We have Hurricane Sandy to thank for our unexpected week-long vacation last week. When the storm hit, it not only managed to knock down a good amount of shingles from my roof, but also managed to unearth my favorite tree. Further down the road and throughout the neighborhood, power lines were demolished and dismantled, and trees were down all over.
The lights buzzed off around 6:30 pm Monday night, and returned around noon on Friday. For two miserable days I couldn’t really do anything. Tuesday, after playing an inordinate amount of Taboo and Monopoly with my brother by candlelight, my mom decided to take us to see the movie “Argo.” We went to the Port Chester theater, the movie was fantastic. Wednesday night, my mom and brother went to see “Cloud Atlas” at the White Plains theater, while I studied in a book store for the ACT.
I sat in the cafe for four hours trying to complete math problems, comprehend English passages, and defy the laws of gravity. That would be the science section I’m referring to. I got a lot of work done that I wouldn’t have at home, simply because the power was out and the sun had set. The next day I went to the book store during the day and did the exact same thing.
Thursday afternoon, my cell phone rang with an automated message saying that school was out again Friday. It was then my mom got the genius idea of going college touring. We drove to the Harrison Library, used their outlets to charge our laptops, and began looking at which schools we should tour this weekend. Within the hour, I was on the Jersey Turnpike, on the way to Philadelphia.
College touring can be exhausting. One or two schools are seen a day by prospective families, and pretty soon the information begins to blend together. My college tours all sounded like, “We are a small liberal arts school located in [insert small Pennsylvania town here] and have a population of under five thousand kids. Our school colors are some ridiculous combination of uncomplementary colors, and we really take academics seriously.”
But within the fantastic schools I toured, I also saw something else. Opportunity. The students at their respected schools were there first and foremost to learn. Many entering college don’t know what they want to study, and these schools emphasized that that was okay. One even mentioned that when declaring a major at the end of sophomore year, it is mandatory for the student to write an essay on why they want to take on that major, it’s not just some box you check.
The schools emphasize that it’s encouraged to take classes that are outside your comfort zone, because you’re missing out on so much if you just stay where you’re comfortable.
For me, Hurricane Sandy did that too. It brought me straight out of my comfort zone, my comfort zone being a house with electricity, and challenged me to do things I normally didn’t do. It brought me to consider a world of opportunity outside Harrison, and now I have my life outside of high school to consider. Hurricane Sandy also, by bringing me to Philadelphia, let me see my sister that’s studying there, that I haven’t seen since August.
Things come apart so that others can fall together, and although Sandy was very destructive, we need to thank her too.