by Waleed Ali Khan

(this is my first blog post so if it is corny, just bear with me; I’ll get better)

I had told myself that there is light at the end of the tunnel as I battled through a week of gruesome midterms. Finally, it was Thursday and I had decided, as did everyone else, to pull an all-nighter dedicated to packing so that we could sleep on the plane.

I had definitely over packed, especially since we didn’t know what to expect from the trip (in terms of formal events and such) but it was all good since we had plenty of luggage space. However, as soon as it was 3 a.m. i crashed and the next thing i knew it was 20 minutes to leaving time (thank God Zaid woke me up!). I was the last person to enter the bus and I was late as usual.

The airport time involved plenty of security checks and taking off our shoes (a first for me at any airport) but the good thing was that everyone had to go through it so i was not singled out (as was the case in future security checks!). We were all assigned random seats but me and Fatima managed to get seats together. During the tiring 15 hour flight, i discovered several new sleeping position through Fatima, some very creative ones involving the meal table! I was bored to death as she managed to sleep through most of the trip. I watched a lame movie called the stepfather (i try to resist watching proper movies that involve thinking on that tiny screen with poor sound quality) but I managed to rewatch (some for the third time) episodes of the office!

It was snowing in NYC as we arrived and as usual, the pakistani living in Pakistan had to go through some extra security checks. I held the entire group back for one hour as the security officers took their sweet time joking around with their friends and flirting with the Qatar airways lady who came to ask my about my luggage. The questions they asked me were absured, such as whether I have fired a gun before or whether I am affiliated with the Pakistan army.

On our way we were extremely psyched to see Times Square and all the lights in NYC! it was truly a sight to behold.

We experienced our first culture shock when we realized that the hotel bathroom didn’t have a lock! it was particularly surprising since it was a twin room.

Later in the day, after getting ready, we headed towards Broadway but had to have dinner on the way. We stopped at this pizza place where the pizza slices were so huge that one slice was hard to finish. It was nice and I had Dr. Pepper after so long.

We then headed towards the phantom of the opera and there is just one word to describe the show: unbelievable. It was simply mind boggling to think of how they managed to change between those breathtaking scenes so easily and how they actually set up the stage in the first place. Of course the highlight was the huge swinging chandelier that swept above the front row audience.

As unbelievable as it sounds, some of us slept through parts of the show because we were so jet lagged and most of us had pulled an all nighter the night before in Qatar. I think we all regretted the fact that we couldn’t give the show the attention it deserved.

We then had some free time to drag ourselves and make the best of times square! we went to the overpriced but awesome m&m store and bought I heart NY t-shirts.

Overall, the first day was extremely exhausting but beyond amazing.