Yesterday, twelve years ago, I set foot on American soil for the first time. I have not been back since that high school exchange semester. The first five years, I didn’t feel like I had to return. When others felt New York City or Los Angeles irresistably calling for them, I just wanted to go Stockhome. But it was there, in Stockholm, I met Emily who I came to call one of my very best friends, and she was from across the pond. When political and cultural news coming from the U.S. depressed, disillusioned my European soul, I had her restore my faith in the American people.
And all these years, I’ve been wanting to visit her. Today, I booked! We’ll be spending our birthdays together (because we’re born just one day apart) and I’ll be in Washington, Philadelphia and New York City at the worst possible time: February. But I don’t care, I’ll meet Emily and I’ll see my 2004 host sister Bridget again and I’ll go to the Swedish American Emigration Museum. This is going to be grand! Now I’ll just have to apply for a passport.*
*As a German, you only need a passport if you are travelling outside of the Schengen area which includes all of Europe.