Enjoyable State: My Experience Going to Georgia

How was your 2018-2019 winter break? Did you go back to your house or travel somewhere? Some of my friends went back to their hometown, and others traveled some places not only in the U.S. but also in other countries. In my case, I didn’t go back to my country, Japan, because I applied for the homestay program in the U.S. for international students.

The program name is Christmas International House, which is the homestay program during winter break for international students who are studying in the U.S. There are many locations to do homestay, such as Kansas, North Carolina, Georgia, etc. Among the options, I could participate in two programs: Atlanta and Savannah. This homestay program is two weeks long, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The first week took place in Atlanta, the second in Savannah.

During day-time, I visited tourist spots, and I spent the night and weekend at a host family’s house! Keep reading to learn more about my experience traveling to Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia.


1.  Atlanta


On the first day in Atlanta, I went to the Georgia Aquarium. You might not know this, but it is the biggest aquarium in the U.S. The dolphin show was amazing! Before I came to the aquarium, I watched the movie Finding Dory, so the atmosphere of it reminded me a lot of what I saw in the movie! I was excited. Even though the aquarium is already big, it will be expanded to include a gallery featuring sharks that will be open in 2020!



Near the Georgia Aquarium, there is the most famous drink company museum: “World of Coca-Cola.” At first, if you go to the entrance of the museum, you can choose from four different types of Coke samples. To enter the museum, you need to watch the featured movie of Coke because the back of the screen is actually the entrance door to the museum! On the first floor, you can learn how to make a Coke, the history of Coke in the world, and even take a picture with the Coca-Cola bear!

On the second floor, there is a 4D movie theater (my seat was squeaking really loudly!) and a tasting zone of worldwide Coca-Cola products. I tried all of drinks in each region, and I ended up preferring the Latin American Coke. My least favorite flavor was Pomegranate Lemonade from North America. Have you ever tried it before? If you personally like it, I respect that, but for me, the taste was terrible. The taste and smell of it reminded me of Natto, which are fermented soybeans in Japan. I will probably never forget it!


In addition, I had the chance to experience a traditional American Christmas! It was a great time for me to understand what Christmas is like for American Christianity, and how people celebrate Christmas in the U.S. I enjoyed cooking traditional Christmas meals with my host family and other international students. And, maybe the best part of all, was that I got a Christmas present from my host family! Ever since I was an elementary school student, I haven’t received a Christmas present on Christmas day, so that was a very happy moment for me.


2.  Savannah

Savannah, Georgia is recognized as the No. 1 Haunted City in the U.S. It is one of the oldest cities, and the city tree (Oak) makes the atmosphere of the city even creepier… thankfully, I didn’t see any ghosts during my stay! Besides its eerie atmosphere, Savannah is such a beautiful city. The downtown area has lots of things to look at while walking, and there are a lot of historical buildings related to American wars, African Americans, etc. It is better to join in the city tour or haunted tour to better understand the history, and be able to enjoy the surroundings in Savannah!


River Street


Creepy atmosphere


Before my trip, I never knew that Savannah is one of the top three famous shooting locations for movies in the U.S. such as Forest Gump (alongside New York and Los Angeles)


Forsyth Park


The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist


Every place I went to was so beautiful. Not only are there traditional buildings and stores, but also there are stylish shops and delicious restaurants to go into.


Below Zero Rolled Ice Cream

Savannah Seafood Shack



On main street of downtown Savannah, you can usually see a long line of people. At first I thought the line was for the nearby movie theater, but it was actually for a famous ice cream shop called “Leopold’s Ice Cream.” This ice cream shop has been open since 1919, and the shop offers classic flavors by using local products such as Georgian pecans and honey from the Savannah bee company! The most popular flavors are “Honey Almond & Cream” and “Savannah Socialite,” which includes milk chocolate ice cream.

I tried both flavors at the store, as well as “Lemon Custard” at the airport! All of these flavors tasted super good, and their price wasn’t expensive. If I have the chance to go there again, I would definitely order those flavors again. There are two Leopold’s Ice Cream shops in the airport, one is inside, another is outside. Compared to the shop downtown, which took me 40 minutes before I could order, the airport location did not have a line that I needed to wait and stand in. I highly recommend buying it at the airport.



On New Year’s Day, I went to Tybee Island! On the first day I went here, it was cloudy and I could not see the ocean very well. The second time I went there, though, it was a sunny day and I could see the beautiful sea and feel summer! During the summer, Tybee Island tends to become very hot from the heat and being so crowded by tourists. However, it was comfortable during the winter because it was not too crowded, nor too hot. It was a nice visiting day and a great New Year’s Day experience for me.


If I had not applied for this program, I don’t think I ever would have visited Georgia on my own time—mostly because I wasn’t familiar with Georgia and I didn’t think I would have any interests there. But, through this experience, I now understand American lifestyle and traditions during winter break. I especially loved visiting Savannah so much, that it is now one of my favorite places in the world. I not only want to visit there again, but also I now will take this opportunity to travel around the U.S. in the future.