Learnings & Reflections From My USA Trip | #jhgoeswest

Photo by Asia Croson Photography

Photo by Asia Croson Photography

This trip has been crazy in all of the best ways and it's truly bittersweet that I am leaving for Canada tomorrow. (TOMORROW!? WHAT!?) As I sit here in a cute little diner (Cheryls on 12th in Portland), I am over-whelmed with nostalgia and gratitude. The rain outside is incredibly fitting; I feel cleansed, renewed, and even a little somber. I have learnt so much about myself in this spontaneous trip and I'm going home with a full heart as well as an enriched way of viewing myself and the world.

I have been humbled while staying with other people during all legs of my trip. As an extroverted-introvert I really wanted to just book BnB's, hotels, etc- but challenged myself by asking to stay with locals which helped me financially but also enriched my experience ten-fold. Staying with friends who I sort of knew (but not really) pushed me to get out and explore more, it also taught me that I have more energy to give than I ever expected. It illuminated more grace, patience, and even the self-awareness to lighten up a little. It reinforced my belief of needing personal space and just quiet time in general to regenerate but that being intentional with my time and being in the moment is incredibly important. 

At the beginning of my trip my anxiety was high with so many unknowns and new experiences laying out in front of me with no promises or home-comforts in sight. Traveling hasn't killed me (so good-bye irrational fears) and instead of aggravating my anxiety it has surprisingly mellowed me out. It has built a deep resilient strength that I feel that traveling solo could only truly give me, it also gave me a stronger faith in my intuition and faith. It reaffirmed my self-reliance while nurtured my ability to connect with others in a really powerful way. Even though their were moments where I felt like I was going to break, I pushed through and built some tougher skin. I had so many opportunities where I could have chosen to stay small or to hide but with encouragement and 30 seconds of insane courage, I let go and moved forward. 

This brings me to a big component of my learning: Ask for help and allow yourself to be vulnerable. I was over-exhausted in San Jose and started to get over-whelmed from my deadly combination of car sickness, exhaustion, and anxiety of a new surrounding when I had to ask Asia for help for something that seemed so small and probably irrational. It was hard especially because we only just met in person 4 days earlier, I was afraid of being difficult or over-emotional even though I felt like our friendship grew quite quickly. I took a deep breath and asked for help and she did. it was difficult to be so vulnerable but it really felt like it cemented our friendship, she was there without judgement. It also just really solidified the hard lesson that I have been learning my whole life: asking for help isn't weakness. We all need each other, we can't do this all alone. 

So there, that's the big stuff! Here are a few fun little lessons that I learnt in each city. Some are hilarious and maybe seem obvious but whatever! I'm not a world traveler. I have only just begun.


Phoenix, Arizona

  • Never ever pull an all nighter before traveling. Just don't, you will regret it so badly.
  • Americans aren't as scary as expected; this sounds kind of hilarious and cute with its naivety. What can I say? I'm adorable. I was honestly convinced everyone was really brash, rude, and didn't have basic manners haha. I blame movies. Nice people live everywhere in the world and the same goes for rude peeps. Canada isn't excluded from that. 
  • Learn by DOING. From booking flights, to airport terminals, baggage requirements, to finding the best local spots, I do not retain what people say. As an anxious person, its totally necessary that I just get thrown in to the deep end sometimes even if sometimes I feel super whelmed. #worthit
  • Not everyone is 'carrying.' (firearms) - Again, I blame movies. 
  • Family is everything. 
  • Meeting online friends in person makes the world feel even more magical. 
  • You will never ever regret taking a photo. You will regret not taking a photo. 
  • The desert is BEAUTIFUL.
  • Sometimes family just wants to share something with you, it doesn't always need to be about you, its just about the experience of being together and sharing something. 


San Luis Obispo, California (& San Jose)

  • YES, Big Sur and Slo are as beautiful as you imagine. Pinterest actually got this one right.
  • Californians are really cute, they call hills mountains. #asiaandthebeard
  • I have more energy than I give myself credit for and could give more of myself back home.
  • Your best friends can be hiding in the strangest places. <3
  • Being abroad and working is actually more challenging that I had ever expected. It's a fine-dance of being a tourist and locking down for a few hours in a place that has wifi. Schedules HELP! 
  • Ask for what you need and ask, "does that feel good for you?" So everyone can be on the same page and be happy with the final decision. (Thanks Paige!) 
  • Unfortunately I'm a disappointing Canadian. I am well spoken and sound like I could be from California. However I do apparently say Southern wrong. I say "SOWthern" / "SUTHERN" is the american way. 
  • My motion-sickness is no joke. Always pack Gravol. *Note: Americans have no idea what this is.*
  • Being stuck in stand still traffic can be incredibly fun if you are with the right people. <3
  • Californians ACTUALLY sound like surfers and valley girls. It's not a hollywood thing its like a real world thing. #seewhatididthere
  • Let the locals order for you, they order the best food. #lunared
  • California is the best place in the world for people who are gluten-free. All the food my friends, I will never go hungry in that state. 
  • I'm resiliant and can push through some uncomfortable situations; like sleeping in a total strangers garage. #almosthadameltdown


Portland, Oregon

  • Spoiler Alert: This place is way bigger (like a lot bigger) than you probably think. 
  • Cannon Beach is just as incredible as you imagine, if not more. The Haystack is majestic and such a gentle giant.
  • Go see all the waterfalls <3
  • This is a really great travel tip: Write everything down or take screen shots with your phone, like the place you are staying out and even the route you need to walk because no wifi or date = being very lost and no google to help you. 
  • Getting lost at night in a city you don't know is NOT a good way to start off first impressions. *See point above.*
  • I am very adaptable and blend in to my surroundings very well. I'm mistaken as a local in every city I have visited. #pleasedontaskmefordirections 
  • You're most favourite places sometimes will surprise you so go in with an open mind and excitement, no matter where you go. 
  • I love working in coffee shops, period, anywhere in this world at any time. 
  • Plan to do a 'local day' for the first day or second day you arrive so you can immerse yourself in the culture and get your bearings
  • Rain boots are necessary. 

It's been a slice America,

Photos by Asia Croson Photography

Photos by Asia Croson Photography