Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The First Day of Adventuring in Chicago

The day started out with me leaving the house at around 2:00 sharp and reaching El Cerrito High School at 2:40ish. Though I was tired and extremely cold (it was around 50 degrees!), I still had a small warmth in my body from the excitement of me going to board a plane in just a few hours. Don went over a few more logistics and pointers and things we had to remember as for the fact this would be the last time we would see him in person. Mike and Don also brought us a ton of snacks for the plane so we were more than ready to go. We took one last big Cornell group picture right below

After taking the group picture, our shuttle finally arrived at 4 o clock on the dot and that's when we said goodbye to our parents. My dad took me so I said my goodbyes to him and we were headed off to San Francisco Airport!

We had reached San Francisco airport around 4:45ish and it surprisingly went by super fast. I had been pre-checked for the TSA stops so I had a quick scan which I found super convenient. From there we picked up some food from Pete's Coffee and quickly arrived in the plane. We arrived inside the plane at around 6:30ish but we didn't end up leaving until around 7:30ish because of delays in the plane. The plane ride was a good rest from walking however as a person with long legs it was a struggle having the seat in front of me leaned back since it kinda squished my legs. But my discomfort was quickly forgotten when I saw our plane finally leaving for take off. As we ascended into the air further and further, I knew that I would be in for the trip of a lifetime.

We arrived at Chicago Airport at around 12:45 and as I exited the plane I immediately felt one thing in the air: humidity. It was hot (85ish degrees) yet you could definitely taste the moisture in the air. Almost hard to breathe at first but then I just realized that was the Californian in me adjusting to my new environment. We then collected our bags and promptly left the airport to head to our shuttle. When we got in our shuttle and started driving to our hotel we began to talk to our shuttle driver. He talked about how he grew up and lived in Chicago for 40+ years and that he knew everything that we as tourists should do. He got us hyped for Chicago Pizza, Chicago hotdogs, Chicago tourist sites and everything we should do and eat in our time here. He was really cool and told us to give him a call whenever we needed an idea for a new place to go.

We arrived in our hotel, the Omni Hotel, and it was BEAUTIFUL, Definitely on the higher end of hotel chains. The lobby was absolutely gorgeous and it now serves as our official meeting spot for the next two days. 

After we checked into both our hotel rooms (which were both really nice), we decided to leave one room as a luggage room and one as where we would all sleep. After checking into the hotel we walked over to the Walgreens just a few blocks away to go pick up some drinks to sustain us, and then caught a cab to the Willis Tower. Our cab man had a lot to say about certain topics and basically was trying to tell us to make the most out of our lives. But after meeting him one thing I realized about Chicago besides how crazy the drivers were, was how talkative the cab drivers were. Which I see as something that is pretty cool. 

We finally made it to the Willis Tower and it was awesome! Me being the history nut I am loved the amount of history that went into one building. They had multiple display rooms that would tell the background of the city and the buildings made. It made me super happy because there was a room where you could just press a button on a display and it would play audio from a famous historical person in Chicago. We then got to this super cool room about the skyscraper and it would light up multiple colors of the rainbow in 30 second increments. Me, once again, being the history nut I am, was super intrigued on the facts about the skyscraper on the wall and how it was once the tallest tower in the world. And I definitely had to take a picture with it. 

Afterwords we took an elevator and made it up to the SkyDeck to see the views of Chicago. The SkyDeck was about 103 floors and was the tallest building in Chicago and before we went on it I was terrified. Prior to taking the elevator up the SkyDeck there was a video that played that showed people jumping on a glass window box that stuck outside of the building. So basically the only thing separating one from the 103 floors down was a piece of glass. I was extremely scared when I saw that. However after taking multiple looks outside the window and seeing how beautiful Chicago as a city really was, and taking multiple baby steps onto the glass window box, I didn't feel afraid anymore. I felt awesome in fact. 

After we left the SkyDeck, we went to the souvenir shops, and then ended up leaving the Willis Tower. After chasing cabs for 20 or 30 minutes we finally caught one and rushed back to the hotel to put away our items and got ready for the dinner at 5 at the Lou Malnati's (sounds very similar to Illuminati) with a former Ivy League Connection Columbia alumn Simon Cohen and his friend Courtney. When we arrived he was already waiting for us at the restaurant. Simon and Courtney had talked about how they felt about attending University of Chicago and their process when it came to choosing the school and how they feel about the school now. They offered a lot of insight and answered a lot of questions that really help for me especially as for the fact that I will soon be applying for schools since I'm a senior. During this dinner, we ordered appetizers and I ordered a personal veggie deep dish pizza. At the end we all split the cookie ice cream plate. 

After the dinner we went back to the hotel. The rest of my cohort wanted to attend the pool but I didn't bring a swimsuit because I wasn't really going to be up for swimming during the time. So instead I used the time spent at the pool to catch up on my blogging and text my sister. 

Overall, the day was very eventful. Today was a great first day of what's to come. I really enjoyed the day and can't wait to see what else Chicago is going to offer me while I am here. Can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

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