Off the plane and into the shuttle… Zooming in and out of traffic, the man driving would occasionally tell us to look left at this and over there to the right at that, ‘there, just there, the Statue of Liberty.’ Finally, after the most horrifying car ride of my entire life, we stopped. Our hotel: The Sheraton, Manhattan New York. Times square, the naked cowboy, the TRL studio window just there above me. I just stood there, jaw-I’m pretty sure- dropped to the pavement below my feet. I was standing in one of the greatest cities in America. The Big Apple, the concrete jungle. I stood there just trying to take it all in; impossible. I was a little overwhelmed with the feeling in the bottom of my gut…. This crazy-good feeling, and for a moment I almost couldn’t breathe. There was so much going on. Standing there looking, and listening. People were everywhere… seriously, EVERYWHERE. And they never missed a beat in the entire hustle ‘n’ bustle. Just across the street, moving news announcements slid across the tops of buildings on electronic screens… and down the street… sorta in the middle of it all, another electronic screen… huge screen… projecting different commercials for all types of things. Amazing, completely amazing. My state of trance was broken when I heard my dance teacher calling after us. There were about 3 other girls stuck just the way I was, in awe. We picked up our bags and inside we went to get settled. I was with a group of about 9 girls and 2 adults.
Our high school dance teacher, Mrs. Hsu, booked this trip so that we, her dance students, could experience the dance scene in New York. And let me tell you… we sure did experience it alright. It wasn’t just our school about 7 other dance academies from around the states were participating as well. We took dance classes all over the city. Walked most places and took the subway to some, mostly walked though. We met Broadway performers, and choreographers. They taught us different routines and techniques to improve our skills. I felt so blessed to even be there.
One night we dressed up and went to the show STOMP. Incredible. We hung out at different shops and Central park when we weren’t hustling down to dance classes. I bought two pairs of shoes and lots of fun trinkets for my family and ate the best philly cheese steak sandwich, which we ordered from –literally- a hole in the wall. We visited the 9/11 site, which was, and still remains, one of the saddest sights I’ve seen with my own eyes. One of the nights our teacher let me and some of the girls go out by our selves to get something for dinner. The streets were so lit up; you couldn’t even tell it was night time unless you looked to the sky.
I was gone for 7 days. The time came where we had to pack up and return home I was truly the saddest girl ever. I knew it would be a long time before I’d be able to come back and only being 16…. thinking about it made my heart sink. This wonderful, beautiful, crazy place and I have to leave. So the plane ride home was a breeze this time. On the way, it was my first time on a plane ever in my life; I was so nervous the entire way. This time…. I slept. Like a baby in fact. I came home with a better sense of myself… I survived in the big city for 7 days!!! Not completely on my own, but still. My attitude not only towards life, but towards dance had completely changed. I felt a little more grown up, definitely. It was an experience I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
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