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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Adventures in Houston

I woke up this morning feeling extremely exhausted. 2 AM is not a great time to wake up, but nonetheless, I pushed myself to get up. Don told us about sleeping early, and I should've listened, but I just couldn't sleep. Perhaps I was too excited? Anyways, I got ready, and was out the door by 2:40 AM. We were supposed to meet at El Cerrito High by 3:15, but I was afraid of coming late, so I ended up arriving at 3 AM, where I saw Rudy and his parents, as well as Don. Soon afterwards, Joannne, Jun, Chiamaka, and Mr. Hillyer joined us. 

Oakland Airport
We stayed outside of El Cerrito High for about an hour, just to make sure that we have everything we need, and that our luggage didn't exceed the weight limit. We were also informed with last minute instructions and expectations for the ILC. Knowing Don, we also took a lot of pictures until the shuttle finally came. We all said our goodbyes to our family, although it was brief, and headed off to the airport. 

Once we arrived at the Oakland airport, we had to pick up the pace, because everyone was in a rush. All of the workers seemed annoyed, and of course I would be too if I had to work at 4 in the morning. When we made it past everything, we just relaxed a bit near the boarding place before we were finally on the plane. It wasn't as difficult or complicated as I thought it would be, but knowing that I have to do this for two more days just makes me feel exhausted. Also, I was definitely surprised to see how small this plane actually was, and that we were free to choose our seats.

Sitting in the plane
Overall, the flight went by smoothly, and there was hardly any turbulence. I sat in between Rudy and Joanne, and it was a pleasant flight. Unfortunately, due to the harsh weather in Houston, we had to land all the way in San Antonio. It may seem like a short distance on the map for Texas, but it's actually farther than it seems. What was supposed to be a 4 hr. flight quickly became a 7 hr. long trip, and the worse part was that I could barely sleep. Instead, I chatted with my neighbors, and eventually dozed off for a few hours before we finally got ready to land.

Under these circumstances, we were unable to make it to Rice University for the information session and the tour, which started at 2 PM, because we were still in San Antonio at 1:30 PM. Once we finally arrived at Houston, we were off to claim our luggage.
On our way to the shuttle

We got on to another shuttle, and this was when the humidity hit me. Right when I stepped out of the airport, the heat was already starting to take its effect. I knew that this was going to be a long, hot, and muggy day, but I faced it with a smile. To my surprise, our shuttle driver was actually a really interesting person. He gave us some facts about Houston, and even gave us a “tour” around Rice University, even though he didn’t have to. Once he dropped us off our hotel, he gave us a few words of encouragement, which was really nice to hear.

The Hilton hotel was truly beautiful on the inside, and it had elegant features that I never thought I would see. While we were checking in, we had to decide who was getting what room. Rudy, being the only guy, didn’t have to worry about anything. Meanwhile, it was left for the girls to decide, and what better way than a friendly competition of rock, paper, scissors. In the end, it was decided that it would be Elexis and I in one room, and Jun, Joanne, and Chiamaka in another.

After that long flight, I couldn’t be happier to actually see a bed, but Mr. Hillyer had other plans for us. He wanted for us to explore Rice University on our own, and walk to a good restaurant, but it was still pouring outside, so instead, we simply ate at the restaurant in the hotel. Our plans kept on changing so much that Elexis and I actually went up and down the elevator at least four times.

Chicken Avocado Po-Boy Sandwich
When we finished dinner, the rain calmed down a bit, and so our group decided that it would be a good idea to walk off all of the food we ate, so again, Elexis and I went upstairs to our room, and back downstairs at around 6 PM. The rain had already subsided, so we went on to exploring Rice University. Despite not knowing the campus at all, we managed to not get lost, which was amazing to me. We walked around, and we eventually met Joshua Lunow, a person that works at the Jones Graduate School of Bussiness. He was kind enough to let us know about the campus and answer a few of our questions. I even learned how Rice University got its name. Afterwards, we had to figure out a way back to our hotel. Rudy found a “shortcut,” but we had to walk through an extremely muddy path while sweat was dripping from our bodies. I have no idea why we thought it would be a good idea to walk through the mud, but there's a first for everything.

Nonetheless, it was an interesting day, despite all of the setbacks we had faced. Today is only the first day of our trip, but I am already completely exhausted. Slowly, I’m mentally preparing myself for tomorrow, because I’m going to have to go through the airport, the rain, and the walking again for a few more days, but it’s all worth it. 
Rice University Campus

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