The Americans and a great Improvement
The United States of America, the land of opportunity. The land of dreams. A country made by immigrants and always the place to move to, if you want to start a fresh. In my 18th year I will finally travel to this grand land, to experience if it is true that the US is just better than all other parts of the world, or if all the bad things will outshine the good.
The last days of tension
It’s the last days before departing towards the land of opportunity and the tension is rising. What is it going to be like? Are they going to be as stupid as we expect? Are there going to be fat people all around? There are many thoughts running through the head before this awesome trip. But the main thing sticking in the head is: ‘oh boy, the Americans’. All that I have learned from TV and the media, is that Americans are rude, stupid and unhealthy. Not a very great picture. But still they have managed to stay the land of opportunity, and all the things happening happen in the US. Still, looking forward to see the landmarks and all the amazing places, but not really looking forward to meeting the Americans, and definitely not looking forward to see them loving themselves. And their political system is even more rubbish, going into this is going to be tough, but hopefully great landmarks, exciting new places, daring adventures and a lovely class to complete the journey.
Washington — political centre, but dead empty?
Arriving in Washington was a mild change compared to Denmark. Of course everything is bigger, there is much more of it, but no people on the streets, not an extreme difference. I wasn’t experiencing that ‘wow’ that normally comes along when coming to a new country. Instead it was a bit dull. Nice buildings and such, but everything was sterilised and there were not that many people in the streets. First we saw the Danish embassy. A long walk through the woods, we even had to hike up an off-route hill, and then arriving at the embassy. It was kind of cool, that on the first day we entered back on to Danish territory. It was almost as if we had to get our little spark of Danish hope once in awhile, it was harder to find that spark later in New York. Then onwards towards the great monuments and a bit of American nationalism. The Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Two great presidents of the United States, and two magnificent monuments. It’s amazing to see how much energy they build these with. And getting the chance to speak with the former American ambassador of Denmark was truly amazing. She was very nice and for the time being, she put a lot of my prejudice down. A few days later we went to the other side of this park and lane of monuments, and this time our target was the Capitol. The great building housing both the Senate and the House of Representatives. It was an amazing building, even though it was under renovation. It really demonstrated how great American architecture, inspired by European, can be. It was both magnificent, but elegant and not over the top. A perfect building for the power station of the United States. Entering it was even nicer, even though half of our group had to leave their food and drinks behind. It was so pretty and elegant. It was devastating that we could not take pictures. But then we entered the house of representatives. And it was quite disappointing. Prettier than our legislative building, but still, boring. They discussed some very interesting things, but we were only allowed to listen for a few minutes before we were pulled out, and had to go through airport security to move on towards the Senate. This was actually a prettier room, but the conversation was more boring, and we left pretty early even though we were allowed to stay there for a long time.
High Schoolers — A lot of them
Having seen the political part of the city and the memorial part it was now time to move on to the educational part. And suddenly we figured out were everybody was. The halls of Bethesda High were crowded. Coming from the empty streets directly into the fire of high schoolers, trying to get to their next period, was scary. It was interesting to experience the teenagers of the US, and they were definitely like we see them in movies. They are divided into groups of popular kids and non-popular, and they have all the cliché types of people. We really got to experience the difference from Denmark to the US here in the new generation of the greatest nation on earth. They were divided into many more groups than in Denmark. And much more extreme poles. In Denmark it’s like we are very alike and all get along, even though we have different activities. Here that didn’t work out. They had their few friends in their group, and they had their image. High School Musical all over again. And they are amazing at language, but they were still impressed that we knew more languages than them, even though we didn’t speak our third and fourth language even half as great as they spoke their second. But a subject were the differences clashed was the question on alcohol. They were shocked that we had been drinking for years, and were now clubbing in the yound age of 18. Something that we are used to, but to them it’s so weird that they can’t understand how we can control it, but the fact that some of us had just gotten our driver license and were really happy about it, was something normal for them, and the 16 year olds had their driver license. AND THEY DON’T KNOW HOW TO DRINK?! Scary combination. If you ask me, you have to learn to control you liquor before you get to drive a car. And some of them had just gotten a phone, some of the 15 year olds had just gotten a phone, and didn’t have facebook? Really strange. And the food was HORRIBLE. Not worth eating. Really bad. Hopefully food would be much better away from the high school and towards the great city of New York.
New York — City of Wonders
New York is possibly the most amazing and beautiful city I have ever seen. It’s grand and big and still elegant in its own way. The first day was wonderful. A Saturday night on Times Square was just the time needed to kick start our systems. A city that never sleeps and as crowded as a high school between periods. It was so fun to be part of. Stores with 4 floors or more, and all the shopping opportunities you would need. We loved it. Although the city was amazing and you could really experience a new side to life, there was not that much to see in New York. Sightseeing was better in Washington, but New York is a much more exciting city to just walk around in. Never a dull hour. We went through the stores as they appeared around us. Clothes, shoes and make-up, New York had it all, and they had it everywhere. Times Square, Soho and 5th avenue. We just walked from one to the other. Also the people of New York were so polite. That was unexpected. They would always help you if you had lost your way. You don’t see that everywhere in Denmark. The only scary thing was seeing all the homeless walking around on the street and shouting for help in the subways. We supported a few, but still, how much do you have to give before they take your arm?
Broadway — Shinning Stars and then more Politics?
Walking down Broadway, soaking up all the things happening around us. The good and the bad. Walking down to the theatre hosting ‘Chicago’ and witnessing a fine musical. It was amazing. The atmosphere as everybody, except for one guy texting someone, enjoys the magnificent show. It will be an experience for life. Although shopping was the main event in New York and cash kept pouring out from our pockets, we also saw the UN. An incredible building, and an even more incredible organisation. But you have to wonder why they have chosen New York for their headquarters? It’s a big city, but the political centre lies in an empty Washington D.C., and Europe is much closer to the countries they act in. You have to wonder, just what strings did New York pull? But never the less, we were showed around and got to see all the great chambers, walk through one already assembled and they had a great cafeteria where we got our lunch. Well done UN, thumbs up from here. When we finally neared the last night, everybody just wanted to squeeze the last moments out of New York. Top of the Rock, shopping, Hooters and just walking around Times Square a final time. We were finishing our great adventure, and we could expect a long trip of 18 hours to get home, and that was the ones going home early, spending money on an early ticket. The others had to suffer through 24 hours of straight travelling. 18 hours was already hell, the last 6 must have been awful.
Back home, and now what?
My trip to the US will definitely be remembered, and I am hoping it wasn’t the last. I am positively shocked at how great a country it is. The people are amazing and you just feel good walking around. But still, their political system is awful, and I would never want to live in such a country. A few things that will always be remembered was seeing Chicago, Top of the Rock, the Capitol and just walking around the streets of New York starring up at those amazing skyscrapers. I will envy everyone who goes there without me, and I will start saving money and convincing my parents that it is a good place for a family trip. But it’s not only good things that will stick. The travelling time was awful, as well as a few minor incidents in the subway. Not everything about this country is great, but overall my view of the country has improved a lot. Before I would never have dreamt of complimenting an American and actually think that they are a bit smart. Now I see them as normal individuals, just a bit more stereotypical.