Friday, November 11, 2016

Traveling to Canada and the U.S. | My Journey from High School to Medical School

Leaving Oxford, I really got addicted to living and traveling abroad. I wanted to continue my traveling and go somewhere else, so I kept thinking about where to go next and what I should do there and if there is still enough time to study for my entrance test to get to Uni.
Exploring Canada and the United States had been always my dream and I always kept the idea in the back of my mind. After days of decision making, I finally came up with a very exciting, bit crazy plan:
a two and a half months, 21 cities and one island including, couch-surfing and hostels adventure just by my self, starting from Toronto and finishing in New York.

As you probably know from my recent post, I traveled to the UK by myself, but traveling to another continent was a big deal for me actually and the most exciting part of this journey was definitely the couch-surfing part. I never had heard of it before and I don't really remember how I find it, but I remember been excited and scared at the same time.
So if you hear something about couch-surfing for the first time, it is basically a social network where you can sign up and create your profile and eventually look up for people who are living in a certain city, contact them and ask them if you can be their guest and in matter of fact, you don't pay them usually. It is a very cool way to travel cheap and spontaneously, but most important, it's a great way to connect to people from all over the world, make new friends and experiences.
So I looked up all the people I wanted to stay with, booked a ticket to Toronto and left my friends and family again for the second time in that year.
When I arrived in Toronto, tired and exhausted from the long flight, my luggage got lost. So in the beginning, I had nothing in Toronto besides the clothes I was wearing. I met up with my host couch-surfer friend, a 25 years old girl who was working in fashion and lived by herself and we had dinner together. I stayed with her for four days and it was a lot of fun to explore Toronto with her.
I spend about two weeks all in all in Canada, visiting Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver, traveling by the greyhound bus and I fell in love with the beautiful breathtaking nature, the most friendly people, great friends I made during couch-surfing, I went Ice skating, ate Poutine, went to the famous Schwartz's Deli in Montreal and went hiking for the first time. 
The first city I was going to visit in the U.S. was Seattle and then Portland. I absolutely loved Seattle and although I spend not that much time there, it's has been one of my favourite cities in the U.S. I've been to and all the bookshops and Food-trucks in Portland were just a perfect way to continue my journey. Leaving Portland, I was very excited to visit California for the first time. I remember sitting in the bus for seven hours while chatting with the bus driver who told me so many stories and facts about his life and gave me my first American doughnuts, and during all this time I kept listing to the O.C. California Intro song on repeat. I went to Sacramento, the pretty but not very exciting capitol of California where I had the biggest omelette and pancakes and then I visited San Francisco.
I loved everything about San Francisco. I became good friends with my couch-surfing couple, who were the nicest and most interesting people I met on my journey;  I celebrated Halloween there, which for me, coming from Europe where you kind of have spooky costumes and nice little scary film night, was a pretty culture shocking moment; I ate so many Clam Chowder on the pier while watching seals and enjoyed the variety of cultures, food, people and activities. San Francisco was definitely by far my favourite city, next to Vancouver and New York.

My Journey continued to Santa Barbara, a very relaxing and super pretty little town, and finally Los Angeles. I made a lot of friends in L.A. staying in a very cute hostel in Hollywood. We had a lot of night out, went to wait for celebrities coming to their premieres on the streets for hours, went hiking, to the beach and to the Warner Brothers Studio tour. I made a friend in L.A. who wanted to travel to Las Vegas with some friends, so I decided to follow them. Leaving Las Vegas after two days of a luxurious hotel, partying, shopping, and shows such as Cirque du Soleil, I took a flight to the other side which happened to be Miami and the Bahamas.

I really liked my stay there, but I didn't do that much there. After a while in the sun and on the beach, I got quite bored and was looking forward my next destination, which was Washington D.C.
I was traveling for two months then, it got quite cold and winter came. So I spent a lot of time in museums, learned a lot about American history, had some great conversations with people in the hostel and sometimes, felt a bit lost in this huge city.
My next destination was Philadelphia. I stayed with a lovely girl and her two cats in a beautiful house, in walking distance to the city center. Of course I went to see the Liberty Bell and visited the Museum. I had a lot of good food like the Philly cheesesteak sandwich and just enjoyed the beautiful city.
My last stop had to be New York. I traveled to New York once before with my Mum in 2012 and as a lot of people, I fell in love with it. The most exciting part of my last stop was that I would explore the city with one of my friends from home, who traveled to New York for the first time. We stayed in a hotel very close to 5th Avenue and Times Square and seriously had the best time together. We went to see the Cinderella and Phantom of the opera Musical, did a lot of shopping experiencing Black Friday for the first time, celebrated my 22 birthday on a roof top bar and in central park eating cake, and had our first thanks giving dinner together. We did a lot of touristy things as well, but mostly, we enjoyed the Christmas spirit and walking through the magical streets full of snow and excited people.

Traveling is one of the most rewarding and precious parts in my life and I'm so glad that I did some traveling before going to University, specially by myself. It taught me so much about myself, and some of the amazing people I met during my journey are still in my life now and I'm happy to call them my friends. I hope you liked this mini series of experiences I had before Med-school and I would be beyond happy if you found some inspiration and ideas while reading them.
Have a lovely, relaxing and productive Weekend! x

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