My whole family insisted on dropping me off at El Cerrito High School around 2:45 AM. I couldn’t resist them since all they’ve been talking about for weeks is how much they will miss me around the house. As my car pulled up to the front of the school, I immediately saw Don in one of his signature Hawaiian shirts. To my surprise, it wasn’t as cold I expected El Cerrito to be. It’s usually very windy there. We moved forward with the agenda by weighing the check in luggage, discussing how the trip will go, and taking a group picture. I have to admit, I really did not want to take a picture in front of an empty school at 3 in the morning. But everything went well and as always, I had a huge smile on my face in every picture.
By the time I said goodbye to my parents and my siblings, a huge van pulls to the front of the school. It was time to go. “This is it,” I kept telling myself. Everything felt so surreal. The chauffer loaded up all of our baggage and we headed to the airport. It took us a long hour and a half to check our baggage in, and it took even longer to get past security. I must say, there are a lot of cranky people in SFO, especially when the sun is still hiding out.
The last time I got on a plane would be 6 years ago. I was a small 10 year old girl with a huge pack back, sitting next to my mom and my little brother. It was the first time I have ever seen a real airplane. The flight from Manila to San Francisco took roughly 14 hours. As I sat in the middle section of the plane, next to Emily, I felt a sudden urge to thank my parents for working really hard to bring me to this country. I hope to make them happy with my achievements.
Brown II’s flight from SFO to Newark took about 5 hours. It was the most uncomfortable and nerve-wrecking 5 hours of my life. First, I couldn’t find a comfortable enough position that let me take a nap without straining my neck or spine. Secondly, I had forgotten what it was like for a plane to take off and land. I felt my stomach drop and my soul hang from my body as I felt the flight’s strong turbulence. I wasn’t being very obvious about it though. I wanted to appear calm and collected because every time I looked at Romina, who was on my right, I would get jealous of how soundly asleep she was.
The scariest part of the trip would be switching planes to get to Rhode Island. The flight manager was rushing us to board the plane, but Jackie couldn’t find my boarding pass! I thought that I was going to have to spend a night in Newark. Even Jackie thought that I didn’t have a flight. Luckily, the flight manager found my name in the system. It was such a relief considering how hungry and exhausted I was. The second plane ride was even worse than the first one. The plane was smaller, so you could literally feel every one of its movements. I had a window seat next to Destiney. I tried to keep my cool again because she was literally asleep the whole time… Well, at least she had her eyes closed the whole time. We reached Rhode Island around 4:30 PM eastern time. At this point, I was a dead vegetable. All I wanted was my bed and some of my mom’s home cooked Filipino food. We claimed our baggage and headed to the car rental department of the airport, and because of some mishaps with the cars, we were stuck there for almost 2 hours.
The drive from the airport to Hotel Providence was a crazy experience. East Coast weather is nothing like I anticipated. I’ve been hearing about how misleading it could be, but experiencing it first hand was pretty crazy. It was raining—pouring, yet it the sun was shining so bright and it wasn’t cold at all. Everything felt so new to me. Almost every building we passed by are made of bricks. They all looked so old yet it had such a timeless appeal. I realized that there aren’t a lot of buildings made out of bricks back in California. Listening to the radio even felt a little strange. The things the radio personnel talked about were just so different from what I was used to back home. I remember hearing a reminder about conserving water and developing a sustainable environment especially in these summer months. You just don’t hear that back in California.
The happiest part of this long day would be reaching Hotel Providence, where Mrs. Kaplan greeted us with a huge smile on her face. Me and Romina ended up sharing a room together. After settling down for a little bit, the whole cohort met up at the lobby. We headed out to a little restaurant two blocks away from the hotel. We ate Mexican food, which happens to be one of my favorites. The waiter, by the way, was really accommodating. Despite how exhausted we all were, we had fun chatting with one another. I could tell that we’re all so glad to be where we are.
Before heading back to the hotel, all 8 of us decided to meet up at someone’s room to have a little blogging “party” around 9:00 PM. I think this is a pretty wise idea since we could all bond and get to know each other a little better while being productive.
Tomorrow will be an even longer day, but I’m up for it. Wellesley College, here we come!