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United States - Or Divided States?

My Travels

I have been to the USA on two occasions. One trip took me across the eastern states, visiting Washington DC, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and later New York City. My second trip took me to California, mostly in San Franciso. What I can tell you from those two trips was that the USA is more like the Divided States of America.

The Big Apple

Let's start with New York City. The place is a jungle of concrete and glass. Finding your directions as a tourist is hard because you can't even see where the sun is most of the time, as it's hidden behind skyscrapers. You may say 'yeah but who uses the sun for direction', and you might be right on a conscious level, but I would bet most of you use the sun subconsciously and you'll only notice when in somewhere like NYC. The people there also have a very set culture, it's incredibly fast paced, and (in my experience) based on people striving for 'success' - which often means money. I saw very little in terms of people wanting to go out and explore nature, relax or build a family. Now I may be biased in as much as my experience of NYC was pretty much just Manhattan, however the mindset I saw there was one of success at all costs, no matter who gets in the way.

DC

Washington DC was a different place, firstly the only people you see in the main center are tourists or government workers. It's a Government in a City. There's that work ethic of NYC, but in a different way, a way of a somewhat slower (albeit still fast compared to many places), kinder and more people focused success. Perhaps all the happy tourists make a difference. The subway system feels absolutely ancient compared to say London, Paris or Spain but the scenery feels just that bit greener and more open.

Philli

My experience of Philli was one again another step slower, more people focused and open than that of DC, this time with far more culture. There's museums and art galleries and much more history in Philadelphia.

These three places alone felt very different to each other, each subsequent place like a country of it's own.

California

But the juxtaposition of California was incredibly apparent on my second trip. While all the east coast felt incrementally different, yet somehow still a white and blue collar corporate America, California could feel no more different.

In California, there are the most beautiful beaches you can imagine, with people deciding to Surf either first thing in the morning or by leaving work early. There's massive open forests, parks and desert that doesn't feel like it's been crafted for tourists, but actually still feels like real nature.

Moreover, the people I met were not dressed in the east coast grey suits, but were often in much more casual attire, often with brighter colours. Now it can be said that there is a more liberal crowd, perhaps even more of the sexually diverse population in San Francisco which undoubtedly has an impact into it's style. The people also are more willing to have a chat, and I personally felt that people had an interest in what I was saying rather than trying to put their own words forward or see what they could 'get out of' me for their profit.

The Election

My time in San Francisco also coincided with the election of then-President Trump, which emphasised the differences even more. The whole city of San Francisco felt like a funeral the day Trump won the election, like the state was ready to divorce from the Union right there and then. I'm sure the timing of my trip impacted my experience a lot.

Personal Experiences Are Unique

Now you may tell me that all my claims are false and not representative of you as a person in these places. All I can say to that, is that it was the experience that I got from the people I met and the things that I saw on my trips. I'm sure not everyone fits into the stereotypes, but if I felt these things, I'm sure others will too.

Written by Wayne Covell on 31/12/2021

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