It was six in the morning, earlier than I’ve been awake on a summer’s day. But the usual haze of sleepiness that accompanies such an early hour was all but evaporated by the radiance of my excitement for the day’s events. This would be the first time in my life that I would leave my parents, friends, and home behind for an extended stay at a place far, far away. I made my way through the already crowded, bustling Newark Airport, dragging five weeks worth of wardrobe behind me. Despite my inexperience with traveling, I somehow made my way onto the metallic condor that was to take me across the country. I caught the eye of my traveling companion, and in that quiet moment before our conversation began, we exchanged a tacit, thrilled acknowledgement of things to come.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
From the baggage claim at LAX airport to the Airbus that took us to sunny Santa Barbara, the initial leg of my trip was a journey in itself. The ever-shining sun of California made her cacti and palm trees glisten like window panes. Having never been to the West Coast, I took in these wonders with an electronic eye whose memory would far outlast my own. Rolling hills and stately mountain peaks filled our views as the bus sped past, their undulating relative motion eventually lulling many of the passengers, including myself, to a peaceful sleep.
After almost a half-day’s worth of travel, we finally arrived on the campus of Westmont College, one of the sites of the Summer Science Program (SSP) of 2011. The campus itself was small and relatively secluded from the town of Santa Barbara, but its winding pathways and shaded gardens eventually began to feel like home. The wonderful Montecito Covenant Church is within walking distance from Westmont and provides a Sunday morning service as well as a Wednesday night youth group (all are welcome!). As the month of June waned, our group of thirty-six grew ever closer to one another, sharing in the trialing six hours worth of daily lecture as well as many others spent on homework and computer programming in the lab. Diligent SSPers ‘worked’ until night turned into morning, knowing that there would be ample time to sleep during lectures. When the last day washed over us, it was as like current that carried all the tender emotions we would hold onto for the rest of our lives. I left California a new person, brimming with confidence and hope for the journey of life that lay ahead.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.