Thursday, July 21, 2011

To End an Experience

This is it. Well, that was it, about five days ago.

New York was an experience in more ways than accountable for on my fingers. From the subway, to the M.T.A., to the taxi, to the dorm life, to the classroom, to the homework, to the library, to the food-stands, to the attractions, to the entertainment, to the shear national acclaim of the Big Apple, New York City and Columbia University intertwined to provide me with the experience of a lifetime.

What I was able to learn and cultivate in a mere three weeks is comparable to what I gathered in the past three months. It's unfortunate that the Ivy League Connection cannot provide for even more students than it does, but those who are able to experience the immense opportunity presented in front of them should have the utmost appreciation for those who make it possible--the administrators, the sponsors, and the supporters. We may only hope that the I.L.C. is able to grow in the future as it has in the past to provide more students this experience, for it is an opportunity to learn as much about yourself than about the situation surrounding you. I'll elaborate.

To begin, the dorm life was just what I expected, but it was incredibly helpful to experience the expectation in mind. It was shocking to find out that Columbia University dormitories were not already equipped with wireless capability, but they did have an Ethernet slot to allow Internet accessibility. The dorms cam with bare minimums: one towel, one pillow, one blanket, one mattress, one room telephone, one trash can, two desks, one chair, and three shelves--for books. With just one carry-on and one check-in bag from California, however, I was able to disperse my belongings throughout the room and give it some homely essence. The dorm is intended to be utilized with such simplicity, I believe, because it is not intended to be an eternal sanctuary. In college, there's too much to do, too many people to meet, and too many places to go. You have no time to flirt with your dorm, nor would you want enough time to do. Given, my experience was in New York, so the area is a natural activity safe-haven, I'm pretty sure there are few colleges out there that emphasize dorm occupancy for the majority of the day. I myself was given a single, so I have no experience with a roommate. Of course, I do have ideas after sharing an entire floor with about 50 other students.

I definitely viewed the dormitories in a positive light: I loved them! I can't wait to settle down in one in the near future when I head off to college myself. There's something neat--not to mention convenient--about having that instant community surrounding you to draw upon. It's an innate college attribute that removes the possibility of a lone-wolf and highlights the accessibility of a social life.

The classroom was, in contrast, everything I hadn't expected. It was rewarding, and even fun at times, nonetheless. I always had it in my mind that college work was abundant, that academia would keep you busy the majority of the time spent at college, but I also thought that I was going to be able to handle it with relative ease, which was certainly a naive mentality in retrospect. Don't get me wrong, I kept up. I did what I had to do. I did more than what I had to do in some cases. But, by no means was it easy. It took a great deal out of me, and it definitely took away from some of the time I could've spent exploring the city and socializing with new and old friends. But, I believe that is simple a high school flaw. I only had a problem squeezing everything into a tight schedule because I was in New York for the first time, and I was only going to be there for three weeks. Had I enrolled in a New York college in actuality, I think I would have had an easier time managing needs and wants, because four years would have been a lot more spacious than three weeks.

Aside from the classwork and time management, the professor was wonderful. Dr. Z. was incredibly down-to-earth, practical, and humorous. She was not what you would expect from a college professor, but that relates to our knowledge of high school teachers. She was always around to lend a helping hand. She pushed us to do our best work and to do it in a timely manner. And, she taught us not only how to be knowledgeable in the subject matter, but be knowledgeable as college students as well. I hope that the course is provided for the future I.L.C. generations; it really allows you to learn as much about yourself as the American presidency.

Student peers and classmates were by far the most stretching change for me, personally. Using my class as a prime example, the students were so educated. I am around the top of my class at Richmond High, as I'm sure the vast majority of other's are as well, and to be in a classroom full of kids that have learned and pushed themselves as hard as you was different--in a good way of course. It was a pleasant surprise to have such high ability within my own classroom. It was easy for the students to thrive off one another, I thought. It was a huge plus.

As for my floor=mates and other friends I was able to make over the course of the course, it was also contrary to expectation. Some of the wealthiest, preppiest individuals in the summer program were also some of the most spectacular students and people. Sure, there were some individuals who spoiled the lucky batch, but many were really cool to meet, and I am grateful to have been given such an opportunity.

As for New York City, it was different, but not entirely astray from my familiar route. It was more busy and more purposeful, definitely. People moved in abundance with such celerity. The route from A to B was shortened at every possible opportunity, or so it seemed. Everyone just had a place to go and wanted to get there as soon as possible. That's something I admire. What else became blatantly apparent to me was a sense of pride. It's a lot easier to notice a New Yorker than a Californian--they just have a certain style and atmosphere around them. They pop, for better or for worse.

I like both New York and California, and I am considering college and post-college lives in both areas, but I dare not say I have a more passionate love for the East Coast than the West Coast. I don't think a three week trip can accomplish that kind of a goal. It did, however, put my geographic loyalty into perspective though. I had always thought of living and pursuing interests outside of California, but it was nice to have experienced such before even exiting high school.

All-in-all, the trip/experience/opportunity was a total success. I experienced much and learned even more, and I could not be more grateful for such. So, thank you for everything. I have become a more successful student and a more well-rounded person. I cannot wait for next-year's students to be able to experience what I have myself, and I look forward to advocating for the I.L.C. in my upcoming senior year. It's been swell!


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