Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Penntastic Day in Philly!

Well, after two extravagant days in our nations capital, packed with seeing monuments, historical landmarks and a prestigious university (Georgetown University), our time had finally come to an end. Beginning the day with a relatively early wake up time, centered out around 7:00 so we could check out of our hotel and successfully board the Amtrack to head down to where we would soon call home for three weeks of our trip, Philadelphia.
Final goodbyes to Washington D.C
Looking back at my trip from last year, I learned that the primary method of interstate transportation was a train. Regardless though, I still find it fascinating the way the Eastern seaboard is so immensely connected through railways. Coming from California, which is such a large state, most methods of transportation involve using cars to head over to a different state. Trains, while existent, are not necessarily the most practical and or popular method to get from point A to point B. However, as states on the East Coast are proportionally smaller and the fact that they are much closer together than from the Bay Area to any of the three surrounding states. In less than the span of a few hours, one could have easily traversed multiple states, whereas in the Bay Area, a few ours allows you to reach just one of the states that border California. I feel that this is a true manifestation of the two very distinct lifestyles that exist on opposite sides of the country.

UPenn is so beautiful!
Upon arriving in Philadelphia, I was treated to a familiar sight from my trip last year with the ILC. I had also come here to tour UPenn so it was fascinating to be back at the location that would soon become my new home for three weeks. After exiting Penn Station, we walked a few blocks to get to our new hotel. It was great to be able to see up close and personal the lifestyle that existed on the streets around UPenn. When we finally reached our hotel we were allowed a while in order to recover a bit from the exhausting heat as well as to settle ourselves into our rooms.

The real highlight of the day began from there. After taking a while to recompose ourselves, we set out into wonderful area that surrounds UPenn. From what I was able to survey, I was anxious to be able to explore everything that UPenn's campus had to offer. What was very intriguing to me, above all, was the level of food variety that was available. The range seemed to stretch infinitely and it became very evident quickly that food trucks were an integrated part of the Philadelphia and UPenn lifestyle.

As we proceeded onto campus, we headed over to one of the theatre rooms in order to receive an informational session. Just before it began, however, we were all notified that our campus tours had been cancelled due to a university wide heat alert. To me this did not really impact me to gravely as now I would have the ability to fully explore the wonders of UPenn on my own. The informational session began promptly after that announcement and was headed by Alexandra Feinson, who coincidentally happened to be the regional admissions officer for the region which encompassed the Bay Area. The session revolved primarily around the basic facts about UPenn. To begin we were given a bit of background about the actual university and how many consider it to have been invented rather than established. This was meant to represent the ideology behind Penn's principles and beliefs. In addition, she went over how UPenn offered a loan-free financial aid package that meant all of it was grant-based. Furthermore, she also went over what, from an admissions officer standpoint, embodies a student that standouts during the applications process. For example, a student had to represent a person who could not only learn at the school, but also grow as a person during their time attending. For me, this was invaluable information as it may well be my application that she looks over in the not-so-distant future.

After the session and as compensation for the cancelled tour, we were given a special privilege to ask four students directly any questions that may come to anyone's mind. For the most part, these questions revolved around trying to understand the lifestyle that UPenn offered. Many individuals were interested in learning how accessible professors were, the size of classes and the way each student naturally felt in their classes. As they spoke, it really illustrated an image in my head of the type of student that would most fit into UPenn. Many of these question made me think of whether this school was a match for me or not. It forced me to analyze the lifestyle I would be walking into if I decided to apply and attend UPenn. However, as the questions progressed they began to turn into ones focused around the diversity of activities on campus. It surprised me the amount of different extracurricular activities that were available. Even the UPenn students admitted to having tried to participate in so many of them that time would simply not allow them. This aspect really caught my attention as this was a quality that I greatly desired in the schools that I would apply to.

After the informational session and after grabbing something rather quick to eat in order to prevent us from spoiling our dinner, we headed back to our hotel to get ready for the evening. Tonight we were set to meet various individuals from UPenn, among which included admission officer Alexandra Feinson and various current students. I had the pleasure of being seated near three students, Jaron, Giovanni and Jordan. Straight from the beginning they began sharing information with us about all the unique aspects that UPenn has. They talked about their unique majors and why it is that it fit them. However, the strongest connection I made with Jordan because like me, was also interested in Social Justice. Throughout the night she mentioned her various interests and described to me a bit about her major, Urban Studies and Political Science. It was strange because she described to me how she once shared my desire to enter Pre-Law, but as she began her time at UPenn, her interests began to shift. However, as the night progressed and we all became a bit more comfortable, all three students began to answer all our questions as a group. This was really amazing because it offered a wide array of perspectives. Another thing was the way each one seemed to be completely different from the other, yet they all three were still close friends. Jaron, represented more the science and mathematical side of the spectrum, while Giovanni was largely into foreign politics and foreign languages. Jordan on the other hand was more of the political and social justice oriented individual. A lot of the information they gave us was really valuable and they presented us with all forms of tips for applying to college. In addition, their advice was very beneficial as it came from a students perspective. It was coming from someone who was similar to us to a large extent and whom had faced trials we soon will meet.
Baked Alaska is my new favorite dessert!
In addition to a night of much information, it was also a moment a various new things for me. For example on the dinner menu was "escargo", a traditional French dish that I had never tasted before and consisted of cooked snails. At first I was a bit skeptical, but I thought to myself, "life is all about trying new things", so I took and a deep breath and ate it. To my surprise it was actually very delicious and was truly sensational in flavor. Not once had I ever pictured myself eating snails, but there I was today, doing something I once thought would never happen. In addition, to "escargo" I also had the privilege of trying a new dessert for me, "Baked Alaska". According to all three students, it was a special at the restaurant and therefore I was again decided to go beyond my comfort zone and give something I had never eaten before a try. Ironically, I was once again proven wrong as the dessert was incredibly good. The flavors blended ever so elegantly in a way I would have never dreamed could have been possible for something I had never tried before. At the conclusion of our dinner and after once again taking a group photo to commemorate the event, we were once again treated to another new thing, mid-summer rainfall. For as long as we had been here on the East Coast, we had yet to see it downpour so quickly and then all of sudden stop to a small sprinkle. There was also lightning that flashed consistently in the night sky, which was unique considering there are very few situations in which we have lightning storms in California.
UPenn Dinner Photo!
 Overall, today was a pretty fun day, and I am greatly looking forward for what tomorrow has in store for us.

1 comment:

  1. It's good to think about what school and what style appeals to you most. Good insight.