Sunday, July 16, 2017

Thanks for the Memories

I promised myself that I wouldn’t get too emotional the last day that we were in Cornell. I was leaving behind valuable friendships, great times, and natural beauty in its purest form. As much as I missed my family and longed for their company, the thought of returning was bittersweet. And yes, I cried, because it’s extremely difficult to control when others are tearing up.

My morning was perhaps the most difficult part. Finishing packing up and cleaning the dorm room was harder than I thought it would be, especially because face powder had spilled all over my makeup bag and parts of the carpet. Wiping everything down wasn’t exactly tiring, but pretty frustrating.

A good thirty minutes later, I checked in with my RCA for an inspection so that she could look around and made sure that nothing in the room was damaged. I had the chance to speak with Angela and hug it out before parting ways. I feel as though we really understood one another the past three weeks. Never once did I feel awkward or uncomfortable in Angela’s presence. Instead, it was quite the opposite and I wish her all the best for the future.
Cornell was a dream come true.
The RCAs are not the only sign that Cornell attracts well-rounded, genuine individuals. My friend Muskaan, studying Architecture at Summer College as an International Student, flew half way around the world for the opportunity. She’s multi talented and incredibly sweet, so I was naturally disappointed when we didn’t end up eating breakfast together for the last time despite having made plans. We spoke over the phone however and promised to stay in touch.

Unhappy to leave.
Sultana left around 11 AM. We visited Donlon together to see Eunji play the Piano for the last time. The songs were all sad and sentimental. Not only that, but Eunji and Wendy had to leave which left Culty and me in a very sad state. She cried and eventually so did I as her parents loaded up the last of the luggage into their car. Saying goodbye was extraordinarily tough, and I had to push myself to think positively and recognize the possibility that we would meet in the near future.

After Culty left, Robson and I went over to the slope one last time. Deven had picked up our luggage at Balch earlier that day, so we didn’t have to worry about carrying anything with us.  Noor and Deven eventually joined us after the Inspiring Leadership class’s graduation ceremony. We took pictures, first at the slope itself and then the Cascadilla Gorge.

The gorge was especially beautiful that afternoon, in a violent yet mesmerizing way. I didn’t want to get anywhere near the water in fear of falling in and getting thrashed about. That wasn’t my plan for the final day in Ithaca.
Baba and I
So, we decided to snap photos and leave for food at the Oasis Halal Grill in College town.

Eating didn’t take too long, and we stopped at Deven’s hotel in the Commons to wait for our shuttle to the airport afterward.  Ithaca airport was tiny, yet pleasant. The people working there seemed to be always smiling and in a constant great mood, which was refreshing.  We took off and arrived in Philadelphia airport in less than an hour.

Our connecting flight in Philly took a while to take off. Apparently, they hadn’t fulfilled the set amount of flight attendants needed and were waiting on a couple. We sat down, ate pretzels, and munched on snacks eagerly awaiting our arrival home. Once we did board, there were issues with incorrect data being sent to the crew so that meant that the plane would taxi for the next hour.

Noor and I attempting to look taller?
Unfortunately for me, motion sickness was a huge issue. I managed to pull through by talking with my neighbor. She had just arrived from Athens, Greece and barely caught the connecting flight. Hearing her troubles made me feel a lot better and more grateful about my situation.

We arrived at SFO around 12:32 AM. Baggage claim went very smoothly. Lisa, our shuttle driver, helped a lot with moving luggage and making sure that we felt comfortable and welcomed. It was cold outside, a feeling that I wasn’t used to after having spent a month in humid Ithaca. Luckily, I was prepared and had packed a jacket in my carry-on.

I appreciate everything that Don has done
for me and this Program. This picture is great. 
I had missed the Bay Area so much, especially the environment and people. It’s not that Ithaca couldn’t provide that, but that still didn’t mean it was some place I could easily call home.  San Francisco felt like home at last!

The shuttle pulled up at El Cerrito High School well after 1 AM. Don was there to greet us. We took our last group photos and spoke for a while about the trip back and hurdles faced by other cohorts.

Then, I saw my dad arrive. Although Mama and I video chatted often while I was in New York, Baba was at work most of the time. So me, being the crybaby that I am, struggled immensely with the lump in my throat as we embraced.

Soon enough, it was time to say goodbye. I made sure to hug everyone before leaving. Don and I took a couple of pictures together. Baba captured them; therefore I couldn’t help but wonder if they had turned out okay, but they were actually really sweet.  

I’m going to miss everyone that I have met and gotten to know on this trip. They might not be aware of it, but each and every one of these people has impacted me in so many positive ways. Here’s to this incredible journey and their happy, healthy, safe, and rewarding futures. 

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