“Wake Up Matthew, it’s time to go!” I slowly begin to open my eyes, still holding tight onto my blanket, as my friend Ryan tries to wake me up. The time is 8 am and it’s my last day in the state of New York. I was visiting for the very first time in my life and was having a great time. This past July, my friends and I stayed in Manhattan for four nights and spent the last night in Port Jefferson. We spent the majority of our last day trekking all the way to Newark International Airport, where we had a return flight to Los Angles to catch at 2:35 pm. Surely, we had enough time for one last eventful day in New York.
We all rushed out of our hotel as soon as possible to grab bagels at a local spot, Fratelli’s Bagels, before heading to the train station back to the city. We all grabbed a generous extra amount of bagels to eat throughout the day and to take back to Los Angeles. The train ride took a while but it was fun being around good company, eating delicious bagels in a completely new environment. We only had one goal to accomplish in the city before hitting the airport, which was to get a very essential meal of Korean Barbeque.
When we arrived at Let’s Meat, the KBBQ restaurant we had been looking forward to eating at, they allowed us to leave our luggage in an open space near the front and told us they would look over it. Throughout the meal, the service kept getting better as our table always had meat and appetizers filling our plates as quickly as we could eat. The food tasted great, and it wasn’t served frozen as some KBBQ places serve it, which was a big plus. After only eating bagels up to this point in the day, we made sure to get our money’s worth before hopping back on the metro for Newark International. After eating, we checked the navigation to the airport and we were scheduled to arrive roughly 20-25 minutes before our flight. We weren’t too concerned but we knew that we had to move with urgency.
Back in April 2021, I was a high school senior still deciding where to go to college. At that point, I was pretty committed on attending USC, but I wanted to visit my other potential options so I could be 100% sure in my decision. One of the other colleges that I was considering attending was UC Berkeley, so I decided to take a day to visit their campus.
I left on the first flight out of LAX one morning and was planning to catch the red eye out of SFO on the way back. I spent the whole day exploring Berkeley and San Francisco; my day was filled with eating amazing food and desserts. I was thoroughly enjoying my day, exploring campus and enjoying the nice weather. That is, I was enjoying myself until it was time to go back. I constantly checked my phone the whole evening to ensure I had enough time to make it back to my flight, but honestly, I was too lenient with myself. By the time I was on the bus back to SFO, I realized about fifty minutes before my flight that the only way I had a remote chance to make it was with an uber. So, I got off the bus at the first top I could and called an Uber. I rushed to the airport, and arrived about five minutes before my flight was set to depart. However, when I got there the receptionist told me my flight had departed about ten minutes ago. I was stunned because I thought I had already checked in for the flight, but the receptionist insisted I hadn’t. There wasn’t anything I could do about the situation, so my only option was to catch the next flight in the morning. I paid the rescheduling fee and prepared for my night at the airport.
As I walked through the terminal, I noticed that many shops and restaurants were already closed. I knew that I would have to get as many essential items as I could before the rest of the airport closed for the night. The first thing I did was get food and drinks so I wouldn’t be stranded without something to snack on. I decided on getting a sandwich from Starbucks for dinner. I also got water and a Naked smoothie drink to make sure I stayed hydrated for the night. If you ever have to stay at the airport overnight or for a long period of time, I highly recommend stocking up on food and drinks for the night because it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. I would hate to be hungry or dehydrated while waiting uncomfortably for my flight all night. The second thing I did was get toiletries, such as a toothbrush and toothpaste. After these two steps, I found a nice place to sit down that was near an outlet to charge my devices. The rest of my night was filled with watching a show called The League, and numerous poor attempts to get some sleep. If I was put in another situation that required me to spend the night at the airport, I would’ve invested in some melatonin or a sleep aid if the airport shops had it.
Throughout my life, I have traveled all around the world. I have been to Israel, Spain (twice), the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Costa Rica, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Mexico. Soon, I will also be going to Canada for the first time. Although I love traveling, there are some things about the traveling experience that haven’t always been easy for me: I used to struggle with traveling alone.
The first time I ever traveled alone was when I went to Costa Rica the summer after my freshman year of high school. I remember it clearly-it was 3:00 in the morning and I had just woken up. I was so excited to go abroad alone for the first time, but at the same time I was really scared. My flight was not until 8:30, but the program told us to arrive 4 hours before because of customs and traveling to South America. Since LAX was decently close to us, we left at 4 o’clock. The roads were completely empty and I already knew we could have left later. When we got to the airport, my mom parked and walked me to security. Since this was my first time flying alone, I was not quite sure what to do. I followed my mom to the bag check and we checked my bag and got my boarding pass. After that we headed to security where we said our goodbyes.
The TSA line went pretty quickly and after 20 minutes I was sitting at my gate, listening to music and reading my book to pass the time. After what seemed like a full day we started to board and then just like that we took off to Houston for our connecting flight to Costa Rica. After 3 or so hours we touched down in Houston, and I met up with the rest of the group for our Costa Rica flight. Because it was such a short layover, it seemed like we got to Costa Rica in no time. I sent my mom a text as soon as we landed to let her know I had arrived. We landed in San Jose and stayed the night. The next day, we boarded a bus that took us on a 2-hour drive to the mountains where we were staying with our host families. The town was called Turrialba.