Living the student’s life in L.A.

Filed in L.A. (Sept 2006), Music, TravelTags: , , ,

I came to L.A. to study singing, nothing else, and the studies are coming along wonderfully. I have one-on-one lessons with my teacher once a day from Monday to Friday. Additionally, I attend one Cabaret workshop with other students on Tuesday nights and another singing workshop on Saturdays in a totally different place.

My teacher is simply amazing. Her knowledge of singing is so broad and extensive that I would never be able to learn everything from her even if I stayed here a whole year. For the workshops, she has a friend and partner who acts as the musical director. He is also incredible and I feel incredibly lucky to have met both of these people. Sometimes, you get lucky!

Other than my lessons, I have very little to do, so my days are relatively relaxed in spite of the small hiccups I've encountered along the way (which I'll describe in a later article).

I live approximately fifteen blocks away from my teacher's studio. When I planned this trip, I used the internet to find the accommodation closest to my teacher's studio at the lowest price. The motel I'm staying is not quite the cheapest but it is the closest, albeit fifteen blocks. But I don't mind the fifteen blocks. When I stayed in Hollywood two years ago, I walked everywhere and quickly discovered that walking for an hour or so each day at a medium pace with seven to ten kilos in a backpack is a great way to get fit. So I decided to the do the same thing this time. Besides, I don't have a lot to do so walking for two or three hours each day is definitely not going to hurt me (although my beloved Birkenstock sandals are suffering). So my motel location has turned out to be excellent for my needs.

Coincidentally, my motel is just two minutes walk away from a shopping mall with a Starbucks store, so my coffee and internet needs are also provided for.

So basically, I get up in the morning, walk on over to Starbucks, have a cup of coffee and a raisin bagel, check my email, surf the internet for a short while and then go back to my motel. These days, I'm drinking a grande 4-shot 2% latte in the morning and another tall 3-shot 2% latte in the afternoon. I was drinking whole milk lattes but I soon realised that they were probably slowing my weight-loss in spite of all the walking, so I've switched to 2% milk which still tastes great nonetheless. At night, because there's nothing better to do, I come back to Starbucks for one last latte and a final email check before watching a little local tv and retiring to bed. Unfortunately, that night latte was causing sleep problems for me so a few nights ago, I started drinking the decaf version and my sleep is now much better.

Funny thing about Starbucks: They use less coffee here than they use in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, we have the Short, Tall and Grande sizes. The Vente size was only introduced a month or so ago in Hong Kong. In the U.S.A. where food portions are usually extravagantly large, Starbucks doesn't have a Short size. What is intriging though is that they use less coffee in their drinks. While in Hong Kong, the Tall and Grande sizes have two and three shots of coffee respectively, here in the U.S.A., they only have one and two shots of coffee. I remember the first time I tried a regular Tall Latte here. It tasted more like milk than coffee. I have subsequently remembered to always order extra shots of coffee. Conversely, Starbucks' primary competitor, The Coffee Bean, seems to use more coffee. Their regular Medium (ie, Starbucks' Tall) lattes taste just fine without adding any extra coffee.

It feels as if I've been here forever. I can hardly remember getting off the plane two weeks ago. It's been an excellent adventure though. My teachers are fantastic and I'm learning a lot more than I could have dreamed. And I've met new friends (hello Mandy and Michael ;-). In fact, it will be difficult to leave my teachers and go back to Hong Kong. But I miss my wife and family and it will be wonderful to see them again.

11 days of this fun adventure remain...


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9 Responses to “Living the student’s life in L.A.”
  1. Fiona says:

    Drinking coffee in HK tastes more like milk than coffee compared to Oz, and it's much more expensive in HK. Never thought USA coffee would use even less coffee.
    It's quite ironic when you said you dislike the LA lifestyle, because you chose to live in HK which has the same type lifestyle. But guess you're just there to be in acting & singing.

  2. Gnap says:

    I suspect in general Asian ppl drink their coffee thicker. I remember my US counterparts telling me the coffee in their office is tasteless compared to the aromatic coffee over here (in Malaysia).

    Sound very enviable, the way you describe your singing teacher and musical director. Wish I could do the same - get a real singing expert to teach me some real singing. :)

    Have fun, Greg.

  3. asget says:

    Glad you are having a great time learning something you are passionate about.

    btw, have you read your wiki entry? ->

    Perhaps you can even add/edit some parts of it yourself, that would be just great!

  4. erika says:

    hi! im erika i found ur blog accidently just now
    i want to tell u something i heard ur singing 'carry on till tomorrow' in 妙手仁心 i really like it!
    i really want to get a full version can i?
    u can post it on ur blog so every1 can hear ur voice;)
    hehe thank you and good luck!

  5. Jocelyn says:

    Hey Greg,

    Glad to hear that ur enjoying life, and your music lessons. I wanted to ask you that was joint with the post where you posted about finding the right do you know if the teacher is right for you? Thanks


  6. Alex says:

    Hi there,
    I am not a regular reader of this blog, but I sometimes find it very interesting to see how a foreigner looks at HK. ( well, u are not that "foreign" anymore......)
    Anyway, I am getting jealous of what u are doing at the moment.
    Nothing is better then taking a month break doing what you like the best
    The fact the I love singing more then anything is making me even more jealous!! (May be you can teach me when u come back~~lol)
    Well, good luck with your singing!!

  7. Feeman says:

    They *do* have a Short size, but they just don't advertise it. You need to ask for it. =)

  8. Kayin says:

    Hmmm, I don't drink coffee ^^

    Wah your studying sounds like so much fun! Wish I could say the same about mine! I have my exams in less than a week ... I'm dead ... aiya

  9. hamster says:

    Hi dude,

    I am using gmail and saw your blog link from web clip section. The link is as follows:
    河國榮, An Aussie in H.K. - - Gregory Charles Rivers's blog 河國榮的私人網誌

    It is interesting to see that your blog is advertised in gmail.