San Diego—Like No Other

This year SIETAR USA comes to the southwest corner of the United States. San Diego is bounded on the east by mountains and desert, on the south by Mexico, on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north by little towns that dot the coast a hundred miles to Los Angeles and beyond. Visitors sing its praises and residents thank their lucky stars to be in one of America’s finest cities.

San Diego is a fine city for a SIETAR USA conference with its cultural diversity, ideal weather, diverse landscapes, lush vegetation, friendly upbeat attitude, artistic abundance, easy access, and fabulous food. When you decide to come to the conference your purpose is to attend the program itself, meet with colleagues and friends, and learn what is new in the intercultural field. However, the hotel has guaranteed the conference rate for 3 nights prior to and after the conference so you might consider giving yourself some time to sample what San Diego has to offer.

Things you will notice right away: the Pacific Ocean; the landscape (mesas, valleys, palm trees, rocks); the Mediterranean climate (sun, sun, sun); cars and freeways; the Spanish influence on restaurant and street names and architecture (tile roofs, white and pastel stucco houses and walls). Cultural values include the environment, families, healthy living.

The Ocean and Climate: The Pacific Ocean—on the western edge of San Diego—affects the climate and the climate affects the architecture. The average annual rainfall total is 10 inches (254 mm). In fact, rain is a big event in San Diego. Rain storms can occur any time of year but are more often in the winter months of January, February and March. The 2017 spring has brought a surprising amount of rain. We already have our annual average. Autumn can be quite warm and dry.

It’s the Santa Ana season when winds can come from the Anza-Borrego desert comprising the eastern edge of San Diego County. The ocean moderates the temperature, so the temperature variation is less than most places. That said, you might appreciate a jacket for evenings while at the conference.

Photo: Joanne DiBona

Photo: Joanne DiBona

The Spanish Influence: The earliest European inhabitants who were Spanish (Catholic missionaries, soldiers, ranchers) and the proximity to Mexico influenced the architecture. You see a lot of walls because a piece of land is so expensive that houses tend to be built close together—walls help provide privacy as well as protection. Courtyards, patios, terraces, gates abound. You will find a lot of Spanish influence in the names of places and roads. Names of streets often begin with Via, Camino or Caminito or Avenida. A main North County road is El Camino Real. There are many restaurants offering Mexican or Spanish-influenced food. Actually, San Diego is a diverse mélange of Asian, South American, and African American influences.

Casual Life Style: The California casual way of approaching everyday living can be seen in clothes, language and behavior. People tend to be welcoming and inclusive. Casual does not mean that you forget to be polite and considerate; it just means much less formal than the U.S. East Coast or Europe. Social events and personal interactions tend to be more relaxed. The casual life style includes an emphasis on leisure time. Sports are really big in San Diego. Venues for sports such as golf, hiking, camping, skiing, kayaking, and surfing are all within 2 hours of San Diego and many are much nearer than that. The casual, relaxed life style is evident in the way San Diegan’s dress, so jeans are appropriate everywhere for almost all occasions. People do dress up, but it is your choice to do that and not because it is expected.

What Is There To Do? High-end shopping is available in Fashion Valley (very near the conference hotel) and many malls and clusters of shops are available throughout the city. Visit the world famous San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park! The Park also includes museums, art galleries, an arboretum, an Imax theatre, an organ pavilion and other delights. Also in Balboa Park is a replica of the Old Globe Theatre that has a very active theatre season including Shakespeare productions and other plays. There are playhouses for live theater and cinemas throughout the county. There is Sea World for rides and shows plus educational programs about sea life. There is the well-stocked Birch Aquarium part of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

Old Town is where the town began and has old houses to visit and shops with crafts and items from Mexico. The original Mission and Presidio where the Spaniards settled in the mid-1700s are above Old Town, quite near the conference hotel. You can tour the Point Loma Lighthouse and the Cabrillo Visitors’ Center at Point Loma with incredible views of the city. Or cross the beautiful Bay Bridge to Coronado and have dinner at the Hotel del Coronado where the Prince of Wales and Wallace Simpson dined many decades ago. Slightly up the coast is Legoland, treasured by the younger set. There is the San Diego Zoo Safari Park where the animals seem to roam free (but you don’t—you can walk the safe trails or take a park conveyance!). San Diego has a vibrant music scene from the symphony and opera to jazz and hip hop. There is a wonderful old sailing ship, the Star of India, that you can visit, and the USS Midway, a Navy aircraft carrier, has been turned into a museum. Since 1910 San Diego and its natural port have embraced the Navy and Marines.

Old Town is a medium walk from the hotel.  Play San Diego:
Mission Valley & Old Town “Positively in the Middle of it All”

The above is a short list of the many things to do and see in the San Diego area. There are many parks with walking/biking paths, places to rent boats or take boating excursions, or interesting areas to stroll, like Seaport Village. You can take the trolley to the Mexican border to visit Tijuana or take the train north to visit San Juan Capistrano or Los Angeles. Just east of San Diego are the Laguna Mountains where you can take a day-trip to tour Julian, a historic mining town. One of the most popular times to visit the mountains is during the fall apple harvest with its handicrafts, antiques and homemade apple pies. Further east is the Anza-Borrego desert known for miles of wilderness hiking trails with sweeping vistas of the area.

Location, Location, Location: San Diego is a very large county (population 3,227,496). While the densest region is the city itself, it is surrounded by a wide swath of suburbs where people are more spread out. There are also lightly populated mountains and desert. The city is the second largest in California at 1,368,061 (Los Angeles is the largest with 3,957,022). The median age in San Diego County is 35.1 and 24% of the population was born outside the United States.

The topography of San Diego County is anything but flat. There are mesas and canyons, valleys and hills, and small mountains. Mission Valley, a wide valley carved out by the San Diego River, is where the conference will take place.

Higher Education: A plethora of colleges and universities such as the University of California San Diego (UCSD), San Diego State, the University of San Diego, Cal State San Marcos, National University and more add a lot to the ambience of the county. UCSD, actually in La Jolla, is world renowned for its scientific research. San Diego State University and the University of San Diego offer a large number and variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees. There are a plethora of research institutions investigating among other things the human genome, the environment, and other cutting edge biological and medical research. 

In the San Diego Area

For a brief look at San Diego check out the San Diego Destination: Video: Speaking of San Diego

For information on things you can do while in San Diego check out the Explore San Diego Website.

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