The Disney Adventure

The Disney Adventure
The Cinderella Castle!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Omg we're here! So much to say. And I haven't even got the Universal Studios photos up. Ok, first things first, ummmm.....where do I want to start?? What thing should be first?

Ok, how about final overall summary and impressions of California:

1: They really have big city life down to a tee. The highways are massive and well signed. If you miss an exit, don't worry about it, there's another one in 60 feet and you can get yourself back to where you were supposed to be straight away. When driving cross Canada, if you miss an exit, you're stuck driving the wrong way for what feels like an eternity. There's giant box stores everywhere to accommodate the shopping of thousands of people, and there's GIANT signs telling you how to get to them all. Parking is an art, after a certain time in the downtown areas of the cities, the streetside parking turns into valet parking for all the big restaurants and eateries. Genius!! You don't have to worry about finding parking, just hand over your keys!

2: Smog. Smog. and guessed it, SMOG! When we went to Griffith Observatory (where James Dean filmed Rebel Without a Cause) you could barely see the city skyline because of all the smog. It's stiffling. That's the bad part about metropolitan life I guess.

3: There's always something to do! And good things! There's movies, theatre shows, nightclubs, restaurants, cafes, seedy jazz bars, even the wax museum is open until 1am. Being the owner of a creative mind, I love to attend the theater or ballet or opera and Los Angeles seems to have a million things going on all at once. Ahhhh culture.

4: hmmmm... I got to number four and then started talking to my new roommate and now the point I was going to make has fallen right out of my head. It'll come to me. Just wait for it.

okaaay. While we're waiting for that thought to return, let's talk now about my first impressions of Orlando!
It's much less smoggy which I love. The air tastes better. It's humid. Even though we arrived in the evening, it was cool but still humid. I can't wait for summer!! It's going to be ridiculous! The Disney staff accomodation is even more impressive than I imagined. It's MASSIVE. There's 4 different complexes, 3 of which are close together and the other one is further away. Vista Way is closer to the parks and further from the other accom because it was the first complex Disney built. Then later they realized they needed too much more housing and just made 3 giant complexes in their own little area. It's seriously like little suburbs. I'll get some pictures tomorrow in the daylight. I arrived to discover that I am the 6th roommate in my apartment. 6 girls, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms. I share a room and a bathroom with a girl from New York who works in one of the restaurants in the Magic Kingdom. She's very nice! I've only briefly met 2 of the other roommates and they were so nice. They had little welcome signs made for me and even one on my bed saying 'Welcome new roommate, this is your bed!' So that was really nice. They take security VERY seriously here. Lindsey and I are housed in the same complex and we went for some groceries and when you come back into the complex they security guards check your ID. We got scolded for not walking on the sidewalk, for true. It was possibly the nicest scolding I've ever received. He said 'First of all ladies, welcome home. Second of all, we've built these sidewalks just for you so that you are safe here, please be so kind as to walk on them. And again, welcome home." When you think about the magnitude of the staff situation here, it's understandable. This many people in such close quarters could get very out of hand very quickly, so I feel safe for sure. I'm going to have to be very careful to not put a toe out of line while I'm here. If there's anything I've learned in my short time here so far, it's that the Americans take safety and security VERY seriously.

OH!!! #4 just came to me!!: I couldn't help but notice in LA that there weren't that many people on the street asking for money. Compared to Victoria where there are several homeless people on every street, it was very interesting to see so few in such a big city. When Linds and I were driving around in West Hollywood looking for a Best Buy, I took a left instead of a right and all of a sudden there were homeless people everywhere. It was unreal, one block down from a clean bustling city street there were people on the ground doing drugs and passed out and yelling. And not just a few, in the one block detour we did we saw somewhere near 25 less fortunate folk. And then BAM, clean street, pretty Best Buy with shiny happy employees ready to make my day better. It was really surreal to see that kind of sudden change. This however, was not the saddest moment of the day. On our way home, at a stop on an exit ramp off the freeway, there was a man trying to sell flowers and oranges at the side of the road. This struck me as far sadder. I think that it's because unlike the people laying on the street earlier in the day,  this man was trying to do something to make his life better, he was making an effort to make some money, really trying.  But on the side of a freeway exit ramp? It seemed like a perfect exercise in futility, and it really made me sad. And also very grateful for all of the opportunities that I have in my life. If I ever see that man again, I'm going to buy a flower.

Ok, it's almost 2am here. Although it's 11pm my time, I have to be up soon, and as we all know, sleeping isn't really my forte. So, more tomorrow!! Tomorrow we have some fun Disney orientation stuff and we get our fancy ID badges so we can take the busses and get past security at our apartments and.....most importantly.....GET INTO THE PARKS!!!! EEEEEEEEE

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Best Buy

We had such a great time in LA and I will tell some stories and post some pictures, but first I wanted to share a story about customer service. Being in hospitality means that we are hyper aware of the service we receive when we aren't working.

Last night while we were in LA, I managed to slip and fall and break my camera!! The lens was stuck out and crooked!! I was devastated and no amount of pulling, pushing or throwing it at the ground could make it work again. So all day today we used Lindsey's camera and promised that we would go to a Best Buy at some point during our day to try and get it fixed. So the time came, we found a Best Buy, we were in a great mood, having the best day. When I got to the camera section, I was directed to the 'Geek Squad' at the corner of the store where hopefully my problem could be resolved. At the Geek Squad corner I waiting patiently for 15 minutes where no one greeted me, or said they'd be right with me, or even acknowledged my presence. Finally a man approached me and I explained how I didn't buy the camera there and wasn't from the country and wasn't going to be around long and asked if there was any way they could help me. The clerk looked at my camera for somewhere near 20 seconds, said that they didn't do in-store repairs and that they would have to send it away. He said that it would cost up to $200 and that it would be better if I just bought a new one. Not phased, (I had already resigned myself to having to buy a new one) Linds and I continued on to camera shop. When we reached the camera section a Best Buy employee came around the corner and asked if he could help us. 'Sell me a camera please!!' Said I. I was excited, I love buying new things, especially when they are shiny. The man, seeing my crippled camera swinging wildly from my wrist, asked what was wrong with it. I explained that it was broken and headed for the camera junkyard, as fixing was impractical. He grabbed it, examined it for a moment and asked if he could try to fix it. I was all for him trying, it couldn't possibly get any more broken! So he pushed and prodded at the lens and low and behold, it snapped back into place!!! My camera was fixed!! He saved the day!!! I was SO IMPRESSED!!!! I was already convinced my camera was dead, I was ready to buy a new one, I even had one picked out. He could have very easily sold me a camera, and a memory card and a case, but he didn't, instead he went out of his way to FIX the original problem, even thought my camera wasn't from his store. He even managed to turn around my original annoyance at being ignored at the Geek Squad. It's people like this that make me really happy to offer fantastic customer service to my guests!!! If I can make even just one person a day feel as good as I did when I left that store, I'm doing my job!! Good job Best Buy, I'll be back!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Last Day

We had our last day of classes today. Very exciting. We're pretty happy about moving on to Florida and getting this work term started!! I have a lot of things to say that I was thinking about today in class, but we're working on our final project and tht has pushed all the other thoughts out of my head. So I'll write myself a note for tomorrow and remember to write about it later. Oh and I need to post the Universal photos. And Linds and I are going to LA tomorrow night! YES. Ok, I will have a ot of blog updating coming up soon!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Universal Studios

We went to Universal Studios today!! It was super cool (and yes, that's the technical term)! We got to go into the staff area and hear about their marketing plans from one of the HR directors. It was really interesting to see how much work they put into researching the happiness of their customers and their staff, and how they use that information to adjust their marketing plan. And then we got to talk to the actors in the Terminator 2: 3D show. Derrek got to go on his second roller coaster!! The rides were a lot of fun, as per usual. I do have some photos (obviously) to put up but the internet is EXTRA bad tonight so I'll probably wait until tomorrow at lunch and use the school's internet. I'm definitely ready to move to Orlando, as much fun as it is to be living in a hotel, we live in a hotel. It'll be nice to be able to actually settle down and fully unpack and get into a routine.

Monday, January 24, 2011


So today we took some really nice photos of the whole exchange program in front of the UCR sign in the middle of campus with our cute UCR tshirts on!I must apologize for the truncated nature of my last few posts, but due to the unreliable internet I've been just posting whatever I can manage in a limited amount of time, once we move to Orlando the post quality will improve! I promise!

This is everyone!!

And this is the Canadian crew!!


We had such a fun weekend!! I can't believe all the amazing adventures we've had and we've only been here a week!! There's still another 6 months and 3 weeks to go!! Life is wonderful!! We're just relaxing over here, I should put up some photos from Laguna Beach. That's where we were today, it was AMAZING!! I'm in love with it. Such a neat place, lots going on but still a cool chill surf town!
San Clemente, where my friend Dawn lives!

Still San Clemente

Laguna Beach! So amazing!

This was next to the drain on the street. So cool!!

I absolutely adore this!! A piano out in the park1

"Without music, life would be a mistake."

Such a cool sign!

Linds and I went exploring and wandered down this path. SO pretty!

Derrek taking a moment and enjoying the view

Day 2

I'm on the computer in the lab at the school, just on a lunch break. The program is really well organized in terms of food. Everyday we have a buffet style lunch and dinner in one of the conference rooms. It's convenient and delicious!! So the classes go from 8:30am to 11:30, then lunch for an hour and class from 12:30 - 4:30. It's quite a bit of class time but so far I'm really enjoying it. Our professor today is really interesting, we've had a very interactive class, playing getting to know you games and hearing his life story. The professors here are very fixated on us participating and really encourage us to communicate a lot, it's a really fun environment to be in. Oh I think I have a wireless password now, I'm switching over to laptop!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Santa Monica!

We had such a fun day yesterday!!! I picked up the car at 8am, dragged the boys out of bed and off we went to explore California. Santa Monica is UNBELIEVABLE!!! There's some video on my youtube channel if you want to check that out, there's also a video here of Derrek's First Roller Coaster!!! Yes that's right, Derrek has never been on a roller coaster!! And I'm a ride FANATIC (in case you didn't already know) so I made him come with me. Actually bought his ticket and dragged him like a child onto it. I get really excited about rides!! Anyway, he's now ready to enjoy the big ones in Disney World because he passed with flying colors. The roads here are pretty intense. We went to Santa Monica, Venice Beach and then down to San Clemente without much mishap.  I have a friend down here that I met when I was in Costa Rica who I haven't seen in forever and she offered us her place to stay in which is amazing of her, because there are 6 of us! I'll just post some pictures for you. The 7 lane freeways here are unreal!! I'm a pretty aggressive driver already so I fit right in!!
Driving!!!  So focused!!

I love how all the highways are SO well marked, there's signage everywhere

Our first glimpse of Santa Monica

The pier

Not sure what this building is but I like it

The beach

The edge of the pier and mostly beach!

The crew taking in the beauty!

I love roller coasters

I thought this spot was really cool, it was amongst all the fisherman and buckets of bait at the end of the pier in Venice Beach and I love that it says 'we are the future'. I just really love this photo!

Venice Beach!

Santa Monica

Ferris Wheel at the Santa Monica Pier

There were random dolphins swimming around in the ocean!

A really cool house!!

I love Venice Beach and the little canals everywhere!! So many movies have been filmed around here!

Oh the boys. So much fun!

This house was the coolest thing ever!!!! It's right on Venice Beach and it's actually got a cool treehouse thing with a giant chandelier!! I love it!

Venice Beach 

I'm in love with California!! I really never want to leave!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

More video!!

Now that I can upload video I'm totally obsessed and have been uploading EVERYTHING!! So, now here's one of the University of California Riverside campus!! Well, not all of it, but parts!


Ok so I'm at my friend's house in San Clemente and she has internet!! Yay! So without further ado, here is the first video!! It's a tour of the hotel!!! Click on this link!! Comfort Inn Tour!!

More about our road trip today will come later!! I'm going to upload more videos now!!

Friday, January 21, 2011


So I've been losing my mind since we got here trying to upload videos to this little blog of mine and to no avail. Derrek, being the brilliant mind that he is, suggested today that I just upload them to youtube and then put the links here, which is exceedingly clever. So, now I'm uploading to youtube! Links coming soon!! I also realized that I neglected to post info about Derrek and I being on Chek 6 news! We did a little interview for them right before we left and they put us on the Island 30!! It's really great publicity for the college and was fun for us to do! If you missed it on the news, it's ok, you can go to Chek's website ( and then click on the 'island30' button, then click on the Jan 19th link, our video will pop up! Take a peek!! We actually played it in class today, which was fun.

Class today was fun, it was all about travel and tourism. We got to hear from everyone about the eco-tourism that is present in each of their countries and talk about them. I find it very interesting how little they recycle over here. Programs like LEED, and Energy Star and Green Key are so prevalent back home and we are so focused on recycling that I never really think about how other places operate. There are no recycling bins anywhere here!

Linds and I went and saw a movie tonight, 'No Strings Attached', the new romantic comedy with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, soooo cute. We're now relaxing and watching Batman. Such a nice change to be watching movies on a friday night instead of working. I could get used to this!! Tomorrow we are renting a car and driving down the coast with the boys, I can't wait!! I'm really excited to see Santa Monica and Venice Beach!! We're meeting up with my friend Dawn who lives in San Clemente and she's offered us her place to stay in, which is SO generous and most appreciated because well, we're students and don't have much in the money department. Anyhoo, I'm feeling mellow and sleepy, so I'm going to keep uploading video and hopefully I have some links for later!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Culture Shock

Day Three of classes was fun, each day we have a different professor and today we had a really cool Russian lady who was just delightful. Our study topic today was to do with cultural differences and how to accommodate them. A large portion of the discussion centered around the international students adjusting to the ways of the United States. As much as things are different here for us Canadians, it's definitely not as much of a cultural shock as it is for the students from other countries. In my group of 24 students there are students from Spain, France, Morocco, India, Japan, China, as well as us from Canada. I learned so much today about cultural differences between us and the students from these countries. For the most part, we behave very similar to Americans, but some of the customs from the other countries are completely foreign. Even things like hand gestures vary in meaning from country to country. The students from India and Morocco tend to be very close talkers, and as soon as you meet them they want to hug you and are very touchy. I always thought that we were touchy in Canada but not nearly the same as they are in some other cultures. And then on the opposite spectrum there's the students from Japan and China who keep huge distance from other people and are much more reserved.

As students and future managers, we need to be aware of these cultural differences and take them into account in our interactions with both guests and our co-workers. Even when it comes to food! I didn't realize that in China they still eat cats and dogs, not in a weird way, they actually breed dogs just for eating like we do with cattle. And then in India cows are sacred and they don't eat them. There's so much to consider when working internationally. I love it!! It's so interesting to learn about how everyone else does things. Even the way you hand someone a business card. The Chinese and Japanese give and receive cards using two hands, very formally, whereas the French and North Americans are much more casual about it. I can't wait to learn even more about all my new friends!!

Oh, and in other news I think it might be pledge week here at UCR, Linds and I went to the campus store today and while walking through the campus (which is STUNNING, by the way), there were a bunch of booths and massive Greek letters all over the main lawn area. I took some pictures. I think it'd be so cool to go to an American university and be in a sorority!! I also just LOVE how dedicated they are to their sports. They really have a huge sense of loyalty to their school and the sports teams. I just love it. And speaking of which, the campus store is unreal!! The plethora of UCR clothing and golf bags and golf balls and cheerleader skirts and towels and sweatpants and pajamas and.....well you get the picture. Of course we had to get a few things!! Just a few because I can guarantee you we'll need some Disney stuff once we get there. I also got a few fun things for my parents to send home because they are awesome and deserve a reward for all the support they've given me!
This is part of the center area of the main UCR campus

This is why I think it might be pledge week. There's Greek letters everywhere!!

On the left is Cinthia from Paris, right is Andrea from Madrid!

These letters are just as massive as you think they are. Pretty cool!!

These are really neat banner things that are also in the quad.
Linds and I are having some quiet time, hiding in my room watching Grey's Anatomy. It's lovely. Even though we've only been here for 4 days, I feel like we've been here forever. It's very strange. And wonderful. Life is good.