When most people think about traveling to the United States, a few key places come to mind: Miami, New York City, Los Angeles. But just like in Brazil, there is more than just Carnival in Rio, metropolitan lifestyle in São Paolo, and the Amazon rainforest. There is so much in between these three American cities.
This article will help you take a look at some other interesting American towns and cities, and perhaps influence you to go off the beaten path (do something that not everyone does).
1. Boulder, Colorado
Boulder is located just 45 minutes from Colorado’s capital, Denver. It has a population of about 100,000.
Boulder is a “college town.” It’s home to the University of Colorado (CU), which has about 30,000 students, so you will find a young atmosphere there.
Boulder is a great a great place to live and to learn English for many reasons. The University is home to many exchange students, and offers courses at its International English Center where you can improve your language skills, while also preparing for college. If you’re looking to study at a University in the United States, this makes Boulder a great choice.
If you like outdoor activities, then Colorado, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, is the place to be. In the winter, you can try skiing or snowboarding. Boulder is a short drive from several world-class ski areas such as Keystone, Vail, and Copper Mountain. Other fun snow activities are sledding, ice-skating, and snowshoeing.
In the summer, you’ll see hundreds of people riding their bikes in the mountains and up the steep western roads. There are dozens of beautiful hikes just a few minutes from downtown. And you can’t miss out on camping.
Whatever you do, you’ll be making lots of friends in the Colorado outdoors because the University and city both boast various clubs devoted to different activities (hiking, biking, skiing/boarding), along with hundreds of other non-sports based clubs (for example, the anime club, environmental protection, yoga and meditation).
The city and the University often hold cultural fairs and festivals as well. For example, every year CU has an international festival where you can taste food from various countries and learn about their different cultures.
In Boulder, you can experience all for seasons: hot summers (go swimming at Boulder Reservoir or Boulder Creek), tree leaves changing in the fall, snowy winters (don’t worry, it’s not too cold), and beautiful springs (the air smells wonderful when the flowers start to bloom!).
In Boulder you’ll find an awesome lifestyle, environment, and people. It may be a small city, but there is always something to do and something to learn. It’s a place where you won’t regret doing an exchange, and that you’ll always want to return to.
Check out more to do in Boulder, here.
2. Like Boulder, Portland is a liberal city of progressive thinking. In 2012, it ranked number five on Business Week’s 50 Best American Cities.
Portland is a laid back (relaxed) city full of creative individuals. It’s quickly becoming famous for it’s vibrant art and music scene.
Much like in Boulder, people in Portland are very health conscious, so good food is plentiful (check out the farmer’s market). And a high percentage of people bike to work, which makes for low air pollution compared to most other American cities.
Unlike most American cities, Portland also has a popular Major League Soccer team, the Timbers, whose games often sell out.
Summers in Portland are warm and dry, and winters are cool and wet. The variation of temperature isn’t as extreme as in Colorado.
Portland is a bustling (full of life) city with many parks, restaurants, and colleges. It’s got an atmosphere unlike any city you’ve seen, which makes it a very worthwhile place for an exchange.
Check out more cool things to do in Portland here.
3. Moving way south of Portland, you’ll find the beautiful port city of San Diego, where your biggest decision every day will be which beach to visit (my favorite is Ocean Beach)! It’s the seventh largest American city, but it is still pretty safe. There is also much less traffic to worry about than in Los Angeles.
If you like sports, San Diego is a great place to be. It’s the home of a professional football team (the Chargers), a baseball team (the padres), and many successful University teams of basketball, football, soccer, etc. (the San Diego State Aztecs and the University of San Diego Toreros).
You can try one of these sports, or go surfing, scuba diving, kayaking, biking, or skateboarding by the beach.
San Diego also has a world famous zoo (one of the few in the World with Panda bears) and Sea World, where you can see orcas and dolphins perform.
San Diego has many colleges, the most famous being the University of San Diego, San Diego State University, and the University of Southern California at San Diego. So you’ll also find a lot of young people there.
But that’s not all, if it’s business you’re looking for, San Diego has a thriving downtown. So it’s a great place to look for an internship.
While you’re in San Diego, be sure to check out the Sea Lions at La Jolla beach and go whale watching off the coast. And Mexico is just a short drive away, if you’re interested in checking out another country and eating some cheap seafood.
San Diego is famous for its nice weather (not too hot, not too cold, and usually sunny).
If you want to know about more things to do in San Diego, look here.
4. Boise is the Capital of Idaho, located in the Western United States. Like Boulder, it’s well known for its beautiful nature and high quality of life.
Boise has a mix of college town (with Boise State University, BSU) and business. And tons to do outside like fishing, swimming, and rafting in the Boise River and skiing at Bogus Basin in the winter.
In Boise, there is a vibrant jazz and indie music scene, as well as many theatre groups that regularly put on plays (although not quite as exciting as Broadway).
Like CU, BSU has a wide variety of organizations and clubs to help you get to know people.
Are you curious about other things to do in Boise?
5. The last cool American city on the list is another liberal “college town”. The University of Michigan is a highly renowned educational institution with an enrollment of about 42,000 students.
In 2008, Ann Arbor was rated 27th out of the top 100 best places to live in the United States by Money magazine and Forbes has listed it as one of the most liveable cities in America.
Ann Arbor’s economy is partly based off of high technology, so if that is your specialty; you might want to look for an internship there.
The University holds many cultural events and several museums. There is an annual international film festival held in Ann Arbor every year. Interestingly, Ann Arbor has the most books per capita of any city in the United States. It also has a large Rock and Roll scene.
The University has hockey, basketball and football teams, and is famous for having the biggest American football stadium in the world. In the U.S., college football is even more popular than major league. In Ann Arbor, you’ll be truly immersed in American Football culture—and many of the fans can be just as crazy as Brazilian football fans!
If you want a different sports experience, definitely check it out. Don’t forget to do some tailgating. This is when before a sports game people gather around the back of their cars (the back of a truck is called a tailgate), and drink, barbecue, play games, and prepare for the big event. In my opinion, tailgating is even more fun than watching the match.
Weather in Ann Arbor is similar to that in Boulder, but more humid with colder winters. That’s no problem though, just bundle up and have a hot chocolate. Be sure to try winter sports like snowshoeing and ice fishing.
In Ann Arbor you’ll find a young and stimulating environment. People will be excited to discuss your home and culture, to learn about you, and to teach you about American life. And you’ll be learning a lot more than just English.
Want to know more about Ann Arbor?
Wherever you go abroad, you’re guaranteed a great experience. The most important thing is to always be trying new things!
So start planning now, it’s time to have the experience of a lifetime! Go abroad.
Are you going to do an exchange and you’re not sure where to go? Let the Real Life Guys know. We’re here to help you, and it’s our mission to help you have a great English Exchange experience.