Happy Independence Day Weekend err'body. (I'm not American so this is the best I can do.)
  1. β€’
    When I was 8 years old, my aunt moved to the USA.
    She went for work, but also to be with her partner. At that time, the States was a bit more liberal than South Africa when it came to same-sex relationships.
  2. β€’
    I was enamoured with the idea of going "over the seas."
    I did so many school projects on different countries, and especially NYC, USA, which was where my aunt lived then. But we certainly were in no financial position to travel.
  3. β€’
    It's a looooong story, but I finally managed to travel abroad in 2010, my second year of university. I even got most of my trip sponsored!
  4. β€’
    I arrived at JFK, but then went to Connecticut. I was staying with my aunt's ex, V. They weren't together anymore and my aunt was back in South Africa, but V was like family all the same.
    We had dreamed the trip up together, in a way.
  5. β€’
    I was jet-lagged, so she took me to Starbucks!
    I know it's supposed to be overrated but I LOVE IT OKAY.
  6. β€’
    And introduced me to more fine American delicacies like soft pretzels and Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
    I am an ice cream fiend. And yes, I did eat that entire pint by myself.
  7. β€’
    Also it was summer and it was sooooo hot. Like 101 degrees? Which also confused me because I use Metric.
  8. β€’
    I saw deer! In the middle of a residential area!
    We have buck, but not deer like Bambi-deer and certainly not among our houses. And you guys say South Africa is wild. πŸ™„
  9. β€’
    I spent a few days in a different part of CT with my Youth Journalism International family.
    They are just wonderful and if you know high schoolers interested in journalism I highly suggest having them check out YJI.
  10. β€’
    They hosted a Summer BBQ for me. Lots of students and alums came and I felt so welcomed. It was just all-round fun.
    Also: home made Mississippi Mud Pie. Yum.
  11. β€’
    We went to the Hill-Stead Museum, the Heublein tower, and did some hikes.
  12. β€’
    This is Jackie and me. She's one of YJI's co-founders.
  13. β€’
    I was enamoured with the whole New England vibe.
    And I'm obsessed with this picture because of the wall. Like Mending Wall by Robert Frost!!!
  14. β€’
    When I got back to V, we took a trip to NYC.
  15. β€’
    I was so overwhelmed.
  16. β€’
    And Central Park
    Which I couldn't get enough of and went back to last year.
  17. β€’
    I got to meet up with a friend of mine who had done an exchange in South Africa. So exciting to see her again! She was from Ohio, but did a Summer internship in NYC.
  18. β€’
    Before this I hadn't even known what Pride was. It was... So incredible. Really. The kind of love and acceptance and awesomeness there just about changed my life. (And made me hyper-aware of my own sexuality, which I had mostly ignored till then.) I was also lucky to be there with people who knew the city because I would have gotten so lost.
  19. β€’
    I was in the USA for a week and it was too short. Isn't traveling always too short?
    I had to leave just before the 4th of July which was also a bummer.
  20. β€’
    And there's a lot in the USA I still want to see. And people to meet.
  21. β€’
    If you're American, be happy today.
  22. β€’
    Yeah, you've got Trump and some other bad cards, but your country is cool! You're cool!
    Especially if you're on li.st πŸ˜‰
  23. β€’
    The world says lots of crappy stuff about you, yet you're a sought-after destination.vSo that should tell you something. America makes people believe in their dreams.
  24. β€’
    Find something to celebrate. And if you can't think of something, do something about it, so you can celebrate next year.
  25. β€’
    Love ya πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦