Sunday, July 10, 2016

Creating New Connections

Although I'm usually not particularly fond of amusement parks, I have to admit that today's trip to Hershey Park was actually really fun. This morning, I wasn't really sure what I needed to bring, so I decided to wear casual clothes and pack my swim stuff in case I wanted to go to the water park section of the whole park. I also saw thunderstorms in the forecast when I checked the weather, so I was a bit worried about that prediction, but decided to just hope it didn't rain while we were there. After a tedious two hours of travelling on the bus, the sprawling amusement park finally came into view, its roller coasters visible over the trees and other buildings.
The bus ride to Hershey Park
Since it was already past noon when we arrived, my RC group and I decided to get lunch so that we wouldn't have to worry about getting hungry later. Once we finished, we wandered around rather aimlessly as Sravan and I tried to convince the rest of the group to go on roller coasters with us, since they were all scared to. Finally, we successfully persuaded Boyuan, who agreed to go with us on a roller coaster later on the condition that we wait 30 minutes, which was reasonable enough, especially given our recent meal, so to kill some time, we ended up going to Zoomerica at the behest of a person who overheard our situation. However, we found that Zoomerica was underwhelming and I personally thought that the animals seemed rather lethargic. I also wondered about the humaneness of the treatment of the animals, some of which seemed to have very small enclosures, before wondering about whether keeping animals in captivity was humane at all.
Welcome sign at the entrance of the park
Finally, we moved on from Zoomerica, with 20 of the 30 minutes having elapsed already and reasoning that the other ten minutes would be spent walking and waiting in line. Some of the people in our group didn't want to go on the roller coasters, so they went off to find other ways to entertain themselves, leaving me, Sravan, Boyuan, and JC to go. However, we soon found out that JC was afraid of roller coasters as well, so despite our numerous but futile attempts, we were not able to convince him to ride any with us. He assured us that he would be fine on his own, although we still felt somewhat guilty leaving him there by himself. We also ran into Jason and his friend Brendan, who, thankfully, were fans of roller coasters as well. Since Boyuan still wasn't very comfortable with the notion of getting on a roller coaster, we decided to start with a milder one in sooperdooperLooper. Afterwards, he said he liked it, so we excitedly went around to go find other roller coasters to ride. We ended up riding Coal Cracker mistakenly while searching for another roller coaster (which we later found out was called Great Bear), so we ended up getting a bit wet, which we hadn't been anticipating, but fortunately, it wasn't too bad.
Some of Hershey Park's attractions
We eventually found the correct ride we had been looking for and only had to wait about 20 minutes before we were able to get on. Great Bear was exhilarating, much more so than sooperdooperLooper, as we went through loops and corkscrews and sharp curves, which made the ride quite stimulating. We then saw a red roller coaster that looked fun, so we started walking towards it in pursuit of more thrill. However, when we were about to get to the entrance, we were distracted by Fahrenheit, which had a straight vertical ascent and a steep vertical drop directly along with other sharp curves, twists, and loops. Even though the line seemed somewhat long, we agreed that the ride seemed to be worth the wait. After 30 minutes in the sweltering sunlight, despite the fans that blew air and mist in our direction, we started to doubt our convictions. Eventually, we reached the platform and got onto the ride. It slowly approached the vertical part, stopped, and then started ascending. It was a strange sensation to have my weight shift from the lower part of my body to my back as we went straight upwards. I had my eyes closed to block out the sun, although it wasn't very effective, before opening them once more to find that we were at the top, ready to drop. I couldn't even see the track ahead of us as we lurched forward and the I experienced the feeling of uncontrolled falling. The ground rushed towards me before disappearing as our train leveled out before continuing its twisting path until the ride's conclusion. My friends and I agreed that this was the most intense roller coaster at the park so far and we decided we were done with roller coasters and proceeded to the water park.
More attractions
First, we tried to rendezvous with JC and Boyuan, as neither of them had wanted to ride Fahrenheit and had left to explore more of the park on their own. Once we did, we got in line for Tidal Force, a simple ride that brings people up to a high area before dropping them into a pool of water, which produces a huge wave. However, Sravan and I noted that the waves seemed too big to be caused by the impact of the relatively small boat. After we were dropped, we saw that our suspicions were realized, as the boat sprayed more water upwards, leaving us all completely drenched. Luckily for me, I had changed into swimwear already, but my friends were not so fortunate and were left soaked in their regular clothes. We recognized three girls from the Summer Discovery program and decided to go talk to them, although I had only talked to one of them, Trisha (a fellow resident of the Bay Area), in passing prior to this encounter. After a short conversation discussing where we wanted to go next, I ended up staying with Trisha and one of her friends, Serina, while everyone else left the water park.
Another picture of Hershey Park
This proved to be the best part of my day, as I found it really fun and relaxing to hang out with them, as they were both friendly and funny. Initially, we had wanted to go on the lazy river together, but after seeing the line to enter the lazy river, we decided we would prefer not to suffer the wrath of the sun for the next half hour, at the minimum, so instead, we headed for the structure with water slides nearby. It turned out that the water being sprayed and poured everywhere was rather cold, so as we stood in the line for the highest water slide, we underwent the coldness and the wetness that permeated the area together. Nevertheless, I still had a great time conversing and getting to know them.

Subsequently, we got a funnel cake with strawberries and cream together before we had to regroup to start heading back to the buses to return to the Quad. Shortly after we boarded the buses, we witnessed the bizarre weather here in Pennsylvania, as the light drizzle that had started only a few minutes prior suddenly transformed into a pounding downpour, leaving us utterly bemused as we observed the phenomenon, thankful to be inside the bus. Upon our return to the Quad, Trisha, Serina, and I cleaned ourselves up before meeting up again to get dinner from Wawa. We went back to a lounge room, where we talked about our backgrounds, which helped me gain more perspective on different topics, including some about social justice. In particular, we spent a bit longer discussing our cultures and how it affects our points of view as Asian Americans and how we fit into the polarized spectrum of varying beliefs here in the United States. Eventually, we all retreated to our own dormitories as it started getting late.

Despite my initial reluctance to go to an amusement park, today proved to be one of the most relaxing and enjoyable days I've had in this program, which I owe to the great company I was in. After getting to know Trisha and Serina and having a good time with my RC group, I'm grateful to be part of the Ivy League Connection, as I've been able to experience the diversity of people and personality afforded to me by this opportunity that I probably would not have had otherwise. 

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