Check-in bag (check). Carry-on suitcase (check). Backpack (check). Alright then. My mother, father, and aunt were helping me make sure that I have everything ready for my trip to the East Coast. But before that, the Cornell and Columbia cohorts arrived to El Cerrito High School by 3 AM this morning. We all rallied together around Don as he explained to us the importance of following directions, being on time, and keeping communication open among all of us. Afterward, each cohort took their group photographs to commemorate our bravery for waking up so early and as a final photograph of us in California. After saying my final goodbyes to my parents and aunt, our shuttle arrived at approximately 4:30 AM to whisk away to the San Francisco Airport.
|We are flying high now|
I never realized that so many people would come to the airport so early. Fortunately, the line was moving at a fair pace. Once I figured out how to check in my luggage, my cohort and I raced over to the TSA check in line. I was feeling slightly frazzled by the quick pace of this line, but I made it through. However, my government issued ID somehow left my person as I tried to catch up with my cohort. Thankfully, one of the employees found it for me and my worries were eased. After acquiring sandwiches and beverages for the imminent flight, we crossed the terminal and boarded our plane with enough time to spare. While sitting in the runway for the quite some time, I realized that there is no turning back now. All the essays, interviews, dinners, and meetings have prepared me for this journey. Suddenly, my moment of inner thought was interrupted by the roaring of the plane engines as it quickly raced across the runway. Before I knew it, we were in the air. The cities, homes, deserts, and grasslands below did not look real to me. Rather, they appeared to be holographic projections. As we soared higher and higher into the clear blue sky, these images shrunk in size and the only thing I could see were the white, bulbous clouds. After a slightly bumpy ride, I found myself immersed in the city of Chicago.
|Rushing over to the baggage claim|
|The Drake Hotel entrance|
|The Drake Hotel lobby|
|Jenna, Michelle, and I sharing the same hotel room|
|Making our way downtown|
Out of all the places we visited during our stroll, Millennium Park was definitely my favorite. Not only was the park so clean and vast, it was composed of so many facilities including a concert hall and a gigantic mirror known as 'The Bean'. I could not help but compare this glorious park to the quaint Refugio Valley Park.
|'The Bean' of Millennium Park|
Around 6 PM, we began our return back to the hotel. Frankly, I was relieved when Mr. Chan-Law gave us three-day bus passes to use for the duration of our stay; it certainly saved us about another two mile walk. This first day in the windy city has truly been a long and memorable one. I am now very excited for tomorrow when we visit the University of Chicago and have the first of three elegant dinners.