Suburbia USA

Life, liberty and the pursuit of a 3 bedroomed house with a white picketed fence in the suburbs... Perhaps I got that last bit wrong, but according to Hollywood it certainly seems that way. Despite suburbia's onscreen popularity I had previously never ventured outside Manhattan so when an invite to a conference in the outskirts of Philadelphia came up I was excited to go and explore.

I flew out of London into Newark airport and then took the Amtrak to Philadelphia.

Quick tips for air travel to the USA from Europe:
1. Fly out of Dublin - Dublin airport has US pre-clearance so you don't have to queue for customs once you land and you avoid the fear that they may send you back on the boat like your ancestors.
2. Don't fly Delta - the cabin crew seem to take personal offence if you ask for a glass of water, though it is hardly surprising when half of them don't even bother to tuck in their shirts. 
3. Take full advantage of the entertainment system - you don't realise how good you have it until you start flying domestic in the US and they make you pay $8 per movie!

Goodbye London, Hello Newark
I discovered by jumping on the wrong train in Newark that there are several types of services under Amtrak. A few common ones in the Northeast are the Acela Express, the Keystone Service, and the Northeast Regional. The fastest (and most expensive!) is the Acela which runs between Boston and DC, it only has business and first class and most importantly it has really nice employees who don't throw you off when you get on by mistake!
The Acela can reach speeds of 250kph

I was unfortunately too busy worrying about being thrown off to get a better picture!

The conference was on in Bryn Mawr College a 30 minute ride by SEPTA train from Philadelphia's 30th street station. The SEPTA is the public transport system in southeastern Pennsylvania consisting of  regional rail and bus services.

Bryn Mawr College is a gorgeous women's liberal arts college founded in 1885, with a notable alumni being Katherine Hepburn. When walking around the college the leafy grounds were telling of its private status. 

The conference topic was on 'Liberty and Society' and was held by The Institute of Humane Studies, a libertarian non-profit organisation based in Washington D.C. It took place over 4 days and included lectures, discussion sessions, and career panels for those interested in advancing liberty as a profession. The experience was incredibly valuable, and for anyone interested in liberty and libertarian ideas I would strongly recommend getting in touch with IHS for opportunities in the field.
Lecture on 'The Financial Health of the Federal Government' by Antony Davies

During breaks between lectures I wandered around downtown Bryn Mawr to check out what life is like outside the big city.

Downtown Bryn Mawr

And because everywhere needs a pizza joint...

Why not?

 America's love affair with suburbia and having the 2.2 kids developed during the 20th century with numerous TV shows about the all American nuclear family living in safe, clean, and gated communities... the pinnacle of the American Dream. Although my trip was not on the traditional tourist track it was still great to see it!

It only counts as suburbia if you have an American flag on the front porch 


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