Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Fortunate Epiphany

Today our adventure officially began. We met up with Don at El Cerrito High School at 4:15 AM. He handed out the loaner items, weighed our bags, and reminded us of the expectations of the trip (blog everyday, stay in contact with your chaperone, etc.) After that, Don took a cohort picture. (See his blog for the photo.) Around 5:00 AM, our airport shuttle arrived, we said goodbye to our parents, and we were off to SFO.

At SFO, I was pleasantly surprised: Bag check in, security, and boarding went smoothly. There was virtually no line at check in, and when we went to the security checkpoint, they redirected us down the hall to a separate, faster checkpoint. By 6:15, we were in the terminal. We got breakfast and waited for our 8:00 flight. The food in the terminal was quite good (and of course quite expensive). I had a delicious breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese and bacon.

Soon enough, the attendant announced that Flight 1 to Washington D.C. (Reagan National) was now boarding. As we looked at our tickets for our group letter, we realized that we were scattered across the airplane. I got seat 19A. At first, I was sad to have gotten a window seat. I have flown enough to realize that window seats are overrated. Yes, you get to look out the window, but everything starts to look the same after a while. Additionally, you have to ask the 2 people between you and the aisle to get up if you need to go to the bathroom. Fortunately, the back end of the plane was relatively empty, so seats 19B and 19C were not taken. Just after 8:00 AM, we taxied out of the gate and waited for the runway to be available for our take off. Within 10 minutes, we were ascending to cruising altitude.
I have never flown Virgin America before, but it was one of the best flying experiences I have ever had. The seats were very comfortable, there was plenty of legroom, there were electrical outlets under the seats, and the crew was very friendly. The only bad part of the flight was the baby a few rows up from me that occasionally cried. Other than that, the flight was very quiet and peaceful.

Five hours and 5 minutes later, we landed in Washington D.C. We got our bags off the carousel, and stepped outside. The instant I stepped outside, I started sweating, but it was only 78 degrees and cloudy. For the first time, I felt high humidity. The air felt so much thicker and heavier than in California. I couldn't imagine exercising in this weather, as just from standing outside you feel like you need to take a shower. Now I understand why people want to live in California where we have low humidity. 

The bus we finally caught to go to dinner.
By 5:30, we were checked into the Holiday Inn Georgetown. Around 7:00 we went out to dinner to a local Chinese restaurant. It was a little far for a walk, and it was beginning to rain, so we decided to take a bus. It took five attempts to find a bus driver that would let us on. (The drivers were on their break, and did not want to deal with driving us.) Eventually, we got a bus to take us to the restaurant. I was actually quite surprised by how hard it was to get a bus. I thought that in a city as heavily dependent on public transit as Washington D.C., things would be a little more organized. Mr. Mannix told us that the buses are usually not like this; you can normally catch a bus rather easily. We must have been on their "break street," rather than the main road. 

The Chinese restaurant was, to my surprise, underground. They had one little door on the street that lead straight to a flight of stairs going down. The food was excellent, and the atmosphere was very pleasant. However, the most important part of the meal was desert. More specifically, the fortune in my fortune cookie. It read "They can because they think they can." This reminded me of just how true this statement is, and how much it relates to the ILC.

The fortune that lead to my epiphany.
The ILC is all about believing that you can go to Ivy League colleges, even though most people don't get accepted. It's not just about meeting with admissions officers to find out how to get into their college, it's about believing that you can go to an Ivy League college so that you give 100% effort in your application. The ILC is all about connections (hence the name), one of them being the connection between dreaming of going to an Ivy League college, and actually attending one. The gap between dreams and reality is bridged by believing in your dreams and believing in yourself. The ILC is here to do that by showing that attending an Ivy League college is doable. Students from our school district have done it, and so can you, especially if you know what the colleges are looking for in a student, and have taken a summer course at their college.

Tomorrow we get to go to the University of Pennsylvania by train. We have just received word that Mr. Ramsey will be joining us for this expedition. I am really excited to see the University of Pennsylvania's campus in person, to see the Liberty Bell, and to eat a Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia!!

1 comment:

  1. Let me get this straight--you don't like the window seat because it's the same view for the entire trip? Since you're sitting in an enclosed tube where the scenery doesn't change for the entire trip, too. How is this different?

    You'll have to tell me how you got those great photos of your plane. Did you have an out of body experience where you were allowed to bring your camera?

    Actually, our goal in the ILC isn't that you get into or even to apply to Ivy League schools. Our goal is to expose you to options other than the UC's and the Cal States. There are more than 3600 universities and colleges in the US and they're probably not all the same as the 33 campuses in the UC and Cal State systems. By exposing you to other options we want you to know that you and the rest of our students have options that may be a better fit for you than just the school down the street.

    You're right, though, about the connections. They can pay off in spades.