Hello from Atlanta, Georgia!
Having never been to the USA before, stepping off the plane into an airport of the deep south on New Years Eve was an experience in of itself. Despite Atlanta boasting the world’s busiest airport, I’d never before seen so much security and thoroughness given to every single arrivee.
On New Years Day I attended my first NFL match between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. Luckily for me, the history between the two teams has a long-standing rivalry so the atmosphere within Georgia Dome was electric, especially since Atlanta won. Again I was privy to the unbelievable security afforded to major events – so much so that I had to swap my bag for a clear plastic bag (and pay a cool $10 fee for the privilege) so security guards could see the contents. Though it makes sense to reduce the risk of crime, the red tape reminded me of where I was and how seriously they take surveillance and precaution.
Before I started work at FEE on January 3, I managed to complete most of the main ‘touristy’ attractions Atlanta has to offer – the home of Coca-Cola, Centennial Park, the College Football Hall of Fame and – most interestingly – the CNN Centre.
On my first day at work I witnessed an interesting presentation by a Venezualan man named Javier, who’s in America seeking political asylum after fleeing his country out of fear for his safety. He’s been an long-time activist against the socialist Maduro government and has been targeted and hospitalised as a result.
It was a fascinating presentation on his own experiences and it was shocking to realise how little most people know about the true plight of Venezualian politics. Since then I went to dinner with Lawrence W. Reed – the President of FEE – who took me to the most amazing restaurant overlooking the entire Atlanta metro area. I have started to make friends with the FEE staff, started writing an article on Australia’s peculiar paintball laws (if you want a paintball marker you need a firearms licence), and gone on a sensational Bicycle Tour of the suburbs – something I try to do in every city I visit.
It’s been a fabulous first week. Onwards and upwards from here!