Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Journey Concludes

The end was inevitable and I sadly knew this from the beginning of the trip. After being in New York for such a long time I was amazed at how far I have come over these last month. Time seemed to have flown so quickly and I feel that I have grown not only as a person but also intellectually. I have been exposed to how competitive and different the real world is. It is incredible the type of curriculum students the exact same age as me face in their schools. This experience has given me a wakeup call and shown me how much harder I must work in order to even stand a chance of compete with these other students.

My day required me to wake bright and early, which on any other day would not have been an issue, however, being the last night of the program, my suitemates decided to throw a mini-party to celebrate our accomplishments. This relatively small festivity resulted in many of us not going to bed until about maybe three in the morning. During the time when we were all still awake, we recapped all of the adventures we had together. Honestly it was a very saddening moment because we all knew that this would probably the absolute time we would all be in one room together simply hanging out. While social media may keep us together loosely, we may never see each other ever again. When we all decided to go to bed, the looks on everyone’s faces made an evident impression of sadness. We all had different departure times for the morning, so the possibilities of formally being able to say goodbyes to everyone later were slim. We decided not to risk it and wished each other safe trips. This point is when my true emotions began surfacing. Meeting and making new friends is easy, however saying goodbye to them, after having been through a lot and with a very little chance of an encounter later on, is extremely difficult. I personally have had so many adventures and laughs with my suitemates that it took a lot from me to be able to wish each of them farewell.
At around 10 o’ clock, we all met up with Ms. L in order to take two taxis back to the location of where we spent our first night in New York City, the Beacon Hotel. We all placed our bags in her room and then proceeded out the door to continue our adventure of the day.

There is always something to see in Central Park

We walked a few blocks over to the last location I had yet to visit on my Top Ten list, Central Park. As we walked path that twisted and bent through the park, we were serenaded by various street musicians which actually were very great to listen to and who thereby enhanced the ambience. Throughout my pre-research of New York that I had done before embarking on my journey, I saw countless unique and magnificent photos of Central Park, but none compare to actually seeing it in real life. While we were only viewing a small portion of the lush scenery, a clear idea of what it might look like overall was painted in my mind. Having had practically no chance to eat breakfast, we headed over to restaurant that overlooks one of the lakes. Like in the first couple of days we were in NYC, we ate brunch as a cohort. It was great because even after the completion of a long journey, we were still very united and close.

The beauty of Central Park
When we finished eating, we headed back to the hotel to wait for the shuttle to arrive to pick us up. We stayed in Ms. L hotel room for a while, which reminded me of the beginning of our journey when we were all residing in our own hotel rooms. It brought back how fast time really does fly when your having one of the greatest experiences of your life. When it was semi-close to the time when we needed to be in the lobby to be ready for the shuttle’s pick up, we headed down. This also brought back incredible memories of when we would wait for Ms. L there before embarking on another amazing journey to a college/ university. The college tours seemed to have happened ages ago instead of just a few weeks back. 

After a while of waiting, the shuttle finally arrived and we all piled in immediately. As we drove through the streets of NYC one last time, I was reminded of when we first arrived and were astounded by the immense amount of cars and activity. The ride over to the airport did not take as long as many of us the terminal. We obtained our boarding passes and passed through the security checkpoint without much of hassle. For lunch/ dinner, we bought fast food to take on the plane for whenever we got hungry.
It took a while but pretty soon, the assistants at the counter began calling up people to board the plane. As we took our seats, the heavy realization that this was the official end to our journey surged to me. After so much anxiety to embark on this incredible journey, it was all now coming to an end. No matter how much I wished there could have been at least an extra day, I knew that this was the end. My goal of receiving an immensely high-degree of quality of education was achieved and now I was to head back and use this new knowledge to better my school as well as my community.

The vast see of clouds in the sky
As we sat in our seats ready for take-off, out of pure coincidence, the plane was unable head for the skies because of an issue with the runway. Originally the captain had said that if we were able to make a speedy exit from the gate, we might have hopes of arriving at SFO an hour earlier. However, with the rising of the runway issue, all hopes began to fade and instead of expecting an early arrival, a delayed one began seeming inevitable. After a while, arrangements to take off from a different runway were made, but we would need to increase our fuel supply, which meant going back to the terminal and thus putting us even more behind schedule.
When the captain finally announced that we were finally cleared for takeoff, there was immense sigh gratitude throughout the plane. As we ascended into the skies and left ever so slowly the gleaming views of the New York skyline for good, my emotions finally began to burst immensely to the point where I could hardly contain them. The reasoning of the phrase “enjoy it while you got it” finally began to become absolutely crystal clear within me. All good things must undoubtedly come an end, whether we so choose it to or not. However, the memories are ours to keep forever, not matter how far we go in life or where time takes us, we will always be able to remember this adventure and the people we met on it.
The sun casually sets in the horizon, as our journey all reaches its end

The plane was nothing special and when we finally landed in the amazing S.F cold weather, it felt good to be back home. Even though I had established a new hoe at Columbia, I new deep down that this was where I was meant to be, back with my family. I could not have asked for a better experience than this and am grateful to the ILC for allotting me it.

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