Monday, 7 April 2014

History & Politics Trip to the USA: Day One

by Will Wallace

Sunday 6th April 2014


View from our hostel window, Washington DC
I've been buzzing about visiting the United States for years; I was only about eight years old when I picked up Stanley Prince's An Introduction to General Knowledge and soon was able to list, in order, each US President. Since then I've followed the goings on in American politics, and (almost obsessively) kept a watchful eye on the 2008 Democratic primaries in which an African-American and female candidate battled it out for the party nomination.
You can imagine, therefore, that I was thrilled to learn that there would be a week-long visit to Washington DC and Philadelphia during my final year at PGS. However, I was less thrilled when it turned out we would need to leave for London Heathrow at 0430, meaning a 0300 wake up...

When we emerged from security checks, we had enough time to grab some breakfast. For us Year 13 boys, this of course meant bacon rolls in Costa.
When we boarded Delta Air Lines Flight 39, many of us either used the 8 hours and 30 minutes to make up for lost sleep or watched a string of films on offer. A few bravely attempted to do some revision for the upcoming A Level exams - I must confess that, though I tried to make a start in reading my notes on Lenin's domestic agenda, I struggled not to resort to catching Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Frozen and Argo. Plus, sat behind me was an American child with possibly one of the most annoying laughs known to civilised man, who thought it necessary to cackle every couple of minutes.

Landing in Atlanta
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia served as our stop off, in order to prevent paying extra to fly directly to Baltimore-Washington International. We did spend most of our two hours' connection time going through thorough (and pretty unnecessary) security checks. There was enough time to grab a quick bite to eat before we sat down on the 1 1/2 hours Delta Flight 1525 to Baltimore-Washington.

We were, understandably, shattered when we arrived. We had expected to catch a train from the airport, but it was "temporarily closed", so we hopped onto a bus. One of the things I've already learnt about Americans, aside from the annoying laughing, is that they aren't as reserved as us Brits: on public transport, they strike up conversations with ease - in Britain, we reserve communicating with strangers purely for needing directions.

Our bus pulled in at a train station and we arrived within walking distance of our hostel. A friendly welcome from reception and unpacking preceded a quick trip to buy snacks for tomorrow. Our lights turned out just over 24 hours since we had left Portsmouth. Mr Lemieux's announcement that we'd be off fairly early the next morning was not received well.

1 comment:

  1. Americans can not be so easily lumped into any particular generality without exposing a serious lack of understanding concerning Americans. It would be just as fallacious as to state that the sight of one Black Brit means that all Brits are Black. America is varied across a much larger spectrum than foreigners frequently let on to.


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