We started off our first full day by boarding a train to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 6:45 AM, which was not easy because of our late day yesterday and jet lag. I realized that there is of course the obvious New York City, but there is also a whole other city underneath it. I call this the subway city. People are right when they say that everyone takes the subway. There was not a time when we boarded the trains that the train was not congested. The subway waits for no one. I actually prefer the subway over the BART at home. It's hard not to compare NYC to the Bay Area, but the NYC transportation system is so much smarter that that of the Bay Area. You get cards to swipe instead of wasting time inserting the card and waiting for it to give it back. You don't have to use the card to get out of the station either. Everything in New York is 10 or more times faster than on the West Coast. It's not like "oh, I missed the train! Maybe I'll catch the next one..." If you don't catch that train, you are pretty much done, especially when you have time restraints. If you don't move you will get left behind.
"All trains 'DELAYED'"
We took the Subway to the Amtrak station where we planned to take a train to Philadelphia. We rushed over only to find out that all trains had been delayed "indefinitely" because of power outages. I thought we would be stuck there forever. We spent 45 minutes waiting for the problem to clear up and were finally able to board the train and depart. I would like to tell you about my experience on my first train ride, but I fell victim to an hour and 15 minutes of sleep out of the hour and 30 minute trip...
We arrived in Philadelphia, but because of the delays we were unable to attend the informational session at UPENN. Instead we took the tour around campus. The campus is absolutely gorgeous and not what I expected in the middle of the city. I could get what I want in a school at UPENN: the convenience of being in a city with a university feel. I mean that it has grass and is spread out rather than a whole bunch of buildings around a city. UPENN offers an engineering program that interested me. It allows you internships with local companies and the opportunity to create your own ideas and build them as projects for classes. The architecture was beautiful. As I walked through the campus, I could picture myself at UPENN, attending classes, doing research, participation in the social life that it offers. What I liked the most about UPENN was its friendly atmosphere. All of the students want to help you and they actually like to help other people.
"Admissions offices at UPENN"
"School of Engineering"
"The Quad: where most freshmen dorm"
"Benjamin 'Benny' Franklin, founder of UPENN"
We attended lunch with June Chu, David Toomer, an alumnus Joanna, and a current student Margaret. They talked to us about the admissions process, basically what UPENN admissions officers look for when they review our applications. As long as we take advantage of the opportunities given to us by our schools, there should be no problem in being admitted. Testing scores do not matter as much as grades and the personal essays. Joanna and Margaret told us about student life, like housing and activities around campus. They were a huge help in showing us how students actually lived while at school.
Independence Hall was our side track in Philly. We took a tour of the hall, which is basically two rooms. It's amazing to me how something made so long ago can still have an effect on the future. History is very interesting to me, and the whole experience of being in the same room as some of the greatest Americans our country has ever had was amazing. Our tour had to get cut short in order to make our train to head back to NYC. I wish we would have had time to visit the Liberty Bell and be able to walk around and see other surrounding areas of Independence Hall.
"The room where it all took place...""The presider over the Continental Congress: Gen. Washington."
Our train was delayed again because of power outages! AGAIN! This time we waited an hour and the train even left some passengers behind who had stepped out to get food or use the restroom. While on the train, Beilul, Eric, and I discussed the colleges we will be visiting and how we each felt about UPENN. We came to the conclusion that it is a great university, even if it may not offer specifically what we are looking for. It is a school worth applying to.
We returned back to the hotel to get ready for our dinner at Bar Americain with two current students, Jenny and Charley. Jenny attends the Wharton School and is currently working at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Charley attends the School of Arts and Sciences and is working at JP Morgan. They both were super friendly and answered questions we hadn't thought of ourselves. They told us that the most important part of the application was the "Why UPENN?" question. They also gave us tips on college classes and getting in touch with professors as well as all of the free food we can get. What stuck out to me was that they came from different places and seemed like they had been friends for longer that just 3 years. The ability to create friendships at a university such as UPENN really stuck out to me. For the social life that I am looking for, it might be the place for me.
"Dinner at Bar Americain"
Beilul and I both agree that in the city that never sleeps, we don't get much sleep. We usually wake up at around 6 AM and don't get into bed until at least 1 or 2 AM because of our busy schedules. However, I know that it will be worth it, because just my first day on the East Coast has already had a huge impact on my college decisions. After meeting with students, alums, and admissions officers, I realized that maybe this time next year, I could be walking through the quad at the University of Pennsylvania as an undergraduate.