I am finally here! Really this place is amazing. I have discovered that Australia isn't all that bad and definitely has its benefits but I am definitely very happy here. From what I had kept hearing, everyone is really friendly in the US and I am ever so glad that, that stereotype is spot on. The amount of people my host family say hello to in the street, even people they don't know is amazing- there is definitely a great community vibe here in my lovely little town called Orcutt. The neighbours here even have street parties and my host family were invited to a farewell party for one of the nearby locals who is retiring and moving to Florida. This is the kind of thing I've wanted to experience my whole life, not that I've always known it but I think it's been there sub-consciously. It's not like Australians are completely antisocial but I've never really experienced a lifestyle where my family and the locals are very tight-knit. We're more like a loosely knitted scarf with lots of holes in it in terms of bonding with those around us. For me I think this year is going to be about meeting new people and becoming more confident and outgoing. I met another girl at the 4 day culture camp we had in Los Angeles who is actually from my hometown, Perth and she would just start talking to strangers in the street about anything and everything and if she didn't get the desired response from someone she would just laugh it off and it would make for a great story to tell someone later. To be able to have a conversation with a stranger is definitely a skill I'd like to acquire as it makes mundane tasks like shopping trips, something really special and uplifting. And whilst I'm on the topic of 'socialisation'(I sound like I'm talking about puppy-training or something...), it's recently occurred to me that I've had little opportunity to meet new people in the last few years. At highschool I'm been with pretty much the same group of people since 8th grade and have rarely strayed from my friendship circle. My parents rarely introduce me to new people and I haven't gone to many classes/activities/events where I've had the chance to mingle with unfamiliar individuals. So it was such a change to meet all these new people at the culture camp I went on from the 4th-8th of January- there was lots to talk about as everyone was curious as to where each student was going in the states and what they knew about their host family so whilst it was a tad nerve-wracking I really enjoyed it. There are lots of fun things headed my way but for now I'll leave you with a couple photos of my culture camp from early January.