Sophie's Gap Year Diary - Rest and Relaxation in the United States
Catching the travel bug
A slight change of location since my last blog, I am now back in the UK again (for a couple of weeks at least). I got back from South Africa at the very end of March, and have since then been in the US for 2 weeks.
So, coming back home – it was actually surprisingly difficult. I even started frantically googling any other volunteering programmes, or flights, or tours that I could lay my hands on, as the thought of readjusting to a summer at home seemed a strangely daunting one. I’ve since realised, with limited funding and significantly less time that any more travelling, after interrailing around Europe later in the year, is fairly unlikely. But you couldn’t have told me that 3 weeks ago! I now completely understand how easy it is to catch the travel bug.
Don’t get me wrong – I’d missed all my friends and family of course – but 'reverse culture shock' is apparently very normal, and it took me a couple of weeks to get back into the swing of normal life. So don’t be surprised if this happens to you! BUT having said all of this, don’t let it put you off doing anything! This one tiny negative is just a drop in an ocean of positives to have come from the experience. And know that if it does happen, it will pass.
The United States of America
So, moving on to America: I got back last Sunday from just under 2 weeks spent splitting time between New York and Washington DC. I was just your average tourist this time, which was a very different, but still equally enjoyable, experience to volunteering. It made me realise what a different side of a country you see when you’re working there. I found myself a lot more interested in seeing how normal, local people live, rather than charging straight for the typical tourist traps. I was just as happy wandering around a residential area and stopping at a neighbourhood diner as I was standing and taking pictures in front of the White House.
First, New York!
Whilst in New York we went to MoMa (the Museum of Modern Art), which was just as good as everyone makes it out to be. We spent a day just wandering around Central Park, as it was apparently the first sunny day they'd had all year (I’m basing this judgement on the hordes of sunbathers congregating on quite possibly every square inch of grass in the city). We also went to Brooklyn for a day (I thoroughly recommend the ice cream) and got the Staten Island ferry for some very photogenic views of the NY skyline.
Next, Washington DC!
Washington was also very picturesque as we unknowingly timed our visit slap bang in the middle of cherry blossom season. There are thousands of trees all over the city and most of them were in full bloom while we were there, even though they only flower for a few days a year. It’s a really fascinating city, full of culture and history, so if you ever get the chance to go I highly recommend it!
Anyway, that’s probably enough from me for now. But I’m off interrailing around Europe in 2 weeks, so watch this space for updates and I’ll report back shortly.