After traveling for more than 20 hours, I landed at JFK. After 2 more hours and a quick set of questions, I was able to leave the airport, and for the first time of my life, step on American soil. I’m not going to bore you with the details of my journey from New York to Pennsylvania, but I do have to mention that I used to think the Parisian subway was complicated, but in New York I felt like rabbit in a hole.
Anyways I got to Pennsylvania in a small town called York and slept at a friend's place.
The next morning I was alone in the Apartment (my friend was at work) and I was hungry. There was a mall across the highway and I figured I would walk there. 5 minutes in my walk I started seeing tons of signs that said no walking on the highway and I realized that if i kept going I was going to die. I went back and started to ask people how do I get on the other side of the highway (google maps basically told me to just cross it) and the basically all the answers I got was “with a car.”
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Eventually my friend came back and showed me around. I saw America just like it is described in the movies. The cars were all trucks, but not the normal trucks that I’ve seen my whole life. Big trucks with raised suspension. I mean I’m 6’4 and I felt like i would need a step ladder to get in one of the trucks. I also saw a guy with a hoodie that had the American flag in the front and on the back the words, “stomp on my flag I’ll stomp on you” which I thought was funny because no one would ever wear something like that in France.
So basically, if you did not get it yet, I was in the rural areas of America. Therefore, I asked to do something very “American,” and I was quickly directed towards a gun range. The whole experience baffling. To begin, there were shopping carts at the entrance for customers, and no, the gun range wasn’t in a grocery store or in a mall, the shopping carts were there just for the guns, bullets and machetes. I got to the range and asked how old do I have to be to enter, and to my surprise, I only had to be 8 (In France I believe 8 year olds go to bowling alleys but I'm not here to judge, just observe). So I picked my gun, watched a video about safety in the range, and was given the bullets after a few words on how to use the gun (I did also sign a very long contract). After that I was on my own. I entered the range and tried out 2 different guns. It was loud and I did pick out a huge rifle so I felt the huge kickback. But the experience of shooting a gun wasn’t as shocking as actually entering the gun store.
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The next day I went to target, and it confirmed what I thought was a myth. Everything in America is huge, the portions are just huge compared to France. This was again the case when I went to a local diner for burgers. In France I eat 2 burgers whenever i go to a to restaurant because I get hungry if i don’t. But in America, again, the portions are huge! One burger was enough and I loved it. I finally felt like I was in a country where my appetite is normal. Now I keep imagining what Americans must feel like about French restaurants and their tiny portions.
To conclude this post, My trip to Pennsylvania was great, I met the nicest people and had time to visit cities like Harrisburg and Lancaster. I didn’t mention this much but I do want to state that Americans are super nice and I immediately felt welcomed when I arrived which was something I didn't expect as I was going through the visa process because I was asked about 3000 questions and documents!
Oh and here's me accomplishing one of my lifelong goals to ride a motorized shopping cart at target!