And thus the adventure begins. At 3:10 AM I readied myself and did a last minute checklist to ensure I had everything I needed. I set out for El Cerrito High School, where the ILC Columbia 2012 cohort was to meet. Upon arrival we were given a few last minute instructions and of course took a few pictures before departing for San Francisco International Airport in style with a stretch limousine. I wasn’t exactly excited during that time, more likely due to the early hour and lack of sleep.
When we reached SFO, we checked in our luggage and passed through security. And guess who we saw while passing through the security check line? Movie stars Marlon and Shawn Wayans! After retrieving our breakfast, and a few inconspicuous photos, we boarded the plane. This being my first flight outside of California, and my second one overall, I thought it was a good flight. Virgin America has many ways to keep guests entertained, whether it be playing games, watching movies, or sleeping away. I won’t lie, my fatigue caught up to me, and slept for a good two hours of the flight. Although for a good part of the trip, I was entertained with good conversation with my fellow cohorts Morvarid and Lucas. Finally after five hours of flying, we arrived at our destination: New York City.
|From inside the van on Brooklyn Bridge|
Once we acquired all our belongings, we found our transportation service to the Beacon Hotel. While driving through the various parts of New York, my excitement began to grow at seeing the city. The tall buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the various streets, all made me thrilled about my upcoming time here in New York. We arrived at the Beacon Hotel around 5 PM and waited a few minutes before being checked into our rooms. My roommate will be Morvarid with team Lucas and Lenny on the same floor while team Adrianne and Tomi are staying a few floors above us.
|Subway Entrace to 72nd Street|
After refreshing ourselves and changing of attire, we congregated into the lobby at 6:45 PM to leave for our test; the subway station. As soon as we paid for our MetroCards, we marched into the dark underworld known as the subway system (although I will admit it wasn’t very dark). Although this part seemed to be the hardest to go through, due to New York’s upbeat pace, our group was able to stride in with the rest and safely made it through the hustle and bustle. Once the Penn Station stop came, the group hurriedly exited the subway to find the Amtrak and obtain our tickets.
Soon our group was walking through the halls of great legends from Muhammad Ali to Elvis Presley in Madison Square Garden. We roamed the streets of New York for a while, enjoying the mild weather and lively atmosphere around us. We found many attractions we wanted to visit; from the Broadway theatre to the biggest Macy’s in the world, we all gazed in awe the site around us. Due to our early departure from the hotel, we were granted a little relaxation time on Broadway where a few tables and chairs were set up. Doesn’t seem that exciting, until you find out that we sat in the middle of the street. A small strip of Broadway was turned into a small recreation park with tables and chairs to enjoy the Broadway surroundings.
|Aged Prime New York Sirloin|
When the time came, our group made our way to Keen’s Steak House, one of the oldest running restaurants in New York. Being the owner of the largest wooden pipe collection in the world, Keen’s is cleverly designed with pipes, from top to bottom. Once our group was seated, we all sat down for, in my opinion, one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I ordered the Aged Prime New York Sirloin and I can honestly say that this was the best steak I’ve ever eaten by far. What made the meal even better was the conversation among our group. From movies to politics, our group learned a great deal about one another. We ended our meal with a delicious dessert, from crème brûlée to hot fudge sundaes.
And now after leaving the restaurant and trekking our way back to the hotel, I am here to tell you how truly privileged I feel to be able to be part of a great program. This is only the beginning, let’s go!