Why should you make the trip to USA
Just about half a year after returning home from the United States, I realised that despite having the time of my life I never actually talked much about it, or even written something about it. So to everyone who thinks that Europe is your dream exchange or holiday destination, here are 7 reasons, in 7 states, why USA won my heart.
** Disclaimer: Many pictures ahead. **
Arizona is the land of the most beautiful and breathtaking scenery. Definitely one of the most unforgettable states that I went to. Home to some of the most mind blowing places on the planet, I'll let pictures do the talking.
Grand Canyon, North Rim
Tourists usually go to the Southern Rim, but we are cool people, so my friends and I drove up to the Northern Rim instead.
At at elevation of 8827ft (almost 2.7km), it is almost like Genting Highlands, only much better...
My camera does a lot of injustice to this place, it is way better than my best pictures portray it to be.
Simply put, there is a reason why Grand Canyon is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. To see more pictures from Grand Canyon, click here.
Located on the Arizona-Utah state line, Monument Valley is on Native American state land. If it looks familiar, you probably have seen it in movies like Starwars and Forrest Gump.
A shot from the visitor's centre. Probably one of the nicest trio of monuments in the valley. How can anyone not marvel at the siltstones that have stood the test of time.
I tried to do the famous road shot, till I realised I was at the wrong spot. But, nice try Josh. To see more pictures from Monument Valley, click here.
Land of the sun, the beach and the babes, California is THE getaway for anyone who loves water, tan and the perfect weather.
Santa Monica beach, oh those beaches that stretch on for miles and miles...
Discovered a place near Santa Monica Beach called Little Venice. Hey, won't it be nice if I had a little boat, a canal at the back of my home.. And I could row over to my girlfriend's place for dinner..
Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream..
A night shot of LA from Griffith Observatory.
A walk along Hollywood Walk of Fame.
An almost obligatory shot. A 20 minute walk along a trail then followed by a short uphill climb.
To see more pictures from LA, click here.
We even had time for this the next day.
Too busy having fun to take much photos. This was from Waterworld.
Hey hey hey, favourite villain Megatron.
To see more pictures from Universal Studios, click here.
Land of the rich and the famous. I want a beach home here, seriously.
San Diego's La Jolla Beach
We even visited retired aircraft carrier turned museum USS Midway.
To see more pictures from San Diego, click here.
Easily one of the most popular tourist destinations, SF is home to one of the largest proportion of Asians. Don't ask me why, it seems as though everywhere I go, someone is speaking Canto. I'm Hokkien, but thankfully I had my Hong Kong friend with me.
This is why you should drive to SF. Highway 1 scenic drive, although a much longer route from San Diego to SF, has tons of photo taking opportunities and breath-taking viewpoints.
What are you looking at? D:<
To see more pictures from Highway 1, click here.
On to SF proper, a visit to Alcatraz island was first on the list.
We shared the joy of a potential newborn with a parent.
What every tourist would want to see, the Golden Gate Bridge.
And then the Bay Bridge by day.
And the Bay Bridge by night.
I need a yacht one day with my own parking lot, I told my friend..
We had time for those famous Fish & Chips at Fisherman's Wharf.
And to watch the turntable of those SF Trams. And travel on them as well..
A visit to Lombard Street, the winding twist and turns that captures the attention of everyone. I really don't know why but...
YOLO! Hmm this is easier than S-curve in the circuit..
Saying hello to Levi's headquarters.
Visiting Grace Cathedral. Strangely peaceful place.
Our wonderfully crafted breakfast at Mama's Cafe.
And really for the last time, a beach home.. This was at the beach next to Sutro Baths.
And introducing Sutro Baths, a large, privately owned swimming complex back in the 19th century.
Them wave organs that play the song of the sea.
Peaceful scenes at Golden Gate State Park.
My first real sunset. I can die a happy man now.
No wait, I need to watch it with a girl, not guys. -stares at that couple in the picture-
Memories of a lifetime.
The only awesome thing about Illinois is Chicago. With their splendid architecture, Lake Michigan and awesome food, Chicago is another reason why I'm dying to go back to USA.
The famous Cloud Gate a.k.a The bean @ Millennium Park
The huge pizza we had for dinner on the first day.
A shot of the skyline. I love Chicago!
Beautiful Lake Michigan!
They dyed the entire Chicago River green for St. Patrick's day, which I thought was really cool.
We visited one star Michelin restaurant, Naha, for lunch. 3 course meal for 22 USD.
I can't even remember the names of the dishes. I hate my memory :(
Chicago day shot from the skydeck on level 103 of Willis Tower.
Chicago night shot from Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of John Hancock's tower.
And oh, did I mention The Cheesecake Factory?
Red Velvet Cheesecake yummmmmm...
To see more pictures of Chicago, click here.
Land of Rocky Mountains, Colorado was a short weekend getaway with my roommate. Nearly got ourselves killed slipping and sliding down icy trails without proper footwear and gears. Don't tell my mum! Spectacular snow capped mountains, especially from the airplane. Too bad I couldn't get a air shot. But here is Colorado, through the eyes of my camera.
Royal Gorge Bridge
First, a visit to Royal Gorge Bridge.
I found the state that I was studying in! :)
A view from a tram which brings us across the valley. Scary.
We drove up to YMCA of the Rockies and met some friends trying to cross the road illegally. Shame on you guys.
Waking up in YMCA.
It was really cold and windy, but the view was magnificent. I spent most of my time trying to stay on track while walking on those icy trails, hence I didn't really get pictures of us hiking. Thank God we are alive. The Americans were smiling and laughing at 2 Asian idiots trying to fumble their way around.
To see more pictures of Colorado, Rocky Mountains, click here.
The state that I called home for 5 months. I'm not going to lie, Minnesota is boring. It is the people that made it awesome. They are proud to be labelled "Minnesota Nice". I'm just going to be a little bias and post more pictures for Minnesota. This place however, looks pretty awesome in spring.
Actually, everything just looks better in Spring. But hey, after seeing snow for the first time in my life, I concluded that snow is overrated. Plus, having snow for 5 months in a row is no joke. In addition to living in -20 to -27 degree C...
Part of the Great Lake, which is the largest group of lakes in the world. This was shot in Duluth, Minnesota, where Lake Superior is.
A shot of Duluth
St. Paul, Minneapolis (The Twin Cities)
The city I was based in, Minneapolis, is where University of Minnesota's campus was located. They had another one in St. Paul, but Minneapolis was to be my home.
The largest mall in America, the Mall of America. They had an indoor theme park, but hey, it's smaller than Vivocity :S
A campus bridge that links the East and West bank. Towers over the Mississippi river.
When you graduate, you throw your shoes on this tree! How cool is that.
Carlson School of Management, the main building I was based in.
Some cool looking Science & Technology building on campus.
My cosy apartment of 5 months.
Minnehaha falls in winter.
Minnehaha falls in Spring!
Having lunch by Minnehaha falls at Sea Salt Eatery. Meet Fisherman's Stew.
Introducing Clam Fries. Gosh, they need to make these in Singapore.
Life was good, we had time to watch baseball games.
Visited the state capitol.
Visited a winter sculpting carnival.
Those talented people >_>
I even tried skiing for the first time in my life. Nearly lost my right hand.
Tubing was brainless fun.
Down we gooooooooo.....
We caught some Rodeo action.
And even Monster Jam!
Check out some cool videos about Monster Jam:
And also Rihanna live!
There is only one place worth going in Nevada, and that is Las Vegas. Home to casinos, crazy partying and insanely warm weather, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
I have to apologise, my images of Vegas aren't very nice. Hence, I'm not going to shame myself by posting them here. I blame my poor photography skills.
But, I'll leave you with my favourite part of Vegas, the musical:
To see more pictures of Nevada, click here.
7. South Dakota
Just like Nevada, South Dakota prides itself on one outstanding place to visit. Other than that, South Dakota is just mostly... Farm land. Mount Rushmore National Memorial pays tribute to 4 American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
With faces carved out of granite rock, Mount Rushmore is unique but hard to access. It is recommended that if you ever want to visit this place, you better remember to bring along your drivers license.. And rent a car.
The mini version.
(From left to right): George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
I found my state again haha.
It started snowing as we left the place!
To see more pictures of South Dakota, click here.
So there you have it, 7 states, 7 reasons as to why I have fallen in love with the United States. One of the good thing about USA is that they are an English speaking nation, so when you get lost it is easy to ask for directions.
In my 5 months in USA, I have learnt how different the Western culture is, and how conservative Asian mindsets are. I admire how, to the Americans, family and friends take priority over work. The towns are absolutely deserted on the weekends!
They aren't as affected as us about getting bad grades, but instead they go for classes that enrich their knowledge and experience. Unlike Singapore, many of them don't seem to be caught up in the pursuit of studies. I like how they sit on grasses, have picnics, go for morning walks; they seem generally happier.
But before you judge me for deserting my roots, 5 months in USA, I was ready to come home. I miss having late night suppers at Bedok 85, or being able to get food at almost any time of the day. I miss my family, my friends, and as much as I love the friends I made over there, my chapter there had ended. One day, I'll be back. One day soon.
So, if you are deciding between Europe or USA as an undergraduate, I highly recommend USA. Great school experience, fantastic travel destinations and wonderful people. Leave Europe for your honeymoon okay?
All photos and videos are shot with a Canon Powershot s100