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California, Get Ready for Me

August 18, 2009 was the day that I was waiting for as long as I could remember. For whatever reason, probably due to the media, I was fascinated with the state of California. Living in New York, California seemed like a whole world away, even though it was still a United State of America.
From August 18 until August 25 I would be spending a week In Southern California taking in all the sights and fun of Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego.

As I waited at John F. Kennedy International Airport with my parents, brother, and grandparents, my anticipation grew. In approximately six hours from the second that plane took off, I would land in Los Angeles, almost 3,000 miles away. We had the whole trip planned out with so many adventures to have and so many places to visit.

Six hours on a plane was more boring than I imagined it to be. Even with the JetBlue televisions, I kept hoping that we would be in California really soon. I dealt with it and not long after, the plane started to slowly land.

Once at the gate, we knew we were going to have a long walk through the airport to get our bags and get our rental car. After winding through the airport, we were outside picking up the car. Once we were all settled in, it was time to see California. Our hotel was thirty to forty miles from the airport in Anaheim, the home of Disneyland. Unfortunately, there was nothing to see since ninety-five percent of the drive was on major highways. After we finally found the hotel, we settled in and went to Downtown Disney. Being thrown off from the three-hour time distance, it felt like it was time to go to bed, even though it was only dinnertime in California. For the rest of the night, we took it easy. My family and I ate dinner in the ESPN Zone and walked through Downtown Disney. We did not stay out too late because the next day was going to be a long, exciting day.

August 19 was one of the most exciting days of the trip. We came up with a list of all the places we wanted to see throughout Los Angeles. That day was the day to see the famous places of L.A., mostly in Hollywood and Beverly Hills. From this day, I had the opportunity to discover urban culture on the West Coast of the United States. My initial expectation was that it would be extremely different than New York City, which is what I think of when I hear the word “city.” Yes, there are palm trees, but it is still bustling city where people live and work everyday, just like New York.

I even experienced one of the biggest problems that cities face. Throughout my family’s self-tour, we experienced poverty. Many homeless people live on the streets of Los Angeles, waiting desperately for money to be given to them. However, I did not witness any of them receive money. Another element of city-life present in Los Angeles was economic diversity. We went from driving by the estates of Beverly Hills to the middle-class neighborhoods, to the power immigrant neighborhoods, to the homeless. These radically different ways of living are all within a few miles of each other, but yet are whole worlds apart.

The rest of the trip included typical tourist attractions. These included Disneyland, numerous beach towns, and a day trip to San Diego. It is amazing how spending time at a place like Disneyland; one could have no idea of the real world close by. Even though the culture of California was not immensely foreign to my home of New York, it was not only a vacation, but also a learning experience.





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