Man, what an adventure I have had this past year! It seems so long ago when I first embarked on this journey to do the ILC physics program. I'm so glad that I applied for this program. When I heard Don this year at my school, something just clicked and I realized that I wanted to take advantage of such a golden opportunity as this. Writing the essays weren't as nervewracking as the actual interview, but in both the essays and the interview, I was able to express myself in an adequate way. And to my elation, I got in! But the journey didn't stop there, it just started. During the mandatory meetings and tutorial sessions with Don, I learned what was expected of me and of how I should behave back in the East Coast. The dinners and meetings with the other ILCers like my UPenn cohort were refreshing as I met and gathered insights from other people who were driven, intelligent individuals like myself.
Then the day of departure finally arrived! Though packing up all of my linens, clothes, suits, and toiletries was a bit of a pain, I survived and I had a lot of fun visiting Washington D.C. with all its memorials and monuments as well as touring some colleges. What were especially helpful were the Georgetown and UPenn tours. From these tours, I learned that colleges shouldn't be chosen just for their academics but for their ability to help people grow as a whole. I also learned that you should just be yourself in your college applications, expressing your unique, personal life values and experiences.
After tours, I moved into the UPenn dorms. Living in the Penn campus was a new experience for me as I was by myself in a dorm with no one to tell me what to do and so I had to learn how to keep myself accountable with my time. Now for the main part of the program, the physics class. I really enjoyed my physics teachers as they were funny and yet able to teach hard concepts well. What I also liked was that they wanted us to not be just scientists but communicative thinkers who were able to express their ideas clearly. The friendship that I developed in the class made physics even more enjoyable in learning science together. The thing is that these relationships weren't superficial, but were much stronger than some of the relationships I had with my friends before. The friends that I made here were so close that I felt that I had known them since I was young.
In conclusion, I really learned a lot about not only college or life, but also about myself during this trip to Penn. College is where people go to not only learn, but to develop close relationships with others whether it be professors or students. It's also a place where people are tested in their time management skills and will to succeed for themselves when no one's there to help encourage them. These things are essential to success not only in college, but in life as well. In addition, college shouldn't be a decision done by anyone else but yourself. Only you know what values you want in a college, environment you can thrive in, and what kind of community you can thrive in. I'm thankful for the ILC program for providing access to information like this and for my parents for helping me prepare for such a unique opportunity as this! But I won't be selfish with this knowledge I learned and I plan to share it to my friends and my schoolmates through informal conversation or formal speeches. College life should be an option for everyone and I want everyone to know that. Thanks ILC for starting this desire!