โ™ซ Soul of Freedom - Uyama Hiroto + Cise Starr โ™ซ

The trip was a few weeks ago. I've been meaning to write this blog post since the day I got home, but having time to reflect isn't a bad thing.

Washington is great! I used to live here, and it's still a very cool place. The colleges, too.

If you don't care too much about lore you can skip to here for pretty pictures.

Click the images for a higher resolution version!

Recap from last post

I can go to college in a year from now. Where do I go?

I've lived in the greater Seattle area my whole life, before my family and I moved to Florida two years ago. Unfortunately, I've never really grown to like it.

It's due to a variety of factors, and maybe I could have done things different to make a life for myself, but at this point, I've decided I want to move back for college. I want to get into the University of Washington!

It's not out of nostalgia. There are a lot of things to do and places to see in WA that I never got to do, or even turned doing. Such as hiking, exploring landmarks in Seattle, and going to national parks. Even if college and work takes up the bulk of my time, I would be grateful to live here - I simply prefer the cold climate, hilly landscape, and culture of the Pacific Northwest.

A few weeks ago, I was able to visit Seattle for just a few days. If I worked for the next few months, I could have afforded a trip, but I am incredibly grateful for my parents to indulge me on this adventure.

I've been thinking about a trip for a while - to sample the area, and the colleges, to see if this is really the decision I want to make. Leaving the SeaTac airport, my mind was already made up.

For my senior year of high school in Florida, I will work hard, with disclipine and drive that's been lacking in my life, in order to live here again.

My thoughts on Washington

All in all, it's very nice. I didn't have time to explore more of the nature side of it - my time was in cities (Seattle) and colleges.



Photo of some buildings a few stories high along a road sloping upwards. Tall, glassy skyscrapers loom in the background, behind the buildings.

is very nice. Despite living so close, my family only went to Seattle a handful of times my whole life. After staying a few nights, it would be fun to live here. Generally impractical due to the distance from colleges and price of living, unless I went to University of Washington's primary campus in Seattle. And I would love to!

Seattle isn't a total wreck and full of crime and homeless people like some might say. Downtown did have a considerable number, but I stayed in the Queen Anne neighborhood, and it was surprisingly clean and beautiful.

My favorite thing about Seattle is the walkability. Being able to wake up early in the morning and take just a 5 minute walk from the room to a local coffee shop was blissful. I could only hope to live in a place where I can do that!

Public transit

I rode the transit for the first time I was here, to get from Seattle to my hometown in order to see my good friends.

It was cheap, practically free. It covered the entire Puget Sound (AKA "greater Seattle") area. It was mostly safe. The decision to have lanes dedicated to buses (and carpools) was a smart decision.

But it was also rarely on time. The bus would constantly be delayed by minutes. Homeless people, drug addicts, got on the bus one time and be loud and annoying.

A different time, there was a father, mother, and their kid on the bus. They were very nice, and even handed me free bus tickets when I was fumbling with trying to pay exact change as required. The buses aren't totally dangerous as I said, but even then... I don't know if I would take my child on the bus. Maybe. Who knows, I'm just rambling at this point.

The Light Rail project is an effort to build high-speed rail covering the Puget Sound. I remember it being talked about way back in 5th grade, how it would let us ride from our town all the way to Seattle!

And it's still not done?!

Photo underneath a Light Rail overpass, with construction being done below. On a chain link fence is a sign informing people about the planned rail path. "The train arrives in 2024", it says.

The Seattle path is complete, I think. You can go to a lot of places around Seattle and nearby, such as the University of Washington, the various neighborhoods of the city, and even the SeaTac airport. So that's all well and good.

Just crazy that a decade on, it's still being worked on, and constantly being delayed.

Climate and landscape

The Pacific Northwest isn't for everyone. In the same way, Florida's tropical environment isn't for everyone. It's definitely not for me.

A picture of a parking lot with tall buildings in the distance, along with a hilly landscape lush with green Evergreen trees.

I don't want to say Washington is special, a lot of places in Tennesee looked similar to the photo above. Either way, I find it nice. I prefer it to Florida's Minecraft-superflat landscape.

Plus, the temperature and weather of Washington. Even in June, it's cold, and that's bliss to me. Even the rainy days and gray skies โ€“ I wouldn't have it any other way. This summer in Florida, it's been over 90 degrees at all times of every day, and I hate it. Not to mention the humidity...

UW Bothell

The University of Washington has campuses in Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma. Although, after this trip, it seems Seattle is obviously the main one, and the only substantial one.

The Bothell campus was the first I toured. It's nice, honestly! I'm focused on UW Seattle, but I'm not ruling anything out.

Google Maps satellite screenshot of the University of Washington Bothell campus. It is a small size, surrounded by forest on two sides. A map pinpoint titled "Cascadia College" is on top of the upper half of the campus.

I noticed they're only now starting to build student housing, and cafeterias too. It seems like a bit of a community college... not only because its attached to one.

Either way, I'll assess my options when I have to make the final decision, and UW Bothell will be one of them. It's quite a servicable university.

UW Seattle

The Seattle campus was something to behold. It's big! There's so much to do! And it's slotted right within the heart of Seattle.

Google Maps satellite screenshot of the University of Washington Seattle campus. Surrounded by neat grids of roads is a large, sprawling campus with various parks, pathways, and large buildings.

There are a lot of concerns with getting in. As an out-of-state student, can I really get in, for Computer Science of all things? Even if I do, can I afford it?

I don't have the answer to that, but I don't want to give up on one of, if not the best college in the area I want to live in out of worry.

So for now, what I will say is that UW Seattle is a beautiful, large school, with tons of opportunities, all inside a beautiful large city with tons of opportunities. :]

The trip

Now, we can move onto something more interesting! Pictures!!!

I'll basically use the pictures I took to have a timeline of the trip, day by day.

Day 1

We got to the airport at around 3 AM. After a dozen hours of running through airports and flying, we made it to the SeaTac airport.

Look, there's Mount Rainier! Or one of the mountains/volcanoes in Washington. Probably Rainier.

Photo of the window view of an airplane. A wing of the plane can be seen on the side of the image. Below are scattered clouds, and a dark green landscape. In the horizon is a tall, white mountain that breaks through the clouds.

My friends were available, so instead of going to my accomodation, I went to my former hometown to see them.

Photo taken inside a bookstore, of art. The picture is split into 3 separate vertical frames. It is of the Space Needle, with pandas crowding below it, on top of it, and even falling from it. Each panda is doing, holding, or wearing something unique that references the city's culture.

This picture is from a local bookstore in the town center, Brick and Mortar Books. Very cool, support them if you happen to be in Redmond.

After a night of hanging out in-person for the first time in years, I said goodbye (for now) and headed to the accomodation, where my parents were currently at.

Photo taken inside a bedroom, with a TV on a dresser placed against the wall. The adjacent wall has a large window. Outside is the roof of a neighboring house, and the Space Needle in the distance.

Look at that โ€“ you can see the Space Needle from my bed! This trip is everything I dreamed of, and even more.

Day 2

I woke up early in the morning, put on my jacket, and took a short walk from the room through the Queen Anne neighborhood. I stopped by a local bakery and coffee shop, Nielsen's Pastries for a drink and a delicious snack.

If you find yourself there, get a "Potato"! It's a pastry filled with custard, but it really does look like a potato.

Anyway, we toured the Bothell and Seattle campuses of the University of Washington in the afternoon.

A photo of a large statue of the University of Washington logo, a large, stylized W. The base of the statue is engraved with the text "BOTHELL".

Oddly, I couldn't find any good photos of the UW Seattle campus. I remember being super absorbed by everything, I was constantly asking the tour guide questions. Sorry for the lack of photos, I guess lol.

In the afternoon, I headed with my parents to the famous Pike Place Market.

Photo of a Seattle street on a gray, cloudy day. Photo taken at Pike Place Market of a wall with shelves installed on every height, packed to the brim with different looking jars and labels.

Photo of jewelry, a "gold + diamond cloisonne dragonfly pin" being sold for a whopping $2,750, as the label says. It's a tiny, but very shiny piece of jewelery resting on a little white pillow.

That is one expensive dragonfly. It looks beautiful, but I don't have almost three thousand dollars to drop on this. Bummer.

Later that night, I went walking through Seattle. Not anywhere in particular, just walking for a few hours to explore the city.

Photo of a white building with glass windows, surrounded by greenery. A blurry Space Needle can be seen on the windows' reflection. Photo of a walking path with trees overhead. Photo of a long concrete pathway, with strange rope, line-looking things above it. To the right is a tall building almost entirely made of glass windows. Photo taken from a walking path next to a tram line of some tall glass buildings. Photo of a series of tall brick stairs. Photo taken from a highway overpass. The parts next to the road are still under construction. In the distance are buildings and evergreen trees. Photo of plants and vibrant pink flowers going next to the railing of the highway overpass. Photo of some buildings a few stories high along a road sloping upwards. Tall, glassy skyscrapers loom in the background, behind the buildings.

Good night, Seattle.

Photo of a downhill road. A lake can be seen in the distance.

Day 3

Hung out with friends all day today!

A picture of a parking lot with tall buildings in the distance, along with a hilly landscape lush with green Evergreen trees. A photo looking out from the bus window. The reflection of bus seats and lights are overlayed on a beautiful view of the Seattle skyline at sunset. You can even see the Space Needle!

The bottom image might be the favorite image I've taken this whole trip.

Day 4

On the 4th day, I headed home.

Picture of a transit sign saying "Thanks for riding SoundTransit"

Thanks for everything. :')