Sunday, July 29, 2012

Nostalgic Day For My Arrival Back Home

The last day is what I like to describe it as nostalgic and uneasy. If you notice that a lot of these pictures are similar to some of my old blog posts, you aren’t kidding yourself.

First, we went to the Pancake Pantry, again, for breakfast. The first day full day in Nashville, we ate at this place. Now it was our last full day in Nashville, and so we ate at the Pancake Pantry one last time on our Ivy League Connection Journey. It was weird, because I didn’t want to eat pancakes, which was pretty much why we came. Instead, I had their special hash browns that had all this stuff on and in it, from cheese to eggs to salsa. It was delicious, of course. Anyway, this was the first sign of nostalgia that I was getting on the Last Day. Well, actually, the first sign of nostalgia was probably when I had my own hotel room to myself again.
Embracing  Southern culture one last time

Another sign of nostalgia Saturday was when we decided to go to Downtown. Hannah and Yessenia didn’t get the opportunity to come down here, and Narges wished to buy something for her family, so we decided to go here. I also didn’t mind, because it was really my last look at Nashville. Walking down Broadway, I couldn’t help but feel as if I went back in time to two weeks ago Sunday afternoon, when I was on my Sunday excursion. I couldn’t help but remember all the friends that I’ve made that day of whom I’ll never forget. I couldn’t help but remember all the pictures taken and the fun times I had with all my VSA friends that Sunday. To make it even more peculiar, the weather was probably exactly the same as it was the day I was first in Downtown. The sky was just beautiful, and the heat felt nice and warm, but not “kill-me-now” warm. It truly was a weird and nostalgic feeling being back in Downtown for the last time in our trip.

This picture looks nearly the same as the one I took with some of my VSA friends.

This one also looks very similar to my other picture two weeks ago.

One of the final signs of nostalgia happened inside the plane on our way home to Oakland International Airport. We made a pit-stop that I didn’t know was going to happen; we stopped in Las Vegas to drop off and pick up passengers. Right now you may be wondering why I felt so uneasy about being in an airplane in the middle of the Las Vegas airport. Well, the reason for this was because some of my relatives live in Las Vegas. I haven’t seen them in at least 6 years, and to be perhaps only a 30 minute drive away from them was probably the weirdest feeling I have ever felt. I remember the green lights on the runway when I was about six or seven, and so when I looked at those lights it triggered that memory. I felt as if I was shot back in time, when there were no worries about college or my future—just that I’m on an airplane, and I’m going to see my family. Naturally, as we waited for the passengers to board the plane, I had to call my grandmother. It seems that the nostalgia and uneasiness truly didn’t end until I set foot in the Bay Area.

Backtracking a bit in the day, the fact that we were leaving Nashville and ending our epic adventure after these past four weeks finally hit me when we were preparing and putting our bags in the car to head to the airport. It made me really sad. All the friends that I’ve made at VSA were already gone the day before, yet this was probably the saddest moment. As we made our way to the airport check-in, I only wished that time would slow down so I could get my last seconds of Nashville air, but it didn’t. Time only seemed to speed up, and by the time I knew it, the Vandy cohort was already in Oakland. 

On a side-note, I don't think I've ever been on a more beautiful plane ride. The sunset was beautiful, and all the scenery outside my window really gave me that reminder that I should appreciate nature 

It’s a weird feeling being back home. Absolutely nothing about my house or my family has changed. All the books, the papers, and just everything are in the same place in my room. It’s almost as if I never even left four weeks ago. However, looks can be deceiving, of course. Although nothing here has changed, I as a person have changed a lot these past four weeks. I’ve truly grown up. This trip has been the longest I’ve ever been away without a family member with me. It has reassured me I can absolutely go to college out of California without feeling homesick; I never wanted to leave Vanderbilt! So although my routine and my way of living have come back to me again, I just can’t help but want to break that routine. It seems I’ll truly see how much I’ve changed as the days go by more and more; only time will tell.

It's Good To Be Back Home

First picture back in my room!

It is a bittersweet feeling to be home again. I woke up at noon this morning, slightly confused at to where I was. It felt strange not waking up to Anna shuffling around our room, trying not to wake me. For a minute, I thought that the last four months had just been a very long, pleasant dream. However, a smile crept to my face when I saw my bags and suitcase laying open on the floor, the contents of them strewn haphazardly across my room: they proved that the trip was most definitely real. I pushed the heavy blanket that immersed my body in warmth away from me as I got up out of bed. I walked over to my bags and plopped down in front of them, thinking of my last day in Nashville.

I had woken early to check my bags and repack some things I threw into my suitcase last minute. Yessenia and Hannah had woken up by the time I was done. The three of us got ready to leave while we watched the Olympics, though none of us really seemed to be paying much attention to the T.V.

At 11 o’clock, the three of us knocked on Chris’s door. He answered with a smile on his face and luggage in his hands. We all headed down to the lobby together, basking in the fact that this would be our last time lugging our bags through a hotel together. We met Mr. Mannix and went down to the Pancake Pantry (this time by car) for our final breakfast together.

After we finished breakfast, we drove to downtown Nashville for some last minute shopping. It was so crowded with tourists that I almost bumped into someone several times. It reminded me of Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Warf back home in San Francisco. We went in and out of several stores, but none of us found anything we liked enough to buy. I suggested going back to the bookstore that was close to the university for some last minute souvenirs, and no one disagreed so we went. I ended up buying my parents matching Vanderbilt shirts.

 Then it finally came time start for the airport. We sat in silence and listened to the music coming from my phone as we drove, taking in our last sight of Nashville. When we got to the airport, we did all the procedures that had become second nature to us; check in our bags, get our boarding passes, go through airport security, etc. We waited for what seemed like hours before we boarded the plane.

 The plane ride back home was, to me, the longest plane ride of the entire trip. I was exhausted from our morning adventures and eager to get home and rest. However, the time seemed to go by excruciatingly slow. I groaned with dissatisfaction when the plane stopping at Las Vegas to board more passengers. When we were landing, I peeked out the window and saw all the lights from the city and it made me want to stay there for a day. However, we were only there for about 15-20 minutes. Then, we were in the air again.

            About an hour and a half later, our plane had finally landed for good. I eagerly jumped out of my seat, grabbed my backpack from overhead, and ran out from the plane with my cohort following behind me. We walked together to baggage claim, where large throng of people was congregated. In the midst of the crowd, I saw my mother’s face. She was staring at me, trying to discern if it was truly me she was seeing. I waved and saw her face light up. I ran down the escalator and into her arms. There is something about being in the arms of your mother that is just so relaxing. I no longer felt tired or stressed when I was in her arms. I just felt warm and like I was at home.

She greeted everyone else and told me to go to my dad, who was waiting by the conveyer belt where the luggage was supposed to come. I snuck up on him and he hugged me tightly. I waited with him and my mother for my suitcase to come, and when it did we said our goodbyes to everyone and headed back home.

 I knew they were eager to hear all about my trip, and I tired by best to tell them as much as I could, but at some point I fell silent and just took in the view as we drove. I appreciated that my parents did not pester me to go on; I think they could see how tired I was.

 When we arrived home, they helped me move all my bags to my room. They kissed me goodnight and told me we would spend all day tomorrow going over every aspect of my trip. They left and I was alone in my room. I looked around and everything was the way I had left it…it was like nothing had changed since I had been gone. I smiled and collapsed on my bed. It’s good to be home again. 

The End To Our Adventure

Our last morning in Nashville went by as quickly as a heart. We started off the morning at the Pancake Pantry once again; this small pancake place never fails to satisfy. Afterwards, we strolled around downtown Nashville, which I have never seen before. Upon arrival, I could see a wave of people at all corners of the street. I have never seen Nashville so full! It was not only hard to keep track of each other but it was also hard to not stop and take a quick listen at all the bands and singers we saw every other building. Nashville truly is Music City; there is always a new singer or band trying to have their time in the limelight.

Man-powered vehicle!

Train tracks to no where
Walking around, we went to several souvenir shops for last minute shopping. Although we were only there for a little while, we were pretty exhausted from walking around in the heat. We’ve been in this humidity for nearly a month and we never got used to it.

After our last trip around Nashville, we all head to the airport for our long ride to Oakland where our parents would be picking us up. Although I am not fond of airplanes, I would have to say that this trip, although very long, was not as uncomfortable as the others had been. I was actually able to relax for the first 4 hours and have a peaceful plane ride. However, there was a minor mishap in the plane. Apparently, water bottles tend to spew water when you open them on a plane. It really was embarrassing; once I flipped the straw thing open to take a small sip, water just flew out everywhere. I kind of freaked out so I just froze in horror as the water drenched Narges, me, and a man sitting in front of us. I also wet Hannah a little, but that girl sleeps like a rock and didn’t even flinch. Besides this little accident, everything else went smoothly.
Once our plane arrived, I felt a huge explosion of joy within me. I was finally home! I couldn’t believe it, I have been gone for so long and being so close just made me even more excited. Besides waiting for my luggage, I was also looking for my mother who would be picking me up. As I saw her in the crowd with one of my sisters, I came over and gave her a huge hug, the first one in nearly a month. My wheel-chair-bound grandmother and my littlest sister also came to see me. I really feel loved since my grandmother came all this way, especially at nighttime just to see me. I have missed my family so much and I am so glad to be seeing them again. Once it was time to go, I gave my cohort one last hug and said our goodbyes. This really isn’t goodbye though, since we will be seeing a lot of each other at school. I have had such a glorious time with these people and I really could not have asked for a better cohort.
All I can do now is thank the Ivy League Connection for this incredible journey. Thank you Mr. Ramsey, Don, and Ms. Kronenberg for letting me spread my wings and fly in the wind. This was a trip like no other. I also want to thank Mr. Mannix for being the best chaperone possible and for putting up with many things like our slow-paced walking. Although I am sad that this trip is finally over, I am glad to have learned so much about college life and my role in it. Now, it’s just really good to be home.

Flying Back Home

It was finally time to return home. I woke up in our hotel room knowing today was the last day we’ll be in Nashville, Tennessee. After our bags were packed and ready to go, we partook in our last meal at the Pancake Pantry. The Vanderbilt alumni who recommended this place to us were right about checking it out. It’s definitely a popular eating spot, and at any time of any day there will be a line past the entrance door. I also got the opportunity to eat a watermelon popsicle from Las Paletas, which is a local homemade popsicle company.

We then ventured out to downtown Nashville. Nashville is truly the Music City; you can hear a country music singer at every other restaurant. The city was full of guitar playing, cowboy boot stores, and tourists. It felt like Nashville’s version of San Francisco’s Pier 39. With bustling streets and country music heard around every corner, I definitely enjoyed spending some time at the heart of the Music City.

The "Batman" At&t building
Sooner than later it was time to head to the airport. As we filled the trunk of our rental van with our heavy luggage, it finally hit us: we were leaving the city of Nashville and flying back to our home sweet homes. The sad realization ran through us that our Ivy League Connection journey on the East is over. Although we were feeling sad, we were also looking forward to seeing our families and friends back home.

After stopping at Las Vegas, we arrived safely at the Oakland airport. It was a wonderful, eye-opening experience back on the East, but I am really glad I’m finally home. As soon as I arrived at my house, I noticed the living room rearrangements and then ran straight to my brother’s room. I gave him a big hug, and I was really happy to see him. I will make the most out of the next three weeks I have with him, before he leaves for college in New York. I then entered my room to see a welcome home sign; it feels good to be back in my own room.

After settling in, I enjoyed a nice home cooked meal. Honestly, after three weeks of the same cafeteria food, it isn’t very satisfying. While savoring my mom’s home cooked Filipino food, I shared with my parents just some of the many things I learned at VSA. It’s really hard to talk, when you’re mind is focused on the delicious food.

I am blessed to be back home and see my family again. I am blessed that I was able to explore colleges back East. I am blessed that I was able to get a little taste of college life. I am blessed that I was able to meet new friends that became family. I am blessed that I had the best cohort and chaperone. I am blessed to be a part of the ILC.