When I was five years old, I vividly remembered two things about America. The first thing was the president of United States lived in the white house. The second was Gotham City was the most ‘famous’ city in America. This belief stemmed from early exposure to western pop music & various American TV shows. There is nothing wrong about the first thing. As for the second thing, it led me to question my parents naively if we could go to Gotham City during the holiday. Realizing how ridiculous his son sounds, my father decided to pull me out of my fantasy and taught me about this city named ‘New York’. As superficial as it seems, my concept about America is apparently poor however please take into account that I was 5 years old at that moment. To the defense of the 5 years old me back then, I was smart enough to comprehend that I do not need a space shuttle to fly to America.
Subsequently, I reached the age when kids started to generate an unfathomable interest for world map and globe. While I was fully aware that a space shuttle is irrelevant to take me there, I learnt that it will take close to a day to arrive in America due to the geographical arrangements of the continents through features such as opposite hemisphere and the Pacific Ocean. Soon after, life started to complicate as we age, our brain started to grasp things faster. Human civilization’s progression towards the ‘Age of advance technology’ gave me the privilege to access information through media like the newspapers, daily news broadcast and the indispensable World Wide Web. Stereotypical facts started to fill my mind in an exponential fashion like: ‘Detroit is known as the state which built cars’, ‘Los Angeles is Hollywood and Hollywood is Los Angeles’, Super Bowl is the ‘world cup’ for the Americans, “the best donut is found there”. On the other hand, it also provided me some insights on challenges faced by a large country. For example: the healthcare reform which has always been an ongoing battle. Evidently, all these things were barely suffice to give an accurate description of what truly defines United States.
Then something magical happened, when I learnt about the opportunity of going abroad to study, America is the first country which came into my mind. When the plane entered the country’s airspace from Los Angeles, my lifeless eyes were given an immediate remedy from the viewing of the mountainous landscapes which straddles across the horizon. I was pretty adamant from that moment the adventure of a lifetime has only just begun.
In all honesty, never would I imagine my first America’s stay would be in the capital state of Oregon, Salem. The word ‘Salem’ was only familiar from my high school reading of a horror novel named ‘Salem’s lot’, which were completely unrelated. Yet, the last few months were enough for me to feel grateful that I kick-started my American dream right in this humble place. One important lesson I always remind myself is always travel with an open heart because every place has its own beauty when you see through the window of your heart. I enjoyed the scenery painted by the beautiful cherry blossom by the state building when winter turns into spring, I learnt to appreciate sunny days in a place where it rains a lot, I offered a fair amount of credence that the people in West Coast are nice and since I haven’t been to the East Coast I will leave that for the future to write about. Willamette university enables me to truly understand the college motto: Non nobis solum nati sumus(Not unto ourselves alone are we born) through living in this small and close-knit community.
One can imagine my disappointment when it suddenly dawned on me that I am leaving this beautiful place in weeks. I could only seek solace from the fact that the end of an adventure spell the start of another. This adventure would be something my older self will someday reminisce about. I will treasure this moment till we meet again, for now let me end off by honoring my American experience by saying: I saw it, I felt it, and I left a changed person.