Monday, June 2, 2014

This Is Beginning To Feel Real

Today was orientation. After Don’s email threats, I spent most of the school day worrying that I’d be late and humiliated, or worse, expelled. I left Kensington with Julia Shebek of the Penn cohort and our mothers at about five o’clock, still worrying that the freeway traffic would be our doom. However, four people in one car enables the usage of the carpool lane, so we arrived with perhaps half an hour to spare. I was both groggy and grumpy from a night of little sleep, but the coffee I'd sipped began to take effect before six. Soon I was certainly cheerful and possibly hyperactive. 
Julia and I realize we have to blog tonight.

The Pinole Middle School buildings appear new and in good condition, but the multi-purpose room was smaller than I expected. Don and Mrs. Kronenberg barely needed the microphone in order to be heard. Don started the evening off at 6:03, slightly late, yet two ILCers and their parents came in after he'd begun his introductory speech. I was quiet, anticipating the explosion, but Don only welcomed them cordially and continued outlining the evening's schedule. When Mrs. Kronenberg took the microphone for a few words, she referred to the side of Don we'd just witnessed as "Tour Guide Don." I gather that he's a lot like Good Don, but much more prone to jokes about travel. 

Don discussed the ILC's rules and recommendations for luggage weight and other sundry matters, most of which I had heard before. The chaperones also came up to introduce themselves briefly, much as they had at the school board meeting. We were soon ordered into our cohorts for more group-specific information, so my mother and I moved toward the Cornell banner at the back of the room. There Mr. Chan-Law was waiting with paperwork for things like field trips away from the Cornell campus. Once the legalities had been dealt with, we turned to the colorful, double-columned itinerary which detailed our trip from departure by shuttle bus in two weeks to the exact time of arrival back home again. I was excited to learn that we'll be staying at the Drake Hotel and and eating at some posh restaurants with representatives of the colleges we tour. As Mr. Chan-Law himself put it, he has good taste. 

When we came back to hear Don's second act, we learned about are parents' visitation rights (they don't exist), loaner items (ranging from laptops to rain ponchos), and the behavior that will be expected of us back east (flawless, unless we'd like to come home early). I'm glad that the ILC provides such a detailed packing list and so many loaner items. Items like a laptop lock would never have crossed my mind if I were left to my own devices.
Five minutes after our dismissal, only a few souls were left around the table of loaner items. 
After Don had covered toiletries and other essential travel issues, he asked for questions and got none. With that, we were free to go as we pleased, or to stick around and look at the table laden with loaner items. My carpool was eager to leave, and so I snapped just a couple of selfies with Alexa, Oyin, and Julia to celebrate our impending adventures before heading home. 

I think that the exuberance in the selfies above illustrate my feeling that with every day, departure comes closer. There's a sense of panic, yes, and apprehension as well, but mostly excitement. Cornell will be the farthest I've ever been from home, but I expect nothing less than the time of my life. 

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