Pack your bags and off we go. In America we have so many opportunities to travel. Without leaving our country’s borders, we can discover different cultures, visit different communities, and see how other people live.
In November 2005, I went to New York City with my school’s National Honor Society. I was excited about this trip because I had never been to a huge city like New York and I was able to see it with my friends. I was a little nervous, though, because I had never been away from my family for a long period of time.
I come from a small town of about 50,000 people, so I anticipated that New York was going to be a big shock. I was so excited to get out of little Mansfield, Ohio for a short time and discover what other areas of our country are like. To say the least, New York City is very different from Mansfield.
With huge skyscrapers, bridges, rivers, ferries, noise, congestion, and people, it was so much to take in and very overwhelming. The city is filled with culturally diverse people. There are Africans, Asians, Europeans, and peoples from many places I didn’t know.
This made me a little uncomfortable because I am not accustomed to such a variety of cultures and people. I heard conversations in many different languages, saw the ethnic attire, as well as other related sights and sounds of this unique place.
From the top of the Empire State Building, I saw the city at night. The city was beautiful. The lights from the windows lining the sides of the buildings were gorgeous. They reflected off the water and made an amazing sight to look at.
Being up so high, I could see for miles. It was very quiet and peaceful looking out into the city. Chinatown was an interesting place.
The streets were so crowded. Many people ran into me, and no one looked friendly. As a result, I tried to look at the ground to avoid eye contact with anyone. There was traffic on the streets, people yelling, and venders trying to sell you things. The air was not refreshing. It was filled with smoke from cooking food and car exhaust.
We also saw many cathedrals. The stained glass windows, the tall doors, the high steeples, and the beautiful architecture took my breath away. This is quite a difference from the modest structures located in the town in which I live.
Our group went on a tour in NBC’s studio. This intrigued me especially because I am interested in studying to be a broadcaster. This is an important job. Media influences everyone’s lives. It brings the world together through firsthand information.
The subway is an interesting place. There are all kinds of people on the subway: homeless people, businessmen, tourists. Each person has their own motives for riding the subway. They are in a hurry and have their minds set on something important that they do not have time to give a glance or speak a word to another. Even though the city is filled with bustling people, it is such a lonely place.
My favorite thing that I did while I was in New York City was ride the ferry from Staten Island to Manhattan. It was very windy which made it cold and quite uncomfortable, but I still enjoyed it. The reason for riding the ferry is to see the Statue of Liberty. Just riding past it gave me a wonderful sense of freedom. We have freedom of speech, freedom to worship in the way we choose, and acceptance of all kinds of people as I learned while being in New York City. The Statue of Liberty made me appreciate the country I live in.
The most touching experience on my trip was visiting the site of the World Trade Center. It gave me a shiver up my spine. It was such a solemn place. There were huge plaques with all of the names of the people who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. May we never take for granted the safety and peace that we have in America. I thank God for the people who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the protection of our country.
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