Roman Malanke

USA Trip: The Last Day

I just couldn’t resist the temptation to write this post on the altitude of 35,000 feet* above the ground… well, not ground, but Atlantic Ocean, I suppose. The first reason for that is I’ve never done it before, and the second is that I want to record my impressions of USA trip while they are still vibrating.

I gave up my original idea to record every day as a separate post.  In fact I had neither enough time nor enough will to do that. However what I did is I uploaded new photographs every day, so that I wouldn’t have to remember how some particular place on the photo is called.

I had a lot of expectations before this trip. First I thought that it would be a great chance to improve my English by being in native environment. Second I expected inspiration boost caused by diving into different cultural environment and visiting places I could only read and hear about before. Then I had some pure practical reasons, such as buying tons of books which are hard to find in Ukraine. And looking back for the last 9 days I can surely say that all of these expectations have been met more or less.

Together with my friend and ex-colleague Ian we spent 7 days in New York City, 1 day in Philadelphia and 1 day in Boston. Most of the time we just walked, trying to see as many as possible in available time. We covered almost all neighborhoods in Manhattan, all central parts of city in Philadelphia (which is beautiful city) and Boston (together with Cambridge, where visited MIT and Harvard University campuses). However we were quite neglect to some of the “must-see” tourist sights: neither did we take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, nor did we go on top of Empire State Building.

In all the places we’ve been people were very polite and willing to help on any occasion. A woman in a bus kindly offered to swap her seat with my friend so that we could sit together. A man in Boston approached two of us staring in the map and asked if we needed help getting around.

What is very different from Kyiv is the great extent of social and cultural freedom we’ve seen, especially in New York. People all around wear what they want and how they want. Everyone whistle a tune when listen to their iPods. The first man I saw on the American continent was the guy in JFK airport who directed our plane with the flag, and he had nice long dreads on his head. One man was showing yoga tricks to his girlfriend sitting in subway train in rush hour. The most recent impression was the band of break-dancers performing on a tiny piece of floor inside swiftly running subway train.

One of the things I loved most about New York is its navigation system. Wherever you are it’s always clear where you need to go to get to desired destination. The plates with street names are on every crossroad. The signs in subway are very clear and readable.

The other thing I liked was audio announcements in Greyhound and Peter Pan buses, which are awesome. If you think about it, it’s really a small thing when driver address to the passengers before beginning each route. But the way they do it makes you believe that they love their job very much.

The only thing I didn’t like about the USA at all has to do with food and grocery stores. I don’t know for sure, maybe we just didn’t go to proper places, but from what I’ve seen our Ukrainian food supermarkets are much better. Although Americans seem to be totally concerned now about eating healthy now (everywhere it says “organic”: organic vegetables, organic fruits, organic milk, etc.) still 80% of the products on the shelves are snacks and processed food.

Now that I’m witnessing the dawn of the last day of March let me finish this post by some bragging :). I’m carrying back with me quite a few of books from my wish list. Among them: “The Power of Less” by Leo Babauta, “The Practice of Management” by Peter Drucker, “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, and, of course, some Spanish-language ones: “Cien años de soledad”, “El coronel no tiene quien le escriba” by Gabriel García Márquez and “Ficciones” by Jorge Luis Borges.

* While being in the USA I didn’t move a single step towards better understanding of feet as well as ounces and Fahrenheit’s degrees – I just saw the number on the screen. Metric system rules! ;-)