Assuming that I have portions of free time outside of my graduate studies (which I intend to secure as a high priority), there is a lot of the USA that I want to take on during my allocated 5 years on the F1 visa. I have always believed that it is wrong to go to a new country…and then not explore it. Assuming I get a couple of weeks holiday per year and have some time to myself in the evenings and weekends, I think I know what I want to do with myself…
Summer Trip down the coast of California. I’ve already ticked off the Northern West Coast Vancouver to Portland, the next stage is two to three weeks of holiday where I start from the Redwood Pines and travel down through San Fransisco, LA and San Diego – diverting left to visit Yosemite/Sierra Nevada National Parks. Whilst listening to “Hollywood Nights” by Bob Seger on endless repeat.
Get a driver’s license. In America I think I actually could benefit from having one. Not that I intend to ditch my bike for journeys under 15 miles – that remains unthinkable. Yet as I get nearer to a professional career I start to cut off my options if I’m unable to drive. Particularly in the States where I might have to commute to places where public transport gets a little sketchy.
Explore the Wild West. Take a trip around the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Zion Valley areas. I’ve seen that Trek America offers camping/adventure holidays for young people, so if a solo trip proves too hard to arrange it can still be done.
Return to Ballroom Dancing & DanceSport. What DanceSport gives me is a sense of confidence in my presentation and in myself. The lessons it teaches about posture, poise and expression are ones that I’ve applied in the past to life as a student and life as an employed professional. DanceSport also forces me to practice yoga/pilates, to take care of my flexibility and core strength. Lessons I need to be reminded of when the slog of grad school goes on around me.
Visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras. I said I was going to do this while I was working in Philadelphia…and never did. Luckily, that shortcoming can be addressed. I have since learned that New Orleans is something of a party town whenever you visit, so going there outside of “term-time” won’t mean I’m missing out.
Obtain membership to a cool museum. Visit and pay homage to that museum regularly. I get to choose between one in NYC, Philadelphia or DC (I have already mentioned how much I like the Museum of the Native American…). I want to be more than the stereotypical science grad student who spends all their time in the lab during the course of their PhD and have no outside interests or opinions. I’ve always wanted to be cultured and have a working knowledge of “art” – grad school is probably not the best place to cultivate my artistic instints, but there’s no reason to completely neglect the easy “culture points”.
Have a winter beach holiday in Miami. Then look fabulous for the whole time that I’m there.
Experience all major forms of American sports. That means attending a baseball game, tailgating American Football and taking a cheerleading taster session. I don’t think that I’m obligied to enjoy the games or understand the rules…saying I just turned up is fine by me.
Go hiking in Glacier National Park. From all the pictures I’ve seen of the place it looks absolutely beautiful. It would be a good place to backpack in – I’d want to get into the interior away from the day-trippers.
Host a (vegetarian) Thanksgiving celebration. Given that my culinary skills are rudimentary (more through lack of inclination than innate lack of ability), the whole-day-cooking marathon run-up to a Thanksgiving feast would challenge me on a number of levels. That’s no reason not to do it, though.
There are of course plenty of other plans and schemes I intend to cook up…but this makes a good start (Suggestions and personal recommendations are always welcomed!).