Today was the first day in a month that I did not wake up in dorm room 302 in the NY Alumni building in the Penn quad. I awoke to the sun coming through the blinds in our hotel room and it hit me that it had all ended last night. Although we said our goodbyes to the quad and our friends the night before, waking up somewhere other than the dorm was strange. I really got into a daily rhythm. After the shock of waking up somewhere else, Brian and I got ready to meet Mr. Miranda and Julia in the lobby for breakfast. We ate a quick meal in the restaurant in the hotel lobby. Once we were finished, we headed back upstairs to grab our luggage and then made our way back down to check out. It was time to leave campus.
We headed to the Philadelphia airport and, although it was early, began to make our way through the sea of people. Once we were through security, we grabbed some Peet’s and walked to the gate. Luckily we were in the first couple of groups to board because we were basically able to walk right onto the plane when we got to our gate. Our first flight was quite small. The plane was actually so small that Brian’s head scraped the ceiling. I actually slept for the majority of this flight, but when I was awake the flight was relatively smooth. After only an hour and a half, we had landed in Chicago.
Our layover in Chicago lasted several hours and we really did not have that much to do to fill the time. We ate lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant (the last meal our cohort would eat together!) and then browsed the magazines and souvenirs that O’Hare International had to offer. Somehow, we made this last almost the entire layover. However, there were complications when we began to board the plane: Brian’s reservation was switched at the last minute to another flight! We thought that Mr. Miranda would have to give Brian his ticket and the three of us would have to fly back without our chaperone. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case and all four of us were able to board the same plane. This flight was a little bit rockier, but it was still ok, even though it was a three and a half hour flight.
We landed safely and headed to baggage claim, where our families were waiting for us. I walked up to my parents and greeted them for the first time after a month. I was finally home. While we waited for our bags to come out of the luggage carousel, our families spoke to each other and Mario. However, once my bags arrived, it was time for me to depart. I bid farewell to my cohort and left the airport with my parents. Dinner with my parents seemed to be non-stop questions, and I can’t blame them. There were a lot of things that they did not yet know about my journey, even though we spoke constantly. I’m certainly glad to see my real family again.
Now, I sit in my room, just as I left it exactly one month ago. My adventure is over and it is time for me to return to my life here in good old Pinole, California. No longer can I head down the hall to say hi to Fred and Abheek, walk down the street to Wawa, or take a trolley to get to a bustling city center within minutes. Life is different here and I will have to adjust again. Although I will miss all of those things about life in Philly, I am also glad to be back in my own home, in familiar territory. Even though I left Pennsylvania today, I hope to return at some point in the future, maybe to attend Penn. But for now, I’m resuming life here. I’m home Pinole.