Okay, so the title is a little cheesy, but it accurately describes my family’s latest vacation. I am a senior in high school, and have been planning my college career prior to even entering my secondary one. I know the course like the back of my hand: research, statistics, rankings, applications, essays, and, most importantly, campus visits.
Every teenager who aspires to enroll in any of the esteemed Ivy League universities knows that the summer before your senior year is to be spent visiting college campuses. For those of us in the Midwest, this means a family trip to the east coast in every soccer mom’s favorite accessory – the minivan.
I had done my research and found the biggest and greatest national universities with the highest ranked medical schools. I had organized the times and dates of each college’s information session and campus tour. I had all the digital tours downloaded on my iPod, and we were armed with all of the PDF printout campus maps that required a magnifying glass to read. Nonetheless, I had found the offices for undergraduate admissions and highlighted the omnipotent buildings lest I lose my way.
Resumes in hand, we pumped up the minivan’s tires, changed the oil, checked the antifreeze (we live in Michigan, so we’re used to unexpected weather), and headed for New England. Twelve hours later, we stop for the night in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, right outside of Harrisburg. A quick trip to the pool and hot tub, which became a nightly family ritual, and we headed to bed.
The next day’s adventure began with an hour and a half ride to Johns Hopkins University in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. As we signed in for the information session, we were told that the number of attendees was greatly more than expected. This seemed to be the theme for our trip.
Since we had to make a couple of pit stops at Hersheypark and Gettysburg, we did not make it to New Haven, Connecticut until two days later. After wandering through this beautiful school, admiring its elegant Gothic architecture, and taking several thousand soon-to-be Facebook pictures, I realized just how hard my college decision would be.
The climax of our college tour/vacation, Cambridge, Massachusetts proved to be the most exciting, vibrant, and attractive city I and my family had ever visited. The way the streets entangled corner coffee shops, book stores, and mom-and-pop burger joints was eye candy for us all. Although tempted to skip the Harvard information session to spend more time exploring the town, we made our way to the auditorium filled with, greatly more than expected, Ivy League hopefuls.
The following day included our first subway experience and a trip down the historic Freedom Trail in downtown Boston. Clearly exhausted, we spent two days enjoying the Adirondack Mountains and true Buffalo wings in Buffalo, New York on our way home.
This trip definitely broadened my horizons by explicating the culture of New England and its boisterous, yet sophisticated, inhabitants. More importantly, my family came together as we never have before. From the travel bingo, pool and hot tub trips, dining conversation, photography posing, and general new experiences, we were a family, spending time together the way a family should.
We laughed and fellowshipped like we had never had a quarrel in our entire lives. Because of our wonderful travel experience, I have to wish that every family would take a trip once and a while, get away from everyday life and its frustrations, and enjoy each other’s company…greatly more than expected.
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