A while ago a friend of mine suggested that I write a list of the top 10 things I experienced during my three months in USA. I started thinking about it and slowly started adding things to my notes in my phone. I soon realized that there was no way that I would actually be able to list these things according to how much I appreciated, as it would be unfair to all the other things… yeah I know, I’m way too sentimental but I just couldn’t. So this will be a list of some of the greatest things that happened to me, in an order that is in no way relevant to how much I enjoyed it.
– Getting picked up off the street in North Carolina and taken in by a family.
This will forever be one of my favorite memories and experiences. I hadn’t even been in the United States for a week when I one stinking hot Saturday in June got to Mt Gilead, North Carolina. I knew that there was no way I would be able to keep on cycling that day as I had already suffered a small heatstroke just an hour earlier, so I sat down on a street corner, stealing wifi from a local business and waiting for something to happen. And it sure did. Just moments later Laura and Courtney came walking by, and I asked if they knew somewhere I could camp that night. Minutes later I was on a couch in Laura’s spa, drinking a soda and eating chips while half of the Mt Gilead community came by to say hi. My bike was loaded onto her pickup and I spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out in their amazing Gone With the Wind-type house, meeting both Laura’s husband and kids. It was just what I needed that day and I still can’t believe I was that lucky. I’ve been getting sweet messages from both Laura, her super cute helper Courtney and Tammy who works at the spa on instagram all summer as well. I’m a lucky girl, for sure!
– Learning to surf in Florida.
Learning how to surf has always been a dream of mine, only I’ve always dreamt of accomplishing. I have never had the opportunity to learn before though, so when I found myself with all the time in the world in the US I quickly decided to go to Florida and take some lessons. I thought it would be insanely hard, and I’m not going to lie, it was hard, but somehow I managed in record-breaking time. Less than 20 minutes after entering the water, and with only a 10-minute briefing on the beach, I rode my first wave. It was such an insane adrenaline kick and I loved every minute of it. Even though I need hours and hours of practice to be any good though, I can actually say that I know how to surf now and that is just insane.
– Spontaneously going to a baseball game in St Louis.
The one thing I had been told about baseball games is that they can go on forever, and that they are boring. I never knew anything about it myself though, since I had never watched a game in my life. But when I found out there was a game between the Chicago Cubs and the St Louis Cardinals when I was in St Louis, I barely hesitated before I bought myself a ticket. I walked to the arena with no expectations whatsoever but was just blown away by the entire experience. I actually really liked the game, but even more I enjoyed the company I found myself in. Thank you Todd, Brittney, Janet and Thelma for accepting the Swedish girl at her first baseball game, and both explain the game to me while keeping me company. Talking to everyone around me just really made the entire night so much better, which I’ll return to later as well. The only regret I have? Not buying a Cardinals shirt…
– Going to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana by myself.
Going to an amusement park by yourself can seem like a really strange choice, but I really don’t see what the problem is. I don’t think being alone should ever stop you from doing something! So I went to Holiday World in Indiana, mostly because I really wanted to go to a place called Santa Claus. My first day there I decided to spend at the waterpark, where I after having gone in a ride with three kids quickly got accepted into their gang and spent the entire day with them just having so much fun. What would have been a fun day turned into an amazing day and I can’t believe that they just accepted me so quickly. The best time at the very best waterpark I’ve ever been to!
– Falling in love with hiking in Zion national park, Utah
My very first real hike in United States was hiking up to Angel’s Landing in Zion national park. It was named “very strenuous” but I didn’t let that stop me, despite having literally no experience. I loved every moment of it, and from the moment I decided that it was going to be the thing I’d keep doing throughout the rest of my stay in the United States. I can’t wait to go back and do more hiking!
– Being treated as family in Colorado.
Before I even left Sweden I had a standing invitation to Jeane and Mike in Westcliffe, Colorado, so when I got closer I started planning my visit to them, and I’m so glad I did. From the moment I arrived to their wonderful house right by the mountains in Colorado, I knew that this would be an unforgettable stay. They took me in, had bought me gifts and treated me like one in the family. I only spent 24 hours in their house but I got to experience great cooking, some nice red wine and we even had time to go on a hike. They have told me that I can come back and visit anytime, and I promise that I will. In fact, I can’t wait until I get the chance to go back to Colorado.
– Seeing Taylor Swift in concert three times.
The first time in Charlotte was just amazing, because everything was completely new to me. I knew nothing about what to expect or anything and it was just a magical evening. The next time in Santa Clara was just as much fun, as the arena was enormous and also because my friend Josefine joined me. I knew what to look for and when to film if I wanted to do that. And Julia Roberts was there, it was so cool. And the third time was even better because I was SO close to the stage and to Taylor. Though I’m glad that wasn’t my only experience because being that close kind of makes you miss the show, all you see is her and the videos and everything else kind of gets lost. Oh, and seeing both Justin Timberlake, Selena Gomez and Lisa Kudrow was fun too. Okay not fun, it was amazing. Now I’ve seen Taylor in concert a total of five times (Oslo 2011, London 2014 and these three times) and I can’t wait to see her again, whenever that might be.
– How a random baseball game can lead to beautiful friendship.
At the baseball game in St Louis, Janet told me that if I ever found myself in Houston, I could come stay with them. After I made my plans after Florida known, I promptly got a comment from Janet reminding me of that invitation. Of course I put that into my plans, and arrived at their fabulous townhouse in central Houston a Saturday afternoon. I got to ride in an amazing Mustang, was fed great food and we exchanged travel stories all afternoon. Janet and Phil are such amazing people, with really interesting stories as well. Once again, I’m so glad I ended up sitting next to them at the baseball game in St Louis, without knowing much about me they just accepted me into their homes and lives and I’m forever grateful for that. And we still keep up to date with each other through mail, they check in to make sure I’m doing alright and I can’t wait to hear about their European cruise soon.
– Parks and recreation.
As soon as I started making my tentative plans for the months I’d have in the US, I knew I wanted to visit as many national parks as possible. I knew it would be good, but I never expected them to be just as great as they were. Even though I guess Grand Canyon rates very high on most peoples list’s of parks to see, I have so many others I’d recommend instead. Yellowstone is of course on top of my list, but I loved the more unknown places too, like Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Yosemite was great, and so was Rocky Mountains and Zion. There are so many places left to visit though, but I am young, I have plenty of time.
– Exploring the coast of California with my parents.
When I say that I love being alone, I really mean it. I need solitude to recharge and I very seldom feel lonely. And with all the technology of today I can just call my family up on Skype or Facetime and see their faces in seconds, so that helps a lot. But after having travelled across the Unites States alone for 2,5 months I was very excited to have my parents join in San Francisco. My dad came to visit when I went to school in Santa Monica in 2007, but my mother hadn’t been to the states since 1966. A lot has changed since then, I’m sure of. We had a blast exploring San Francisco and Alcatraz especially, then driving down to coast on Highway 1. We all enjoyed Los Angeles as well, and I’m so thankful that they could come join me on my last weeks in my favorite country.
There might be a part 2 to this someday, but I think this is enough for now. Thank you USA for the best summer of my life. I will never forget this for the rest of my life.