Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fun in Georgetown!

After a long day of traveling and exploring Washington D.C, it was nice to have a chunk of time to recover a bit on sleep. Being a day that was not so jam packed with activities, we were allowed a bit of leeway on our wake up time. At roughly around 8:30 AM we set out from our hotel to see what wonders the city had for us today. We boarded the Circulator, one of the various bus systems in D.C, in order head into the city with intentions of picking up something for breakfast on the way. One of the details I began to notice about the more rural areas around our hotel and also various areas in the city was the incredible diversity of food available. For example, just yesterday we ate at a very unique venue that offered both Italian and Greek cuisine. However, driving down the streets on the bus today, I began to notice that the variety was endless and it was a very common trend. There was Thai food, Korean food, Indian food etc. the quantity was endless. I found it to be rather interesting now taking note of the amount of cultural diversity that could exist in such small areas. This fact was even highlighted today on the venue we chose for breakfast.
An actual Pele jersey!
Once we were finished eating, we set out on the first location we were scheduled to see, the American History Museum. Personally, having just taken American History in high school and being a huge history buff, I was very excited to be able to see the elegance and grandiosity of the museum. Upon entering I was taken aback at the amount of history that could be packed into one location. So many pieces of American History that have not only shaped this country, but also served to define it.  Sadly though, one of the draw backs of running on a tight schedule was that we were not able to stay very long, but I was able to see many of the major exhibits. Being a big soccer aficionado, I was very much in shock after finding a jersey from the legendary Brazilian soccer player, Pele. However, among one of the most iconic ones that I was able to view was the original flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 and the same flag which Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner about. It was amazing to see such an important piece of American history could be preserved for such an immense period of time.

When our time was finally up, we headed out the front entrance and onto the National Mall. It truly was beautiful. The view of both the Capitol building and the Washington Monument was spectacular. From my own personal perspective, I found it incredible the way everything around the Mall was laid out. Along each side were various museums that manifested the composition of American culture and history. On both ends stood two of the most iconic symbols for American Democracy and Freedom, the Capitol building and the Washington Monument. We were able to enjoy the sights for a brief moments, however, once again our tight schedule forced us to leave.

Georgetown University is beautiful
In reality I did not mind the reduced time we had for sightseeing because we were setting out to explore our very first college of our trip, Georgetown University. We once again took the Circulator to reach the university, which surprisingly was located relatively near the hotel at which we were staying at. Upon approaching the school, I was awed by the campus. It was so beautiful and looked amazing. There were many older buildings that had obviously formed a part of the school for a very long time, but in addition the newer, more modernized buildings had been seamlessly been integrated into the school as if they represented different eras of the school's history. To begin our visit to Georgetown, we all gathered to attend an informational session. Personally, I really knew very little about this school prior to our visit, other than the fact that it was a very prestigious school and one of the best in the country. Like many of the information session at colleges and universities, it was led by one of the admissions officers. However, from the moment she stated that she was actually an alumni from the school, I knew that this session would be unique. She began by introducing the various schools on campus that housed a very vast variety of majors that could pursued. I found it quite amazing the number of unique majors that students could elect and the profound flexibility and personalization one could have with them. Following that, she went over various statistics of the incoming freshman class from the previous admissions year. Surprisingly enough, this school really offered a lot of liberalism in the sense that instead of Early Decision (which requires you to attend the school you applied to if accepted), it used the method of Early Action, which as she described offers a student the opportunity to fully understand all their options and come to the conclusion on their own if Georgetown is where they belong or not. Being that, soon, I will be in that position, I found it very convenient that such a prestigious school would offer students that ability. In addition, she also talked about many of the basis for what students Georgetown looks for, as well as the various programs and perks of being associated with a school that has such a good relation with Washington D.C.

When the informational session concluded, it was off to a campus tour led by a rising sophomore at Georgetown name Taiman. From the beginning my attention was caught when the first bits of information that came from him were that Georgetown University was a Catholic and Jesuit school. As we proceeded through the campus, the elegance amazed me. It was so beautiful and the architecture was phenomenal. Everywhere I looked I could not help but think, "wow!" Throughout the tour, Taiman continued to reiterate one important aspect of the school, high faculty-student relations. He illustrated professors who shared interest in the academic careers of students and faculty who would go out of their way to make students feel comfortable at the university. Another aspect I found quite interesting, was that the school strongly advocated making friendships with other students and establishing bonds between that would last a lifetime. Moreover, he emphasized that students are strongly active in community projects and public services. For me it reminded me of one of the key components of the ILC, giving back to your community, which was an ideal that this school demonstrated and highly valued. As we continued through the tour, Taiman described various qualities that made the school unique. For example, it offered an immense selection of extracurricular activities. I also found it interesting that the school possessed many student run organizations, including ones that used proceeds from their stores to finance scholarships for incoming freshman. Immediately I picked up the vibe that this school was really into unity among students, faculty and the community.
The view from the top of a dormitory... I could get used to this.
After a very draining tour of Georgetown University, we headed back to our hotel in order to prepare for our long expected dinner with current Georgetown students and the President of the Georgetown Club of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. At around 5:45, we headed out toward the venue of our dinner, 1789. Although the actual dinner was intended to start at 6:30 and the location was only a few blocks away; fate had a completely different opinion as coincidentally the Circulator bus line stopped running for a while. However, this did not deter the excitement we all shared are we happy when the system resumed a around 15 minutes later and we were able to continue on with our evening. When we arrived, all of the students were already there so we were able to begin promptly. I had the pleasure of being seated next to James Gadea, a rising junior at Georgetown. Straight from the beginning I began asking him about him about his background and what really surprised me was that we both shared many qualities in common. For example, he and his family immigrated from Romania to Georgia, therefore he is a first-generation student which is also a characteristic I posses. As we talked he gave me countless insightful details about Georgetown. Among these details were that, although being a Catholic/ Jesuit school, it offers an immense amount of liberalism in that area. Regardless of whatever beliefs you may posses, the school does not necessarily try to instil specific beliefs into students. Rather it attempts to instil very universal beliefs that anyone, regardless of religious preference, could relate to such as helping others and to enrich both body, mind and soul. In addition, after telling him that I had an interest in Law, he began to outline various possible majors at Georgetown that might fit my interests. One of the majors greatly sparked my interest, International Law, as it combined not only Law but also world affairs and relations. He even went on to describe the various study abroad programs that are offered, of which coincidentally he was going to partake in this upcoming semester in at Oxford University in England. As the evening progressed, the individual discussions turned into an overall group talk. I found this to greatly parallel the common characteristic of the school, unity between students. In this group discussion, we were able to hear from various students and  both the student body president, Trevor Tezel, and the student body vice-president, Omika Jakira. I truly felt that their perspectives a true insight as to how incredible the school was and it was quickly obviously that all of the students felt very passionate about their school, which was a quality that greatly inspired me and drew me closer to Georgetown. After a very great and fulfilling meal consisting of a variety of unique foods I had never tried before, such as mushroom pudding and bordelaise sauce, we headed over to take a group photo and lastly concluded with final goodbyes.
Group photo after the dinner
Overall, I greatly enjoyed today. Not only did we get to spend another incredible day in Washington D.C, but also were able to tour a very first school. After today I can honestly say, I was immensely impressed by Georgetown and from all the details portrayed by the students I have developed a great liking to this school. It has many of the qualities I am looking for in a school and I extremely like the combination of a very community oriented and unity driven school. It will definitely be on the list of schools I plan to apply to this coming year.   

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