It really wasn't until after the orientation at the library at ECHS that it truly hit me: this is really happening.
I'm going to New York in the summer.
I'm going to Columbia in the summer.
I can't say for sure what exactly did it. It wasn't hearing from former-ILCers about their experiences at Ivy League schools; it wasn't going over the itinerary with Mrs. L and my parents and the other Columbia-bound students; it wasn't talking about book requirements for the course. But, at the same time, it must have been all of those things and more. When I walked out the front doors of my school, I wasn't thinking about my upcoming physics final, or the blessed approach of lazy summer days, or what to do as a send-off for a favorite foreign exchange student heading home after graduation. My head was whirling with thoughts of New York: what I would do, who I would meet, what I would wear, what I would learn. Whirling with thoughts of Columbia and how magnificent it'll be when I arrive there. Whirling with thoughts of just how much I'd miss my family: will I call home every day, saying how much I'm homesick for everything in California, or will I dive in head first without a second glance?
I went shopping with my mother today (or rather I should say yesterday; its very early morning now), scoping out clothing for the humid east coast summer I'd be dealing with for close to a month. That was another moment that drove it home for me. Standing in a fitting room, mentally debating the merits of looser-but-less-familiar cotton shorts versus my ever-so-steadfast jean shorts that would perhaps be uncomfortably hot in the humidity, it all hit me again: this is really happening. Even two days after the orientation, I'm still getting these occasional waves of impending movement, the future washing over me when I least expect it.
But, I should stop rambling on about shopping sprees in Emeryville and talk a bit about the orientation. I wasn't as early as I'd liked to be, verging on the point of almost being late (which I'm worried is becoming my M.O. in the program, something I'm going to have to work very hard in the future to disprove). I enjoyed hearing about the ILC Press, which had been mentioned previously at the dinner in San Francisco but was detailed a bit more Thursday evening. The idea of high school students, students like me, having their poems and stories and novels published in a true publication is a stroke of brilliance, and I'm really heartened and proud to see the WCCUSD implementing visions like this, even after the success of the Ivy League Connection. I feel like the ILC Press will do a lot to help students in the district get a leg-up on whatever careers in writing they choose, and it will also encourage other students, those with less of a literary bent, to take up a pen and explore their own creativity through writing when they see their published peers enjoying the benefits of the publication.
Don talked a bit about his loaner items (emphasis on “loaner”!) and shared some advice for the technical side of our packing; although I'm tempted to borrow a security cable from him, the safety it provides seems like a decent investment even after this summer, so I think I'll purchase a permanent one for myself.
When we moved away from the main group of people into separate rooms for every school, it was really helpful to hear from someone who'd participated in the program at Columbia before. Yueming, the sister of my fellow student Eric Wang, was at the orientation to talk about her experiences in the Presidential Powers course at the university, and she was more than willing and very able to answer the questions we threw at her to try to remedy our ignorance. It was great hearing about her recollections of life in the girls' dorms, which were a suite style arrangement that Yueming described as “like living in a sorority,” which will certainly be a memorable experience! And perhaps its only because here in Kensington we have only one (relatively ill-equipped) library at our disposal, but I was really impressed to hear that the students during the summer had access to two libraries. Yueming gave us some helpful hints on what we did not need to bring (25-foot ethernet cables are not necessary at Columbia, thank goodness) and described the way her Presidential Powers course was run in a discussion-based way; I'm excited to learn whether or not my Constitutional Law course is the same.
Then we covered the itinerary. Mrs. L gave us out all our packets o' stuff, containing everything from hotel reservations to airline confirmations to our planned train rides to visit colleges. The itinerary got me thinking about what exactly I wanted to see while I was in the Big Apple: museums, Broadway shows, art galleries, what? Of course my mother's inner New Yorker came out when we started talking as a group about we just had to see: she suggested we go see the Cloisters, owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I kept remembering Beilul's suggestion at our last meeting that we go see the Harry Potter 7 Part 2 movie at its midnight screening in New York; I'm hoping she's as busy concocting plans to convince an R.A. to take us as I am because, hey, two minds are better than one. But if I think about it, what I desperately want to do is watch the fireworks around the Statue of Liberty on the 4th of July, preferably from the water. I've got this old picture from when I was last in New York: can't you just see the brilliant fireworks exploding off to the right against a black sky with the city glittering in the background?