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Perhaps this is a story that will not appeal to some readers – it is not an article of complaint or information about crime or a serious accident. This is the simple but entertaining story of a student from a faraway country called Chile, known for the rescue of 33 miners trapped in a mine for almost three months, who decided to come to the United States to study English. Why in Sacramento? Now I will tell you how I came to this city that was completely unknown to me.
Since I left my country, that is the question most the people have asked me. Before I traveled to the United States, had no answer to that question, but now that I have lived here for about three months, I can say that I was not wrong in my choice. Sacramento is a quiet town, full of nature and inhabited by very friendly people.
But the story of how I came to Sacramento is long, and I am going to summarize it in this article. I had about six months to choose the city in which I would study English. I analyzed several options: New York; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles and San Francisco, until one day a friend asked me: and Sacramento?
The first thing I said was, "Where is that city? What state?” I was completely ignorant about California. I must admit that the choice did not cause me great excitement. However, I researched, and I was guided by a single point: money. Sacramento was the cheapest option I found.
Since I left Chile, even on the airplane, some people asked me why I had chosen a little-known city. Unfortunately, when most people think about California, they think of Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco, and even believe one of those cities is its capital.
When I started this adventure, I arrived in Los Angeles. I chose to stop over there for a few days because everyone spoke wonders of that city and said I could not miss visiting it.
I was not wrong in the decision, because it was incredible. I met a lot of compatriots who showed me the city and its most famous sites. In those days, I asked myself: Will Sacramento be a city like this? The great movement of the city and the heat made me hesitate for a few minutes on my choice, not because I needed a place like Los Angeles, but because I needed a quieter place. Although I searched for some pictures of Sacramento, I couldn´t imagine the city.
Finally, I came to Sacramento, and I found a pleasant surprise. When I was in the taxi, I could not stop looking at the trees, houses and people on bicycles. At last I felt fresh air. Even though it was summer, the heat was not stifling. And of course, in one second I discovered that I had reached a different place, a city that even though I’d never had heard of it, was the city that I always imagined to study in in the United States.
My first weeks in Sacramento were reconnaissance. The family that received me gave me the necessary information to mobilize – times and prices of tickets for buses and trains. Like any international student, I didn´t arrive with a car in my baggage and often walked. I walked many blocks that, after all, helped me get to know the city.
However, I could not locate north and south. In Chile, we used the Andes to find the cardinal points, as the mountain range covers the whole country (for those who do not know, Chile is long and narrow). The first time I was lost in Sacramento, I thought I should buy a compass. I never did. Weeks later, I understood the system of letters and numbers on the streets that is easy to understand, of course with the help of Google maps.
My first trip in recognition of the city was nice. I won´t lie you about that. I felt a bit of fear, but people I met that day gave me the confidence to begin to practice English. It was amazing how every time that I said, “Sorry, can you repeat that?” They repeated to me the question or response. It was great patience.
I really do not know if I've met good people, because I do not know the experiences of other foreigners in this city. Obviously I can never know all the people in Sacramento to say whether all are good. When I speak of kindness, I mean the people I talked to in the streets asking for directions, even those who work in shops or restaurants. Their attention has been dedicated and efficient.
Some negative situations I've seen in the city have been isolated and, I forget them with the good moments I've lived in this city. I don´t want you to think that I've seen terrible things, but when you're lost at 9 p.m., everything is horrible.
However, I will tell you about a fight between two women at 8:30 a.m. That, to me, was shocking, more so because it was the first day of classes and the first day that I took the bus at the terminal.
These were people who were waiting for the same bus as me, but they reacted in a very violent manner at a minor incident between them. I think if they had said, “Sorry,” everything would have been resolved.
Another violent situation that I saw happened on the train. I think the train is a good object to speak of: There are many stories there, and many are entertaining. I had the misfortune to see a negative one. One afternoon, after school, I took the train to Folsom, and a woman started to insult another other for no reason. Here I think it involved alcohol or other drugs, because the woman´s face was strange. The good thing was the others passengers defended the woman who was attacked and told the woman who started it to get off the train.
However, again I met a elderly lady, and we talked until she got off the train. It was so entertaining that I missed my stop, so I had to backtrack about five stops. It did not bother me because the conversation with the lady was very interesting and enjoyable. She told me about Sacramento and its various qualities.
The negative situations that I saw obviously don’t only not occur Sacramento, but they are part of global society, occurring in all continents, and in some of them occurring more frequently.
Perhaps this is caused by the unequal global society where we constantly see various social injustices that no one can deny or hide. Perhaps many do not agree with me – the world is full of different opinions and, most importantly, they should be shared in order to create discussion and to improve our society.
I will make a separate point in another situation that I really have not liked: the irresponsible use of water. I have seen many people leave the water running. From what I've heard, the unconscious use of water is not only in this city, but in the entire country. I hope that everybody takes awareness of this issue, since in many countries, including mine in the dry season, water is a scarce item.
I'll continue with my story, because what I described above does not at all tarnish my good experience in this city.
The other question people often ask me is, “Do you like Sacramento?” And I answer that I love it. Why? Because it is clean and safe, has a pleasant climate, is very entertaining and has interesting places to visit, has excellent shopping, the people are friendly, you can use a bike and have it carried it on buses and trains, the school where I study is excellent and, most importantly, here I have met people with whom I have become real friends. In conclusion, it is very fun, friendly and welcoming.
Which is my favorite place in Sacramento? That is Old Sacramento, as when I'm there, I go back many years. It's really a magical place. And on the other hand, I love the amount of parks that exist in the city where the children play, other people run or talk on a blanket on the grass. Also, the Capitol is an amazing place to know, since it has an impressive architectural beauty.
Sacramento gave me a pleasant surprise, because I must admit, I hadn´t had high expectations for it. Now, people ask me about California, and the first thing I say is: You have to know Sacramento, since it is a wonderful city where you can relax and have fun. You cannot compare Sacramento to San Francisco, San Diego or Los Angeles, as they are completely different places. Hopefully the international travel agencies can add Sacramento as a city that tourists should visit, but I feel that they have forgotten about it. At least in Chile, they only offer tours to the most famous cities in California. Maybe I will not be a great publicist for the city, but I will keep telling those who ask me: You must know Sacramento, because it is a city that may surprise you.