Today we finally arrived. I unpacked my suitcase eight hours ago and am typing this while siting in my dorm room at Columbia University.
Our day started off well. We got to sleep in, thankfully, before meeting Yale admissions officer Alex Richardson for brunch. As he is the Northern California admissions director, it was refreshing not having to explain exactly where we were from, and Alex, having worked with ILC students before, was very supportive of the Ivy League Connection and what the program is trying to achieve. Though it was the last of our ILC alum and admissions officer meetings, brunch was rather subdued; all of us felt a little burnt-out by the grueling pace, and last night's incredibly engaging dinner with Yale and UPenn alums had seemed like a triumphant note to end on at the time, so the brunch seemed almost a bit like an after-thought. However, as far as after-thoughts go, it was a very helpful one. In addition to reaffirming a lot of the good advice we had heard about the general application process from almost every school, Alex described the step-by-step process each application goes through at Yale, involving two reads and a group discussion before the student is accepted or rejected.
All of us had packed up our suitcases before we left for brunch, so when we returned to the hotel, all that remained was to change into less fancy clothes and hail two taxis to Morningside. Check in was very brief; I was given two keys, one to the suite I would live in and one to my specific room, and dropped off my suitcase before heading back down to the campus bookstore, where Mrs. L was kind enough to buy for each of us a Columbia sweatshirt or jacket as well as a few notebooks and pens so we can be prepared for class tomorrow. After that I went back up to my dorm, where I met the other girls in the 8C suite, all of whom are very kind as well as intelligent and individual. We've got neighbors from all over the country (even someone from as close as San Francisco!) and international students as well, such as one Canadian student and one girl who came all the way from Switzerland to take an art design class here. Our RAs are very interesting too, treating us as equals instead of children and managing the rather difficult feat of being friendly and available while not being too pushy. I gotta say though, compared to the rest of the campus especially, the dorms are downright ugly. Not the outsides at all; but the insides are filled with narrow hallways with no discernable markings or direction, and although my actual room is nothing more than I expected, the common area of our suite is very sparse, nothing compared to the gorgeous parlors they have at Vassar College.
Tonight we ate dinner in an auditorium instead of the dining hall where we will be eating the rest of the nights. Dinner was yummy with hot dogs and pasta salad, and gave everyone a chance to get to know each other a little more. After dinner the RAs took us out for dessert at a gelatoria/bakery/coffee-shope nearby that I'm sure will become a quick standard in my off-campus dining around Columbia. We wandered about on Broadway, shopping a little at Duane Reade's for some smaller missing supplies, and our RA, Julia, showed us her favorite market as a suggestion for quick and cheap dining options during the weekend when we are responsible for our own food.
All in all, a great first day at the Summer Program for High School Students at Columbia University; I'm very impressed with the beautiful campus, and I really look forward to starting class and spending a few relaxing hours in the library in the next few days.