Day 01/The Adventure Begins!
(from June 23rd)
I woke up early this morning, well aware what was waiting for me in the next 24 hours. Well, generally anyway. In one hour, my parents and I helped to get me ready for the start of a grand summer at Cornell University: departure day. By arriving at around 8 AM at our meeting spot at El Cerrito High School, we thought we would be one of the earliest groups there. We were wrong. Apparently, my fellow Cornellians and their family also had the same idea; they arrived earlier than the requested time of 8:15 AM. This was great progress, and the day had barely begun!
(Jacky Lares as she looks outside her window at San Francsico)
Saying farewell to my parents wasn't too hard, but I'll admit that I will definitely miss seeing them each day. I am also very thankful that my parents are quite understanding - they know that a young individual cannot grow up if you keep them away from the world all of their lives. This was something they never did to me and I am glad that as a mere sophomore, I get a chance to experience so many things academically.
(Beilul and Andrew G. at the SFO Airport)
Despite a reckless driver almost colliding with our shuttle bus as we departed from El Cerrito High School, we encountered little traffic and made good time once we arrived at SFO airport. There, we performed the expected airport check-in procedures. I am glad I took my parents’ advice, in terms of bringing a nice big, comfortable backpack as a carry-on. It made traveling a lot easier.
Since there was still some time before our first plane left San Francisco for Chicago, Mr. Ramsey treated us all to "Yankee Pier", a nice sit-in restaurant that, coincidentally, was themed "East Coast". I ate a big breakfast before I left so I didn't wish to eat anymore. While other people might enjoy this, I am not too fond of getting aboard a plane with a full stomach, especially if you're a sensitive flyer like I am.
I know what you might be imagining now: Wing, you must have had such a boring time watching everyone eat a delicious breakfast while you sat there with nothing! Well, you'd be wrong. Ms. Kaplan, being the thoughtful chaperone that she was, had prepared some quotes from our "Freedom and Justice" course and wanted us to try and identify the philosophers who said these quotes. I managed to get some correct, but because I wasn't 100% correct, I know what I'll need to brush up more on.
When it came to boarding, I'll admit I was dreading it a little bit. I am no stranger to airplane travel; but after so many 14 hour flights to Hong Kong as a child, I couldn't help but visualize a long and uncomfortable confinement to an airplane chair. I was the first among the nine of us to board the plane and was happy to discover that I had a window seat. I sat at the right side of the plane, just a couple of seats down from one of the plane’s wings. If you ask me, I thought it was such an appropriate seat for me....Wing besides a wing.
(view from my plane window - a gorgeous snowy mountain view!)
Andrew Gonzales and Christopher Habash sat in front of me, and I had the pleasure of sitting next to Beilul Naizghi during my flight. Jacky sat besides Beilul and Alex besides Andrew Gonzales. Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kaplan, and Andrew Woo sat with strangers. If it came down to it, I'd have no problem sitting next to a complete stranger, but I wouldn't mind sitting with someone familiar either. The Cornellians sitting around me spoke to each other from time to time, but for the most part, we were all engaged in something of our own during our three hour flight to Chicago. For instance, I spent my time catching up on my drawings and taking several photos of some gorgeous landscapes. It proved to be a great distracter from any boredom I was afraid to face on the plane.
The most memorable part of our first flight was probably the nearing end, when we experienced mild turbulence. While the other passengers appear to be "rollercoaster chasers", Beilul and I were definitely not prepared for the sudden dips and bumps of our plane ride. To this hour, Alex and Andrew Gonzales won't stop reminding Beilul and me just how "childishly" we reacted on the plane. But I assure you, it was short-lived. After all, we are fearless ILC ambassadors. :-)
Chicago airport had an interesting architectural design, which was also the first thing I noticed about our stop. Immediately, the warmth and humidity started to sink in. There were people everywhere. In fact, there were so many that people resorted to sitting in random areas on the floor when they couldn't find vacant seats to sit in. Unfortunately, we didn't have the luxury to sit around the Chicago airport as a thunderstorm raged on outside. (Hello Midwest weather!) Instead, we followed behind Mr. Ramsey, as he searched the entire airport for the perfect sit-in restaurant for dinner.
(Mr. Ramsey walking around O'Hare Airport)
We spent literally 20 minutes walking back and forth around the airport. Mr. Ramsey had to ask more than 5 people working in the airport for directions. Remember how, earlier in this post when I expressed how thankful I was that I decided to carry a backpack? Well, by this point, I wasn't so thrilled. Believe me; I was in no way happy to be reliving my freshman days, where I had to saddle more than 10 pounds on my back from class to class. The difference here, I guess, was that this time, it was a little shy of 20 pounds and we were walking around in complete, nonstop circles.
But, I've always been a believer of the famous saying: "Good things come to those who wait” and I was right to think so. We finally settled on "Romano's Macaroni Grill" for dinner and being so hungry from our "workout", I was ready to sit down and enjoy some delicious Italian food! I stood in front of the large menu, gawking at all the various dishes I could try, as we waited in a long line that didn't take as long as we all thought.
There was little room for all nine of us to sit together. However, despite the limited space, we managed to sit comfortably with one another and settle on our various dinner choices. For dinner, I ordered a Chicken and Shrimp Scaloppini (yum!), a side Cesar Salad, and a Coke beverage. The food did take awhile, but that was perfectly fine because we had just found out that to our utter dismay, our last flight to Syracuse was delayed a whole 3 hours than originally scheduled!
(Andrew Gonzales, Andrew Woo, and Mr. Ramsey at "Romano's Macaroni Grill")
Yes, I was hungry and tired, but I also didn't want to arrive at the hotel at midnight or later! Yet, what my wishes were, there was no use in arguing with mother nature. If the weather was keeping your plane from taking off, the most you can do is grin, bear it, and wait. Luckily we got to do most of this over dinner.
I really enjoyed my Chicken and Shrimp Scaloppini, but being what I consider, a "taste chaser", I found that some of the meat was a tad bit salty. Regardless though, food is food; it's when you don't have food to eat at all should one really be complaining. Dinner came and went, quietly and quickly. All of us were leaned back in our seats, very full from our main courses. Mr. Ramsey was aware of this, but still believed we had room for some dessert. He ordered one dish of New York Cheesecake and the seven of us took turn at attacking the delicious little morsel. Needless to say, the tiny thing disappeared like a snap of a finger.
(New York Cheesecake for dessert!)
Once dinner was over, we all knew what was ahead: a long wait for our delayed flight to Syracuse. To make up the time, we took Mr. Ramsey's advice and started blogging at the Chicago Airport. So, here I am. Currently, sitting next to Ms. Kaplan as I speak to all of you back at home. I've been here long enough to have a yellow sky turn to sepia turn to navy blue. I've been here long enough to see the threatening thunderstorm outside subside. I've been here long enough to see a glimpse of a rainbow once, and have it disappear when I turned my head to look at it again.
Some of us are restless; some of us are ready to rest. I, for one, am restless, and anxious to get on board the Syracuse flight. Chicago is nice and all, but it's time to keep going. I'm ready to start the new and exciting day known as tomorrow!
Despite all the ups and downs of today, I had a great time getting to know the other eight people traveling with me today. From both talking and watching them, I was able to extract some of their likes and dislikes, what makes them smile and what makes them tick. We will be sticking together for a long time and I'm glad that even in a dreadful Chicago storm, we're able to get closer and closer as a Cornell group!
We are nearing boarding time so I am going to start signing off here. Today may not have gone as it was originally planned, but it's like Mr. Ramsey told us over dinner: "don't always expect things to go perfectly; today was a good lesson on that." I look forward to what other wisdom Mr. Ramsey will provide us for the short time that he will be sticking with us. I am very glad that we had the honor to have him tag along with us first; thank you Mr. Ramsey!
The gates to our plane will open in a short while and I look forward to seeing what our hotel at Syracuse will be like! Good night/good day, whoever and wherever you are! I am very thankful that the ILC has given me the opportunity to travel in such an independent fashion. I can feel myself growing up already. (But not too much, so don't worry Mom and Dad.)
An aside: I promised my friend, Erin Miller, that I'd make a shout-out to her in my next blog, so here it is. Also, good luck to your brother, Connor Miller, as he will be heading for Yale later on this summer! In addition, to Winston Long for Columbia; you two are the last ones left from our high school. Make us all proud and have a great time!