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TL;DR: Jennifer and I had a great time in Atlanta visiting museums, seeing Eric Nam in concert, and hiking in nature.
Coming back to Atlanta for six days with Jennifer gave me a different perspective on the city. This trip was truly Jennifer's first time experiencing a large southern city. Home to the world's busiest airport, tons of Fortune 500 companies, ridiculous sprawl and traffic, and museums dedicated to colonial, civil war, and civil rights history, Atlanta is a sight to behold. I have always emphasized the need for a car and the distance between places to Jennifer, yet she didn't actually believe me until she realized that she has spent half of her day sitting in the car (occasionally in traffic) getting to places even though our interstates are seven lanes wide and no one obeys the speed limit.
As for me, I was really excited to see my Lovett friends all together at one place! Although we hung out with Izzy just a few days ago in Chicago, we saw each other again in Atlanta with Adrienne and Markell (whom I haven't seen since last summer). Although we only managed to chat for about an hour or so, it was really nice catching up and hearing about the different paths that we are taking in college. Personally, I really love listening to others' journeys towards their goals, especially if theirs are really different than mine.
Some people originally thought that my trip back to Atlanta was intentionally to see Eric Nam in concert, which actually was purely coincidentally (or fate :D ). For those of you who haven't been blessed with me gushing about my obsession with K-pop, Eric Nam is a Korean-American pop singer who is also an Atlanta native that also went to Lovett (he graduated 8 years before I did). If I remember correctly, he debuted around 2013 and he has been rising to fame exponentially for the past 2 years or so. Around 2013, I actually emailed him at his business email and he responded back :D
Adrienne, Jennifer, and I went to see Eric's concert together (yes, I converted them to K-pop) at Terminal West, which was a very intimate venue. The concert only held about 600 people standing room only and we were able to get super close since all three of us had VIP tickets. At the end of the concert, we were able to socialize, and all three of us met and talked to Eric's family (parents and siblings). We also managed to run into some Lovett teachers and met other Lovett alums!
As Jennifer's host in Atlanta, I tried to structure her trip as well-rounded as possible: a bit of history, a bit of nature, and a ton of good food. I'd admit, I do occasionally throw shade at the South and Atlanta in passing, but I have spent nearly 12 years of my life in this city and I want others to know that Atlanta is more than just a large transportation hub.
Since Jennifer is a history major (and a history buff, duh), the Center for Civil and Human Rights as well as the Atlanta History Center were at the top of the list. I wrote about my first visit to the Center for Civil and Human Rights last summer as a Reach intern in a previous post. Last time, I was a bit rushed and not in the position to fully immerse in the exhibits since I was a chaperone. This time around, I took more time in each room and spent more time in the Global Human Rights exhibition, especially since I have taken several courses in the International Studies department that relates to the topic.
It was an interesting experience for me to visit the Atlanta History Center. The last time I went was the summer before fifth grade when I was 9. Since then, the museum undergone a huge renovation and the complex now looks very new and modern. Out of all of the exhibits, two stood out to me the most: Turning Point: The American Civil War and Gatheround: Stories of Atlanta. Turning Point gave a deeper look into the causes and complexities of various characters in the Civil War. Some generals fought for one side because of their loyalty to their birthplace; others disregarded their birthplace and fought for the other side because of their closely held beliefs. In Gatheround, the multimedia exhibition illustrated the diversity found in Atlanta. Statistics about the demographics of Atlanta were displayed on an electronic screen - percentage of foreign-born residents, percentage of residents native to Atlanta... Overall, the exhibit brings awareness to the evolution of Atlanta geographically and demographically. I enjoyed reading about the origins of MARTA (Atlanta's public transit system), the Belt Line project, and the influx of immigrants into the city. In many ways, I felt like I was reading about my story as a resident of Atlanta.
History aside, Jennifer needed to try all the diverse foods that Atlanta has to offer, so I (selfishly) used her as an excuse to eat at all the places that no one will take me. The first night, Jennifer and I had shaved ice at SUNO Dessert, and now, shaved ice is all she talks about everyday. We also went to Kula Revolving Sushi since it was new, and we got to experience conveyor belt sushi (a norm in East Asia, but exciting in Atlanta!) nearly the same way that Simon & Martina did in Japan.
One of the restaurants that I have always wanted to try was Mary Mac's Tea Room. I've often heard about their Southern cooking, and many celebrities and political figures visit the restaurant. The employees were very warm and gave us a brief history of the restaurant. Mary Mac's reminded me of Dooky Chase restaurant during my Bonner trip to New Orleans. I would definitely return again for the dining experience and atmosphere!
(L to R) Certificate for finishing zip lining, Jennifer hiking in the woods, photo op with the Providence Canyon
One worry that I did have about our trip to Atlanta was the amount of exercise that we would get. About a month ago, Jennifer and I decided to re-evaluate our lifestyles and wanted to become healthier through more exercise, whether that's more walking, going to the gym, or hiking in nature. In order to combat my fear of being couch potatoes (or is car potatoes the correct term?), I put in three trips that would allow us to stretch our legs.
I have always wanted to go zip lining since about five years ago, and no amount of words could describe how ecstatic I was when I could check zip lining off my bucket list. We decided to go zip lining with North Georgia Canopy Tours in Lula, Georgia, which is about a 1.5 hour drive northeast. The area was super pretty and the company kept their property and buildings in tip-top shape. You could even go glamping there! Now, a week or so after zip lining, I can't wait to do it again in the future!
Besides zip lining, I also made Jennifer hike up Stone Mountain with me, which apparently made her "think about Stone Mountain as the metaphor for her emotional journey academically and about her life." As for me, I just feel like Stone Mountain gets harder every time I climb it. I have no clue how I walked down the mountain in pouring rain without falling during sixth grade because I knew it would be a story to tell in the future (which it is!).
For our last day in Atlanta, we took a day trip down to Providence Canyon State Park, nearly a 2.5 hour drive southward from Atlanta. The closest city was Columbus, which was about a 30 minute drive from the canyon. As far as I can remember, I have never been this far south in Georgia (passing en route to Florida does not count) since Macon is a bit further north than the canyon. In Georgia, I rarely get the chance to visit rural areas so this trip was a scenic deviation from the usual hustle and bustle of Atlanta.
I didn't even know such a place existed in Georgia until I stumbled upon photos of the park on ExploreGeorgia's Instagram page. I have been to North Georgia several times and have seen the mountains, but I have not been to southern Georgia and see Providence Canyon. So instead of taking Jennifer to the local tourist towns like Helen or Dahlonega, we chose to go to the canyon for the view. The photos that I did manage to take were very picturesque and made the long drive down worthwhile.
Coming back to Atlanta and seeing the city through another set of eyes made me more appreciative of Atlanta and the many things that it has to offer. And while I don't see myself living in Atlanta in the future, I do have to give credit where credit is due and thank Atlanta for all that it did for me during the 11 consecutive years that I did live here.
college student. junior. international studies major. over-the-top foodie. travel and lifestyle student blogger?
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