Monday, January 12, 2009

Fish Out of Water (the past few days in retrospect)

By Jordan Kamikawa

First of all, let me begin by saying that I’ve lived most of my life (besides my 3+ years of school) in Maui, Hawaii. Year-round 80-degree weather was the norm for me, and whenever it happened to get down to the 60’s at night, we’d bring out the extra blankets and say it was extremely “chilly.” Boy, was I naïve during those days. Also, with the island only being about 60 miles around, you couldn’t go to Costco and not see a familiar face.

However, fast forward to January 8th, the day our Jan Term group left for the complete opposite side of the country, and a place I knew little about: the East Coast. Now, of course I had a small idea of what New York was like; I had seen movies and shows set there. I knew there were a lot of tall-buildings, people with funny accents, and the Knicks. However, my entire impression was based on very trivial things like this. I’ve always wanted to experience it first hand, so I knew that this trip would be my chance.

When we finally arrived in the JFK airport, I couldn’t believe I had stepped foot in pretty much the farthest place in the country from my home. It was kind of surreal to tell the truth. Even as we drove to our hostel in what was a very cramped car (I almost lost circulation to my legs thanks to the 3 bags and Danika’s legs, which were perched on mine), I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride that I had arrived in a place that most of the people back home have never been.

Let me then say that once we stepped outside of the shuttle at our last stop, I realized that this was not only going to be the coolest experience of my life, but one of the coldest as well. In fact, it’d be more accurate to call it a freezing experience. If you’ve never been to the East Coast before, let me tell you that the cold is extremely bitter here, and if it’s windy, it will chill you through your jacket and right to the bone. I thought Spokane was bad, but this somehow feels different, and worse.

Besides the cold, I have truly never seen a city like this before. Our first trip to Times Square is something I will never forget. Somewhere between the thousands of lights and tall buildings it’s hard not to get lost in complete awe. Also, I am blown away by how simple public transportation is to use here, and how you can easily hop on the subway and find your destination within a short couple stops.

Of course, I could go on and on about my countless unique experiences so far, but I am obligated by this Jan Term course to talk about school as well. I mean, what would this trip be without some sort of educational aspect as well? Well, to tell the truth, great actually! (Just joking Jim). Seriously, our meetings so far have been very inspiring and educational. I have truly never met this caliber of professionals before; I guess it’s something that comes with the quality of competition here in the big city. In addition to witnessing the professionalism displayed by the staffs, it has also been great to see human side that these great writers possess as well. Many of them are very helpful and quite funny, which we experienced particularly at places like The Smoking Gun and The Onion.

In all, this trip has totally taken me out of my comfort zone and introduced to a totally different style of life. Although I have realized that I could never live in a place like this (it would be difficult to go from Maui to a big city), I have already gained a whole new realm of knowledge that I will be able to utilize in my future career or travels. 

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