Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The First of Many

5 Hours of Packing Later...
After months of waiting, the day of departure has finally come.  No more obstacles stood in our way.  No more introductions.  No more School Board Meeting.  No more dinners.  No more orientations.  No more applications.  No more packing.  No more school.  And last, but not least, no more stress (hopefully).  All that awaits is a strange, new land known as the East Coast, home of Atlanta, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and, of course, New York.

I only got around three hours of sleep because sleeping proved to be a difficult task, as the excitement of today robbed me of the sleep of yesterday.  Upon waking up around 2:30, I didn’t feel tired; in fact, I had tapped into some fountain of energy, which was fine with me. The sound of my incredibly loud alarm, conveniently placed next to my ear in order to ensure that I woke up on time, might have had something to do with that.  Following the initial feeling of shock and the ringing in my ear that the alarm provided, I rose out of bed, woke up my mom, and got ready for the long day I had ahead of me.  After I threw on my clothes, brushed my teeth, and put on my contacts, I did one more final luggage check to ensure I would have everything I needed for my adventure and sure enough, everything was in place.  I grabbed an energy drink out the fridge and hopped in the car onward to El Cerrito High School, ready for what this memorable June 16th had in store for me.

The 2015 Cornell Cohort
My mom and I arrived at El Cerrito High School at around 3:30.  To my surprise, we were the first ones to arrive, other than Don, who looked as if he had been setting up shop for quite sometime.  Greeting us was a table full of granola bars and red and grape vines, along with luggage tags and permission slips to fill out.  The rest of my cohort started to pool in one by one and we chatted it up with one another about the day that we had in front of us and where we could expect to go.  We all took a group photo, but not before a camera malfunction where the flash on Don’s camera did not want to work properly.  The first couple pictures had no flash at all, resulting in a completely black photo.  Don replaced the batteries and now the flash was blinding, resulting in pictures that were nearly pitch white and a couple sore eyeballs.  Don gave us one last pep talk regarding our trip.  When the shuttle bus arrived, we loaded up the bus with our luggage, said bye to our parents one last time, then hopped on for our 7 o’clock flight.  

Upon arriving at 6 in the morning,  we went through standard airline procedures, checking in our bags, going through security, and finding our gate.  Conveniently enough for us, our gate was next to a small breakfast spot, where we all loaded up for the ride ahead.  We didn’t have to wait too long before it was time to board the flight, as we started boarding at around 6:30.  I was able to snag a window seat so I could enjoy the view throughout the flight (although that view was primarily composed of clouds that looked like an endless white cotton candy field).  I did whatever I could to pass the time on the plane, whether it be catching up on Game of Thrones, re-watching old episodes of Friends, listening to music, or, everyone’s favorite, sleeping.  When I did sleep, I constantly drifted in and out, which left me pretty disoriented.

My home for the next day
We landed a half hour ahead of schedule, which gave us a little more breathing room in terms of scheduling times.  The first thing I noticed when I walked out of the plane was the heat.  The East is no joke; it is hot and humid!  My weather app said it was 90 degrees, but being a Bay Area native, I might as well have been in the desert.  After walking what seemed like forever to get to baggage claim, we grabbed our luggage and caught a shuttle that brought us to the Holliday Inn Express in Emory.  The drive was about 30 minutes long, which allowed us to get a feel of Emory and the outskirts of Atlanta.  What surprised me was that the freeways have a lot of trees and shrubbery on the shoulders, which was a pleasant thing to see.  I was able to see the outskirts of Atlanta, downtown Emory, and a lot of very nice buildings.  We arrived at the Holiday Inn around 3:30, where we were able to relax until 5:20.  The room was relatively standard for a hotel; two beds, an HD television, a desk, a clean bathroom, and a coffeemaker. By far, the best feature of the room was the air conditioning.  It allowed us to escape from the horrible heat and give us a pleasant place to rest.   

The Centennial Olympic Park
We left the hotel around 5:30 and we got dropped in downtown Atlanta to explore what the city had.  First, we got a bite to eat at Ted’s Montana Grill.  Personally, I got the bacon cheeseburger with fries and a shake.  A pretty standard American meal, but fantastic nonetheless, especially because I got a bison burger instead of the traditional beef burger.  After a stuffing meal, we wandered around downtown Atlanta to see what it had to offer.  Because we arrived so late, most of the attractions were closed, such as the World of Coca Cola and the Georgia Aquarium.  We were able explore Centennial Olympic Park, which was a big attraction during the 1996 Olympics.  After a bit of wandering around Atlanta, we headed back to the Holiday Inn, where we are now preparing to watch the Golden State Warriors take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.  It has been a memorable day so far and if the Warriors win, it will be an even greater day.  

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