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Shala and Jocey Take Seattle

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The week of Thanksgiving, junior Jocelyn Miyashiro and I said goodbye to the tropical weather of Hawaii and hello to the rainy city of Seattle. We were both going to look at colleges in the area. For Jocey, it was a chance to see both Seattle University and Cornish College of the Arts. I was kicking off my extended college tour of the West Coast with my one of my top choices, Seattle University.

I landed in Seattle on Sunday, a day after Jocey, and while I was dressed appropriately in jeans and a sweatshirt, nothing could’ve prepared me for the 43°F weather that Seattle had in store. Apparently, living on Oahu for almost four years has rendered my body useless against the cold.

On Monday morning, I met Jocey and her family outside of an iHop in downtown Seattle not far  from Seattle U.

The air was filled with excitement. For me, this was a chance to see where I could possibly start the beginning of my second chapter, and for Jocey it was a chance to see all that college has to offer. Our parents were beaming with the thought of finally getting rid of us.

We walked through the freezing cold and slight drizzle for ten minutes before we arrived at the Office of Admissions building just outside of the Seattle U campus.

Upon entering Jocey and I were shocked. There were other kids here? It wasn’t just a private tour for the two of us? We had to socialize?

From left to right: Jocelyn Miyashiro, Maya Viloria, Shala McKee, Reina
  Chinen, and Korey Miyakawa.

The day got even more shocking when we were split into two smaller groups and, by some twisted fate, Jocey and I were separated. Somehow, we managed to make it through the tour without sobbing which is truly the most shocking thing of all.

As my tour started, I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of my tour guide. It was only ten in the morning, which, my sources tell me, is early by college student standards. My guide was energetic, upbeat, and was more than happy to share all of his knowledge about Seattle U.

My group and I were taken all around the campus. We visited the chapel (no pressure to attend any services), walked through the law school (has the best coffee), and even stopped in the student quad (which we were assured was much more active during any time other than winter).

Overall, it was a pretty great tour. I had the opportunity to verify for myself that the school was able to maintain its small, tranquil community in the heart of downtown Seattle. Perhaps my favorite part was when my mom asked what kind of coffee our tour guide drank to remain so lively and he simply replied, “None! I’m naturally like this!”.

After my tour I met back up with Jocey at the Office of Admissions where we received complimentary pins, brochures, packets, and drawstring bags. Talk about shameless self promotion.

We then waited for my mom to finish chatting with the woman at the front desk. After the ten-minute mark I decided I needed to know what intriguing conversation they were having. Come to find out, my mother was trying to finesse me into a college course later that afternoon.

After a long string of phone calls, emails, and smiles, I was told that I would be able to shadow a conceptual art class in the early afternoon.

Jocey informed me sometime during this ordeal that a very impatient and hungry PBA alumnus was waiting for us at the campus bookstore. As soon as I had directions to my afternoon class and I had done enough unnecessary lounging in the heated building, we headed over.

In the bookstore we were met by Maya Viloria, Korey Miyakawa, and Reina Chinen -- all members of the PBA graduating class of 2017. Upon arrival, Maya’s first words to us were ones of dismay because we had taken so long and she was hungry. In no rush, Jocey and our families looked around the bookstore to see if there was anything we fancied.

Jocey ended up buying a souvenir for someone and at some point Maya snuck in to buy a sweatshirt for herself and someone else despite the fact that she was oh so hungry and the bookstore was always available. I myself didn’t buy anything because I didn’t want to jinx my chances of admission. If I was coming here next year I could just wait until then to buy a sweatshirt, right?

Our party of nine then headed to the campus cafeteria which, in my opinion, was an impressive size. It was on the second floor and featured a lot of natural lighting. Before we entered we said goodbye to Reina because she had to run to a class

Upon arrival at the bustling cafeteria, Korey announced that he would be paying for all of our meals except Maya’s. We all looked at him incredulously and then started our slew of outcries.

Korey then proceeded to explain how his mom had splurged on the biggest meal plan and only a certain amount could roll over. That was all I needed to hear and apparently that was true of everyone because the protests stopped almost immediately.

Jocey and I slowly made our way into the cafeteria so as not to draw any attention to ourselves and the fact that we didn’t belong here. After a while I told her we had to act like we knew what we were doing -- we had to fake it until we made it.

Shala and her sister Jordyn riding next to the conductor on the monorail on
   their way back from the Space Needle.

After we had acquired our paninis and dessert via Korey’s student ID card we sat down at a table separate from the parents with Maya and Korey to talk about this school, and also catch up on our current one.

Our conversation was filled a multitude of serious topics. We talked about everything from how many math courses they’re required to take to the student body having the audacity to move into PBA’s new building while we were away exploring our futures. We jumped from SAT scores, to dorms, to Christmas plans.

As lunch came to an end, we all said goodbye. Jocey and her family headed to Cornish, my family went to drop me off at my class, and Maya and Korey went to do God knows what.

The rest of my afternoon was pleasant. While I didn’t particularly enjoy the topic of my shadow class, I enjoyed the way the teacher went about engaging her students.

After the class, I was tasked with walking back to my hotel alone, which gave me some time to explore and really take in the city. It was only a short walk, but I thoroughly enjoyed being able to experience the city on my own.

Later that night, after waking up from our naps, my family rushed to make it to the Space Needle before it closed. It was my mom’s idea, she said it was a “bucket list” type thing and that we should do our best to make it.

We arrived about half an hour before it closed and I will be forever grateful that we did. Between the journey there and the Space Needle itself, the night was unforgettable.

We rode over two hundred feet in the sky to visit the iconic Space Needle. The view was breathtaking. I thought going at night was going to hinder our experience, but I’m glad I was wrong.

My family and I spent about twenty minutes enjoying the view and taking photos, and then we raced down to buy souvenirs with what little time we had left.

My mom, sister, and I ended the night with locally praised milkshakes and hole in the wall gyros. We decided to brave the walk back to the hotel for a chance to see the city in its nighttime glory.

While walking back to my hotel and breathing in the crisp night air, I came to a realization: I could call this place home.