I was rushing myself trying to get out the hotel room and down to the hotel lobby by 5:30 AM. I was still exhausted and aching from the previous day which slowed me a bit down this morning. Allonna and Diana left to get water while I stayed double checking I didn't forget anything. I gently closed the door behind me and rushed my way to the elevators where Allonna and Diana were waiting for me. As soon as the elevator touched down to the lobby, John and Chris quickly stood up from the couches, we all hurried to start our next adventure.
Although it was 5:30 in the morning, the weather was seventy-three degrees out with a gorgeous sunrise about to emerge; it was perfect. The walk was around fifteen minutes long. The whole cohort was enthusiastic about the future day with the exception of Chris; he's not much of a city guy. We had waited at the bus stop where we found our MegaBus already there parked to the side idly waiting to take off to New York. John had already bought our tickets ahead of time, allowing us to boats more efficiently. Carefully making our steps onto the bus we decided to seat ourselves on the top level. Being on a double-decker bus is not something I can truthfully say I that I have experienced prior to the ILC. The view we had along the whole way showed is everything. From over buildings, to over the freeway dividers, or even the towns and cities in the distance, we were able to see it all.
During the ride, Allonna and I were discussing the enthusiasm we had for New York and Columbia University itself. Allonna had told me it was her dream school and she's always wanted to go there. She has such a genuine dream and her face would light up just bringing up the name. It was nice seeing someone so passionate about a school so much and already knowing what or where they want to be; it was admirable.
|Inside Columbia Administration Building|
I learned about Columbia because of my friend Lisa. She recently graduated Pinole Valley in early June and is soon to be attending The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. It was the time when Don had come to Pinole to introduce all of the newbies and returning ILCers about the program itself and the schools in which they offer. Don had required a couple of presentations from previous participators of the ILC and give us their story or experience of being part of the ILC community; one of the best sources is from someone who was the student themselves. Both of the people who were presenting I knew very well, Lisa Romero who studied Constitutional Law at Columbia and Katherine Phan who attended Vanderbilt University. From Lisa's presentation of Columbia, I knew that it was genuine and changed her for the better. She fell in love with the University. Based off of her speech, I already knew that I had to keep that school into great consideration when it was time to apply for college; if I didn't I would be a complete fool.
I was drifting on and off into my sleep on the rest of the way to New York when we finished talking about what else we wanted to do or looked forward to in the Big Apple. When I said I was exhausted, it wasn't an understatement. The whites in my eyes looked red since the night before and my contacts did not help the irritability. My feet and legs still aches a it from the walking around Philly and when I stubbed my toe coming out the bathroom like the clumsy person I am. It felt as if my mind was still awake but my body was asleep as the weight of my heavy eyes became too strong to lift or flutter open any more. I could hear everything around me as if it were a part of my dream. I eventually fully awakened about twenty minutes before entering the Big Apple. I felt a little more charged than I had when we left.
Entering the city felt like a dream that finally made it to reality. All the media attention and portrayal of New York was the closest thing for me going to see the colossal city. Seeing it in real life confirmed that my second hand source was right even though I already knew it was; it's an experience that should be first hand in order to fully understand and grasp the actual feel of the city life. There were so many building that seemed to reach higher than the sky and interesting signs commanding pedestrians that they were not allowed to stand in a specific area on a side walk; it's similar to a No Parking sign except with standing.
Stepping out of the huge bus and onto the city streets seemed unimaginable. The fact that we were all here together for our first times in New York made the experience even more special. We all looked around and observed our surrounding scoping out every detail of the streets, buildings, and people. It was as if we were studying a picture in a museum. Before taking off to our first stop, John had given us some common sense and crucial advice about New York. We need to be careful of pick pocketing and paying attention to where we're going so we don't get lost.
Our first stop was breakfast. After a long two hour ride all of us were practically starving. John had guided us down into the New York subway where it would take us to the restaurant near our site visit at Columbia University. He explained to us about how the NY subway system worked and how to use the Metro Card which was basically New York's system of a BART ticket except you have to place money onto it and there's a set price of $2.75 everytime you enter the Metro station. The ride there on the train took around twenty minutes to get to our designated station, then another five to ten minute walk. Being on the Metro was pretty uneasy. The train cars shook in all sorts of direction instead of what we're use to of only sides to from BART. In addition to that there's not too much space and the seats are much smaller.
The restaurant we ended up eating at was called "Kitchenette." The style of the restaurant is a small, cute, and a home feeling to it. Everything you see in there is like what you could imagine your own mother's kitchen to look like as well as how they prepare your food and the way they treat you; it's very kind, personal, and motherly. It took us about an hour to finish up our food and head out the door where we would be taking a campus site visit of Columbia.
|Columbia University Library|
When you first make your way into Columbia, it's small and the buildings are close together. There's no long walks from different parts of town and resides in one area making it much easier for students to attend their classes punctually. The first thing that may mislead you is one of the campus buildings. The building named "The Library of Columbia University" is actually the Administration building. It was originally intended to be the library but was too small to fit the size of all the increasing book number sizes. We walked into that building and checked in for our info session as well as campus tour. The architecture was beautiful. The walls were a soft for a stone hard building and were filled with plaques of benefactors of the university as well as art pieces placed onto podiums with a glass cover surrounding it. Before we could go exploring some of the paintings, we were called to finally start what we came for.
The information session was located in Alfred Learner Hall building in the Roone Alredge Cinema. Once everyone was seated, two of the students who were attending the school were talking to us about their experience being a student at this university as well as answering a few questions as we waited for the admissions officer to come by. From their speeches, what stood out the most to me is
when they stated and explained what they love and not so much about Columbia and what they had said in response was even more interesting.
The first speaker said that everyone was really opinionated which was what she grew a love hate relationship with. During class discussions, your opinion is always going to be challenged by someone else, and they will explain to you why they disagree. Learning in class environments such as this, allows more of their students to adapt to real life and opens up their minds. In real life, no one is going to agree with everything you do from what you believe in, what you wear, or even about who you are. This gives you the ability to learn how to back your claims up with support. The downside is that it becomes frustrating after awhile of debating back and forth.
The admission officer, James Ramseu, finally arrived to begin the session. The financial aide that is given from Colombia is only for need base families. They do not give merit scholarships whether it's for athletics, music, etc. There are only two branches of Columbia: the Universoty of Columbia and Columbia Engineering. The students there are required to take Core classes along with the classes designed for their major. Core classes allow for students to be able to strengthen their reading, writing, critical thinking, and public speaking skills as well as understand or view the different fields that they have to offer. Some of those reqirents include four semesters of a foreign language, PE, but are different from the engineering core classes where those classes will base mainly of engineering related classes such as computer science and instead of learning a foreign language, you learn a programming language. Students do not declare their major until sophomore year giving them more time to be for sure about what they want to do.
|Alexander Hamilton Building|
When tour time came around, we were the first group to break out. Our tour guide was a student named Heather. She has a strong voice and enthusiastic personality but talks extremely fast that it's hard understanding what she was saying exactly or absorb the information that we did hear from her. The school is so invested in their students and are always trying to help with their needs and dreams coming true. For those dedicated to music, they are able to receive a Columbia education while attending Juliard as well. They also have raffles to where it allows students to participate in events at the community that are expensive but reduces the price so it's more affordable to go. The people there are diverse as she describes as "physically and mentally." There are large amounts of students races, interests, opinions, areas, and just a way of thinking as well that opens up your eyes and changes or broadens your mindset. Even though it was hard understanding Heather, I have a better understanding of what the lifestyle and work load would be like at the university. There is so much this school has to offer and leading opportunities in later life.
After we went over time with the tour, thanks to Allonna, we were able to meet the admissions officer who was giving the information session. We asked some questions that related to our interest or to get a better understanding of what Columbia is really about. He talked to us about the majors, financial aide, the engineering school, the transition from the West to East Coasts, tutoring and resources, and why he decided to go to Columbia. The life at Columbia is what you make of it and is based off of your mindset . A lot of it depends on you. If you need tutoring or advice you need to be the one to reach out and ask for it or do some investigating to find resources. Time management skills is one of the main keys to success as well as the effort and dedication. If we already know what we want to do but the school doesn't offer the specific majors, it's good to be able to know the specifics of what you want to focus on to find a similar major where it can help you advance into that field. He said that he originally went into Columbia Engineering but fell in love with psychology and decided to switch his major.its alright to change your majors as long as you have enough time to complete them before you graduate. Speaking with James made it easier for me to absorb all them formation and understand the way the school works as well as college in general.
From the rest of the day, we went sight seeing of some of the well-known areas in New York. We visited Central Park, the largest bookstore called Strand, Times Square, Broadway, the tallest building which is the Freedom Tower, World Trade Center, and the Memorial of the Twin Towers and those lost during September 11. I never thought I would get the experience I did that day. When we were looking at where the fountain of where one of the Twin Towers stood, I felt this depressed and sad feeling overcome me. I thought I was going to cry. Reading the names of all lost reminded me of how real this tragedy was; nothing will ever be the same.
Before we knew it, it was time to leave for Philadelphia again. Going through the humidity of the metro station platforms, random rainfall and thunder storms, as well as walking nine to twelve miles for twelve hours had me about to give out; I was ready to head back where I can take a nice long shower and lay comfortably in a bed. Staying goodbye to Mew York for another time was sad to let go. After all, everything comes to end eventually; nothing lasts forever.