Wednesday, June 22, 2016

This Blog is Multiple Thousand Words Long

Just kidding. But there will be a lot of photos, and each is worth a thousand words. Departure day had finally arrived. I woke up later than I meant to, sorry Don, and had a quick 2:30 AM breakfast of leftover pasta and my favorite Jaliciense custard (jericalla). I got to El Cerrito High School and was greeted by 54 degree weather and the other 9 ILCers that were waiting. Don weighed my bag and thankfully it was only 34 pounds. Don had a table set out with a variety of snacks that we could all grab for the trip in big Ziploc bags and another table with lanyards, bags, and hangers for those who needed them. We got a good talk that wasn't too long from Don and proceeded to talk the Cornell cohort picture. This time we had a special feature of the Cornell flag. Not too long after the shuttle arrived and I sadly had to to say goodbye to my mom and sister. I'm going to miss them but I'm glad I'm getting such an independent experience.
3 AM faces
The ride to the airport was very quick and actually everything was very smooth from there! Check-in bags were quick and TSA lines were short and quite the opposite of hectic, thankfully. Mike then let us pick which quick breakfast we wanted, and there was a unanimous decisions for Peet's coffee.

My view from the plane
Finally it was time to board the plane, oh boy. It was my first plane ride! Every place I've visited has been a road trip so this is definitely on example of Ivy League Connection exposing students to new experiences. Luckily, I had expert traveler and fellow cohort member Diana with me to guide me through everything. It wasn't so bad at all, felt more like speeding than anything. The views were incredible even though everything looked like green or brown patches of land.

Diana and I were sitting next to a man who was actually from Pennsylvania and we got to ask him a bit about UPenn's campus and he said he'd been to Chicago a couple times, but he wasn't very talkative and more into his ebook. So we let him be and got to chatting it up between us instead,

After landing, we spent a good hour or so in a shuttle. It sounds boring, but the driver was very interesting and he gave us many suggestions on things to see and definitely had many opinions to share, especially about deep dish pizza. Yum.

Fast foward, we checked in to the Omni Hotel, which is very lovely. Then we hurried along to go to the Willis Tower, and we were driven by yet another interesting driver! He had been living in Chicago for 45 years and gave us, and mostly Shuxin, life advice. You never know what you're going to get when you step into an shuttle/cab. 

The Willis Tower had an amazing view. It was seriously breathtaking. The elevator ride was only 60 seconds long and it covered 103 floors. The entire structure is some 1500 feet high, a record breaking height. It had a mini exhibit with cool lighting fixtures and showed some places at ground level and then how they would look 103 floors up. We all dared to go onto the Skydeck and even jumped for some photos. It was wild to be looking down at the glass and seeing the street at the very bottom.
Amazing view of Chicago
Sadly, my picture of the pizza did not do it justice
We spent a good amount of time there, but it was time to go back to the hotel and get things sorted out before our casual dinner with the UChicago student and ILC alumni Simon. It was also a chance to try authentic Chicago deep dish pizza! Personally, I'm big on Zachary's Chicago Pizza back home in the Bay Area, so yes I was deeply excited. We took a rather calm cab drive to Lou Malnati's Pizzeria and we found Simon and his friend Courtney already waiting for us. Before ordering pizzas we chose to get some bruschetta and mozzarella sticks. Simon suggested we try the classic pizza and we also got "the Lou" pizza. Both were equally delicious and the crust was definitely something else due to it's high butter content, so worth it. We learned a lot from both Courtney and Simon about UChicago's application, the way their classes are set up, and got a good idea of what their campus is all about before visiting it.
We ended the night a deep dish cookie dessert, but we had to hurry along because we knew it was supposed to rain and we had a short walk back to our hotel. The real ending to our first night at Chicago was a quick dip in the pool and some down time in the hot tub. All and all it's been an incredible experience so far, despite the fact we didn't do too much today we enjoyed ourselves a whole lot and of course learned a thing or two.

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