As I’m sure many international students at Hull and elsewhere will agree, one of the best things about studying abroad is travelling in your free time. This is especially true in the United States, a country that is essentially a continent. So I did just that after my year at the University of Maine came to a close, spending a month journeying across the US until my return to East Yorkshire normality.
I started in Boston and caught a dawn flight to Los Angeles. Living in a small New England town for a year meant that the sprawl of LA was an arresting sight. A few days there and further north in San Francisco and I had become accustomed to the heat just as I got to Las Vegas – which was even hotter…
Surprised at how much I enjoyed Vegas – the clash of garish neon and Nevada sand side by side is weirdly pleasing – I moved onto New Orleans, which affected me greatly. The French Quarter was charming but seemed almost offensive sitting only a twenty minute walk away from neighbourhoods still gutted from Hurricane Katrina, a decade on. It was time to go back to New England and then home. My wallet cried all the flight back, but it was definitely worth it. Maine might be my second home, but that last trip only confirmed that it was the entire country I had fallen in love with. Hopefully your own travel will allow you to say the same.
Think of Maine – the largest and northernmost of the New England states – and for many people all that comes to mind is Stephen King. This is a real shame, as “Vacationland” boasts attractions that rank with any other state in the union. Here are just a few of these.
It’s the one cliche everyone knows about New England, but it really cannot be overstated: their autumns are beautiful. About 90% of Maine is covered in thick forest, and this results in a dazzling orange-red hue wherever you look once the fall rolls around.
Acadia National Park
Centred on Mount Desert Island (basically the Maine version of Cape Cod – think rich summer houses and tourist traffic in the busy season), Acadia hosts the highest point on the east coast in Cadillac Mountain.
Originally from Massachusetts but now the state drink of Maine, Moxie is Mainers’ version of Marmite – you either love or hate it. It’s difficult to compare it to anything else – almost bitter, it really offers a unique flavour – but no visit is complete without a sip.
Voted as one of the best small cities in the US, Portland is Maine’s largest town. The city enjoys a quiet pace of life, cultural events and most importantly, a renowned local shop that sells maple bacon doughnuts.
So if you ever find yourself in New England, be sure to head due north. Just try to avoid the occasional ice storm!