Katherine Ortiz

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My name is Katherine Ortiz, this year I had the opportunity to attend the California Cruisin Tour 2. The trip took place from July 20, 2017 through August 2, 2017. Prior to the trip, I was eager to be selected as one of the Trip of a Lifetime participants. My cousin was a part of trip of a lifetime last year and told me about this life changing opportunity and I decided to try it out myself.

As this was the first time I was traveling without my family I was very hesitant and scared, but the trip of a lifetime team made me and my family feel secured and excited to step out my comfort zone. I do not expect to meet so many other teens from different places around the world. Not only did I meet new teens, I was able to experience new places and try new activities. We arrived at the San Francisco airport, when we found out that there were more teens joining us on the trip. There was a total of fifty one teens and five counselors and this is how my once in a lifetime trip began!

The first day we arrived at our hotel we were early for checking so we began to meet the group with an icebreaker where we said our name, where we were from and what were we most excited about. I said I was looking forward to surfing. We were able to meet our roommates for the two days in San Francisco. We checked in and found our rooms we went bowling and had the chance to get to know others more. We were able to visit Alcatraz and walk, explore and experience the pears the food and the street performances. As we toured San Francisco, we found our way to tour San Francisco and cable cars. We set out to Lake Tahoe where we stayed in houses instead of a hotel. After settling into our houses, the group went food shopping since we were to make our own breakfast and lunch for the next two days in Lake Tahoe. This was a great experience because we were learning how to be responsible for ourselves and preparing us for the future. I learn many new things from both my peers but more importantly myself. I was able to discover many leadership skills and skills I was not aware of having.

Once vwe arrived back to the houses, the counselors decided to have and judge a dessert competition. This was a very interesting and learning experience as we all learned a little more about each other while having fun. Day one at Lake Tahoe was spent at the lake. Here we went water skiing, water tubing, and paddle boarding. Before this trip I would if never thought of doing any of these activities as I just recently learned how to swim. Even though it took several tries, I was able to enjoy these experiences and learn how I can do more than I think I am capable. From Lake Tahoe we headed to Monterey, one of the most interesting activities we did here was laundry. As insignificant as this sounds, this was one of the key activities of the trip. TOAL ensured we were having all around life experience. While just doing laundry I learns about taking initiative, learned about myself and learn tips and tricks on laundry from others. We also went white water rafting and enjoyed the rapids, rapids class 2-4. This was my first time whitewater rafting and I loved it. As first timers, started off a little off the edge but we got better as time went by. The next morning headed to Santa Barbara in the way there we stopped and had the opportunity to go kayaking. We were able to stay at the University of California Santa Barbara. We went for to ride bikes and learned to surf. We did two lessons in the sand and the instructors took us in the water. It is harder than it seems, I was able to get up once on the board which was a big accomplishment. The other times I was wiped out, but I had a good time and I enjoyed trying surfing for the first time.

We arrived at San Diego where went to the San Diego Padres baseball game and laser tag afterwards. The next day we went to the San Diego zoo where we spent time together petting goats and sheeps. Towards the end of the trip, we arrived to Los Angeles where we stayed for three nights. The first day we went to a comedy club, there was another teen tour there as well which was great to see. We were able to meet the comedians and learn what it takes to run a comedy show. After the comedy club we explore the Hollywood walk of fame.

I had a great time seeing in person LA which I have only seeing in movies. The next day we went to Beverly Hills where we walked around shopping and sightseeing. One of the many fun activities we did was we pretended one of the counselors was a famous actor some people believe that and actually wanted to take pictures of our counselor. In the afternoon went to Disneyland, when went on multiple rides we enjoyed the trip and spend the rest of the night at Disney. The next day we went to Universal studios where we took a tour of the vicinity. We stood there all day we got back to the Embassy suites we packed and spend the night awake for our flight home. As part of our trip conclusion, we did the same ice breaker as the beginning and this time we said what we were looking forward to in the beginning and what our favorite part was of the entire trip.

I learned that the world is bigger than we could ever imagine, that there is more to learn and experience than my comfort zone. I met new people, learn new ideas, new cultures and new skills about myself. I am an introvert and did not think I was going to meet and make as many friends as I did during this trip. Trip of a lifetime, the name speaks for itself. This trip has provided me with the once of a lifetime opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and learn that the sky is the limit. This opportunity is an opportunity which should be offered to many more students. An opportunity life this not only lets us explore new places but it allows us to widen our knowledge and create new perspectives and ideas from the experiences we created. . I had an amazing experience and many more teens deserve this opportunity.