Tag Archives: Tennessee

Mom, I’m not coming back for Christmas.

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By geovolpe

I’m not coming back for Christmas, Mom. 

“I spent a lot of time reflecting about this, and I know I promised you before I left for the US, but I feel this is the right thing to do. 

 I don’t think that coming back would be helpful to me in any way, and I think we both know it. I will be home in July, I will see you then. Or whenever you overcome your fear of planes and decide to come visit. 

I hope you understand and sorry for canceling the tickets.”

I cancelled my tickets to Italy a few days before my scheduled departure. Having been abroad for almost three years now, Christmas has become the only constant re-encounter with my parents. My parents were not super enthusiastic about losing the money, but they eventually supported me in this: “You know I would love to have you here. If I were selfish, I would have you fly home immediately. But If I were you, I would not want to come back either. Just try to go somewhere sunny over the break, maybe to California. You need vitamin D.” 

That was the beginning of my first Christmas away from home in 20 years. 

I spent Christmas eve and Christmas day in DC with some friends of mine that also remained in town. We were all excited and lonely. Three young men and one young woman on the other side of the Atlantic. We tried to emulate a family-like situation: went out for dinner on Christmas eve, cooked a full course meal on Christmas day. I guess it was the closest I ever felt to adulthood. 

On December the 26th I was leaving for Sevierville, Tennessee. A small town next to Knoxville. I know, pretty random place to go on vacation, but that’s where my heart was riding me to. And I was happy to be along for the ride:  I spent a week with a fantastic girl I met in GW and her family. This love among the school desks brought deep into the South. Despite being only a 9 hour bus ride from DC, Tennessee did not feel like the America I had known so far. The thick southern accent, the food culture, both so rich but so exaggerated, the interminable mountains surrounding the town. I hopped on a bus in a fairly European-styled place and I drop off in the middle of America. Real and genuine America. The one we choose to ignore as visitors but that is there and has a lot to offer. I will elaborate on this in my next post. For now, I’ll only say:

I had a great time, but as soon as January the second, I felt I needed it was time for me to follow my mom’s advice. I stayed for three days in DC, running errands and moving into my new apartment, bracing myself for the golden state.

Landing in Los Angeles in January the 6th felt more than just good. I was ecstatic. Not being very used to DC-cold weather, being catapulted to the beach at 70º really thrusted life back into my body. I was staying on UCLA campus at a friend’s place. The equation is very simple yet infallibly effective: friends + good weather + beach + January and winter break = Happiness. I dare you find a better recipe.

I came back the morning of January the 14th. Waiting for me, 10 degrees and another semester to start. D.C does feel like home now. Despite the unappealing weather. And I’m sure my last semester here will be so great I will forget California pretty easily. Although, as much as I like DC, I have to admit to the inarguable fact that the West coast is the Best coast. And that my mom gives good advice.

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On the Road Again – Roadtrip 2017

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By sophieheard

This weekend we rented a car, hit the open road and headed down south for the great American road trip. We stocked up on snacks, blasted some Johnny Cash and began the eight-hour drive to Bristol, Tennessee. We decided on our way to stop at every random roadside attraction – from the tacky to the spectacular. First stop was the Luray Caverns, followed by lunch at the Pink Cadillac Diner, we checked out the coffee pot house and got lost looking for foamhenge.

A small town of 30,000 Bristol isn’t your typical tourist destination. Known as the birthplace of country music we were in town visiting some friends of a friend. The South fulfilled every expectation and stereotype I had hoped for. Southern hospitality, fried chicken, more churches than I could keep track of – it was a world away from DC! On Sunday we did the one thing you have to do whilst in the South – go to a shooting range. Politics aside it was something on my bucket list whilst I’m in the US. For $50 we shot everything from a 22, revolver and a rifle.

We left Tennessee and headed to Asheville, North Carolina. We only had a night in the city and as Sunday isn’t the liveliest of times in the South we decided the best way to make the most of our time was to eat our way through the city. We had the best Spanish tapas at Cúrate and Jamaican food at Nine Mile. Everyone we had encountered in our travels had been exceptionally friendly (even by American standards) and North Carolina was no different. All the staff and strangers we met told us the best places to go and wanted to know what brought us to America.

Monday afternoon it was time to say ‘goodbye’ to the South and begin the 450-mile journey back to DC. Monday night also happened to be the final of NCAA March Madness where the Gonzaga Bulldogs faced off against the North Carolina Tar Heels. As we made our way up the I-40 we passed the exit for Chapel Hill and made the split decision that this was something we didn’t want to miss. Twenty minutes until game time, we pulled in and scoured the town for somewhere to park and watch the game. The whole town was out and people were spilling out of every bar and restaurant in town. We managed to find a spot in Imbibe and took a seat amongst hundreds of other Tar Heels fans.

It was a close game from start to finish and the emotion of the crowd alternated between elation and disappointment. Within the final 30 seconds, the Tar Heels gained a 5 point lead and secured their 6th NCAA championship. The whole crowd erupted into celebration and exploded into the streets. Tens of thousands of people began pouring into the main street in Chapel Hill. People climbed up into trees, traffic lights and lamp posts. Fireworks and flares lit up the sky as frat boys carried a couch into the center of the crowd and proceed to light it on fire. It was like something out of a revolution that just by coincidence we were fortunate enough to experience.

After joining in in the celebrations it was time to head back to DC. We were only halfway to DC and still had 270 miles to go. We pushed through and finally arrived back home at 6 am. If you get the chance I highly recommend visiting the South. It was so different from DC but it helped me understand just how diverse America (and its politics) is.