i slept terribly last night. first of all, i went to bed late. while my father had already fallen asleep hours ago, i was still busy transcribing the day's events into a blog entry. i didn't go to sleep until 4:00. then there were the noises. besides the intermittent rumble of passing trains, the air conditioner was also too noisy. i would've turned it off but didn't think i could fumble it off in the dark. finally, maybe it was psychosomatic, but i felt itchy all over, and began to believe there were bed bugs.
by the time i woke up at 8:00 i'd barely slept. my father was already up, partaking in the complimentary continental breakfast and helping our relatives load up their luggage into the car. i got myself ready, taking a shower and getting dressed in some presentable slacks an a white shirt. i forced myself to eat a piece of fried chicken and washed it down with some free apple juice from the breakfast table out in the lobby.
we left hojo by 9:00. the route from queens village to adelphi university (garden city) was straight forward enough that we didn't even bother using the GPS for the 15 minute ride. we passed by the belmont racetrack, one of the more famous national "belmont" landmarks.
located in a quiet suburb, adelphi had a very picturesque campus, with a grounds crew working non-stop to keep the lawns mowed and the trees and hedges nicely pruned. it's not a bad place to go to school actually, except it feels sort of isolated from the rest of the world (even though manhattan is only a 45 minute train ride away). the father couldn't get over the number of large trees, at least compared to back home in china. to my knowledge, the two most famous adelphi graduates are chuck d and flavor flav, both of public enemy fame (flavor flav went to college? who would've thunk).
it took us a while to find the ELS language center, especially since they relocated to a different building (linen hall) than what i originally saw on their campus map. the place was nothing more than a dormitory, with the offices located in the basement.
so the daughter originally planned on going to northeastern university, but ended going to adelphi instead (her safety school) because she didn't hear back from northeastern. when northeastern finally notified her of their acceptance, she was already days away from going to adelphi. for visa reasons, she had no choice but to attend adelphi first, until she can get her transfer papers (and an updated student visa), which will take several weeks at the earliest.
that's where i came in as the translator. although the daughter can probably hold her own in english, i was there to make sure there was no confusion. we spoke to the secretary first, who seemed to already know who the daughter was. probably not many students traveled with such a large entourage including her father (the money man), my father (the driver), and me (the translator).
although her goal is to get an MBA degree here in the US, the daughter was here early to attend an intensive language program to brush up on her english first. while the secretary left momentarily to check on a few things, we fished through the list of registered students sitting on her desk. it was one chinese name after another, which seemed to be verified by all the young asian faces walking through the halls. we speculated that the school probably has recruiters working in china who receive a commission for every student they can bring to the school. besides chinese, there were also taiwanese-chinese, koreans, japanese, and turks. in fact, standing behind us was a young taiwanese girl (i thought she was a boy until she spoke) waiting to talk to the secretary (she turned out to be really young and need some kind of parental notification; her english however was perfect, so i was curious why she even needed ESL classes).
it wasn't hard feeling slightly superior at the ELS center. here were all these students of varying proficiency trying to learn english, a language skill i normally take for granted.
the secretary came back and said everything was all set. there was some detail about a $200 room deposit fee that was sent earlier, but she managed to apply it to this term. the next person we met was the registration clerk. turns out he was in charge of the money. in a dimly-lit quiet room, he crunched out the grand total. he turned the calculator around so we could read the numbers. tuition, books, room and board: around $3000. the father stepped in to swipe his credit card. as soon as the transaction went through, he received a text from china on his cell phone with a receipt.
next came the 2 hours of testing, appraising both written and verbal skills. since we couldn't stick around for this portion, we headed outside, but not before meeting a woman who seemed to be the logistical provider of this whole outfit. she tried to contact the dorm administrator to see if a room was available so we could bring in the luggage. unfortunately it was still too early, and nobody would be in that office until later in the afternoon.
so the 3 of us spent the next few hours hanging around in the parking lot. we'd parked by the library on the northern side of the school (parking 7), but relocated the car to the southern end right next to the ELS center (parking 4). we had plenty of food in the form of leftover fried chicken, which unfortunately the father couldn't eat due to his disdain for birds, but he had a few biscuits instead. as for drinks, any water left inside the car was warm by that point. it was a beautiful day as we hovered around the vehicle chatting while the father smoked to feed his pack-a-day cigarette habit. there was campus wide wifi but it was password protected.
figuring the daughter would be done by noontime, we waited until 12:30 before my father went inside to see what was going on. the place was empty, with everyone seemingly have left for lunch, including the daughter. they tried calling her cellphone but there was no answer. it wasn't like she left the campus, all we had to do was wait. she finally showed up around 1:00. turns out she already attending a language class, just in a different building. there was only 30 minutes before her next class, so she quickly ate some chicken by the car while providing us details of the past few hours.
with the daughter back in class until 4:00, we were finally free to leave for the time being. i was hoping we could drive into manhattan but there wasn't enough time for that. besides, our relative had already visited NYC on his last and first visit to the US. instead we decided to go to sunnyside in queens. the father of a family friend had an apartment there, until he passed away recently, leaving the place empty. the family friend gave my father a set of keys and said he could stay there if he was ever in the new york area. it took us about 30 minutes to drive there, and then a few more minutes to find parking: we finally parked inside the apartment complex, temporarily occupying somebody's reserved spot. we took a quick look of the apartment before leaving.
since my father had been there before, he knew there was a korean restaurant nearby. fortunately it was across the street from the 7 train subway station (40th-lowery), with plenty of municipal parking (at 25¢ per 20 minutes). the restaurant was called natural tofu & noodles restaurant (40-06). we ordered the standard bulgogi and kalbi, and then a tofu dish. we ate for about an hour, with me running across the street at one point to feed the meter (actually, to dispense a new ticket to put on the dashboard).
we had an hour left before 4:00, but seeing the outgoing traffic on our way into sunnyside, we were leery that we could make it back to adelphi in time. the traffic just getting onto the highway was brutally insane, with traffic lights that stay green for only a few seconds and cars snarled into a congested mess at every intersection. there was traffic on the highway until we were a few miles away.
we were late in getting back to the school, but the daughter wasn't out from her class anyway. once we found each other again, i went with the daughter and father to the university cafeteria to get her meal card. turns out it was the wrong cafeteria. the one at the student center was undergoing renovations for the summer. the other cafeteria (the correct cafeteria) was conveniently closer to the ELS center, just 4 buildings away. even there, it took us a while to find somebody who could help use with the meal card. maybe it's a new trend in school dining, but instead of the classic conveyer system cafeteria, this one was organized like a shopping mall food court, with the only selection being a sbarro's and a barbecue place. people obviously don't come to adelphi for the food. the place got more crowded the longer we stayed, including a large table of what looked to be peppy high school students, perhaps taking college level summer courses.
after treating everyone to some food on her newly acquired meal card, we headed back to the ELS center slash dorm, to finally bring the daughter's luggage up to her 3rd floor room. being inside a dorm made me suddenly very nostalgic, having not set foot in one since i graduated from college almost a decade and a half ago. seeing the layout brought back some fond collegiate memories. the daughter was sharing the room with a korean roommate who'd already been there for most of the summer and would return to college back in korea once the term ended. her things were peppered with little passive-aggressive messages like, "ask me before using!" or "no more room!" (in her mini fridge).
while father and daughter unpacked, my father and i went out in search of a few additional dorm supplies. we drove around until we found a CVS on hempstead turnpike, a mile and a half away. finally, we went around the campus to take some departing photos, like standing by the school gate, since it'd be the last time father and daughter would be together at adelphi. they said their good byes, while my father and i kept our distance in case there was any crying action.
by the time we left, it was almost 8:00. there was no traffic for most of the trip back, but my father was driving slow. i watched as our GPS estimated time of arrival grew increasingly later. a few spots in connecticut and massachusetts they were doing road construction, which grounded traffic to a temporary halt. we pulled off the highway at one point to get some gas, then parked at a rest stop to use the bathroom and get some burgers for dinner. i treated our relative to a souvenir penny. he couldn't get over the fact that there was actually a legal machine that destroyed currency in order to make souvenirs (that's how we roll in america!).
we made it back to belmont close to 1:00. my sister was still in the living room watching television. i packed up my things and returned home via bicycle. from two blocks away i could hear hailey howling as she meets our relative for the very first time.