Saturday, July 2, 2016

A Tiny Fish In a Huge Pond

sunrise on the way to the bus stop
A day filled marvelous and new sights and sound was right in front of me. I woke up bright and early around 4:30 AM knowing today would be the day that I go to a place I had always dreamed about and imagined, New York City. I got ready as quickly as i could and down to meet with my cohort. We walked down to the Megabus stop where John showed the driver our tickets. We sat on the second floor of the bus. I decided to take a nap since the bus ride was two hours long. As if it were almost time travel, I woke up in the second greatest state (after California) of New York overlooking NYC.

The bus left us in the middle of Manhattan and we were on our own in this gigantic and daunting city. John was the most well-versed with what was happening and where to go so he led the way for most of the traveling today. The tour of Columbia wasn't going to start until 10 AM so we made our way to the most adorable little restaurant called Kitchenette. I got a biscuit with some cheese, egg whites, and avocado topped with some peach jam. It was really good. I practically inhaled it.

Main library
After breakfast, we walked a few blocks to Columbia University. When we got there, we all marveled at how beautiful it was. It has amazing architecture and just screamed prestige. When we signed up for the tour we had to go to a building called Alfred Lerner Hall which serves as a resource center. It looked like it was made of nothing but glass. Soon after the admission officer came and gave us his presentation. I’ve been to a lot of presentations and they are all generally the same. The basic what we look for, what we can give you, and what do you need to apply to this school but Columbia has something called the Core. The core is a set of core classes that every students has to take. This has been happening since a long time ago so all the alumni have that in common. I thought that made them very unique.

After the presentation, we split up into groups for a campus tour. Our tour guide was very intense and spoke very fast. That took away from having a more informational tour. Our tour guide, Heather, first talked about how they ran out of space in a building they intended for a library so they had to build another one across it to house all their books. They currently have 22 libraries that all their student can access even after they graduate. From there we went to the dorms. They have dorms that are either singles or doubles. The good thing with Columbia is that if you get accepted , housing is guaranteed for the four years you are there. I thought that was really cool because it would be really hard to find housing in NY that is both close to campus and affordable. Something else that I thought was cool is that people from across their two colleges (Columbia college and Engineering college) are involved in activities that don’t necessarily relate to their major yet excel in both.

Central park
After the tour we went to ask the admissions officer some more questions since Allonna’s mother knew him. I asked about early admissions and how financial aid could potentially turn into a full ride. He said that early admissions can be denied if there's a really big reason as to why the student can’t accept it. He also said that their financial aid was need-based depending heavily on if the student’s family’s income. When we were all satisfied with the questions we asked, we headed to the bookstore where I bought a shirt. Soon after, we walked down to Central park and took a look at one of their man made lakes where I realized how much effort it must have taken to make the whole park.  

We wanted to go to as many tourist spots as possible in our limited time in NYC so we headed to the Strand, a very unique bookstore. The Strand is a huge bookstore with enough books that when put side by side like on a shelf, the books would span more than 18 miles. The store is spread out on four floors of shelves and stands This place is basically the closest thing to heaven for me. I was such an fascinating experience for me because I have never been around so many books at once. I love books so much that I never wanted to leave but of course I couldn’t do that. So after a few short moments in there, we left and went to a small restaurant not to far away, Hummus and Pita Co.

Freedom Tower
Just a few street crossing and we were already at Hummus and Pita Co. The food they served here was mostly new to me so I was ordering blindly. So I got a little curious and ordered the gyro pita. It had lamb and beef which were seasoned with various spices, various vegetables, and of course hummus. To be honest, I was a bit intimidated by what I had ordered but as soon as I took the first bite, I was almost taken to a new world with these amazing flavors sailing me through it. This was my first time trying a gyro and I certainly intend to have them more often. And just like that it was finished as I was pulled from my enchantment so that my cohort could move onto our next destination.  

Still riding on the euphoria of the gyro, my cohort and I boarded a subway train headed to our next destination. I wasn’t too sure where we were headed but soon enough it was towering over us. One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, in all its magnificence was hanging its enormous glass walls right above our heads. The building seemed to only get bigger as we got closer til we finally moved passed it to get to the 9/11 memorial. There were two fountains, which were lined with the names of victims of the terrible attack, where both towers used to stand. I took some time to look at each name and respect those who died that day. There were many people who were relatives and friends of those who lost their lives and there were also people who didn’t know these victims but wanted to see and remember the tragedy that took place fifteen almost years ago. After paying my dues, it was time to head to our last destination: Times Square.

In Honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11
Times Square
New York City is an enormous and culture rich city. But it is also a tourist magnet, so why not embrace my inner tourist and visit one of the most well known places in the world. Times square was quite a ways from the World Trade Center, so as a group we took the subway again towards the home of one of the biggest parties in the world held each New Year. I have only ever seen it in movies or on TV so I have a very artificial image of what it is. So with superficial envision I moved forward. Once we finally got there I was greeted by the huge and bright electronic billboard and tons of people. Despite it being fairly bright out the screens were very bright and shiny; so many different colors to catch my attention. And with the sound of so many humans and cars rushing by, I was afraid I was going to have a sensory overload. We stopped by a small souvenir shop, where I got a few gifts for friends and family back home. Also nearby was Broadway where the award-winning Hamilton was shown. Outside were a group girls of girls who put on a little show by singing some of the songs from the musical. With that concluding our trip to New York City. 

The award winning musical Hamilton

We Scurried along to the bus stop where we boarded a bus back to our little makeshift home in Philadelphia. After spending around 13 hours in New York we were exhausted yet happy to have gotten the experience of being in such a large urban environment. I am really thankful to John for not only taking us to cool places but also for teaching us how to navigate this foreign environment.

No comments:

Post a Comment