At least, I'm a morning person. Waking up at 5:45 is a feat in itself, and I am incredibly grateful I can handle it better than most. This is important in realization of the arduous, yet culturally rich, travel days, endured today and for the next few days. It was an experience—one to expand before Sunday given our future plans.
From subway, to Amtrak, to sidewalk, we traveled statewide and walked for miles, ultimately landing in Philadelphia where we got an angled view of Drexel University and an in-depth tour of the University of Pennsylvania. Given Amtrak power shortages, our initial departure time was delayed, so our cohort missed the informational session entirely, but we made up for that at lunch and dinner—more on that later.
U. Penn. is stunning! It really is beautiful, and I find it additionally awesome that in finds such beauty within an incorporated urban setting. The campus itself gave more of a Hogwarts feel, obviously playing to my inner nerd, so I was drawn in instantaneously.
What really sells U. Penn. is its incredible opportunity and accessibility. Some of the most exciting features of the university were unique to U. Penn., such as Blackboard, a college website loaded with audio/video uploads of lectures, contact information of staff and students alike, and other miscellaneous crutches to prop up students in aid to their future success at the university. The library sharing program was also notable: U. Penn. shares its library collection with the rest of the Ivy League schools and other neighboring universities and colleges. Information is at the tip of your fingers, and to be more specific, the better, because U. Penn. can support and encourage such pursuits given its outstanding system.
Perhaps what caught me most off guard was the tone of the university. For an Ivy League school, I didn't get the feel I was expecting. Contrary, I gathered a more laid back, relaxed atmosphere, and I liked that. I really liked that.
During our lunch and dinner we were able to connect and communicate with current U. Penn. staff and students, an opportunity proved infinitely useful given our absence at the information session. Virtually all questions I could muster were answered, and by the end of the meals, I left with a strong initiative to apply to U. Penn. during my approaching senior year. I was impressed with the school, and I could definitely see myself snuggling myself into it.
We also had the choice to visit Independence Hall, where our country's founding fathers met for the signing (and arguing) of the U.S. Constitution. There, in Olde Town, we brushed up on our history hunting. I found it to be very foreshadowing of Monday, our first day of class at Columbia University.
The trip had its fair amount of hiccups, however. I'd venture to say we were pretty unlucky, actually. On the way home from Philadelphia, after boarding our Amtrak, we were informed of another power shortage. But, this time, the entire Eastern seaboard collapsed in power. Amtrak and Septa (the local, public transportation system) were suspended until further notice from Philly to Manhattan. It's kind of cool to have been through it, though. It's definitely memorable. I did enjoy the newfound time to chat with my neighbor on the train. Paul and I had a pretty intense discussion about Georgetown, accounting, and daughters.
The most disappointing fact of the day, though, was the lack of Philly cheese steak. Our lunch restaurant didn't serve them, and I was extremely sad. I was simultaneously in total glee at the BBQ Brisket Reuben I had, however—absolutely delicious!
Each day that passes adds to my anxiousness to explore New York City. It's kind of a tease residing in Manhattan but exploring elsewhere, but it is definitely worth it, because I'll have plenty of time to explore New York in the weeks to come. I'm grateful to branch out while I have the chance. I love that I can reflect on my experience thus far and come to the realization that it is just the beginning. I have a lot more to do, and a lot more time to do it. I'm more excited than I was prior to departure from S.F.O., which is quite peculiar, yet enticing.
It's been a long and dimensional day, and I am more than ready to get some rest, wake up, and do it all over again.