Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Walking Shoes, I Endorse Them

Although Downtown Providence feels like a quaint town, last night there seems to have been a party. Ironically, Mark, the hotel manager, told us at breakfast that this part of town consisted of mostly teachers. My companions and I agreed that it was a college party, so to hear that the noise was created by teachers was surprising, and made us consider what they were doing and celebrating. Tonight in the area, we will probably hear the cheers of Boston hockey fans for scores and either the win or loss. We will not have much sleep either way since we will be leaving for Dartmouth at 6:50 AM.

On our ride to MIT I got to see the bridge I built for my physics final. It is called the Boston Bridge, but it is not in Boston. The other architectural feats that you don’t see in San Francisco; maybe the architectures fad when Boston was built was done by the time it came for San Francisco.
The most memorable part of the MIT tour was the hacks. Hearing the stories of how some students managed to change the message in the lobby, how they got a cow, police car, a house, a lunar lander and more on the school’s dome and how they coordinate pictures using windows on a building. 
Then the architecture of the school was just as unique. I did consider applying to MIT, but after the stories that the tour guide told the group, I would like to learn the secrets of the hackers and go to that school as well.
Occasionally during the tour I had this swaying motion. It reminded me of the time when I went on the Mexico cruise for my school’s music program. While returning from the ship, where we encountered erratic swaying of the ship due to the moon and our circular course, I still had the sway that kept me upright when the boat passed over the waves. Similarly, the plane rocked slightly due to the turbulence, and I presume my body responded to the movements by centering my body alignment with the plane. I noticed the feeling when we were standing listening to the tour guides at both MIT and Boston University. It took me a considerable amount of time to return to my natural alignment after the cruise, so I wonder how long it will take for my body to stop swaying.
Boston University has a span of 1.2 miles; the distance from our car to the Undergraduate Admission Office was about a mile. We walked the distance from the car to the Undergraduate Admissions Office twice in addition to the extra distance the tour guide took us. At MIT, we walked around the school on one half of the road, and then crossed the street to the other half. Then when we arrived at L’Espalier, we walked to the park, then crossed the street, came back, then walked further, came back, then walked in the other direction. I did all of this in heels. It hurt less when we were walking because my foot became numb and I concentrated on the pain, but when we stopped each time the pain got worse. I think my foot will take a few days to return to its natural position, and the calluses on my foot increased exponentially. In the morning, I actually considered wearing walking shoes, but I thought that we wouldn’t walk that much, and I didn’t want to carry extra shoes and my backpack for my shoes. I learned my lesson; walking shoes are for walking, and heels give feet two hours before numbing them with pain.

One of our stops before going to L’Espalier was the Boston Library. The library wasn’t filled with as many books as I imaged for a library of that size. There were also a few cutout figures that Andrew, Erin, Frank, Kathleen and had our pictures taken with. As accounted in the previous paragraph about the pain of my shoes, Kathleen also had enough and we took off our shoes as we walked to the door of the library, and then put the shoes back on.

We also got to go into a candy store. I felt like a kid in a candy store literally and figuratively. While Andrew, Erin, Frank, Kathleen and I were in the candy store, Ms. Larson bought shoes that she tried out by running around a park near L’Espalier.

L’Espalier was a great restaurant. We had a four course meal and little hors d’oeuves. Unfortunately I forgot my camera in my bag that was checked in by the restaurant so I couldn’t take pictures of the food. The presentation of the food was a work of art, and the food blended complementary flavors for a complex, deep dish. The ambiance of L’Espalier consisted of jazz music when it was quiet and low lights with candles. Our conversations with Chelsea and Grace, Boston University and Brown respectively, were light and casual. They created a new insight for both of the schools, and we had a laugh between the stories of Chelsea and Grace and our own. By the way the name of the restaurant means the vine that grows on buildings.

Charles Ramsey has excellent taste in restaurants.

Boston - Love At First Sight

I fell in love with Boston today. Seriously. The city is so beautiful and clean and greatly exceeded my expectations. The buildings are so traditional that they remind me of old, classy English architecture. I could definitely picture myself living in Boston or even going to college in this area.

The group met for breakfast at 7:45 AM in the hotel, where I had what I have for breakfast every day: a bowl of oatmeal. We then left for the magnificent city of Boston with Erin in the passenger seat assisting Ms. Larson with directions. Although the roads were difficult to navigate and the drivers were a bit rough, we made it to MIT in time for a quick informational session and an interesting tour with a spunky tour guide named Emily. She told us amusing stories about the famous hackers at MIT, who pull impossible pranks on their school. The intricate campus was very catered to its technical students.

Right after our walk around MIT, we headed over to Boston University. We took a quick tour with Rob Mahoney, a rising senior who held the title of Mister Education Department in a fundraiser pageant at BU. We were being guided by a celebrity. The dorms were nice, and I especially enjoyed seeing an area near the lake that the students coined The Beach because passing cars sounded like crashing waves.
The endless walking continued after we drove from BU to our extra-fancy restaurant L’Espalier. We parked the car two hours before our dinner, giving us time to walk to the park and explore some of Boston. Ms. Larson stopped by a specialty marathon running store and purchased a pair of expert running shoes. We dared her to show off her running skills by doing a lap around the park for us, which she did because she loves us—or running, either way.
We quickly glanced around the Boston Library. It was huge, and downstairs, we posed in cutouts of religious figures. Check out our beautiful faces on these cardboard bodies.

L’Espalier is the fanciest restaurant I ever ate at. That’s not saying much because of my lack of expertise in the restaurant field, but Chelsea Moylan, an admissions director at BU who joined us for dinner, said that L’Espalier is the best restaurant in Boston. I believe her. The food was spectacular and the presentation was impeccable. Just to give you an idea of the four-course meal I had: hors d’oeuvre, lobster and salmon ravioli with Maine seaweed and Apple Street Farm petite basil, George’s Bank halibut with Prince Edward Island mussels, Parmesan gnocchi, English peas, and truffled egg yolk, and for desert, milk chocolate caramel soufflĂ© with caramel financier, grapefruit get, and Gianduja ice cream. We were also joined by Grace Yuen, a Brown alum who gave us insightful information about the school. Our two guests were both extremely helpful and a delight to have. As we left the restaurant stuffed from our ginormous meal, the waiter even gave us complementary coconut macaroons. How fancy is this place?

We had to wear our formal clothes from the start of the day because we didn’t have time to drive all the way back to Providence to change. My shoes were uncomfortable, but Erinn had it much worse. She walked in high heels for the entire day! I applaud her bravery, but we sure learned our lesson. Thank goodness we are dressing casual for tomorrow.

It is past 1:30 AM right now, and we’re still busy posting blogs. We are so dedicated. Given the fact that we have to wake up in less than five hours, we should get some rest soon. Dartmouth is waiting for us tomorrow.

Charles Ramsey has excellent taste in restaurants.

Starting the Connections

The big sport in New England is ice hockey. Tonight, the Boston Bruins are playing Vancouver Canucks and every time Boston scores, I can hear cheers outside my hotel window. The TV is off right now, but I yell along with the die-hard fans.

The ride over to Boston was quiet because we were still drowsy from our first night, but the contagious energy from a passing school bus with children waving and screaming out the window put a smile on our faces. I waved to a little boy who yelled to me, “Don’t go to school! It’s not worth it!” School is still in session here because the districts have to make up for all the time when schools were closed due to snow days.

Our beautiful, sunny day started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, more commonly referred to as MIT. Our tour guide, Emily was very humorous and articulate but she did not expand too much on what MIT had to offer. She constantly raved about the school’s pranksters called “hackers” which was interesting but beside the point of the tour. I am not a math and science person so I am not considering applying to MIT. The campus was beautiful and quirky, but not my ideal match for college.
We ate lunch at a campus burger joint where we had joyous conversations about being in the Ivy League Connection and our feelings about MIT. We noticed that many people stared at us when we walked around campus and in the eating area. Ms. Larson, who walks faster than I jog, led the way back to the car. We were on our way to Boston University.

I co-piloted Ms. Larson as we navigated through Boston on her SmartPhone. East coast traffic is quite hectic and the sound of car horns is omnipresent. Pedestrians and runners dart through traffic like they own the world, which is unbelievable. Ms. Larson is an avid runner and she critiques the running population on their form while she drives through mazed streets. It’s entertaining.

Boston University was much more appealing to me. The freshmen dorms looked comfy and there were two long roads for student housing. The academics were much more diverse and I found myself interested in the college of communications. Erinn seemed to gravitate to biomedical engineering, Kathleen and Andrew liked political science and economics, and Frank was interested in science and biochemistry. We all found something we liked at Boston University. Our tour guide, Rob Mahoney, is currently studying to become a history teacher. He was really friendly and informative on our personal tour (it was just the six of us with him).

We had a slight break after Boston University before dinner. While Ms. Larson went to browse running shoes at the Marathon Sports store, the rest of us went across the street to the Boston library to explore. The book section of the library was a bit boring, so we busied ourselves with some photoshooting.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck when we stopped to relax at a public park. While we were chatting, a bird decided to drop a load on my right shoulder and arm. Apparently, that’s good luck but I wasn’t feeling it. We were supposed to meet up for dinner in 20 minutes at L’Espalier, the BEST restaurant in Boston. I wiped off as much brown matter as I could before I drenched my shirt sleeve in Tide-To-Go. I highly recommend this product. It saved me from weird looks from passersby and probably restored a presentable appearance for dinner. NEVER SIT UNDER A TREE.

I asked the doorwoman what L’Espalier means. She said that it was a description of ivy vines crawling up a wall. What a nice name for a restaurant. We ascended the building in a fancy elevator into the most amazing dinner I ever took part in. We dined with Chelsea Moylan, the assistant director of Admissions of Brown University and Grace Yuen, a 2010 alum from Brown University. Our four-course meal consisted of delicious fusions of flavors. I tried duck, escolar, mango mousse, and a fromage blanc curd for dessert (which is a fancy cheese). I would’ve taken a picture, but I checked in my bag at the front desk. Fancy! Our conversations revolved around admission expectations to fun activities on campus. Whenever there was an awkward silence, I drank a lot of water. Afterwards, we realized that we all would eventually see each other again at Brown. We parted with raised water glasses for a group picture. That was a memorable and delectable evening.
Oh yes, and I was matching with the valet parking people.
The ride back to Hotel Providence consisted of delirious exhaustion and Kathleen’s version of Eminem’s “Not Afraid”. She is so talented! It is past midnight here.

BOSTON BRUINS WON! 4-0! Time to sleep.

Mr. Ramsey has excellent taste in restaurants.

Hacking and hockey...MIT and Boston University

Final photo op before leaving Boston University
Dinner in Boston at L'Espalier with Boston University
Asst. Director of Admissions, Chelsea Moylan
and Brown University alum, Grace Yuen
Group photo at the stairs of Undergraduate Admissions at MIT
Our own private campus tour at Boston University
Kathleen, Erinn, Erin, Frank and Andrew
Today was jam-packed with a campus tour at MIT this morning and followed with a tour at Boston University. It was very interesting to hear about the vast differences of the schools and yet they are only a few miles apart. I will let the students go more in depth about what their perceptions/opinions of the schools and I will speak more about what each campus we visit looks for in potential students, breakdown in SAT/ACT scores, essays, letters of recommendations, transcript evaluations, etc. I must say that I was very impressed with both MIT and Boston University. There is certainly a sense of pride at MIT that is very apparent when you walk on campus. Our tour guide also spoke a lot about “hacking” which is what students do at various times during the school year as harmless pranks. One time, students decided to attach a fire hose to a water fountain in front of a lecture hall on campus. We had a hard time figuring out how on earth students found the time to come up with these pranks and actually follow through with them given the reputation of the rigorous course work at MIT.

Boston University had a much more urban feel to it. It is in the heart of Boston and is spread out. We were lucky enough to have our very own tour guide who was very helpful and tailored the tour for us given what the students wanted. Boston University is a big school with lots of extracurricular activities offered to the students. Our tour guide was particularly fond of hockey but shared that anyone can find his or her niche at B.U. They pride themselves in attracting students who challenge themselves in high school by taking demanding classes and are also involved in other activities. They are looking for well-rounded students and people who are “doers.” I was pleasantly surprised with Boston University and I believe a few of our students may even think about applying in the fall!

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around downtown Boston and checking out the sites. It was a beautiful day to be out and about. We met Chelsea Moylan and Grace Yuen for dinner at a very nice restaurant called L’Espalier. Chelsea is the Assistant Director of Admissions at Boston University and Grace Yuen graduated from Brown last year. We all learned so much from them and enjoyed amazing meals!

On our drive back to Providence, the icing on the cake was the full, moon that shone bright in the sky. Erin, Erinn, Kathleen, Andrew and Frank were all chatting about the events of the day and how much fun they had. This is just the beginning! Tomorrow we are off to Dartmouth!

Mr. Ramsey has excellent taste in restaurants!

beatae memoriae

The second day of the trip trounced on the first day. Today’s experiences were amazing. Although the day was packed, our group was able to enjoy ourselves wherever we went. The six of us have become even closer over the course of this trip (two days).

We woke up early, yet less than punctually, and began our breakfast at Hotel Providence. We conversed over our meal, and made haste in order to get on the road before our tour at MIT began. Unfortunately, there was heavy traffic on our way to Boston. We made it in time for the tour and learned all about hacking (practical jokes), acceptance rates, and student life.

After our tour, we ate at a burger place together. We enjoyed the scenic outdoors of the MIT campus as we talked about our school experiences. We all got to know more about each other during lunch.

Shortly after, we made the short venture to Boston University, and received a quick tour. The tour left a positive impression on Andrew and Erin. Touring campuses is definitely a crucial experience in order to properly choose what school to attend. Boston University seemed like an extremely friendly place to go to school.

Following our second tour, we hung out in Boston until our dinner. We enjoyed the parks, the library, and the shops. Ms. Larson purchased a pair of running shoes -- she's an avid runner. After a couple hours, we were finally ready to meet for dinner.

At the restaurant, we met with Chelsea and Grace two intellectual women who were able to answer our questions. Chelsea works at Boston University in admissions and Grace is a Brown alumni. Chelsea definitely provided us with insight into what Boston looks for and why Boston is a great place to be. She expressed her desire to watch the hockey game--which Andrew and I are watching right now (Boston leads 4-0).

Grace explained the benefits of Brown. We learned a lot from her, like how Brown doesn't have any required courses. That fact was an extremely appealing reason to attend Brown! It means that freshmen can try all types of classes, and then immediately begin classes for their major. Grace and Chelsea were huge helps in expanding our knowledge on the universities.

What about the food itself? Everything was perfect. The presentation was extraordinary and the taste was fantastic. Our guests claimed it was the fanciest restaurant in Boston, and I believe them. The food and service were definitely the best I have ever experienced. On a side note, Ms. Larson and I share a birthday.

To sum it up, the day was unbelievable. From the tours, to Boston, to the dinner, this trip has been terrific so far. I am anticipating tomorrow with a happy countenance.

Mr. Ramsey has excellent taste in restaurants.

Bustling Boston

We started the day feeling rejuvenated after a full night's rest. We immediately got dressed in formal attire because of our dinners and visits in Boston. We ate a delicious breakfast that the hotel provided. Then we left on our semi journey to Boston. The drive was quite excruciating because of the traffic. In theory the drive to Boston from Providence was supposed to take approximately 45 minutes, but in practice it was about an hour and a half. Boston is a large and fast paced city, similar to that of San Francisco. Tourists were identified easily. First by the look in the eyes of sheer amazement to the city, second by our use of the crosswalk, and lastly because of our attire did not represent the Boston Red Sox or the Boston Bruins. By the way as I blog, the Boston Bruins are on their way to winning the Stanley Cup. Because of this, the police are not allowing parking on the streets because of the riots that are bound to ensue in celebration.

We arrived at the prestigious college, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We all sat in on a short informational session and then went on a two hour tour. The campus was amazing, and more interesting than most might expect. As most might know MIT has a keen focus on math and science. But the students might most enjoy “hacking.” Now hacking has no reference to disturbing or corrupting computer information. Its definition in the MIT vernacular is “an inventive anonymous prank.” Hackers follow a strict code of ethics and guidelines. Many students pull these pranks to send a message to the school’s administration or to purely show of their daring yet creative geniuses.
Welcome to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Oh, those MIT pranksters!
We immediately left MIT and headed to get a quick bite to eat. Once we were fully nourished, we left for our second campus visit at Boston University (Fun Fact: Boston contains over 60 colleges). Boston University was about a 15 minute walk from MIT, which was convenient for our travel. I really enjoyed the tour at Boston University. It was very intriguing. I did not know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Boston University alum.

Today we solely stayed in Boston. We finished our campus tour at around four, and dinner was not until 6. So in order to kill time, we went window shopping, visited a library, and even a candy store. This was really exciting to experience the life of Downtown Boston.

After window shopping we all went to dinner at Boston’s finest and most elegant restaurant, L’ESPALIER. We were joined by the Northern California admissions officer of Boston University, Ms. Chelsea Moylan, and Brown Alum Grace. Both added great insight to broaden our college horizons. They were both very lively and I really enjoyed their company. If I had to summarize all that I learned today pertaining to college, it would be this: Not one thing makes or breaks you for college acceptance, rather having an overall good application is what is most important. We left this fancy dinner and headed back to our hotel. Today was an amazing experience on the East Coast, almost magical.

Mr. Ramsey has excellent taste in restaurants.
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