Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Making

Our next major milestone event has finally arrived: move-in day. The Sheraton hotel has been such a great home these past few days and I was sad to leave it, but I knew that finally being able to live in UPenn's dorms would be even better. The cohort gathered together in the morning and carried our luggage to the entrance of the Quad where our dorms were located. We were given our IDs, keys for our buildings and dorm rooms, and informational packets to go along with. It was an interesting experience since the building's security was very strict. We had to swipe our ID card, and punch in a four digit number as well, to enter the building. Being some of the early ones to move into the dorms, we had the advantage of scoping our rooms out first before meeting roommates. 

When my guide led me to my room, he said, "Welcome to your new home for these upcoming three weeks!" By then, I was just ecstatic. This was real. And my long-awaited dreams of studying at Penn is coming true. My dorm was in the Franklin building and my room was a triple. This meant that I would be sharing my room with two other girls and I could not wait to meet them! After unpacking and setting some items around, I jotted down a quick introduction note to my roommates (who I would soon meet) and left the building to meet Mr. Hillyer and the rest of the cohort for brunch.
View of the Quad from outside my dorm window
It was a very bittersweet day as we all sat down together, ate our wonderful meals together, and laughed about everything togetherjust as we have done each day for this wonderful week. When we all said our goodbyes to Mr. Hillyer, I couldn't help but think of how far we've already gone. Visiting the beautiful universities in the East Coast, having amazing dinners with alums and admissions officers, bonding with my wonderful cohort members, and following Mr. Hillyer like a group of adopted children, has all contributed towards the making of the best week of my life. Nevertheless, I am certain that there would be many more great weeks to come and today was only the beginning of it. 

When we separated and went back into our dorms after brunch, I was able to meet my two roommates, Annie and Lauren. They're friends who are both from the same high school from Connecticut and are rising juniors. Our first encounter was very friendly and they seemed quite sociable so I can't wait to get to know them more! After a few hours of some attempts of familiarizing ourselves with the campus (or at least the Quad area), the RCs for each of the dorm came down to meet the students and guide us towards the dining area, Houston Hall, for dinner. The place was enormous but it was still not enough room for all the students in the Summer Discovery Program. However, the food was good and I was able to meet another person who is living in Franklin on the same floor as me named Fathima. 

Fathima's from Abu Dhabi and she was born in India. It was surprising for me to know how far students in this program has traveled to be a part of this summer experience at UPenn. We bonded a bit over dinner and I learned a lot about how the education system in Abu Dhabi worked, how she heard of the program, and why she wanted to join. She was also very fascinated in hearing about the Ivy League Connection when I shared about my experiences in the East Coast so far. Taking summer classes at University of Chicago was another one of her choices, but she knew that Penn was for her, and she was just as excited as me to be able to be a part of this lovely university. Unlike me, however, she has already been to the East Coast several times, since her brother lives in New Jersey. I was one of the few people who's never been to Pennsylvania before, and I'm sure that being a part of this program is a great way to ease into the East Coast life for all of us. 
Penn's Gorgeous Buildings
After dinner, the students living in Franklin all gathered together in the Quad as a group for a few icebreakers and introductions. Kelsey, my lovely and wonderful RC, introduced herself first and established a few dorm rules for us before starting the ice breakers. We played a few fun games where we had to introduce ourselves, our program, and where we came from. There were people from out-of-state, and even outside of the U.S. They came from places such as Hong Kong, Baltimore, New York, and the Bay Area, I really enjoyed meeting all of them since they all had such diversity and interesting characteristics. We ended up playing a few more games with other dorm groups and I was able to meet a lot more people. Mingling with everyone else after the ice breakers was extremely fun but I think the most fascinating of all was Khan. He's Turkish but he could speak a large variety of languages from French to Chinese Mandarin along with English and Turkish. It is super amazing knowing that I will be able to meet and learn from so many new people from such diverse backgrounds!

Tomorrow would be the first day of classes for all of us and I can not wait to see how it would go. Meeting the teacher, getting to know the students, and most of all, learning some mind-blowing Physics at UPenn is definitely something that I will be looking forward to. The leap of of college life, being independent, and getting out of my comfort zone has finally began, and I am more than eager to continue this remarkable journey. 

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