Before the 11th grade/junior year of high school, I had never been away from home or family. Never been to summer camp, music camp, overnight school field trips. Sleepovers were always at my house. Traveling alone was this amorphous, grey monster that I wasn’t sure if I was ready to tackle. Yet there was absolutely no way I was passing up a scholarship-sponsored opportunity to live in Germany for a month at no cost to me. There were a total of 36 students funded by this amazing scholarship program, sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of German, and we were all to fly out to Germany together from NYC. I decided it would be fun to arrive in NYC early and get to see one of the most famous cities of the world first-hand.
So I stood at the entryway for security check at LAX, tears in my eyes, waving goodbye to my parents for the very first time. Only my iPod to keep me company. My cousin David picked me up from Newark and we rode the train from Newark into Manhattan. I was surprised by how run down buildings in Newark were, and how dated the train system was. The cascade of rain and gusts only added to the gloominess of the scenery. This was not SoCal.
David and his wife, Joyce, treated me to bibimbap at this hole-in-the-wall Korean place. Delicious! I hadn’t had bibimbap in years and remember taking the business card…can’t remember the name of the place anymore though. 😦 They had delicious kimchi pancake as well. Mmm. We later stopped by a takoyaki shop since Joyce was craving them, and a bagel shop with over 30 different kinds of cream cheese! It was amazing to smell and see the infamous New York bagels. Breakfast for the next day: done.
Big surprise at the end of the day was that it was David’s birthday! What a good man–inviting me to his home, housing me, and feeding me when it was his birthday we should have been celebrating. Joyce brought out a beautiful taro cake when we returned home and we all sang Happy Birthday. Even Buttermilk, their little tabby with sparkling, emerald eyes, meow’d along.
First impression of NYC: hectic, a little grungy, pretty exciting. 🙂