Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Tiresome Day Back at Home

For the last of our trip we caught a shuttle to the airport and got on the airplane to Phoenix and then a second plane ride on the same plane to SFO airport. On the second plane ride I tried to sleep but ended up not sleeping because the people behind me kept kicking my chair so that was uncomfortable. They were just kids and I thought it would stop after a while but no it continued until the last 45 minutes on the plane. But it's okay because I had a nice nap on my way back.We got off the plane at 4:15 because the second plane ride left 15 minutes behind. When we got to the airport we all waited to get our bags. As we waited we took a picture together.Coming home felt amazing but I had to go to a party after getting off of the plane. It was my uncle's birthday and it was in Oakland so I didn't go home until 10 PM. His party was at Hometown and then later at a bowling alley.
Our picture before we left the school

My bag came first and my dad was already outside ready to go so I left earlier then everyone else. We were all supposed to wait for everyone to get their bags but I was already late for my uncle's party and my dad couldn't park for long so I had to hurry and leave. I really enjoyed being with everyone in Chicago and hope that we meet up again to hang out. I will miss all the people I have met in Chicago. They are cool people and even the ones from my class who didn't live in the dorms.
Our last picture at the airport

A Full Day Back in the Bay

Yet another great day has been experienced thanks to the ILC.

While it was great, it was also sad. In all honesty, during the longest nights at UChicago, I doubted I would miss Chicago. Yet I keep catching myself comparing everything about the Bay Area to Chicago.

I woke up, made sure everything was properly packed, and spent one last quick breakfast at the Dining Commons (I had my usual croissant and decaf lotus blossom green tea for old times’ sake). I said my last goodbyes to some of the last people I saw on campus—Kaitlyn, Maria, Lulu, and Wister. In this case, I’m glad social media exists. I wasn’t half as sad as I would’ve been, since I know they’re always a message or email away.

One last picture with Kaitlyn!
Our cohort took one last picture on the UChicago campus and headed to the airport via shuttle. Alie gave me a present for my birthday! It was this delicious chocolate cupcake and the sweetest card telling me how excited she is for my future and to feel free to come to her anytime. That, with the card the cohort gave me, was enough to make my birthday great. 

The card from Alie!
The card the cohort gave
The delicious cupcake from Alie!

After getting a quick breakfast of breakfast tacos and a green tea frappuccino, we surprisingly found one of Vicky’s Contagion classmates waiting at the gate to Phoenix (where we had a layover)! We all instantly started talking about what we thought about the Insight program while waiting to board. Once on the plane, I read a bit and slept for most of the time.

We landed in Phoenix, grabbed some Panda Express, and waited to re-board. Once again on the plane, I finished some ILC work until the plane landed.
Sorry Don, I have to post at least one of my airplane wing pictures on a blog!

I was so excited when the plane landed!! The only thought in my mind was that I’d be able to see my family again!

We waited for our bags to arrive, took pictures, talked to Oyin’s and Jimmy’s parents, and talked among ourselves before splitting up. We all agreed to meet at least once a month to catch up with each other. I’m glad we made plans. Even if we didn’t, though, I still think our cohort would have found a way to make sure we all see each other again. I find it funny to think of the very first meet up we had at Mountain Mike’s when we all acted really awkward, and compare it to how we are now.
Our last photo as a group (for now)

My sister and dad picked me up from the airport. When I saw them, I squealed and ran to hug my sister when she came to help me with my luggage. I ran into the car and tried to hug my dad and sister as best as I could from the back seat.

The whole ride from SFO to American Canyon (where our church is) was spent talking about the trip. I wasn’t even able to cover half of what happened at UChicago! Like I told my sister and dad, it’ll take a couple days for me to finish talking about my full Chicago experience.

I didn’t realize how much I missed them until I saw them again. Once we were parked in our church in American Canyon, my dad and I got out the car to hug each other (after about a month! That’s the longest I’ve ever been away). I went upstairs, where I squealed when I saw my mom through a crack in the doorway and jumped to hug her.

After attending the AY (Adventist Youth) portion of the worship, I saw my friends and other church members, who wished me a happy birthday and gave me lots of gifts! They’d planned a party! They had me do an impromptu speech on what I did at UChicago and what I thought about it. Besides that, they sang me Happy Birthday (how embarrassingly nice) and made me pose beside (the best) towers of cupcakes, which the kids crowded around. It was so great to see the kids and my friends and church members after all this time.

As much as I wished to stay, talk, and eat, I decided to go into a quiet room to do the extra credit assignment for my Biotechnology class. Thankfully, I was able to do it in about 45 minutes, then went back to socializing.

It was a great party. What I’ve noticed about myself after this ILC trip is how much more social I’ve become. Though I’m not yet a social butterfly, I’ve definitely gotten better at socializing.

We arrived home late. I kept comparing our house to South Campus. My room—where were the huge windows? The rocking chairs? The living room—where were the multiple chairs and sofas? The foosball tables? I’m fine with my bathroom and (fully stocked) kitchen, but I couldn’t help that when my dad said, “We’re home!” I also thought of UChicago.

According to Jim Valvano, it was a full day—I laughed when reunited with my family and friends, thought about Chicago and how different I am now, and (almost) cried when I saw my family. I can’t believe I’m back from almost a month long trip to UChicago; it seems like nothing but a too-fast, incredible dream.

Finally Home

I woke up this morning with the realization that I had to go home today. It was time for me to leave my room which I have called home for the last three weeks. I wasn't getting too emotional until I saw the look on my roommate's face when I started to pack the last of my things. Lulu has been the best roommate ever and I was very sad to have to leave her and go back home. Even though we spent only three weeks together, most of that time was spent together doing our work and messing around in our room.
The Best Roommate Ever
When I was finally done packing my belongings, I said my final goodbyes to Lulu, wished her a safe flight back home to Beijing, and I went outside to get on the shuttle bus. Luckily on my way outside, I ran into Rong one of my classmates. I quickly gave her a goodbye hug and then I made my way over to the shuttle bus. After all of us had our bags placed on the bus, we made our way over to the airport. As we were driving through Chicago, I said my own silent 'see ya later' to the city before we got to the airport.

We were very early when we got to the airport and figured that we had enough time for a sit down breakfast. After our breakfast, we went back to our gates to wait for our plane to start boarding. While we were waiting, one of Vicky's friends from her class was there at the same gate. She was going on the same flight as us to Phoenix because that's where she lived. After we boarded our plane and took off into the air, I immediately fell asleep but I kept on waking up every half hour.

It was in the Phoenix airport when we were getting lunch that I began to process that I wouldn't be able to see my cohort everyday anymore. We all got really close these past few weeks and spent most of our time in Chicago together. During our lunch, we took the advantage of the time that we had and spent most of it laughing and joking with each other. When we boarded our plane for San Francisco the excitement was written clearly on everybody's faces. We were finally going  home.

I didn't sleep at all this time around and the minute our plane touched down in San Francisco, I unbuckled my seat belt wanted to run off. I had to wait for a few minutes unfortunately but it still felt good to be back home. We made our way to baggage claim and that was where we started to see our parents. Seeing how my mother ran up and hugged me the moment she saw me, I think it's safe to say that she missed me and was happy that I made it home safely.
My Cohort
After we all got our bags, it was time to say goodbye and go our separate ways. Nobody cried but I think we all know that it's going to be strange to not be able to see each other everyday like we used to. We've had countless meals together, we've blogged together almost every night since we left, we've stayed up late studying together, and most importantly we've made memories together that we won't forget anytime soon. My experience over the last month wouldn't have been the same without my cohort around me and just want to take the time to thank Alexa, Jimmy, Dani, Vicky, and Alie for making this past month one of the best in my life.