It seems like it's been so long since last fall, when I first started my application for the ILC. My first choice had actually been a program at Vanderbilt, but it was very popular (forty people applied!) and I didn't even get an interview. That program had one of the earliest deadlines, while Penn was one of the last, so it was several months before I sent in another application. I remember spending time over Christmas break trying to finish my essays for the Penn ILC application early--and yet, just a few weeks before they were due, I was still frantically finishing up.
I was very excited when Don told me I had an interview. As the date got closer, my excitement was replaced with nervousness. I was afraid that once I got into the room with the interviewers I would freeze and panic, and my mind would blank, ruining any chances I had to get into the ILC... I was over dramatizing things, of course. Most of the questions were just physics problems, and I loved my physics class so I had no trouble answering. Then my nervousness built up again as I waited for a few hours as the rest of the applicants were interviewed. Finally, they decided who had been accepted, and I heard my name with relief. After all, I hadn't even gotten to the interview stage applying to Vanderbilt. It was only the start of a long process, though. After countless emails, forms, and more applications sent in, I was finally ready to go off to the East coast with the rest of my cohort.
Meeting all the different admissions officers and going to the different college campuses was an interesting experience for me. It also gave me insight into what kinds of things I'll be looking for when I apply to colleges in a year.
Living in Philadelphia was a completely new experience for me. I was on my own, independent, and I found that it wasn't terrifying, that I liked independence. I was on my own in a place where no one knew me, where I had no reputation to live up to, where I could make first impressions acting however I wanted. It was also a completely new experience to have decisions like when to get up in the morning and where to go in the afternoons be entirely up to me. New, but exhilarating.
Talking to Bill and others was also a wonderful experience. In this program I got to talk to people who not only truly understood what I was talking about when I went into long explanations about scientific theories I had, but had questions that made me think even more. I've never really had that experience before--usually people just say "yeah, that's cool" and hope I don't expect them to repeat what I said.
This summer has truly been a life-changing experience for me. There are so many good memories from my time on the East coast--some have been immortalized below in the form of quotes.
Julia M.: You're like a math onion. Every layer you take off is just more math!
John: Darwin would be proud. (On people jumping over and through miniature fireworks.)
Bryan: Does hand sanitizer kill 100% of germs?!? No! (In an argument with Andrew about absolutes being necessary for things to work. Bryan won.)
Gwennie: I know I've laughed before...
Julia M.: SPOONHENGE!!
Andrew: I want a margarita. (Don't worry, it was a non-alcoholic one.)
Donna: The air conditioner is burning.
Julia S.: Twenty minus six. Give me 10, I mean 6. No wait, 15, no 13! Don't look at me like that Gwennie, it's 6:30 in the morning! (Trying to get change from a taxi driver. The taxi driver was not as amused as I was.)
Gwennie: Why are all the pillows on the floor?
Julia S.: Don't judge me. I had arguments with those pillows. Dem b****es sleepin' on the floor!
Julia S.: I just burped. Now my life is complete.
Gwennie: Aren't I awesome? Yes, yes I am.
Julia M.: I am the special-est.
Mary: We broke physics again.
Bill: Quite simply, we don't exist. (In reference to electromagnetic principles that are broken by atoms all the time.)
Sophie: I hate men.
Sarah: I know, but they're so darn cute.
Sophie: Exactly, that's the problem.
Julia M.: They have free water here? WIN!!
Julia S.: Ewwwww, spider-butt strings! No, don't quote that!
Student A: I heard antimatter costs like a billion dollars an ounce.
Mary: They're selling antimatter?!
Student B: Where?
Student C: Home Depot!
Julia S.: Wow, that's a tiny dream catcher. You're just not allowed to have big dreams.
Bill: A photon doesn't bother a ping-pong ball, but it knocks the daylights out of an electron! It's like looking for light bulbs by firing bullets at them.
Gwennie: Well, when you have such huge numbers, an extra order of magnitude or two doesn't make as much difference. (Trying to justify getting a speed of light with an error of 2500%)
Eric: That's great! Now we know why we were wrong. The only problem is that we're not right...
Alison Sweeney's lab assistant: When you're scuba-diving in deep ocean, you have to stay tethered at all times, because if you don't and you drift away, there are no landmarks or anything in the ocean. So you probably won't be able to make it back to the boat, and that's not super great.