“Kat – please report to the Dean’s office.” My heart sank as I grabbed my bag and trudged out of class. My last paper on Jimmy Carter’s fly fishing book had sucked but then again, it was a book on fly fishing and I had only taken the class to butter up the professor (also the Dean) who was in charge of assigning the coveted spots in our “study abroad” program. What if this had torpedoed any and all chances? What if I was stuck in this little German town for all eternity? My hands were shaking as I knocked on the door.
“Come in”. Great, now my knees were shaking, too. We shook hands. “I have two scholarship offers for you. One for <school in Buffalo> and the other one from USC in Los Angeles. You can start in Buffalo this summer or you can study here for another year and then transfer to USC. Where would you rather go?”
My hands had stopped shaking but instead, I found myself stammering like a complete buffoon. I did finally regain speech (albeit not composure) to say “USC” before running out the door, doing the happy jig. I was going to live and study in my favorite, favorite city on earth!!!! Good-bye Germany!
Having grown up in Germany in one house with my parents and grandparents (think somebody ALWAYS being home!), exploring Los Angeles on my own on my trusted bike was phenomenal. Getting used to American customs and figures of speech was an entirely different can of worms but I slowly got the hang of it. I even figured out that a seemingly polite “Excuse me” at the supermarket meant “Get the heck out of my way!”.
The following year, I met Damian while doing still photography on a movie set as a favor for a friend, and the rest, as they say, is history. We adopted Daisy & Jake while in Los Angeles and I was heartbroken when we had to relocate to Boston.
This year, we finally came back for a quick trip while attending WPPI in Las Vegas and so much had changed and yet, nothing had changed. Traffic was still nightmarish, hiking in Griffith Park was just as fantastic as we remembered it, and we even got to hike behind the Hollywood Sign for the first time.
Out tips for dinner & recreation:
Daichan – easily the best Japanese food in town. Small and very friendly place with only a handful of tables. We got there when they opened at 5.30pm and just half an hour later, the wait time was close to an hour. Either get there early or make reservations. Definitely not something that’s “spur of the moment” because they’re just that good. Fun fact: they already offered a Poke Bowl more than 20 years ago, way before it was trendy.
I adore this hiking map of Griffith Park. If you’re somewhat fit, simply park the car at the very bottom (free parking!), hike up to the observatory (free, also: toilets!) before taking the trail to the Hollywood Sign & beyond. Amazing city & valley views.
In case you find yourself in our old hometown of Toluca Lake, stop by Priscilla’s Gourmet Cafe. Still reasonably priced with outdoor seating. This is the place we met our little Daisy Mae and were we used to hang out with our friends. Unless it was below 65 degrees because for LA, that’s way too cold to sit outside. 🙂