most renown faculty members, one gains awareness of how people in a certain culture live their lives, and how they do business.   In this article, an MBA student shares what lessons he learned while exploring Rio on his free time, outside of the classroom.

I believe that in order to truly experience the most out of a visit to another country, one must be willing to forego many comforts that we are accustomed to, adapt to the culture by attempting to communicate with local residents in their vernacular language, and, most importantly, be willing to take risks. By utilizing my already natural high level of energy and enthusiasm, I believe that I was greatly successful in experiencing the most out of Brazil’s fascinating culture while spending almost a month in Rio de Janeiro taking two MBA classes.

In order to accomplish this, I generally gave up my standard routine of seven hours of sleep per night and three square meals per day. Despite the minor discomfort that these sacrifices may have caused, I can unequivocally say that I was able to experience Rio in a way that many of my fellow classmates did not. Below are a few of those adventures, which have forever changed my life.

Fabiano, Moises, and the Beach Chair Family

Getting a group together for something as simple as going to the beach in Brazil became the equivalent of a four hour root canal procedure. It seemed like every time I was ready to go several people were asking me to wait for them. Frustrated by my inability to have the group ready to go on my schedule, I developed a different strategy to go to the beach: I gave simple instructions as to where exactly I would be sitting on the beach so that anyone could join me.

The advantage to always being in the same beach location, oftentimes alone for several hours, was that I was able to become amicably acquainted with a local family, whose business was to rent out beach chairs, umbrellas and refreshments to beachgoers. The family consisted of three sons, whose ages ranged between 21 and 25 years, and their father who seemed to merely supervise the operation as he played dominoes under a canopy.

The three boys worked extremely hard, running back and forth from their canopy where they stored their chairs for the beach patrons, who need not move from their chairs in order to get a nice cold coconut water. Appreciative of this hard work, I made a concerted effort to not only tip these gentlemen whenever practical, but to do my best to show my appreciation of their service through trying to talk with them, shake their hands, and laugh with them when I could.  This appreciation did not go unnoticed, as they would smile and wave as they saw me approach every time I went to the beach. In addition to merely doing a great service for me and the other beach patrons, these kids also would do me personal favors like watch my bag while I went in the water, if I were alone, or run to their canopy to get me a specific refreshments that they did not carry in their coolers. On one occasion, Moises sat down next to me, looking exhausted, and simply asked to “bump fists”, a universal sign of respect across the globe.

On the last day of my trip I decided I wanted to leave these kids with a gift before I departed back to the United States, so on my last outing to the beach I brought with me a Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan jersey that I had taken with me from the States. Knowing that such jerseys are probably extremely difficult to find in Rio, I thought this would be a great “thank you” gift. Unbeknownst to me, the family had also planned to give me a small gift, so as I walked to Ipanema beach to say goodbye, I pulled out the jersey. At the same time, they had the jersey of their favorite local soccer team, Vasco da Gama, to give to me. I certainly appreciate the irony of how conscientious people, despite cultural differences, can think in the exact same manner. It is my sincere hope that next time I happen to be in Rio de Janeiro, I will walk up and find the same family in the same spot, wearing my Vasco jersey, as one of them wears my Chicago Bulls one.

The Siren’s Song of the Vidigal Favela

Undoubtedly the image from Rio de Janeiro that is forever scorched in my retinas is that of the Dois Irmaos peaks that jaggedly spring up from the west of Ipanema Beach. I had seen these mountains for years on postcards and in films, but was completely unprepared for the scope and natural beauty in them.

Vidigal favela seen from the beach. Picture by http://www.getyourguide.com

Dois Irmãos peaks and Vidigal favela seen from the beach. Picture by http://www.getyourguide.com

When I was able to get my first, in person, view of the peaks, I noticed what appeared to be a shantytown running up the side. “How could this be?” I thought to myself. This looked like some of the most prime real estate in all Rio de Janeiro, yet it had a favela (slum) occupying it. Desperate for more information on this perceived anomaly, I began researching the area and learned that it was indeed a favela called Vidigal. So, on my last day in Rio, I recognized it as my last opportunity to make the possible dangerous trip into the Vidigal favela. After convincing a classmate to go with me, we saw what appeared to be a small restaurant at the base of Vidigal. We decided this would be a good place to find out, once and for all, if it would be safe for us to head into the favela.

At the restaurant, which I viewed more like the base camp at Mount Everest, we were able to speak to a television reporter, who spoke perfect English, about our prospects of making it in and out of Vidigal safely. She assured us that we had nothing to worry about, and that the favela had been pacified, and there would be heavy police presence everywhere we went.  This was enough to convince us that we should take the risk and head in.

Rather, we occasionally saw a police car drive by as we winded our way up the main road, heading for the very top in search of a picturesque view of the City. Despite this, I believe that we had gone too far now to turn back, and so we forged ahead. Along the main street in Vidigal, I never felt threatened. Locals seemed to be going about their everyday business and paid us little attention at all.  As we approached the summit, I was saddened that, from the main street, there were buildings blocking what was certain to be an amazing view of Rio de Janeiro.

Unsatisfied, I pondered heading up one of the many small, winding concrete staircases that disappeared into the morass of corrugated steel shanty houses that packed the neighborhood. As I took my first initial steps up the staircase, and my classmate waited at the base, unwilling to head into what looked like an abyss, reality had a way of finding me again. A local woman shouted out her window and waved her finger to me. She had a look on her face not of someone who simply didn’t want me trespassing, but rather, that if I were to continue I might find myself in real danger. This was enough for me to turn back, and suggest to Tina that maybe we begin the long, winding trek down back to the base.

After deciding to turn back and start walking down, we were happy to find out that the walk down actually did give us periodic windows where we were able to marvel at the scenery. The blue ocean, sandy beaches, white buildings, and emerald peaks that Rio is known for looked as amazing as ever. Additionally, the look, smell, and overall feel of being in a favela is so unique, that I had to fight off the urge to whip out my camera and take pictures (the locals tell tourists that this can be seen as very disrespectful).

About half way down the main road, my classmate and I stopped for a drink at a local bar/restaurant. The owner, a kind old lady, not only was willing to take our pictures, as well as a picture of us with her, but also brought out rice and beans (traditional Brazilian fare) that we hadn’t asked for. Upon our departure, she wished us well and gave us both big hugs as we walked down the road.

I am certainly thrilled that I was able to at last explore the Vidigal favela, and experience both in beauty and charm as we meandered through its winding roads. Had I not taken this opportunity to do so, it would have undoubtedly been my biggest, and possibly only, regret of what was, in totality, and amazing trip.

MBA Students Exploring Rio's Most Iconic Symbol

MBA Students Exploring Rio’s Most Iconic Symbol

 

San Diego Must Dos

For our international exchange students, and visiting researchers who are looking to explore San Diego’s main attractions, here is a list of what to do in America’s Finest City:

  1. The Beaches:

San Diego’s beaches personalize the lifestyle of local residents. If you are looking for a place to relax and watch local surfers catch powerful waves visit Windansea Beach in La Jolla.

Windansea Beach in La Jolla

Windansea Beach in La Jolla – Photo by dguides.com (http://dguides.com/sandiego/attractions/beaches/windansea-beach/)

For a real Southern California (So-Cal) feel take a walk at Pacific Beach’s boardwalk and watch locals ride their bikes, skateboards, and roller blades right in front of the beach. P.B. (as the locals call it) is also where College students and young adults live the California Dream – the neighborhood offers a variety of night attractions that go beyond the miles of its sandy beach.

Pacific Beach Boardwalk - photo by ‪www.innatpacificbeach.com

Pacific Beach Boardwalk – photo by ‪www.innatpacificbeach.com

Nightlife in Pacific Beach

Nightlife in Pacific Beach – photo by San Diego Reader (www.sandiegoreader.com)

2. Fish Tacos

While in San Diego you must try fish tacos – a local favorite! Pretty much every restaurant in San Diego offers fish tacos on their menu. To try local’s favorite fish taco spot head to Oscar’s in North PB (http://oscarsmexicanseafood.com/).

For a taste of the very first restaurant that brought fish tacos from Baja California to this side of the border go to Rubio’s and order their Fish Taco Especial.  Rubio’s opened their first store in 1983. They have now more than 200 restaurants in 5 states and have served over 160,000,000 fish tacos. (http://www.rubios.com/menu/)

Rubios Fish Taco - Picture by www.examiner.com

Rubios Fish Taco – Photo by www.examiner.com

Local tip: You can buy fish tacos for $0.99 – $2 on ‘Taco Tuesdays”.

3. La Jolla

La Jolla is the jewel of America’s finest city (as San Diego is known). It has wonderful beaches, great restaurants and outdoor activities.

La Jolla

La Jolla

You can spend the day snorkeling, swimming and kayaking at La Jolla cove; you can go for a walk at La Jolla Children’s Pool (as the seals beach is officially called) and watch the wild seals play; you can have dinner is beautiful fine dining restaurants that have the most astonishing view of the ocean.

La Jolla Children's Beach

La Jolla Children’s Beach – photo by San Diego ASAP – www.sandiegoasap.com

For La Jolla restaurant tips click here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g32578-La_Jolla_San_Diego_California.html

4. Old Town San Diego

Located only a few blocks from our University, Old Town San Diego is the birthplace of California, where the first Europeans settled. This historic neighborhood, which includes many historic buildings from the 1800s, is the perfect place to enjoy some Mexican food and explore many Mexican handcraft shops and museums.

Shops in Old Town San Diego

Shops in Old Town San Diego –  photo by http://presidiosentinel.com

Old Town Fun Facts:

  • San Diego’s first newspaper office is located here
  • Old Town offers an evening ghost tour every night (click here for more info)
  • According to California State Parks, Old Town was the most visited park in California during 2005 & 2006

5. Balboa Park and Museums

Balboa Park San Diego - picture by nystudios.wordpress.com

Balboa Park San Diego – picture by nystudios.wordpress.com

Balboa Park is an urban cultural park that is among the main attractions in San Diego. It has natural vegetation zones, gardens, and walking paths as well as more than 17 museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo (biggest Zoo in the world).

Must See Gardens:

  • Japanese Friendship Garden – An expression of friendship between San Diego and its sister city Yokohama
  • Botanical Building  – largest wood lath structure in the world when it was built in 1915 and home to 2,100 permanent tropical plant specimens.
  • Desert Garden – 2.5 acres of succulents and drought-resistant plants from around the world

Must See Museums in Balboa Park:

  •  San Diego Natural History Museum
  • Centro Cultural de la Raza – Preserves Mexican, chicano and indigenous art and culture.
  • Museum of Man – Anthropology museum

For more information on Balboa Park museums, gardens, and etc.  click here.

6. Gaslamp Quarter

At the heart of downtown San Diego, the historic Gaslamp Quarter combines Victorian charm with urban living to create a lively dining and shopping district. This area that used to be home to San Diego’s “red light” district in the 1800s has been revitalized in recent decades, and is now home to more than 100 restaurants, 40 bars and clubs and over 100 shops.

San Diego Gaslamp Quarter - photo by www.sandiego.org

San Diego Gaslamp Quarter – photo by www.sandiego.org

San Diego’s Gaslamp quarter is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for dining, dancing or simply people watching.

We hope you enjoy your stay in San Diego!