A friend of my parent’s emigrated to the USA long before I was born. Coincidentally, he and his wife had children the same ages as my brother and I, so when we were kids we became pen pals and would often email each other. In recent years, Sandy, their daughter, has become one of my best friends, in fact, she’s more like a sister. Last year we managed to meet up three times. I spent four days at her house in February on a trip with my mum, she visited the UK to see her brother and came to stay at our house for a few days, and we spent a brief few hours in New York together last October when I visited with college.
This year, we planned to meet up over summer. So after much planning and begging my parents, I took a trip to her little town in New Jersey to stay with her and her family for a week. As I’ve met many of her friends in the past, I was welcomed by warm arms and was able to truly immerse myself in American culture. British and American culture is very similar but also very different, and let me tell you, it was just like the movies.
After a seven hour morning flight, I arrived at their house at around 2pm and we quickly got ready before heading over to Julia’s graduation barbecue. One of my favourite moments from the afternoon happened as soon as I arrived. As Sandy was only able to arrive later, I turned up with Sandy’s parents, so Molly didn’t recognise me as I came through the gate. I went over to the group she was talking with and as I got closer she realised it was me and ran over screaming “GEORGINA!!!” before tackling me in a massive hug. (She also told me she reads my blog, so, hi Molly!) It was adorable, honestly. I spent the afternoon catching up with Sandy’s friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen in over a year, and meeting new people.
That evening, we went down to Main St to see all the arts and crafts stalls in the June Bug Festival, and also stopped off at the ice cream parlour to try some more of their amazing ice creams. I got to spend the time catching up with Sandy alone, even though their isn’t much for us to catch up on as we’re on the phone all the time.
On Sunday, we took a trip down to the Jersey Shore and spent the day on the beach. As someone who usually hates sand, I had a wonderful time and even wore a bikini, something I haven’t done in many years. We swam in the sea and ate Korean Tacos and had a perfect day under the beautiful sunshine.
In the evening, we swung by another graduation party, where I learnt the rules of the game “Kan Jam” – which apparently I am terrible at. Afterwards we went to a party at our friend Ethan’s house for a while and then slept over at another friend’s, a true American teenager experience.
Monday, we slept in and took a trip to Bagel Pantry for “real New Jersey bagels” because every bagel I’ve had in the past isn’t a “real bagel”. Personally, I didn’t think they were much different, sorry New Jersey! Sandy had to work for three hours in the afternoon, so I spent the time on the couch watching The Princess Diaries 2 with Sandy’s mum, Linda. In the evening we went to another friends house and chilled for a few hours. I loved being able to swap music recommendations with Sandy’s friends. Julia’s boyfriend Joe actually release his own EP, and he’s insanely talented so you should definitely check it out on soundcloud or even buy it on bandcamp.
I’ve always been a fan of hiking, especially whilst I’m on holiday, so on Tuesday, Linda, Sandy and I drove up to the Palisades and hiked the Carpenter’s Loop Trail. There were so many incredible views of Manhattan and the George Washington bridge. The hike wasn’t too strenuous either so it was a great experience.
In the evening we went to see our dear friend Emma graduate from High School. I was extremely gutted that they didn’t start singing “High School Musical” from HSM3 but I was told that this was a “science academy” and that they totally did that at all regular high school graduations. Afterwards, we joined her family for a meal at the Brown Stone and I spent the evening sharing and indulging in memes with her younger sister. (that’s a graduation joke – you had to be there)
We spent all of Wednesday in New York and we managed to pack so much in that I wrote a separate blog post about it over here!
A friend of Linda’s runs kayaking trips in South Jersey so we drove down on Thursday morning with Emma and Julia and kayaked through the Rancocas Creek. It was such an amazing adventure and so wonderful to be surrounded by so much natural beauty. On the way home we stopped for pizza before heading back to get ready for Emma’s Grad party. That evening, I made my first real smore and sat round the fire with some wonderful people.
The last time I was in New Jersey, we drove down to Princeton to visit Jammin Crepes. It was freezing cold and there was snow piled up on the side of the roads. So, seen as this time, it was in the high 80s we decided to visit Princeton again and see it in a different light. Once again we stopped for brunch at Jammin Crepes and walked around the College Campus, which is possibly the closest thing America has to Hogwarts.
We had to get back for Sandy to go to work again, so I spent the afternoon “packing” and watching Harry Potter. After Sandy got out of work, we drove to Sonic for burgers and headed to Sandy’s aunts pool to swim.
With Saturday being my last day, we went to the Mall for a little shopping and then hung out on the couch watching movies all afternoon before I headed to the airport to catch my flight back to England.
It was truly the greatest way to start the summer and I miss it already. I’m so thankful for the friends I made and the many dogs I met (literally almost everyone had a dog). I love Sandy’s family for letting me stay at their house and paying for me to have these experiences.
I’ve already started saving up to go back next summer and I can’t wait.
Love Georgie xo