Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pleasant Surprises

Today was our busiest day so far. We toured both Boston University and Dartmouth, travelled through three states, and were finally able to see the Brown campus for the first time, along with the Brown I group.

We drove to Boston to tour Boston University in about 45 minutes. Boston itself was surprisingly beautiful, especially with the river running through it. One of my favorite things about East Coast cities is the architecture. The beautiful old brick buildings add charm and make us aware of how historically significant each city is. Boston University had many old buildings, as well as many beautiful brownstone buildings where upperclassmen live. I found out from our tour guide, Anna Cervisi, that 80% of the 16,000 Boston University students live on campus, and all are guaranteed on-campus housing. This was nice to hear, because not many urban colleges have such a distinct campus with such a strong student presence.
On our tour we learned that BU is divided into nine colleges, but has very flexible academic policies in terms of the students’ ability to change majors and colleges. I was very excited to hear that they have a school of hospitality that was competitive with that of Cornell University, but with more internship opportunities because of its urban location. The hospitality industry has been an ongoing area of interest for me, and therefore Boston University is as well.
During our tour, we were able to view a sample dorm room, which gave us a good sense of what freshman living would be like on campus. I thought the lofted beds with desks underneath was an incredibly efficient way of making space in what might otherwise be considered a small room.

We then visited one of BU’s 23 libraries, which was connected to a small museum. In this museum, along with many other historical artifacts, was President Richard Nixon’s letter of resignation. We also visited the Student Union, which had community service and educational resource centers, and also some of the campus’ 6 dining halls.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with Boston University, especially its beautiful campus and academic opportunities. After our tour, we drove two hours to Dartmouth University in Hanover, New Hampshire. There we had lunch at the Canoe Club and were joined by John Beck, an admissions officer, and Clark, a rising junior at Dartmouth. They both gave impressive and humorous presentations during the lunch, and answered all of my questions regarding admissions, personal statements, and student life at Dartmouth.
I also learned some interesting information about Dartmouth. I learned about the “D-system”, and was shocked to hear that Dartmouth required that every student take off three quarters of leave, in which they were not allowed to do anything academic. Later on, however, Mariko informed me that was essentially the same thing as having three summer vacations, but just not necessarily in the summer. I then understood why Clark was on campus during his summer quarter after sophomore year, as is required by Dartmouth.

I also learned that 40% of the Dartmouth student body participated in Greek life. Although Clark made Dartmouth Greek life seem different than in other schools, this was still a turnoff to me. However, I was glad to hear that the Dartmouth students, although competitive with themselves, are not as competitive with each other as many other colleges. Clark told us horror stories of torn-out pages from textbooks, and I was glad to hear that Dartmouth’s academic environment was less competitive and more interactive and supportive.

Although I wasn’t as interested in Dartmouth, I still asked a ridiculous amount of questions and was able to find out some general information about colleges that would be useful to me in the future. Without the support of the Ivy League Connection, I probably would never be able to have such an intimate and informative experience where I was able to ask as many questions as I wanted and truly take advantage of the resources provided.
Finally, we saw Brown University for the first time, and had dinner at Johnny Rockets on Thayer Street with the Brown I group. Not only was it great to be able to talk to different students, but seeing them and all of the other students have such a great time made me unreasonably excited. At this point, I’m just counting down the days until we can move into our dorms and truly get a taste of college life.

Birthday In Boston

Our first full day on the East Coast was an extremely tiring one. Not only was I horribly jetlagged, but I was running on 4 hours of sleep. However, I woke up feeling chipper for multiple reasons. It was my birthday, I was in the Providence Hotel in Rhode Island, and we were going to visit two great colleges. Because I was feeling sleepy still, I started my day with a hearty breakfast of Belgian waffles and a latte.

As soon as breakfast ended, we went to Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts. A beautifully structured campus full of trees and brick buildings greeted my cohorts and me. Not only was I attracted to its homey campus, but I was glad to find out that it had an average of 27 students per class. There’s a state-of-the-art gym that includes an indoor track and rock climbing as well as yoga and cycling classes and dance classes. I was extremely ecstatic to find out that Martin Luther King, Jr. received his PHD in Theology at Boston University. This college also has a great program for studying abroad, which is what further pushed me to apply to the University. This college was an amazing start to a series of college tours.

After Boston University, we went to Dartmouth College, which is located in the tiny town of Hanover, New Hampshire. Unlike the urban campus of Boston University, Dartmouth College, the smallest of the Ivy League colleges, was located in a small town where the local stores were conveniently located right next to, if not inside, the college. The college was established in 1769 as a way to educate Native Americans. Dartmouth College focuses on undergraduates, which surprised me, because I thought such a prestigious college would only pay attention to graduate students.

We came back from Dartmouth at 7:00 PM and took about 30 minutes to get ready for a dinner with the Brown session 1 cohorts. We met up with them at Johnny Rockets and what a glorious reunion it was! Seeing our friends who went through the Summer@Brown program and the excitement in their faces as they shared their experiences with us was so much fun. The bond created between the two sessions of Brown summer scholars was a valuable gift that I deeply appreciate. We’ll have the opportunity to see them again tomorrow if we can attend the college fair held at Brown University.

6 Hours In A Car

Today was a novel experience for me. We toured Boston Dartmouth Universities, located in Boston, Massachusetts (of course!) and Hanover, New Hampshire respectively. This meant that in a single day we drove from Rhode Island to Massachusetts to New Hampshire and back again. Seeing as it can take about 10 hours just to get from San Francisco to Oregon, I was amazed at the ease with which we crossed state lines. Everything is so conveniently close!

Boston University, while not originally on our itinerary, turned out to be an extremely enjoyable place. It was about a one hour drive to Boston, and it was on the way to Dartmouth so it was very convenient. The campus seemed quite cozy and all of the buildings were right next to each other without being cramped in any way. A couple especially appealing facts about BU were the four years guaranteed housing and urban location. Boston seems like a wonderful city, bustling with life yet not overwhelming. Our tour guide, Anna, did a commendable job in selling her school to us. I had a lot of fun on our campus tour and I learned a lot about BU.

A dorm room at BU

A beautiful building on the BU campus

We then headed to Hanover for a tour of Dartmouth. Ava, Rebecca, Caroline, and I prepared for a long, two and a half hour car ride. I was attempting to catch up on some sleep, but I was rudely jolted awake by wild swerving and honking. A truck driver had nearly run us off the road! Luckily, Ms. Larson’s mad driving skills kept us on course. :) Without any more excitement, we arrived safely in Hanover.

At the Canoe Club, we met with John Beck, a Dartmouth alum and admissions officer, and Clark, a rising junior at Dartmouth. They were kind enough to answer all of our questions about student life and the admissions process. After lunch, Clark took us on a tour of the campus. I had no problems with the idea of secluded, small town life (Hanover has a population of approximately 11,000), but was unsure if I liked or disliked the unique Dartmouth quarter schedule. I did love the Dartmouth landscape–massive brick buildings, wide green lawns, and the gorgeous surrounding forests.

A Dartmouth fraternity house

Everyone takes a brief rest

The oldest building on campus

At the end of our tour, we said goodbye to Clark and prepared for the long ride home.

When I wasn’t dozing in the backseat, I passed the time by staring out of the windows and admiring the East Coast scenery. I continue to be amazed by all of the beauty here. I knew that I would love the profusion of forests and greenery, but I hadn’t expected to fall in love with the beautiful brownstone buildings. Because of the earthquake risks, California lacks the brick structures that seem so typical in classic East Coast architecture.

Instead of a fancy dinner, tonight we met with our buddies from Brown Session I and they gave us advice about life at Brown. After our discussion, I am much more excited to enter dorm life and I find that I’m sad that we’re only staying for a two week program.

Lastly, I need to announce something very important: Today was my friend Josie's birthday! Happy 17th Josie! I hope today was everything you could hope for

Figuring Myself Out

Our group presentation was a success. We had a really fun and engaging PowerPoint presentation. After we presented, our class spent half an hour talking about the California budget deficit. Professor Coleman was not bashing our project, but he told us to consider several things. First, he told us to consider the government projection of how the budget is spent. Next, our TA (John) told us that it would have been interesting to see where the revenue came from which kinds of taxes. The discussion intrigued the entire class and we kept on bringing up different situations and alternate solutions. I agreed when Professor Coleman said "difficult decisions need to be made" in order to improve the economy in California and in the United States as a whole. He liked our presentation a lot and our group got a lot of compliments after class from various classmates.
Grace Yuen (we had dinner with her at L'Espalier) contacted me last night to schedule a meet-up on campus. I e-mailed the rest of the cohort and we met on the main green to discuss what we liked so far about Brown. Kathleen, Erinn, and I got interviewed by some Summer@Brown directors. Their footage of us is going to be on their FaceBook page sometime next year. Grace took us around campus to introduce us to her dean (who is teaching the Women in Leadership program for Cohort #2) and to some of her friends that we ran into in our travels. Grace knows a lot of people at Brown. She was an active student and a hard worker. Out of all the alumni and staff that I have met, I find that I connect with Grace the most. She is so easy to talk to and she is enthusiastic about our experiences on the east coast. She is also still a teenager at heart.
I was talking to my mom over the computer and I found that I did not really connect with the other current students at Brown University. Perhaps it is the age difference because I get along just fine with the Summer@Brown students. I have had conversations with RAs, RDs (program directors), and panel members, but I have never really clicked with them. Of course I have fallen in love with the Brown campus, but I find it difficult to fit in with everyone else besides the summer students.
Everyone that goes to Brown is intelligent and brilliant. The students are constantly thinking and making a difference with their research and application of their knowledge. I have been thinking a lot about why I am having trouble seeing myself at Brown. The girls on my floor share each other's SAT scores, and it amazes me how high they go. I know that a score from a test does not define a person, but it still bothers me. I would love to attend Brown University and study everything. Liberal arts seem like a good path for me because it would allow me time to find what I really enjoy doing and what I have a passion for.

This program has not only opened my eyes to the possibility of Brown University, but also to the grand options the east coast has to offer. There is great education, people, and adventure waiting for me here. I have two more days in the summer program, and then I head home on Sunday. It is going to be hard to leave.

We met up with the second cohort at Johnny Rockets. I was very happy to see my fellow ILC friends, with so little experience on the east coast. I just wanted to tell them everything about Brown, but Frank and Andrew told me that they should also find out for themselves. We ended the night with thunderous laughter and fun ice cream. They have finally come to their new home.
I am satisfied with my day once again. Until tomorrow, I will spend this night with deep soul searching.

Color of Brown

I finally know (some of) the secrets of Brown! I was told by Grace this afternoon when she came to see us. I learned about the underground tunnels that run from the Ratty to the frat dorms, which Kathleen, Frank and I live in, but unfortunately they are closed off. There was also a mansion that is reserved for alums, which few Summer at Brown students get to see; the mansion was privately own until it was donated to Brown. I found a new place to study beside the SciLi, but I wish I knew about it sooner—the SciLi is very distracting since there are computers everywhere—and it has air conditioning and games so that is a plus. And I must mention how many souvenirs I got just by being with Grace; Grace is familiar with many Brown officials, so she has a lot of connections.

Summer at Brown is nothing like the actual Brown during the school year. I find this statement to be repeated several times over between RAs and the alums that I have spoken to, and as I compare my experience with Grace’s I am overwhelmed by the difference. There is the Brown that I have seen for the past three weeks—walking to and fro class, getting to understand the campus and the buildings, cooperating with students within class—then there is the Brown that I have heard from the alums—a great community, a place where you will never be bored, a place where everyone interacts and is friends with everyone. I am more compelled to go to the Brown that I have been hearing from the alums. Everyone that goes to Brown wants to be there, and the students are selected by whether or not they are “Brown.”

I want to know more about Brown, but after the end of this week I must do the research on the Brown website and from alums that I am in contact with.

Day 2: Hours of trees, trees, trees

Because of jet lag, my hotel roommates and I went to bed around 2AM but had to wake up at 6AM. We met for breakfast at the hotel. After eating a delicious breakfast, we set out to Boston to visit Boston University. Anna, a rising junior, gave us a tour of the campus and went into great detail of campus life and activities. One in particular made me homesick- closing your eyes and the roar of the cars sounded like waves on a beach.

The tour allowed us to see into the dorms and get a preview of college life in general. It was eerie walking down “Comm. Ave.”, the main street for students at Boston University, and thinking ‘I’ll be doing this in little over a year from now’. As someone who was interested in the school before the tour, I was excited to get an inside look. Anna took us into the various buildings and libraries to see what BU was passionate about, which included a numerous amount of historical documents and artifacts, such as handwritten letters from Dr. Martin Luther King.

Since the tour ran a little late, we booked on out after thanking Anna. We headed out to a bistro called Canoe Club in New Hampshire, where we met Dartmouth’s Admission’s Officer, John, and a rising junior, Clark. They answered out questions and described their academics while we had lunch. Afterward, we walked the short block to the college where Clark gave us a tour. Although we did not get to see the dorms, I was very impressed with what they offered. Then Clark took us back to our cars, where we headed back to Providence.

At the hotel, we quickly changed into fresh clothes and walked up to Johnny Rockets for dinner and met with Brown Group 1. Group 1 already ate so we chowed down while they described their experience in an Ivy League school. Since it was Josephine Biteng’s birthday, ice cream was passed out and we all sang her Happy Birthday. Then we intermingled and talked about curfews and R.A.s as well as specific experiences Group 1 had during the few weeks they were in class.

We walked Group 1 back to their dorms, then walked back to the hotel where we had a talk with our chaperone, Ms. Williams. Then we started in on our blogs, which we got to do in our cozy hotel rooms instead of the chilly lobby once we discovered the hotel’s wifi. At the end of the day, I was really affected by our campus tours and l love the precious opportunity given to us.

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