Across the Country in 11 Days: My College Road Trip Experiences During Spring Break

Some postcards I bought from the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.

Fatimah Dixon, Staff Writer

During my senior year, I applied to 15 colleges, most on the east coast. Since I am such an indecisive person, I could not make a decision on what college I would be most interested in attending, so my mother planned a college road trip for us to take during Spring Break to help limit my choices.

Day 1: When traveling to Oklahoma City, remember to bring your OSU pride, and be prepared to see banners.

Our first destination in our college road trip across the country was Oklahoma City. The four hour drive began an hour after I had returned from school, so I was deep into sleep within thirty minutes of my mother driving. After a dozen bathroom and gas refills stops, we made it into OSU territory. I was quickly reminded of my surroundings when I saw a black and orange OSU banner proudly swinging in the hotel lobby.

Day 2: When traveling to Saint Louis, remember to bring an empty stomach, spending money, a recorder, and eyes for a performance.  

We woke up at 7 am, showered, gathered our belongings, and headed for breakfast the next morning. It was there at breakfast that I was reminded of the perks of traveling- waffles. After guzzling down the rest of my breakfast, we began the drive to Saint Louis. I had been to Saint Louis before, but only to visit the restaurant, Sweetie Pies, whose owners had their own show about the company on the OWN Network. However, the food there was overpriced and terribly salty, so this time in Saint Louis, we were stayed clear of that place. Instead, we headed to University City to an American eatery called Fritz’s Root Beer. While we were waiting for our table, we got a show from a street performer, an album from an indie music store called Vintage Vinyl, a preaching lesson we ignored from Black Muslims, and some of the best root beer float of our lives from Fritz’s. To say the least, Saint Louis was one of the coolest places we visited.

Day 3: When traveling to Columbus, Ohio, remember to close the room door quickly to avoid letting in the curry smell from the baby shower downstairs and triple check  that everything is packed.

Coming from our luxurious hotel in Saint Louis to the curry smelling hotel in Columbus was extremely underwhelming to say the least. But the stay was only for one night to save money and I learned that if you quickly shut the door of the room when walking in, the smell does not come in strongly. Foolishly thinking I would actually be productive, I placed my book on the hotel bed I was sleeping in, but I never opened it. It was only when we arrived in Newark that I realized I accidentally left the book, my two favorite scarves, and my earphones in between the sheets of the bed.

Day 4: When traveling to Pittsburgh, remember to buy your University of Pittsburgh gear and buy a bubble tea, then travel to Newark, New Jersey.

The first college tour was at the University of Pittsburgh. The tour was my first, so I paid close attention to every word my guide told me. I saw the cathedral, a place said to be the trademark of the university, ogled at the freshman dorm my guide showed me, and twirled inside the middle of the cathedral that resembled Hogwarts more than the movie ever could. Most importantly, I told my parents about how I could envision myself eating at these cool restaurants around the university. To put it simply, I was in awe of the life I could have there and was eager to compare it with the other colleges I would soon see.

Day 5: When in Newark, New Jersey and traveling to New York, remember to have a GPS handy and that pumping your own gas is illegal.

After the tour, we headed to Newark, New Jersey, which was just on the outskirts of New York. The breakfast had high-tech equipment and chocolate chips for waffle toppings. For my first day in New York, I decided to wear a pair of my favorite pants and a borrowed scarf from my mother, hoping that would keep me warm. It did not. We took a train from Penn Station NJ to its sister station in NY. From there, we took the subway to Fordham Road in the Bronx where we visited our first school of the day, Fordham University. After that, we traveled back to the subway station to travel to Manhattan for our second tour at NYU. By the time we finished both tours, I was sure both of my toes had frozen solid and needed to be amputated. Yet, I was excited to go back into the cold, heartless city and see more, and possibly get another gyro like the ones at the gyro stand across from NYU.

Day 6:  When in Newark, New Jersey and traveling to New York for a second day, remember that everything is overpriced, especially the Starbucks coffee, but then travel to Baltimore, Maryland.

Going into New York for a second time, I thought I was an expert. I even bought a coffee from Starbucks thinking I was really a New Yorker. To my defense, though, I did learn a great deal from my experiences from the previous day, such as to attach my train ticket to my seat for the conductor to take, that I get a free ride if the conductor does not take my ticket, and even where the subway was located. Since we were not limited by time, we had more time to enjoy our time in New York like normal tourists. We first went to Harlem and then to Times Square. In Harlem we went to White Castle, the Apollo Theater, and I bought two pairs of earrings. In Times Square, we went to the M&M store, where my sister bought $15 worth of candy, and to Forever 21, with five or six floors. However, once the fun was over and we got on the train to NJ, my newbie-ness started to show. At the NY Penn Station, my mother and I could not figure out which train to get on, and only after asking four people for directions did we get a clear answer on where to go.

Day 7: When in Baltimore, Maryland remember to relax., then visit family.

This day was simply a chill-day. I did nothing, and loved it.

Day 9: When in Baltimore, Maryland traveling to D.C.,  remember to wear gloves, a hat, and everything in between because walking campus tours in the cold is not fun.

The first college tour was in D.C. at George Washington University. We took to the metro, which was underwhelming but easy to understand compared to the NY subway system. After the tour in D.C., we headed to Maryland to visit the University of Maryland-College Park, which is as large as it is diverse, which means it was huge.

Day 11: When in Bowie, Maryland traveling to Decatur, Georgia, then to Little Rock, Arkansas, remember to say goodbye and visit Agnes Scott College.

Our last college visit was Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia.The people were nice, the root beer floats okay, and the mall empty, but I enjoyed the lush greenery that surrounded the women’s college. We were even able to eat lunch with current Agnes Scotties who answered any questions we may have had. 

Day 12: When traveling back to Amarillo, Texas, remember that there is no place like home, and also that weather forecasters save lives!

On the way back from Georgia, the area we were traveling through was put on a tornado warning. Yet, from listening to the radio and steadily watching my mother’s weather forecaster app, we realized that aside from some minor rain, we had missed the tornado entirely. Once at a hotel in Little Rock, we heard of the destruction caused from the tornado and could only think of how closely we missed that. After 11 days on the road, we woke up at 6 a.m. in our hotel and hit the road an hour later. We were all tired I quickly realized, not because of how early we woke up, but from being out on the road for so long. I knew then, that the timing for us to return home could not have been better.