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Holly McCamant: Trip of a lifetime: Finally making it to NYC, D.C.

I’ve always had a connection to New York City.

When I read books that mentioned New York City, I thought, that’s my city. For a long time, my parents have tired of hearing my constant pleas about visiting there.

Last week, I visited New York City as well as Washington, D.C., with about 80 other people on the trip of a lifetime.

Nacel Open Door, our German exchange student’s exchange program, offers a trip every year to Washington, D.C., New York and Niagara Falls for exchange students and host siblings. Of course our exchange student wanted to go, and I was able to convince my parents for me to go along.

We got up at 3:45 a.m. on Nov. 9 to board the bus that would take us to Washington in about 30 hours. The bus drove through the night, and I learned two lessons: 1. Sleeping on busses is not as difficult as I thought if I get four hours of sleep the night before. 2. There is no comfortable way to sleep on a bus seat.

The people I met were amazing. There were people from Argentina, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Germany, Brazil, Belgium and many more countries. I was told that about 20 percent of the people on the trip would be host siblings.

The reality was that out of 36 kids, there was only one other American. I learned that I can easily pass for a German exchange student, especially if I wear my Frankfurt T-shirt given to me by our German exchange student.

About 11:30, we arrived in the glorious Washington, D.C. We started out with Holocaust Museum and worked our way to the Old Post Office and Bell Tower. My favorite part of the day would have to be the National Gallery of Art. My friend from Argentina, Irina, and I could have spent hours in there.

The next day started off with an involuntary bus nap and a trip to the Capital. If you’ve never seen the Capital’s Rotunda, it’s absolutely gorgeous. That was probably my favorite part of that day.

The Martin Luther King and Jefferson memorials were very nice, and the Library of Congress is stunning. The rest of Washington, D.C., included Ford’s Theatre, the place where Lincoln died, Arlington National Cemetery, and a long time shopping in Georgetown.

Despite the fact that the memorials in Washington were gorgeous, we all were desperate to get to a certain city. Three hours after arriving in D.C., we were in New York City.

Something happened to me surrounded by all those buildings. The bright lights, Grand Central Station, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the 9/11 memorial, 5th Avenue, Chinatown, Times Square and last but not least, Broadway, caused me to fall in love. No, I did not find a special guy. My connection with New York City had grown to a deep love.

In New City, everything is connected. There’s a feeling of community, kind of like a small town, but in a different way. I believe that New York City is the world’s center.

I don’t know when, but I know I’ll live in New York City someday. I’m guessing that I might go to a university there — hopefully Columbia. The city that never sleeps makes me feel alive.

Holly McCamant is a sophomore at Frazee-Vergas High School.