The beginning of the day was an overall success. After waking up at 2 in the morning I spent the early hour checking and re-checking my belongings so as to be sure nothing was left behind. After a few scares on the way down to El Cerrito High I was relieved to see that I didn’t forget my key for the laptop security cable, one of my biggest concerns. The real problem turned out to be the cold. While preparing my luggage to complement the seemingly hot and humid East Coast, I almost rushed out of the house without a jacket only to have the below-55 degree wind greet my exposed legs in my athletic shorts. Not the best planning to say the least. We were soon ready to leave the school after a group photo taken by Don of what I would expect to be a photograph of six, half-awake teenagers seeking refuge from the cold by bundling their hands in any available pockets. The airport shuttle soon arrived and we were off!
The ride to the airport was interesting. Turns out that even during the early morning hours San Pablo Avenue is still a busy place. Everyone was seemingly awake but all too tired to say a word. I guess the excitement of what lay ahead kept everyone awake, but the fact that it was 3:30 in the morning combated any effort to display any physical enthusiasm whatsoever. We made good time to the airport in the end, so good actually that the stations for baggage check weren’t even open yet!
The plane ride was not particularly eventful. I spent my time listening to music, sleeping, starting Fast Food Nation, our summer assignment for AP Language and Composition, and outlining Plato’s Republic for the most part. Yes, as you may have guessed, there was not a television on the plane.
|Waiting in Philly|
We were picked up from the airport by another shuttle, but not one of those plain white vans similar to what we rode from the high school to the airport. No, this was a black Chevrolet Suburban, the kind that you see the secret agents riding in the movies. As we headed toward Philadelphia, one of the first things that made an impression on me, being a total baseball nut was seeing, from a distance, Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Calvin later made the observation about the freeway signs how at the fork on route took you to New Jersey while the other took you to Delaware, not something you really get to see growing up in California. After crossing a bridge into Philadelphia we went straight into the heart of UPenn, where we will be visiting tomorrow with the Columbia group. Our hotel: The Inn at Penn, is located on campus and is beautiful, to say the least. Being a victim to allergies I was particularly pleased to see that the bathroom was equipped with Kleenex brand facial tissues as opposed to those rough generic-brand tissues one usually finds at hotels. I will be staying in a room by myself, something that I never have done before so it may be interesting.
Something that came as a pleasant surprise about Philadelphia was the city’s overall consciousness regarding recycling. Even from the walk from the gate to the baggage claim, every trash bin was accompanied by two recycling bins (paper and plastic/aluminum) as “Philadelphia Recycles” posters decorated the walls of the airport. In the streets of the campus the same applied as most trash bins were split in two with a recycling bin. Coming from the San Francisco Bay Area, I have always thought that we were the most conscious about distinguishing waste from recycling, but Philadelphia had made more of a public effort to spread the concept of recycling across the city, something I appreciated. In addition, US Airways separated the beverage cans from the napkins and garbage as well, which I have not noticed on a commercial air service ever, as the hotel room carries both garbage and recycling bin as well.
|The conclusion to a wonderful day|
Tonight we dined at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House. We took our first cab ride on the way to the restaurant and were introduced to Philadelphia at night. To start, the food at Del Frisco’s was amazing. Everyone ordered a steak, all of different shapes and sizes, all simply but gorgeously prepared. The restaurant used to be a bank and was remodeled into a three-story restaurant. Many of the buildings in Philadelphia have had their architecture preserved on the outside only to be remodeled on the inside for a more modern taste, similar to some buildings in San Francisco. I would call the night a success as everyone finished his or her steak as we cabbed home to call it a night.
Tomorrow will be an amazing experience. We will meet up with the Columbia group, who flew into New York City today, and will spend the morning at Independence Hall and later tour the University of Pennsylvania. I cannot wait to spend another day as a member of the ILC and am looking forward to sharing my experience with you soon!