Sunday, July 29, 2012

Penn There, Done That

It feels so weird to be home!  As soon as I got off the plane it really sank in that I won't be seeing Ivette, Alysa, Cameron, David, Mariko, and Clara on a daily basis anymore.  We began this trip as acquaintances but now I feel so close to all of them and I hope we maintain that friendship now that we're back in our own lives again.  

On the other hand, I loved seeing my mom and brother at the airport!  I missed them so much and it was so wonderful to go back home with them.  The only thing that was super weird about seeing my brother was finding out that he outgrew me in the one month I was gone!  My little 15 year old brother is now taller than me; very strange. We also hung out with some close family friends last night so there were a lot of hugs, smiles, and conversations among us.  I was able to finally tell them, in person, how the program was for me, and I went on and on about how amazing it was.  Seriously though, the Social Justice class with Prof. Lamas and Michael was incredible and I was thrilled to share my experiences with everyone last night. 

I think that it is going to feel strange for a little while living back home without my cohort, but I life will return to "normal" in a couple weeks.  I put quotations around normal because I don't think that I will be able to go through my days without critically thinking about what is going on around me.  Although I believe that I was quite thoughtful and aware of my surroundings before the program, this class has widened my perspectives and taught me how to think even deeper about my actions and the actions of others.  Already, I have noticed a change in how I take in what other people say to me, and I try to respond in a more thoughtful way.  I am not saying that I am a totally different person, because I am most definitely not; but I do think that I have changed in some ways that I believe will allow me to move through life with more critical analysis and understanding.

I am excited to share the hundreds of pictures I took with family and friends, and I hope that I am able to hold on to my identity this next school year while I continue through my personal transformation (we discussed this with Arnold Farr).

2,875.6 Miles Later

It's crazy to think that just this morning I was across the country. I woke up in my dorm room for the last time. I made sure everything was packed, because the last thing I wanted was to forget something. I then made my way outside to meet the rest of my cohort and chaperone, and get the signing out process over with. My roommate helped me with my bags, an stayed with me for a bit. I didn't know how to say goodbye to her! I felt like no matter how we said goodbye to each other, it wouldn't come close to capturing our true emotions. Anika was the best roommate ever, and I feel lucky to have met her.

We weren't going to head out to the airport until one, so we had about three hours for historical site seeing. We had decided a couple of days before that we wanted to go see the liberty bell, and that's exactly what we did. We dropped our bags off at the Sheraton Hotel, that's where Mr. Lawrence stayed during the trip, then began our trip. There was a line to see the liberty bell, and lucky for us we had to wait in the 95+ degree for about twenty minutes. I was a bit uncomfortable, but I tried to enjoy it because that was the last time I was going to be in the hot Philadelphia sun. We took a few pictures with the liberty bell, and read about its history. The air conditioning inside the building felt great, but not good enough to satisfy our hunger. We headed across the street to a food court for brunch. We ordered Mexican food and cheesesteaks. After finishing, our chaperone asked if we wanted to do a bit more walking around since we had some time left before the shuttle would pick us up at the hotel. We all said no, I don't know why everybody else said no, but I can tell you why I did. I wanted to spend more time with cohort, and every time we're together it's just nonstop laughs and great conversation. Today was no exception.

As we headed to the airport in the shuttle all I could think about was how in a matter of hours I'd be back in California. We checked our bags in, went through security, and bought an early dinner before we were able to sit down. We boarded the plane shortly after that. The plane ride was about six hours, but it went by so fast. I think it went  by fast for me because I wanted to spend more time with my cohort! We talked and laughed so much during our final hours together, and it just made it that much harder to accept the fact that our trip was coming to an end.

I was so overwhelmed when I saw my mom and sisters,and they were holding a welcome back poster. My mom was clearly overwhelmed as well, because she began to cry almost immediately after she saw me. I was welcomed back with tons of hugs and kisses. Now that I am laying in my own bed I can finally say it,I'm home.