I’ve always wanted to do something that you cannot do anywhere else. I know that mountains are not only in the United States, but these different landmarks are iconic, and road tripping through the American desert has always been on my bucket list. So, when I got the chance to do it at the end of my fall 2017 term, I did not hesitate.
I travelled with another friend from my Master’s program, and since we were only two people driving for very long hours was a bit exhausting, but all worth it. Many of my friends are international, which means that I got to learn, not only about American culture during my grant, but also about other cultures and customs around the world. It’s something very unique about the United States, where you can meet and mingle with local people, but also have a chance to meet a lot of international people. You never know what your Fulbright experience will look like.
We had the opportunity to visit 4 states (California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona) in just five days. I got the chance to learn more about Native Americans, and had the chance to visit some of the most popular national parks in the United States. We even hiked up Angels Landing in Zion National Park (a 2.6 mile hike, ranked top three most difficult hikes in the United State). I almost made it to the top and the picture below was taken from the highest point I reached, which is just a couple feet short of the top.
I also went to Red Rock National Park in Nevada, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Horseshoe Bend in Arizona and Antelope Canyon in Arizona. On the last day I was in the car for 10 hours driving from Page, Arizona to Los Angeles, California- passing through Utah and Nevada before I flew back to Portland, Oregon. A grand total of 5 states in less than 24 hours. When you are part of Fulbright, everything feels and becomes possible.
I was curious to know more about the American southwest, and I especially have an interest in learning about Native American culture. During this trip, I had a chance to speak with my Native American tour guide about their culture, language, and the way they try to live with their Native American heritage in the modern day United States.
After my five day trip across the Southwest, I can’t wait to travel to more National Parks and see more beautiful natural resources. I only have a few months left of my Fulbright grant, but I still plan to visit Yosemite, Sequoiaand Yellowstone National Parks. Being a Fulbrighter means that no objective is really out of reach, whether it’s making friends from every continent, acing a class, or climbing one of the hardest hikes in the United States.
Gaya is a Fulbright student at Portland State University where he is studying Engineering and Tech Management. He is from Algeria.