Saturday, July 28, 2012

Home At Last

Today, started off early, as if it was a normal Saturday. But instead of a trip to a major  city on the East Coast, our destination was home, back on the West Coast. I managed to get ready early enough to see most of my friends leave. By the time the Penn cohort was leaving, the quad, a once lively place, seemed very sad and lonely. I felt sad leaving Penn after experiencing many great memorable moment.

Once the Penn team officially signed out, we had three hours to pack with one final memory. Ian Lawrence said that he had lived in Philly for two years and never has seen the Liberty Bell. He suggested that we all go, which we did. As we waited in line to see the bell, we had our usual talks and sharing of memories. After playing a game of hide-n-seek with the clouds, trying to avoid the sun, we made it inside the museum. I feel that after seeing the Liberty Bell, that I could leaving Philly, feeling like I did it all. We then went to grab our final lunch together, half got cheese steaks and the other half got Mexican food. Although, this was not most high quality food in the world, the moment in itself was high quality. We reflected on our journey and how it has only been over a month that we were all strangers packed in van. Yet now we see each other, not as strangers, but as some of the best friends one could wish for.

I think that TSA was a whole lot nicer here in Philly, in comparison with other airports. They helped us quickly get through, and be off with our day. We each grabbed a small bite for the 6-hour flight. I loved the flight. It was a very calm flight overall, but I found it a great time to reflect on my journey as an ILCer. I give many thanks to the ILC, and with everything they have done and asked of us, I still feel as that I owe them a ton.

We arrived at San Francisco Airport at 7:05PM, which lead to the final moments of us being together. While I was packing, I didn't notice that I place my Penn sweater in with the big 50 pound suitcase, so I was unable to wear it for our last group picture. After baggage claim, we were all started to dissipate with each of our families. Then, POOF, the team that went through life at Penn was split up for the first time. I know that I will miss everyone from this marvelous journey, but I also know that we will meet again but until then, I have some catching up to do with my bed.


I woke up. Class didnt start untill 10 today. That means that I was well rested and prepared for what was to be the last day of class which is exciting but also means that the family that grew during these past month would be broken up. Bittersweet memories and pictures would be all that would be left.

Today , we were learning about currency in other cities in the Us and how they are trying to stray away from the U.S dollar. To further elaborate on this topic , Professor Lamas played a video that one of his former students made.It was a very interesting video that had interesting facts regarding inflation and the different problems alternative currency faces against the U.S dollar. An example of alternative currency is the Ithaca hour. Now obviously , the Ithaca dollar can only be used in Ithaca New York, but the Ironic thing about it , is that one hour is 10 U.S dollars.

After lunch , We all came in for what was our last afternoon session , a somewhat emotional session. It was setup in as a Socratic seminar. We were all in a circle and what we talked about was all up to us. Many people had many interesting question. After about an hour , we were let out to go pack and finish up any necessities. I said goodbye to a lot of friends that were becoming close friends and couldn't seem to let a hug go. I ended up hugging Alana Rebbeck for over a minute long.

This was the hardest part of the day , so after I finished packing I ended up coming back for more hugs! After everything was over I felt bittersweet , but there were still more festivities to come. Summer discovery was throwing something that was similar to a drive-in movie. This was the last chance to bond with every one  before we all headed our separate ways.

Home Is Where My Bed Is

This morning I woke up to an unusually quiet dorm room. If it were any other day I'd be able to hear the hustle and bustle of people scurrying to the bathrooms before class. Not today though, today was departure day. I packed the last of my stuff and then went outside to take pictures with all of the new friends I made. Ian came to get us at about 9AM and we were off. It was actually kind of sad leaving the Penn campus once and for all. We left our luggage at Ian's hotel and went to do some last minute site-seeing. After being in Philadelphia for a month we decided we should probably see the Liberty Bell. We waited in a long line to see the magnificent bell and went to grab our last meal in Pennsylvania. We all sat around two small tables and shared many laughs and made more memories together before going to the airport.

The shuttle ride was rather quiet. I think everyone was trying to digest the fact that we were actually leaving. The plane ride home was a long six hours but I spent my time reading Freakanomics, a book lent to me by Ian, and watching the scenery slowly change from clouds to mountains to cities. We took one last group photo in our Penn sweatshirts before going to baggage claim. Once we reached baggage claim it was time to say "see ya later" rather than "goodbye". We all hugged and promised to stay in touch then we all went our separate ways.

There is no doubt in my mind that one day soon we'll all see each other again, but after spending more than a month together it is kind of hard to just walk away and return to "normal" life. I will miss Philadelphia and all of the people I met while there. While dorm living and university life were quite the experience, the moment I've been waiting for has finally approached, time to hop in the full-sized bed awaiting me just a few feet from where I sit.

Home Again, Home Again

Twelve hours ago, Christine and I were struggling to carry my two suitcases down the stairs so that I could check out of the dorms. Ten hours ago, I was at the Liberty Bell on a last-minute sightseeing mission. Eight hours ago, I was buying food with the rest of the Penn cohort at the Philadelphia airport. Now I have no roommate, no Philly, and no cohort, but I know that the memories of this experience will stay with me for a very long time.

After a lot of tearful goodbyes, we left the Fisher-Hassenfeld quad for the last time. Mr. Lawrence sweet-talked the front desk people at the Sheraton into watching our luggage for us while we took a quick trip downtown to see the Liberty Bell. There were a bunch of exhibits before the bell itself, discussing its forging and past uses. I was surprised that the exhibits mentioned the contrast between the declaration of liberty that the bell represented and the reality of oppression that women, African slaves, and other minority groups were facing at the time. It wasn’t something that I had expected to see at such a patriotic museum, and I appreciated the honesty.

Once we took pictures by the historic landmark, we bought lunch at a nearby food court. I got a Philly cheesesteak, my first ever. It wasn’t amazing, but I think that’s because it came from a food court instead of one of the famous restaurants. I’m just glad that I got a chance to try one before leaving Philadelphia.

Our plane ride was pretty uneventful. I spent most of the time reading Fast Food Nation, my summer reading assignment for AP Lang. Although I don’t usually read nonfiction, the subject matter is fascinating and I’m looking forward to class discussions about the book. We walked off of the plane to greet our parents, each of us proudly wearing UPenn sweatshirts. I’m going to miss being so close with everyone in the cohort, and even though we’ll hang out, it won’t be the same. I was really happy to see my family again, but I'm going to miss the independence that I had at UPenn and the friends that I made there. I'm so thankful that I had this opportunity to branch out and experience college life before beginning college apps, and words cannot express my gratitude to the ILC for making this possible.

30 Degrees Colder

I can't believe I was in Philadelphia this morning.  I woke up a little after 7 and jammed the remainder of my stuff into my suitcase.  Once I had packed up my room, I said good-bye to my roommate, Temi, who left on an early shuttle. The following hour consisted of hugs and good-byes.  A couple people left as early as four in the morning, and sadly, I didn't get to say god-bye to everyone I wanted to.  

Ian came to get us around 9, and we went to see the Liberty Bell.  Seeing as we spent a month in Philadelphia, we thought it was about time to visit the historical sites.  I learned that the Bell, although having no legitimate account of it being rung on Independence Day, became a symbol for freedom in many aspects of American life.  The exhibits preceding the bell held many accounts of the suffrage and abolitionist movements use of the symbol.  After seeing the bell and snapping a few pictures, we got our last lunch in Philly and spent almost an hour laughing and talking, taking advantage of our last opportunity to bond before heading home. 
Our flight was pretty uneventful, although moderately turbulent.  I spent most of the six hours reading my summer assignment book for AP Language, a significant reminder of heading back to reality.  Once we arrived, things got a little sadder. Although we promise to see each other again (a lot), our trip is over.  We all rolled out, in our Penn sweatshirts, to our awaiting parents.  It was amazing to see my parents again, and after pulling my suitcase off the carousel, I said my good-byes and left.  

We stopped at Gordo's Burritos on the way home to get real Mexican food for the first time in a month.  I definitely missed that place while at Penn.  The Liberty Bell was great, traveling was fine, but I think the most amazing thing today was getting in my own bed.  In some ways, this trip felt like a lifetime, but in others, it feels like I never left.  I have more than a month's worth of experiences to remember, and I can't believe it's over all ready. I guess Einstein was right; time really is relative.

Expectations Were Exceeded!

I can't believe that tonight will be my last night in this room. I will never again sit in the chair in which I'm sitting right now, sleep in this room, look up at these walls, walk with Chloe to class, have dinner with Clara and Mariko at Houston Market, have late night talks with Anika (my roommate), but the most saddening part is that I probably won't see any of the people I met here ever again.

I thought class was going to be extremely sad, and that many tears would be shed. I wouldn't say it was like that at all. Well, okay, it was a bit sad but I felt lucky. Lucky to have met all these wonderful people, take this amazing class with Prof. Lamas, and had the opportunity to be a part of a program like this. We took pictures in the morning to be able to look back at this experience in the future, and remember who was there with us through the journey.

Prof. Lamas did lecture for a small portion of the class. He played a video about currency in different places. The video was made by a former student of his, and it was very interesting. I thought it was going to be boring, because money is what everybody talks about, and I'm tired of hearing about it. The video wasn't about U.S. dollars, it was about how cities have developed their own unique currency systems. An example would be in Ithaca, New York, where they use hours. I'm not referring to just an hour a concept of time, it is a paper just like our money is. One hour would be the equivalent of $10, and half an hour would be $5. It was so fascinating to learn about how all of these different communities came together to organize a whole new currency system that they would all benefit from.

The afternoon part of the class was set in a socratic seminar style. We all sat in a big circle so nobody had to look at the back of some one's head, we were all facing each other. We reflected on yesterday's visit to Juntos, and our overall day. Prof. Lamas wanted to know what we were thinking, how we were feeling, and if we had any questions about anything at all. At about 3, he allowed anybody who wanted to leave to do so at that time. I really had to go because I had not even started packing, and everybody was supposed to be packed by 5 today. I just couldn't say goodbye, so I left until the end of class which was at 5. It was sad saying goodbye to Professor Lamas and Michael. They have made such an impact on my life!

I wasn't expecting this trip to be as wonderful as it was. It has been an unforgettable experience, but it is time for me to go home. It's hard to imagine that by this time tomorrow I will be sleeping in my bed!