Skyscrapers · Roller Coasters
The country where I was born and whose passport I hold. Three cheers for the USA!
My first trip abroad was when I was less than a year old, and it's so close that my local recreational soccer team played afternoon games there and then went home for dinner.
I first went with my family in 1993 to visit our relatives who lived there on an army base. I also passed through several times on trains in 2003 when I was studying in Europe.
My first visit was a side trip to Paris in 1993. I then returned for three months in spring 2003 to study in Strasbourg, which is a city in the Alsace region, very close to Germany. I hope to have a Europe album up soon so you can see a bit of where I lived for three months, as well as some of the nearby countries I visited.
My first trip was in 1999, and since then, I've spent a ridiculous amount of time in Japan and done some amazing things here, including at least part of 2004, '05, '07, '08, '09, and '10. (It also happens to be where I am as I write this!) I can break my Japanese experiences into three categories. Find out more about them in the album below!
I went on a study tour August 2-23, 2002. We went all over the place, from Beijing to the Gobi Desert. Some wealthy, generous person gave a grant to my college and told them to take 12 students to China, and I was one of them. Lucky me! I then went back, this time to Shanghai, for the World Expo in June 2010. You can see pictures and read my trip log at these links:
When I was studying in France in 2003, we passed through Switzerland on our way to Italy. Hey, we had to change trains there—we were in the station in Basel for 3 hours, so we actually did use Swiss francs and walk on Swiss ground. That counts!
While studying in France, I went to Italy for 10 days in April 2003, during Easter break. We went to Rome, Florence, and Venice. I was really thrilled to see the ancient Roman ruins, and Venice is spectacular!
Hey, it's recognized as a country by the UN, so I get to count it on my list.
We went for a weekend trip to Vienna in May 2003. There are lots of cool palaces there, and some scary catacombs.
This was another weekend trip in May 2003. It's a little country that most people forget about, but if you ever get the chance, go to Luxembourg City. With big valleys and bridges and lots of trees, I found it really striking.
I stayed overnight in Copenhagen twice in June 2003, because the train didn't go all the way from Strasbourg to Uppsala, Sweden in one day. I wish I could have stayed longer, though; it seemed like a cool city.
A friend of mine was studying in Uppsala while I was in Strasbourg, so I went to visit her. Even though I'd read about the Midnight Sun before, I was nevertheless amazed to see with my own eyes how late the sun sets in June!
I have always wanted to visit the Land Down Under, and on April 26, 2008, I finally made it. It was one of the most exciting weeks of my life! I've got a massive album and trip logs here:
I was in South Korea from September 20-23, 2008, during a long weekend while teaching in Japan. The people were really kind to us there, and it was distinctly different from Japan. Nevertheless, because my visit was so short, I didn't make a separate album about it but instead included it in my JET Program album; you can see the pictures in here, or read a bit about my trip here.
From March 20-29, 2009, I went to Gummallapadu Village in Andhra Pradesh, India, as a volunteer through Longitude to help a village of Dalit people build cement brick homes for widows and others in need of better housing. Volunteering abroad was a fantastic experience; I really recommend trying it. If you'd like to see more about my trip, I have (of course) an album and an entry that I originally wrote for the project's blog.
I took a trip to Southeast Asia during the 2009 Golden Week holiday (May 4-9) with many of the same people from the India trip. Check out the album from that trip here:
We went to Singapore during the 2009 Golden Week vacation, too, since it's right there. Pictures and travelogue (day 3) are included above.
Many thanks to Free Gifts and Animations for the animated flags!
By the way, the photo at left is me on Mt. Fuji in 2005. It was taken by my friend John Rogos and is one of my favorite photos of me ever taken.
Places I Want to Go
Of course I hope I'm not done traveling yet! Here are the places in the world I most want to go. They're in no particular order.
- Greece — I want to see the Acropolis and other ancient ruins!
- The Middle East — Egypt and Israel and Jordan are very high on my list. I want to see the Pyramids, and I'm really interested in both the ancient history and the modern state of Israel (no, I'm not Jewish, but the conflict there is pretty important to world affairs), and I read the autobiography of American-born Queen Noor of Jordan and now I want to see that country, too. I think all of Middle Eastern culture is fascinating, really. I also would love to see Iraq one day, if it ever becomes more stable. (I know it's selfish for me to think that way; I promise it's only a secondary reason I'm hoping for peace over there. But come on...it's ancient Mesopotamia! The Cradle of Civilization! I would love to see it.)
- Peru — I really, really want to see Machu Picchu. While I'm down there it would be pretty cool to swing by the rainforest in Brazil, too.
- New Zealand — I don't know why. I just want to see it. The scenery does look pretty nice, I gotta say. Though it's not because of Lord of the Rings that I want to go there, since I will always imagine Middle Earth as looking more like what I saw going across Denmark on a train. (Or, you know, England, if I ever make it there.)
- Antarctica — Yes, I really want to go there! I'm hoping my friend with a Chilean host family with connections can pull a few strings to get me there. ;) I'm concerned about the ecological impact of Antarctic tourism, but I figure I can think more about that if I ever actually have a real chance to go.
Those are currently at the top of my list, but here are some honorable mentions: Finland (because my backgrounds is half Finnish), Hungary (and I'm a quarter Hungarian), Tanzania, the United Kingdom, Thailand, or Malaysia. In addition to Tanzania (which I'm mentioning for the Serengeti), I also would like to do some volunteer work in sub-Saharan africa that would allow me to really meet real people there, rather than just being a tourist.
U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
I know this seems an afterthought, coming as it does at the end of this page. The truth is that I haven't seen much of my own country—especially not the big tourist attractions. I'd really like to! But for now, here are the U.S. states and Canadian provinces in which I have set foot, with italics denoting a mere stopover on a trip somewhere else:
- Michigan - The only state I've ever called home.
- Ontario - 1983, and most years since then.
- Ohio - 1984, and a bazillion times since then. (Cedar Point!)
- Kentucky - 1984, 2000
- Tennessee - 1984, 2000
- Georgia - 1984, 1996, 2000, 2007
- Pennsylvania - 1986, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2009, 2010, and maybe another year.
- Indiana - 1990, and driven through numerous times since.
- Illinois - 1990, and many times since, imluding 4 times in 2006.
- Wisconsin - 1990, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2009
- Minnesota - 1990, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2009
- New York - 1991, 1997, 2002, 2006
- Massachusetts - 1991, 2006
- Florida - 2000, 2007, 2011
- South Carolina - 2006 (Expo reunion paid for by the pavilion!)
- Missouri - 2006, 2007
- Vermont - 2006
- New Hampshire - 2006
- Maryland - 2009, 2010, 2011
- District of Columbia - 2009, 2010, 2011
- Virginia - 2009, 2010, 2011
And that's all I have for now, but stay tuned for more travel adventures!