My love letter to the United States of America 

Personal

It all started in Florida, but quickly grew its way into East Coast road trips, Route 1 adventures and a trip that brought me halfway across the country. We zigzagged a few states here and there, and before I knew it I needed more than my fingers and toes to count the States I had visited. By the time I was 15 my family and I had travelled to the country 19 times. When my 16th birthday came around my roots were torn up from the familiar Danish ground and relocated to what was to become my 2nd home.

When I turned 21 I had been to 33 states. Some I passed through within hours, others I spent days exploring and a selected few I lived in for years. I grew up traveling the U.S. in the back seat of cars.

I fell in love with surfing on the beaches of Hawaii. I got a picture with Minnie Mouse at Disney World in Florida, not to be confused with Disney Land in California where I met Pocahontas and almost peed my pants on the Indiana Jones ride. I had my first New Years kiss to the sound of the ball dropping at a high school party in Connecticut. I drove two hours with college girlfriends to shop at Trader Joe’s in Orlando. I survived a category 4 hurricane in the basement of a hotel that was falling apart in Florida. I stood on all four in the famous cross where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet, the only place in the country where you can be in four states at once. I ordered room-service in Las Vegas with my sister while my parents were trying their luck in the casino. Forever the biggest piece of chocolate cake I have seen. I danced the day and night away at a music festival in New York City.  I considered eating my way through a meat challenge in Virginia. I flew over Grand Canyon in a helicopter. I got to see my then boyfriend win the national championship running the mile at Harvard University. I slept through the fireworks over Niagara Falls. I graduated high school and got to throw my cap in to the air. I gazed out over Manhattan with my best friends from a rooftop terrace. I spent a weekend learning the ins and outs of snowboarding in Vermont. I got asked to prom spelled out on cupcakes in the middle of calculus class. I saw shooting stars on the beach in Cape Cod, skinny dipping with a Corona in my hand and some of the best people surrounding me. I met a little girl in Central Park that wanted me to teach her how to do cart wheels. I got a tattoo of an airplane in Tampa. I swam around in one pool after another, always pretending I was a mermaid. I got to experience a true Hamptons weekend, and everything that comes with it. I got stopped by a police boat in the Gulf; “According to Florida State Law its against the rules to be outside the railing of your boat.” I drove 1,300 miles down the East Coast to get to my college. I experienced a different world in New Orleans. I watched my first meteor shower on Compo Beach. I drove thorugh Death Valley and was amazed by what I saw. I got a glimpse into space in Houston. I went on endless amounts of walks and was always greeted with smiles and hellos. I met some of the most amazing people I will ever know.

I could continue that list for days, but I bet it got pretty boring after 5 memories, unless you were one of the people that I got to share them with. I have had countless amazing and unforgettable experiences. Many of them I can thank my parents for, but even more I can thank the beautiful people of this country and it’s mind blowing scenery, nature and cities.

What is really interesting (and most of all sad) is that I’ve met quite a few people arond the world who doesn’t have the United States on their bucket list. People that wants to see the whole world, except for the states. The reasons are always political and stereotypical.
Whenever I get asked a question ending with “isn’t it like that in the States?” or people state that “that’s how it works in America” I always make a very clear point about how the country (in term of stereotypes) should really be viewed as 50 small countries, and that because your cousin experienced one thing with an American in Oregan 5 years ago, it doesn’t automatically mean that the 20 million people living 2,800 miles away would’ve have acted that way or said those same words.

Please don’t leave the United States off of your bucket list because of the stereotypes, because of what you have heard, because of what you have seen on the news or because of the election that turned Donald Trump into the president..

The United States is an incredible, beautiful and diverse country. For what it is and for all it has yet to become. Yes they have some serious issues, but what country doesn’t.

Open up your mind; there’s so much you don’t know and so much you have yet to see and experience.

// Annika

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