Kate – Exchange to St John’s University, USA
Semester 2, 2016
Why wouldn’t the most magical place on earth be at the top of my bucket list? It was everything I expected and more. Half way through the semester, a group of international students including myself decided to make the most of a long weekend. Over the course of four days, we got to experience each of the four different kingdoms including the Magical Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. From rollercoasters to disney characters and sing-a-longs, I got to fulfil my ultimate childhood dream. Watching the fireworks over the Magical Kingdom castle really did top it off!
When arriving in Miami, it was exactly as I had always imagined it to be – white sand, clear waters and a very laid back atmosphere. Being only a short flight from college, some of my friends and I decided to spend a few nights here. We got to lay by the turquoise waters on the infamous South Beach, explore Wynward Art district and shop at all the little beachside boutiques. It is definitely a place I want to visit again!
I was lucky enough to spend a week here prior to arriving at college. Hopping of the plane at LAX, I was so excited and ready to make the most of every minute here. My first stop was Santa Monica Pier, which had such a lively atmosphere being by the water. Next I visited Venice beach where I got to see the iconic ‘muscle beach’ and graffiti walls alongside the sands edge. One of my favourite days was spent at Universal Studios with new friends I had made. We went on countless rides and even got to explore the magical Harry Potter World. Finally, I made my way over to Hollywood where I got to walk along the iconic strip of stars and embrace every quirky part of this place. Los Angeles, I’ll be back!
From riding cable cars, to eating seafood chowder along Fisherman’s wharf, to walking across the golden gate bridge, San Fran didn’t disappoint. Being a typical tourist, I managed to also see the Painted Ladies, experience a tour around Alcatraz, the home to some of America’s most dangerous criminals and even get my picture taken on the well-known Lombard Street. One of my highlights here was getting to watch a classic American baseball game overlooking the bay with helmet nachos in one hand and a foam finger in the other!
Hiking up through Yosemite was an experience I won’t ever forget. This is one of the three most well known national parks in the US that everyone must experience. The hike itself was challenging at times with steep slopes and many steps along the way however it was well worth the view at the top!
How do I even begin to describe the Grand Canyon…..it was honestly one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. I was lucky enough to have a helicopter ride over it, which allowed me to not only see the most amazing views but also learn all about how it was formed. This is one experience I would definitely recommend to anyone traveling abroad in the US!
NYC is such an incredible place. I am lucky enough to be able to make weekend trips here with my college only being a few hours away. There are endless sights to see and have seen so many already. A few of my most memorable experiences here have included a harbour cruise over to the Statue of Liberty, exploring Brooklyn, making my way up to the top of the One World Tower which is the tallest tower in the Western Hemisphere, visiting the 9/11 memorial and riding a bike around central park. This concrete jungle filled with as the Americans say “cawfee”, bagels and their infamous pizza is limitless with things to do and see!