Friday, November 11, 2011

Simple Pleasures and a Sweet Reunion

Today I experienced autumn leaves falling off trees for the first time in my life. It made me think of the many simple pleasures we take for granted every day.

How often is it that we, in the Bay Area, take time out of our day to embrace the cold weather as a sign that the holidays are coming up? Many of us, myself included, find ourselves so busy with our lives that we may see the transition from warm to cold and rainy weather as inconvenient and unnecessary. I'm pretty sure that people who live on the East Coast would feel the same way about the falling leaves. Rather than embracing the physical transition between Summer and Winter, they would probably curse the trees during the season of Autumn for getting in their way of going on with their everyday lives. Being from the West Coast, I never got to see this "dance" of the bright orange leaves in the wind but I was lucky enough to have front row tickets to this majestic seasonal event during breakfast with Ms. Kronenberg, Rebecca, and Adrianne. That was an excellent start to an extremely eventful day.

We went on an hour-long drive to New London, Connecticut, where we took a college tour at Connecticut College. As expected from East Coast colleges, it was characterized by rustic brick buildings. The college itself is currently undergoing construction; a new natural sciences building is being built and it will be open to students in Fall of 2012. This sounds rather perfect for a student looking to study zoology and animal behavior like me. :)
The best part of the day had to be the reunion of my Women and Leadership class back at the hotel. It was described by everyone as surreal, AWESOME (D'Ara's catch phrase), and nearly tear-worthy. We were all just so happy to be back together and we skyped and called the people who weren't able to attend the event just to let them know how much we hoped they were with us today. My Women and Leadership group is so closely-knit that we're known by other courses to be "the only class that cried when the session was over" and frankly, I'm really proud of that title.

"Tomorrow," as quoted by one of the administrators of the Symposium, "will be an 'action-packed' day."

And Symposium Begins (-:

I awoke this morning to Josephine and Rebecca walking down the hallway for breakfast, which made me realize that I should've been up an hour before to get ready! I shot up, brushed my teeth, got dressed, fixed my hair, and was downstairs in ten minutes flat. Note to self: set my alarm! (-:

Ms. Kronenberg, Josie, Rebecca, and I enjoyed breakfast in the Hotel Cafe. Rebecca and I both ordered French toast, and it was quite good. After we finished our food, we started the hour long drive to Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut, where we would be touring and then attending an information session.
Might I add that the weather was very windy, harsh, and just cold in general! I'm happy I had gloves, scarves, and a good jacket to keep me warm...barely. Shivering, the four of us walked to the admissions office and began our tour. Our tour guide was Patrick, who is a sophomore and is double-majoring in mathematics and economics.

Interesting facts about Connecticut College: 
  • There are seven distributive requirements, one for each subject: physical/biological sciences, mathematics, social sciences, literature, fine arts, philosophy/religious studies, and historical studies 
  • 9-1 student ratio, with about 18-19 students per class. There are no TAs at Connecticut College; all classes are taught by professors
  • AP scores are accepted by the school. If you took an AP level foreign language and got a score of 4 or 5 on the AP test, you only have to take one semester of that same language. If you're starting college with a new foreign language or didn't take an AP test in foreign language, you have to take two semesters of foreign language
  • Shain Library is the biggest library on campus. Students can also acquire books from Trinity College and Wesleyan University 
  • There are four coffee shops on campus and cafes with lots of coffee - apparently coffee is very popular in not only New Haven, but also New London!
  • Students are given five days to take all of their finals at the end of the semester 
  • There are 24 residential halls and apartment style dorms for upperclassmen 
  • Studying abroad is very popular at Connecticut College, and most students travel to about three countries through the study abroad program 
  • The dorms are pretty big and look very cozy! (-: 
  • Connecticut College is an SAT (I & II)/ACT optional school, meaning you only have to send in your SAT Reasoning, SAT II, and/or ACT tests if you feel that they reflect you and can boost your chances into being accepted into the college. If you don't feel that they reflect you and will not help you, you can choose not to send the tests. 
Quote from Scott Alexander, our information session speaker:
"I'd rather know about what your progress was during 4 years than on a 3 1/2 hour test." 

I was definitely impressed with Connecticut College. All the students there seemed very friendly and happy, the scenery was simply gorgeous, and I definitely enjoyed their academic program. I am interested in their music program and was happy to pick up some brochures about it. I am definitely considering applying to this fine college come next fall.
After coming back and having a delicious Chinese food lunch, the four of us returned to Hotel Providence, where we happily reunited with D'ara, who took Women and Leadership with us. I am also delighted to say that D'ara is my roommate, along with Elie, who is from Equador. She took Global Development and I had a couple of conversations with her when it was summer.

11 out of the 21 girls who took Women and Leadership are at Symposium. I find that absolutely amazing that we are continuing to work on our Action Plans. Being able to see the girls ago is just great; it's like July 22nd (the last day of Summer@Brown) was minutes before. It is fantastic; too much to put into words.

After socializing - two guys have been introduced into our circle, Evan and Guy! They're hilarious - we all sat down for dinner in one of the hotel dining rooms. It was a buffet style dinner, so I helped myself to lots of bread, pasta, and mashed potatoes (so unhealthy, I know!). It was also great to see some of my friends who took Global Development and Conflict Resolution. Even though I was sad not to see some others, we called Abi and Cynthia Z. and skyped with Mackenzie later on, which was great.

We started off Symposium by playing mingling games:
  • Human Knot 
  • Story Behind Your Name 
  • Prompted Questions 
  • Rock Paper Scissors Competition 
It was very, very fun. There was also a dance performance by a group called Case Closed, who told their life stories by improvising within their choreography. After they were finished, they held a panel and gave us advice about following our dreams.

I'd also like to mention Dean Rose and Kisa. Seeing them both made me so happy; I have missed them so much. They are both huge inspirations and have always inspired me whenever I am having challenges with my Action Plan.
After the activities ended, I got settled and spent some quality time with my roommates. I also went down to Evan and Guy's room, where we and the other girls socialized and watch a bit of Mean Girls. What an exciting night!

I know that tomorrow will bring more activities and more fun to come. It is the only full fledged day we will have of Brown, and I am so ready for it. I have missed Brown; it is my second home.

Symposium day 2: The Brownies Are Back in the Oven

I think my nerves got the best of me because my sleep wasn't great. I woke up several times before ultimately getting up at 7 AM. We christened the shower and got dressed, arriving in the lobby not a minute past 8 AM. The weather was better than yesterday, the wind was painful but it wasn't that cold and the sun was out. It was shockingly similar to the Bay Area's weather, except leaves were falling.

After breakfast we headed on out to Connecticut College. On the hour and a half ride, I promptly fell asleep, only to be jerked awake by the speed bumps of the campus parking lot. To be completely honest, I was skeptical about this trip because I had already made a college list, and I was unsure about adding another one to it. However, I was jumping for joy at the end and am happily going to apply to it. The tour was amazing and our information session was delightful!

On the way back home, Josie and I read a fascinating piece of literature. Ms. Kronenberg is a great driver and I am glad she came with us. She is an absolute delight!

Shortly after lunch, Brownies started pouring in and the reunion began. After worrying if our rooms would be given up to the ones coming in, we worked with the hotel staff and ended up keeping our rooms. Josephine and I have a roommate, Emma, who is so nice, but only met her an hour before curfew.

After dinner, we had a performance by Case Closed, a dance group working with kids to keep them off the street. Marlie, from the Women & Leadership course, knew the members of the group, so we got a little insider knowledge. Once that concluded, we hung out in the lobby and in the rooms of friends we made until curfew. Today was a long day because I was so tired, but tomorrow is going to be even longer, especially with my birthday celebration after the activities.

Best birthday ever.
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