A Note from Global UGRAD 2011-2012 Workshop Part I

trying to stand still

“There is something waiting for you out there, or even many things. I’m wondering if you will go for them or not, or then just sitting carelessly here, in a strange place. Remember.. you are just a stone trapped in the middle of  a big river. At every time, the water just touches you then passes by, follows his way, heads south to the big ocean. You have to move. You cannot just stay here, crying of the water that just left you alone. Live your life!! go down there and find your own ocean..”

Washington DC, March 15, 2012


Arcata, Monday, March 12

Yelling, screaming, and laughing are echoed around the campus. That annoying word is coming into my ears.

Yeah.. Spring break!

I’m certainly happy too. You know.. this will be my last break here in Arcata, and most importantly, I and my friends, my fellow Ugraders will head east for Washington DC. Four days will be spent there, in the historic city. Soon after finishing my last class, I’m running in a hurry to my dorm up the hill, and trying to find a bag that I can use for my stuff, do laundry, and prepare all the documents needed.

According to the email that World Learning sent to us a month before, we are allowed to go earlier and to come back later just in case we want to have more vacation in east coast cities. However, we should send them an email about that at least a month before they arrange the itinerary.

Most of my friends are already left for LA since Friday, but I and my friend from Laos have decided to go just a day ahead hoping that we have sometime to wander in DC. We think that we don’t need more vacation. Winter break was more than enough. And yeah actually I didn’t have sufficient money for more traveling since I do need some for coming back home.  But when we got the itinerary, we were shocked seeing that we will be almost a whole day on the plane. It means we wont have time to sightseeing in DC unless we do that the next day before checking in to the hotel.

Fuhh…!! And also there is a stupid thing waiting for us in Denver that makes us  arrive in DC at night.

Arcata, Tuesday, March 13

Very lonely at my dorm, Creekview. Most of the residents are already left for their homes. At the night before going to DC, We gathered in my room just for having a small conversation and polishing my stuff. I already kindly asked another friend to pick us up in the morning and drive us to the airport. My flight schedule will be at 5.15, but I decided to go there earlier. I asked my friend to come over at 4 am. Unfortunately, at the night we didn’t sleep at all. We were still awake when the needle pointed out at 2. However, I fell asleep shortly after. But I was sure I have set up my alarm at 4.

But oh…. no!!

I was dreaming and waking up late, and it was due to someone hammering my room’s wall very loudly. I gazed to my watch.

Shit!! it’s 4.15 already which means I am late.

I heard someone calling through my Skype from the headphone. I forgot to unplug the jack. Soon I ran to the door and open it. I saw my friend Chan was standing in mad. Seriously, I was still half conscious. I told her that I was overslept and asked her to wait for 15 minutes. In my room, I opened the window and the rain welcomed me. I saw downstairs, in the car, my friend was waiting and trying to call my cellphone and my Skype.

I felt so bad. In that situation, I couldn’t decide which thing that I should do first. Well, I ran to the bathroom and washed my face without having shower. Dressed up and took my last stuff. I didn’t have time to make my bed and I didn’t wake my roommate up since I thought it was too late.

Bad, I forgot my camera. In the car, I explained the stupid situation to my friend. Oh.. I barely experienced things like this. A heavy rain following us to the airport in the silence.

chasing the pavement

Arcata Airport 5 AM

I still have around 15 minutes after checking in my baggage. I went to the rest room and made my face up. Just to make sure it wasn’t seen really ugly haha.. :p

And at last we fly to Sacramento. My itinerary says I will have two flight connections, Arcata to Sacramento, then to Denver and then to Washington Reagan. This is the busiest flight schedule in my life and I never had such a 3-times-changing  flight so far with only 30 minutes layover. Well, it is like just waiting for the bus haha…:p

Fortunately, Sacramento Airport is not that big, so I didn’t have any difficulty to find another gate to Denver, Colorado. However, there is a little bit obstacle, a long queue when entering the gate of Sacramento Airport due to some officers are not ready yet to open it. Maybe it’s because it was too morning lol 😀

Sacramento Airport 6.19 AM

We are almost late entering the airport. I am so afraid of being late when I see my watch pointing to 6.45 AM. while my next flight would be at 7 AM. Huh!! That’s not nice at all. And the cold wind is touching my bones.

On the next flight to Denver, I fall asleep again. It is because I and Chan sit in a different row, and I don’t have anyone to talk with. I cursed myself for having such a stupid thing this morning until I forgot my camera.

Denver Airport, Colorado 11 AM

We arrived at Denver International Airport at 10.35 which means we only have no more than 20 minutes to board. Wew… Denver Airport is so big that is quite difficult to find the next gate. But then we knew that the flight was delayed for 2 hours. So I texted my friend Tyas, a Ugrader fellow in DC that I may arrive there late.

We planned to have a night at her dorm since she got into American University in DC. It’s good for my pocket because I don’t have to spend the night at hostel.

Feeling hungry, I decided to find some food. When I eat my banana, I realized that the time is almost 1 but I havent heard any announcement to board which is very strange. I try to figure it out and find that I and Chan are sitting in the wrong gate.

Damn!! They changed the gate without informing us???

Hurry we run to the gate showed on the screen, but yeah it was too late. We missed the flight!

OMG!!! What should we do?

We were so scary! We asked some people where the counter of United Airlines is to make a report. Hopefully they will put us on the next flight since it is not our fault.

Sadly!! The last flight to Reagan Airport will be at 2, and it will have a connection in Houston, Texas. There is actually a flight to DC sooner, but it will land in Dulles Airport which is very far from the downtown of DC. We think that would be fine until we found out that we have to pay $75 for changing the schedule.

What???? How Could?

It is not our fault that we missed the flight we were supposed to be. They changed the gate “secretly.” Having a small debate with the officer, we don’t have any choice unless taking into account her suggestion.

We step back for a while trying to call our adviser first in DC asking whether they will pay the additional fee or not. Trying to call several times both via cellphone and Skype, but they didn’t answer it. They might be very busy preparing all the things for the workshop.

On the last seconds, we finally decided to take it and pay $150. Our plan not to go to DC very early is because we want to save some money, but in fact, we should pay something that we are not supposed to pay.


It’s better than we didn’t reach DC at all and late to the workshop. In this case our sense of leadership is tested to say the least.

No more word when we board to the plane coz we still feel sad losing a 75-dollar hiks hiks 😦

the bridge in the sky

Houston Airport, Texas 7 PM

We still feel sad so nothing can make us cheerful here. But at least we finally come to Texas though it is just in the airport. Well actually we can go outside for a while, but we were afraid of missing the flight again. Therefore, we stick around the gate to DC while our eyes keep looking at the gate screen (so we will know soon if it’s changed again), and our ears are ready for any announcement telling the plane is delayed lol 😀

Reagan Airport, DC 9 PM

Reagan Airport

Arrive in DC at night, but we are amazed by the beautiful architecture of Reagan Airport even though it is a national airport. There is a strange thing happened during the plane will land that is the plane should fly in circle following the river.

Later I found out that after the 9/11 tragedy, every plane land to Reagan Airport is not allowed to fly straight. It should fly in circle following the river surrounding the Smithsonian Area where all the important places lies in it.

If they break the rule, the planes will be shot down no matter what. Wew!! That’s scary right. I also found out if the security in DC is so tight. Every single minute, there are some planes flying up there around Smithsonian Area.

My friend didn’t wait for us at the airport because it was really night. She just texted me telling the way to her campus. We took a subway to her campus and rode the university bus to her dorm.

Finally we meet her in front of her dorm. Haha.. this is the first meet up after having a PDO in Jakarta several months ago, and it is always nice meeting an Indonesian friend abroad.

Well, we have a good night in her dorm, and an amazing day is waiting for us tomorrow.

Welcome to DC, the city of cherry blossom 🙂

Cherry blossom

to be continued



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