Emmanuel: Gaining self-awareness through travel

Emmanual Attipoe, a student from Ghana, pursued a certificate in tourism and hospitality management in 2013-2014 at Whatcom Community College through the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program. Here he shares some tips on places to visit in Washington state and in California, where he traveled during his time in the United States. He also offers current students advice on how to plan for an emergency and do research on trips they want to take. For more on travel safety and planning, see this previous post on winter travel tips.

emmanuelThe United States is synonymous with several must-see attractions that tourists should not miss paying a visit, and each has a unique and a charming attraction as well as an exciting history. These unforgettable moments, I called “worth living to visit”. On my arrival to the States, I came up with the philosophy that to make my experiences widely different and pleasant, I need to travel different destinations in the U.S to learn about its cultural practices. By giving me self-awareness and self-discovery, these experiences will help educate me to broaden my horizons to make effective decisions in my day-to-day life. As the saying goes education not only takes place in a four corner classroom block, but beyond it as well.

Washington State was nick named the “Evergreen State” by pioneer C.T Conover for its abundant green forests. The state has a very beautiful natural environment, which has led to many outdoor activities. These activities may range from skiing and snowboarding on Mt. Baker, one the world’s renowned mountains with continuous record of snow. Hiking on Mt. Rainer, rafting, kayaking, canoeing, etc are also options.

golden_gateAlso on the U.S. west coast, California is famous of its numerous attractions such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Griffith Observatory, Monterrey Bay Aquarium, Museum of Fine Arts etc, but there are other countless spots that are worth visiting. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was the world longest spanned bridge for twenty-seven years after it was finally built in 1937. It is a gravity anchored bridge suspended over open water with a length of 1,280 m and 227 m above the water. From there, I visited Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco’s Marina District. It was a monumental structure originally constructed with a massive architectural design for the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition to display works of art. Though, it might sound interesting to travel to see all these beautiful attractions, the groundwork should be properly done to create that spectacular unforgettable experience.

Below is a quarter-ful cup of tips that a budding traveler with less experience should do. First of all most, potential student travelers  must do thorough research about the places they want to visit on reliable websites like Travelocity, Expedia,, Trip Advisor etc. E-mail yourself a copy of your passport (including your visa and I-20), get a map of the destination, have a reliable emergency contact, for example your CCI program coordinator or advisor. Also, it is important to contact your bank to let them know you are traveling as your debit card might be blocked in order to protect you from credit card fraud. Know your housing arrangement and confirm with the property before travelling. Also, it is of great advantage to seek information from places set aside for tourist like visitors information centers. Challenging moments shared by most students are flight and lodging cancellations. I thereby advise students to have a certain amount of money you can use in case of emergency.

It is pleasure to spend time and our thoughts knowing about other places of this kind to broaden our minds and think vertically on the beauty each environment has to offer.

The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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