Thursday, June 23, 2011

Really? That Long?

No way has it only been a day.

It feels like I've been here a week, easy, if not more.

And a rather hectic week at that.

Even this morning seems very far away. Groggily tearing myself out of my (very comfortable) hotel bed at quarter to six in the morning to try and figure out how to work the shower was not the greatest start to my first morning in New York, but hey. A stop-off at Starbuck's was all I really needed to properly wake up, with a muffin tucked away in my bag for a late breakfast on the train.

The train rides today were an adventure in themselves. We were planning on taking Amtrak into Philadelphia to tour the University of Pennsylvania and visit Independence Hall, but fate would have it a different way. Sitting in the waiting area, we all seven suddenly heard the blaring of the P.A. system announcing that there had been some sort of power outage, and that all trains were delayed. Because of that, we missed the info session at UPenn but were able to meet up with a tour and wandered about campus for a while. UPenn has an utterly gorgeous campus, and very enthusiastic students.

For lunch we met up with a director of a community house for pan-Asian American students at the University, a Dr. June Chu, and two of her students, as well as an admissions officer, David Toomer. Amidst delicious food we discussed the applications and admissions processes at Penn, with Dr. Chu adding occasional insight to Mr. Toomer's very helpful explanations as the two students who had arrived with them, Margaret and Joanna, explained what it was like to live and study at the University.

After lunch, Mrs. L took us to see Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed, although we made a bit of an accidental detour through City Hall first. The area around the Hall was very interesting, steeped as it was in history. Perhaps more interesting was the tour of Independence Hall itself, although I must admit the story told by our tour guide was definitely the “fit for kids” version and simplified much of the issues present at the time, making out the Americans as the underdogs fighting for representation under the oppressive English thumb, when in fact the former-colonists were not the blameless freedom fighters we were told to glorify in elementary school. Perhaps our class on the law of the Constitution will delve deeper into that time, but personally I'm hoping the discussions are more set in the modern scope, meaning current issues are debated instead of old ones. 

I'm a little bummed we didn't get to see the Liberty Bell, but we had to make it to the train station to head back to New York. In another strange twist, the very same power outage occurred before our train could leave the station, and we were delayed for more than an hour. A New York native sitting next to me on the second train was adamant that this always happened in intense weather, be it the freezing cold or, in this case, the sweltering heat. Our delay prompted Mrs. L to change our reservation at Bar Americain to 9 PM instead of 8:15, where we had a lovely dinner with two seniors at Penn, Charlie and Jennie, who were more than happy to answer all our questions about life as an upperclassmen and about what they planned to do after they graduated, as well as about how Penn had helped them reach this point.

Well, frankly, I am exhausted and need my sleep, as we have a 6 AM start tomorrow morning for our visit to Bard and Vassar.

1 comment:

  1. Irene,

    Interesting blog. I've read it through and through and still have a couple of questions.

    For instance--what's the story with your shower and why it would take a training course and orientation to operate it. As the retired President of the Plumbers Union it has me curious. Care to elaborate?

    And you allude in a not so subtle fashion about the back story behind the colonists fighting the British. I'm one of those dinosaurs who lived through the Civil War but finished school before educators became enlightened enough to teach anything but the "fit for kids" version of the Revolutionary War accepted by people of my generation. Since I'm always open to learning more and am into all conspiracy theories, I hope you'll regale us with tales of what was really going on back then.