If I had to sum up my experience with one word, it would be unforgettable. Growing up in the city, opportunities like these aren’t very common, so when an opportunity to take a “Trip of a Lifetime” presented itself, I immediately applied for it. Rarely had I ever left the Tri-State area for an extended amount of time except for the times when I would go to my family’s home country, Dominican Republic. When I was accepted to Trip of a Lifetime, I expected the trip to be fun, but even I couldn’t have predicted how much my expectations were surpassed. It was non-stop fun but I also learned some very valuable lessons that I will keep with me forever.
When I first arrived at the airport terminal at JFK airport, I was a little nervous. I only knew one person; however there were 40 other teenagers there I had never seen in my life. We arrived at San Francisco and I wasn’t sure if I was cut out for this trip. When we arrived at San Francisco and I was actually able to socialize with some of my peers. It was amazing that despite the fact I looked different from most everybody on the trip, I also shared so much in common with them as well. I knew I would make friends during this trip, but these are friends that I want to stay in contact with for a very long time.
After spending 3 unforgettable days at San Francisco where we visited Pier 39, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge on foot, visited Alcatraz, and even got to view another part of the Bay Area in Oakland for a baseball game, we left for Lake Tahoe very early. We arrived at Lake Tahoe at about 6 P.M. It was our second day in Lake Tahoe that was the most memorable. It started off early in the morning and we went to the beach. I promptly, but also hesitantly chose the option of water skiing. I was a little scared of how I would look to everybody else. I was a decent swimmer but not a great one, and we were at depths of about 30 feet so I wasn’t too confident jumping into the frigid water of Lake Tahoe. Once I was able to just relax and get the hang of water skiing, I enjoyed it and it was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life, those 5 seconds that I managed to stand up on the skis.
I enjoyed almost everything of this trip. The thing I enjoyed the most were the long bus rides. On these bus rides we could sleep comfortably, socialize, and not to mention we had a bus driver that knew everything about anything west of the Mississippi River. It was on the bus, however that I made my first new friends of the trip, and also where I was able to strengthen these bonds. It seems a little odd, but strangely enough, the bus is where some of the most memorable things happened on this whole trip. We would always tell jokes and the whole bus would be in on it, the counselors would tell us stories or ask us trivia questions, it was really a place for a lot of bonding and nobody was ever excluded.
Throughout my trip in California Cruisin’, I learned many valuable lessons. The most important thing I learned however was to always have confidence. I was a bit shy for the first few hours of the trip, then I realized I had a short time frame to enjoy myself and get acclimated, so I approached everyone during the ice breakers. That is the biggest way in which the trip has affected me. I now have more confidence in myself to approach new people, but also to attempt new things. I realize that it’s ok to be the first one to volunteer for something or try something new. I thank everbody at Trip of a Lifetime for the opportunity, and also awakening this new confidence within me.