Prior to last month, I had only been to 3-5 of the 50 states of the USA. I was born in California, I had definitely been to Oregon and Florida, and … well, I had spent a few hours on the Nevada side of the California/Nevada border when I was eleven years old, and I had spent one night in New York City while waiting for a connecting flight when I was seven years old (and no, I did not get to see any famous places in NYC, with the exception of the airport). Some people say that counts as visiting Nevada/New York, some people don’t, which is why I list it as 3-5 states.
One of the earliest posts on this blog is “From a Corner, Not a Continent”. That very much describes the mentality I had when I was in Asia. I lost track of how many times a Taiwanese person would say ‘so, since you are in Taiwan, that means you’ve travelled everywhere in the United States, right?” to which I would reply “ha ha ha ha, that is ridiculous, the United States is way too big.” Many Taiwanese people were very surprised to learn that they had travelled the United States more extensively than I had.
However, last month, I went on “The Mississippi Journey”. One of my main goals was to get to know the United States better, to know a bit more about the continent beyond the corner (another one of my main goals was to meet someone in St. Louis). I stayed overnight in beds in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, and Illinois. That means I doubled or tripled the number of states I have been to. I also passed through (by train) Arizona, New Mexico, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. Why the emphasis on the (Deep) South? Because I was travelling in December. There are other regions of the United States I would very much like to visit (New England, for example) but I did not feel that December was the time to do it.
In my blog posts, I noted a lot of the differences among the places that I visited. Different places, of course, are different – travelling would not be so worthwhile if every place were exactly the same. However, there are also things that all of the places I visited – as well as California – have in common. It strengthened my identity as an American (which is quite a contrast with the “From a Corner, Not a Continent” post).
Out of all of the places I visited on this trip, the places I would be most inclined to visit again are New Orleans and Mississippi, though in Mississippi I would probably choose to visit towns other than Natchez and Vicksburg so I could see different parts of the state. There is also a high chance I’ll end up visiting Chicago again sooner or later, which I hope will be enjoyable as my first Chicago visit.
In any case, I am not sure when I will travel next, nor where I will go, but this trip has definitely whetted my appetite for more.
Yeah sometimes people when people are surprised I’ve never left the United States, I defend myself a little “Well there are plenty of places to go WITHOUT ever leaving the country, there’s still quite a bit of traveling happening in my life believe it or not…”
…of course I also wish I could firsthand experience the culture shock and language barriers and really understand some of that stuff… but yeah I’ve only ever lived in Maryland and Massachusetts…
…but despite all my time in various parts of Maryland and Massachusetts, I’ve also spent tons of time in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Southern Florida & as you know now the Florida Keys, New York City (no other parts of New York though), New Jersey I suppose, Southern California, Colorado, and Indiana… I’ll be going to Las Vegas for the first time in March because I’m actually going to go to ClexaCon!! XD But idk how much I’ll feel like I’ve been in that state since a lot of my time will be spent at a convention haha, we shall see… I don’t count connecting flights in Pittsburgh or San Francisco as ever having been to those cities, myself, same with not counting myself as having been to Georgia despite time in that airport lol… but I’ve been to a lot of parts of the USA and there is still so much I’d love to see sometime… I’ve spent a little time in Connecticut… idk I might even be forgetting something. But the USA is vast and can vary a lot, and I loved reading your posts about states I’ve never been to or seen!!
You know, people kept on telling me that I would experience culture shock in Taiwan and … it didn’t happen. Okay, I would occasionally be surprised by a custom or cultural trait (such as that most city parks in Taiwan ban the worshipping of ancestors – I have never seen a park in the United States which specifically banned ancestor worship!) but I never went through the four stages of culture shock. Nope, not even the ‘honeymoon’ stage.
The only time I ever went through anything like the stages of culture shock was when I was living in Mountain View. Which is only about 40 miles away from San Francisco, but was still quite an adjustment!