College is brighter on the West Coast - My Family Travels


 All my classmates attending were gathered in front of the school, everyone with their luggage at hand.  It was 5:30 in the morning; we needed to depart before the campus crowded with high school students.  I arrived after my friends, who were chatting about what they packed.  Our teachers organized the California College trip every year free to us members of the Academy of Finance, a modest-size academy within San Diego High made of students who want to achieve higher expectations and learn skills to success in the everyday-business world.  The trip is a three-day bus ride from San Diego to San Francisco with several visits to college campus in between.  At night, students would spend the night in a hotel room with their friends.  For the most part, everyone got along well with each other.  I spent the bus rides talking with people who I used to just walk by in the hallways. Everyone shared music, played crossword puzzles, and tried to avoid sleeping on our way to the campuses; anyone who slept got their picture taken for the class album. 

On day one, we visited University of California- Irvine, California State University- Long Beach and UC Los Angeles.  At each campus, we got a tour of the university.  At UC Irvine and UC Los Angeles, we got tours by alumni of the Academy of Finance.  They explained how the application process ran and what they had done during high school to obtain the credits that opened the opportunity to study at their new school. 

Of course, what would a college tour be without a taste of the campus cuisine?  We didn’t eat at every college cafeteria we visited; that would be nauseating.  If I had to choose my most important lesson, it would be that choosing a university is more than just glimpsing through their majors, it’s feeling comfortable with the school you’ll be in for the next four years; if you don’t like the food, you’ll have to suck it up once your school decision is made. 

That same day, we took a pit stop at the Santa Monica Pier and explored Pacific Park.  Everyone was given a wristband to go on all the rides.  We went at sunset. The beach was absolutely gorgeous.  The best view of sundown was on the summit of the Ferris wheel where you could see the hints of orange on the horizon.  After night settled for that day, we all went to our rooms at the Holiday Inn Express. 

On the second day, our college stops were UC Merced, CSU Fresno and San Jose State.  For the most part, it was identical to the first day.  Dinner that day was at Hometown Buffet.  Just imagine the chaos 30 high school juniors and sophomores made.

The last day was exclusively for our main destination: San Francisco.  We toured San Francisco State.  It was the only university we were able to take a look at the dorm rooms.  The main excitement for San Francisco, however, was the city walk, chaperon-free.  My friends and I walked through Chinatown.  At night, we admired the city lights of Union Square and their luxurious stores.  Finally, you can’t go to San Francisco and not get on the classic, vintage trolley car. The car was at full capacity, so I climbed on the edge, standing and clinging only to a pole.  The icy wind of the bay surrounded my face.  It was so liberating and thrilling riding downhill.  I smiled as I looked down on the last hill.  Where will college take me later on?          

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