Lounging on the couch to watch television is a dull way to spend the summer months. If you are an international student studying in the U.S. for the summer, there are countless opportunities for some fun in the sun. So, put down that TV remote, get off the couch, and learn how to avoid the summer bummers.
Baseball: The American Pastime
The sport of baseball is considered “America’s pastime” for good reason. Watching this sport is a summer passion for families across the nation. The crack of the bat, the cheering crowds, the sizzling hotdogs, and the ice-cold drinks make baseball a great way to spend a summer day or evening.
Baseball is America’s oldest game, starting in 1839. Today, two divisions of baseball exist: Major League Baseball (MLB) and Minor League Baseball (MILB). MLB is the top professional level, while MILB (and its various classifications) is the level below. Both leagues have teams in numerous cities across the country all with a full schedule of summer games. To attend and become a baseball fan yourself follow this link for MLB or this link for MILB. My tip for the best game day experience—wear a team jersey to the game, try a hotdog with everything on it, and enjoy the sights and sounds. “PLAY BALL!”
Attend A Local Fair
State and county fairs often occur in the summer and are one of the best ways to explore American culture as an international student.
What is a fair? In the 19th century, U.S. fairs were an event to share agricultural techniques and aid in spreading education. (Check out this interesting history of fairs link). While fairs today retain some educational value of the past, they mainly attract people with entertaining attractions including amusement rides, exhibits, car shows, etc.
Attractions at a fair often include:
- Fair food—Rarely seen other times of the year, these foods are uniquely American. Traditional fair foods include hot dogs, turkey legs, funnel cakes, cotton candy, and any food you can think of in a fried form. I recommend fried Oreos.
- Carnival games—Try your hand at various carnival games to win prizes such as stuffed animal toys. Time-honored game options include balloon darts, water shooting, milk bottle toss, and more.
- Amusement park rides—Thrill seekers can find a different assortment of rides at each fair, but a Ferris wheel is a classic option.
- 4-H Competition—Most fairs will feature young farmers and ranchers showcasing the livestock they have raised to earn competitive show titles for their animals. Each fair has specific events for different animal species; some even have pig races!
Follow this link to see fairs and festivals near you.
Visit A National Park
Why did you decide to study abroad? Was it to become more culturally aware? Travel? Learn? Visiting America’s National Parks can fulfill those goals and more. The National Parks are what many consider to be “America’s Best Idea.” Every year, these natural cathedrals attract millions of tourists to their breathtaking landscapes and awe-inspiring beauty.
The most popular parks include:
- Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona receives global recognition for its unique landscape and offers visitors a wide variety of sites. The park separates into three sections: The South Rim, North Rim, and Skywalk. Each area offers distinct attractions for park visitors.
- Yosemite National Park in California features a glacial valley framed by 4,000-foot granite mountains that include Half Dome and El Capitan. The views from Glacier Point are unforgettable. Other popular spots include Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Falls, Wawona Tunnel View, and many others.
- Sequoia National Park in California is home to the largest trees on the planet. Due to preservation efforts, horseback or hiking is the best way to experience the majestic landscape this park has to offer. Visit this park to see the Giant Forest Museum, Crystal Cave, and Mineral King.
- Yellowstone National Park is located mainly in the northwest corner of Wyoming and is American’s first National Park. Geographic positioning above a supervolcano allows for hundreds of geysers and other natural phenomena to occur. Yellowstone is a hotspot (pun intended) for many activities from hiking, horseback riding, to watching bison and grizzly bears. Among the hundreds of attractions include Yellowstone Lake, Old Faithful geyser, and Grand Prismatic Spring.
Experience Independence Day
July 4 is Independence Day, the biggest holiday of the summer. This patriotic day honors the 1776 Declaration of Independence of the American colonies from England and is considered the birthday of the nation. This holiday is a time Americans gather with friends and family to celebrate freedom. While this may not be a celebration of freedom for your home, don’t worry, you are encouraged to get involved with the celebration!
Check out these common ways to celebrate Independence Day:
- Fireworks—Independence Day is not a “quietly observed” national holiday. It’s explosive, literally, with fireworks! Beautiful displays light up the sky the preceding week of the holiday. Go with college friends and watch a local firework display. If you want to shoot fireworks yourself, be sure to check your local firework laws and review firework safety guidelines first.
- Barbecue—Many Americans host a barbecue cookout for friends and family to enjoy on Independence Day. A typical July Fourth barbecue offers hamburgers or hotdogs with various sides including fruit, chips, and many desserts. As a guest at a barbecue, be sure to prepare an appetizer to share at the party. These foods are a great option, click the link here for fun patriotic recipes.
Get Up and Go!
Instead of camping on the couch, optimize the time you have left as an international student. Ten years from now, you probably will not recall a movie you watched, but you will remember an action-packed getaway during the summer you learned about American culture and history. Get up and take advantage of the opportunity for adventure in this expansive country. As you walk across the fairgrounds with a funnel cake in one hand and carnival game prize in the other, you’ll be glad you read this blog.
Author: Sarah Dean
Sarah is the Marketing Communications Intern for the Lewer Agency. A Junior at the University of Kansas, she studies Marketing in the School of Business and minors in the journalism concentration strategic communications.