Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Very Long Day

My am I exhausted. Today has been very long indeed.

I’m not sure where exactly it started. Probably at 7 AM, when I woke up my suite-mates Adeline and Neha and the three of us stumbled sleepily down to the gazebo to see two of our friends off. We had all stayed up far too late the night before, and so everyone was perfectly happy to take a collective nap together in the Hartley suite after the 7 AM send-off. At quarter to 9 I shook myself awake once again to make the rounds and give my goodbyes to everyone before heading down with my luggage to meet Mrs. L and the rest of the cohort. Our duo of taxis took us down to Mrs. L’s hotel, where we stashed our luggage before hopping on the subway a little ways to Rockefeller Center. Although I’d already been before at night, the view from Top of the Rock in the daytime was spectacular, exchanging the glamour of bright city lights against inky black for breathtaking clarity and detail in the sunlight.

A stop at Magnolia’s quickly followed, with me investing in a small cheesecake (delicious!) that I ended up eating on the plane. Then our last subway ride, a trip over to Central Park, where we had a lovely lunch at the Boathouse before leisurely strolling through the Park back to our hotel. A shuttle took us to the airport, and I kept dozing off even in the midst of the cacophony that is New York traffic. We grabbed dinner at the airport cafeteria after checking in (I ended up checking two bags instead of one, and bringing two others on the plane with me) before boarding about an hour later. We had thought that our flight was delayed because the announcement board had been claiming so, but we ended up boarding early, leaving a little early, and arriving in the Bay Area airspace earlier than the flight had intended. I cat-napped a bit on the plane in between reading chapters of the AP Lang summer assignment book, Fast Food Nation, which is so far a very interesting read based solely on the type of language and word choice that the author uses to bring home his point about the evils and dangers of fast food.

Because of the fog in San Francisco we had to wait a very long time before we could get a runway; so long, in fact, that the plane made a quick pitstop at Oakland airport to refuel. When we landed all of us were very happy to see our families come greet us: I was glad to see my parents, and even my brother. Our drive home was filled with (of course) political conversation, with me being able to bring the legal side of thing to the table thanks to the Constitutional Law class. That right there made me realize just how much I got out of this course and this experience, and how grateful I am that I was a part of the class and the Ivy League Connection program.

The last day, but not the least...

My last day in NYC was enjoyable. We checked out at 9:00 AM and said our goodbyes to our new friends and our RAs. Most of my RAs plan on staying in touch with us and offered to hang out with us if we’re ever in town. It’s hard saying goodbye, even though it’s only been three weeks. When you’re put into a situation where you must adapt quickly, you learn to get attached quickly. I realized when I looked into my room for the last time that that was home for the past 3 weeks. It had become part of me, along with Columbia for that matter. I had just started to get used to the campus and city when it was time to go.

We spent the remaining time before we departed by visiting the Rock. We went to the Top of the Rock where we had an amazing view of NYC. I never realized how large the city was until I could see almost all of it and it was huge! It made me start to miss New York because that was one of the last times I would see the city before I left.

The rest of the time we wandered around Central Park. That park is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen and to think that it’s in the middle of a city is pretty weird. Every part of the park is different. You can’t find two parts of it that are the same. We had lunch in a restaurant that was on the edge of the smaller lake. We got a table right on the water and enjoyed our lunch looking out at the view of the lake. I wish I would have known that there were boats you could have rented and paddled yourself around the lake in. That would have been cool to do.

I can’t believe that this is over, even though it’s not really over. This memory will live on forever. I can’t thank everyone enough who let me go on this unbelievable experience- the administrators, the sponsors, our chaperone, and my parents. Without any of your help, I would have never thought of going to the East Coast to go after my dreams. I would have stayed at home and would have never known what was out there, calling my name. There are no words to describe how much this whole experience means to me. And for that, I thank everyone who helped make this trip possible.

On our way back, our flight was early but had some sudden changes that caused it to be late about an hour and a half. First, there was no room for us to land a SFO. We circled around probably 5 times before the pilot announced we were out of fuel and had to land in Oakland to refuel and then head back to SFO. I’ve never seen a more useless moment than that. To get fuel just to fly 3 minutes back to SFO to land. It was ridiculous. On the way there, problems occurred landing which delayed the flight into Oakland even more. In the end we all arrived on time and we welcomed by our worrying and overjoyed parents.

Of course, I might be back. Who knows? I could be flying back as a freshman next year at Columbia or UPENN or Yale or Vassar or Cornell or Brown. The opportunities are endless now, and this wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for so many people backing me up.

So Long New York City, Hello Bay Area

I’m coming home. Man, time flies. It’s hard to believe that three and a half weeks ago we at El Cerrito High School waiting for our shuttle, and now I’m typing as we fly over Sacramento. Our final hours before our flight home, Mrs. L. was nice enough to take us to the Top of the Rockefeller Center Observation deck because we had quite a bit of time between when we checked out and when we had to arrived at the airport. After checking out of our dorms, I think it’s pretty safe to say that our entire cohort was exhausted. Each of us had stayed up past 1AM and Irene didn’t even sleep at all. Regardless, we all summoned our last bit of energy and made our way to the Empire Hotel to drop off our luggage, and board the subway heading towards Rockefeller Center.

The Top of the Rock is amazing. I admit, prior to coming to Columbia I had seen Top of the Rock on top tourist attractions and each time I saw the name, I always wondered “who on Earth would want to stand on top of a rock in New York?” From the Top of the Rock, One can see all of Manhattan, the Hudson, New Jersey, The Statue of Liberty, and a long list of other famous attractions. Today, we were extremely lucky because there was almost no line to go up, and the weather was absolutely amazing. What struck me the most about view was the sheer size of New York City. I knew that the Big Apple was a large metropolitan area, but seeing Manhattan from the top really put it in perspective. Another thing I found interesting was a point Mrs. L. raised after she showed us the flight path of the plane that landed in the Hudson. The question she asked was “Can you imagine what it would have been like for the people on the top when the 9/11 attacks and the miracle on the Hudson happened?” I cannot imagine what it would have been like. The only thought that came across my mind was that I would have felt a mixture of hopelessness, anger, and sadness.

After our visit to the Top of the Rock, we rushed to grab lunch at The Boathouse, a restaurant alongside a lake at Central Park. From where we sat, w had a clear view of the lake, and the beauty of the Central Park. It was really nice to see people taking a break from the hustle bustle of New York life and slowing down to take in the sights and relax. Another aspect of Central Park that I really enjoy is that it is literally a large patch of green smack dab in the middle of Manhattan. It is a great place just to unwind and admire the nature, trees, and characters. I think that eating lunch alongside the lake in Central Park is the best way we could have gone out. I’m going to remember this trip for the rest of my life, and I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity was given to me. This trip has really opened my mind to consider schools on the east coast. Through this program I have learned so much about being independent in addition to constitutional law. I absolutely loved my class and I hope that future participants of the ILC will have the choice to apply for this fabulous class.

Goodbye, New York

Today, I said goodbye to the 3 weeks I spent studying at Columbia University. Goodbye to my RAs Meghan and Ashley. Goodbye to my dorm room. Even goodbye to the Subway system.

After checking out of our dorms and storing our luggage at the Empire Hotel, we went to the Rockefeller center. The view from the Top of the Rock was incredible, as are most of the sights I have seen of New York.

Here are some highlights:

We then ate lunch at a fabulous boathouse restaurant in Central Park.

Our flight back to California felt really long to me. That may have been partly because we were in the air (and the ground of the Oakland airport) for an hour longer than we were supposed to be, but also because I felt the distance between myself and New York growing as we got closer to California.

I am forever grateful to the generous Ivy League Connection sponsors who made this trip a possibility. I simply cannot describe how incredible this experience has been.

Shifting Gears

Today was brutally spectacular. The lack of sleep combined with the amount of activity served to further exhaust the already exhausted, but not without some fun along the way.

I was more prepared than Irene in terms of sleep, which is really ironic considering she works considerably well--and better than me--under significant sleep deprivation, but I was still riding a roller-coaster throughout most of the day.

Going to bed at 5:00 A.M., waking up at 8:00 A.M., and leaving Columbia by 9:00 A.M. took its fair toll. But, from then on, the day was just as exciting as it was exhausting.

From Rockefeller Center where the view of New York's skyline is extraordinary, to Central Park and their lake-side, boat-house restaurant, to a long trip between J.F.K. and S.F.O. Intl., with a minor detour to Oakland airport, even our last day was jam-packed.

I was relatively fine throughout most of the day. Between caffeinated beverages and a short nap on the plane, I've been functioning quite well.

But, as soon as I dropped my bags off inside my room and took a seat on the bed, all of that weariness hit me. I am fighting pretty hard to write this blog right now as is!

Farewell, New York. It was nice knowing you. We had some good times--some great times--but there's only so much fun to be had and knowledge to learn before the well begins to run dry. I'm definitely relieved to be back in California. And, I've got a lot of commitments to tend to. I dare say I have more to do out here than in New York!

But, I think New York has definitely succeeded in priming my summer work ethic and behavior, and I am more than ready to begin work on the rest of my summer projects.

It's a slight shift in gear, but we're still in the fast lane.