Thursday, July 3, 2014

New York City

Today we had to get up very early in order to leave for the train station at 5:45 to catch our train. We arrived in New York City around eight, and had breakfast at Waverly's. After breakfast, we headed through Washington Square Park and took pictures before going to the tour of New York University.

Washington Square Park
We learned in the information session that NYU is a global institution with campuses in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi and many study abroad opportunities. It was founded in 1831 and has 10 undergraduate colleges, with more than 230 areas of study. The student-teacher ratio is 10:1, average class sizes are less than 30, and nearly two-thirds of all classes have less than 20 students. Despite having twenty thousand students, NYU prides itself on giving students the experience of a small liberal arts school. NYU is located in Greenwich village, and has many Nobel Prize (and other award) winning professors. It is "in and of the city" and is nontraditional. NYU also guarantees housing for all four years, and more than 10,000 students live in the university residence halls. There are a lot of student activities and things to do in New York if you live on campus. Finally, the admissions officer told us the things they looked at on an application (just the same as the other common app schools) before sending us off on the tours.

A building on Columbia's campus

On the tour, we saw buildings like the Brown building, which housed the biology and chemistry departments. It was also the building where the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire took place. When our tour guide showed us the building for the math department, she said that if we wanted to major in math, "First, you're crazy. Second, that's your building." (Why does everyone hate math?) We also saw a privately-owned cobblestone road, one of only three in the city. The NYU tour ended about ten minutes late, so we had to rush to get to Columbia at one.

Upon arriving at Columbia, though, we discovered we'd had the tour time wrong and we were actually an hour early. So, we went to a cafe on campus to get smoothies for lunch. Afterwards, we went back to the building where the tour started to wait in the air-conditioning until two. The tour started with some Columbia students telling us about the campus and student life. They told us that Columbia has good food and that there are all sorts of people at Columbia, and everyone is unique and different, which makes things interesting. Then an admissions officer came for the rest of the info session. He told us that what really makes Columbia unique is the core program--everyone, no matter what they're majoring in, has to take a specific set of classes before graduating. this is different from other universities because most universities just require students to get credits in a certain area of study, like history, rather than a specific set of classes. He also said that the diversity of the school represents the diversity of the city, with 25% of its students being international students. Then, we split into groups to go on the tours of campus.

Where the first atom was split
Our tour guide, Alanna, told us about all of the extracurricular activities available on (and off!) campus, and about the free advisers each student was assigned. She showed us Low Library, which is no longer a library, but is where the Pulitzer Prize is awarded. The library is now in Butler library. She showed us some of the dorms, like the John Jay building, though we couldn't go inside. She also showed  us the building where the first atom was split and where the Manhattan Project was started. Then she told us where the math building was, and repeated a campus joke, stemming from the fact that the math building is one of the only buildings on campus that is not named after a person. The campus joke is that it's not named after anyone because no one who majored in math ever made enough money to buy the building. (Really. What do people have against math??)

One slice of pizza from Koronet's
After the tour ended, we went to a pizza place, Koronet's, with two Columbia ILCers. At Koronet's, the pizza slices were incredibly huge, bigger than your head. After dinner we took the metro to Battery Park and walked to see the Statue of Liberty. After taking a few pictures of the Statue of Liberty, we headed back to Penn Station to wait for our Amtrack train, which ended up being 45 minutes late.

The Statue of Liberty, seen from Battery Park


  1. It was a busy day but I'm curious what you thought of Columbia and NYU? Could you see yourself in NYC?