Sunday, June 26, 2011
Today was a very busy day – not that our others have not been.
We began with a wonderful buffet brunch with Yale Northern California Admissions Officer Alex Richardson. He was incredibly personable and open about the admissions process, Yale and his college experience. He gave us a lot of information about what an application reader looks for in an applicant and some of the red flags they keep an eye on.
Following our brunch, we completed an important milestone on our trip: moving into the dormitories. I have to say I am a fan of Columbia’s dorm system – though not necessarily the dorms themselves. I am in a suite with about 12 other girls (including Milani) and two Residential Advisors. All of us have our own rooms and there are 3 bathrooms and showers, a kitchen and television for general usage. I find suite style living to be much more intimate and close than regular dorms because the number of people is considerably smaller. The girls are from Italy, Spain, Indonesia, India, Singapore and Rochester, Los Angeles and New Jersey.
After getting settled Mrs. Lilhanand took us to the campus bookstore to buy any necessary school supplies and our very own Columbia sweatshirt. Then, we each had our own suite/dorm meeting with our RAs clarifying the rules of the program. After this, everyone went to the barbacue for dinner.
After giving us a few hours on our own, my RAs decided that the entire suite should go to Pinkberry, a fantastic frozen yogurt shop. We are finally here and I am definitely looking forward to orientation and class tomorrow.
Today, the Columbia cohort finally arrived at Columbia University! However, before we could rush towards the beautiful campus, we enjoyed brunch with Yale admissions officer Alexander Richardson. Mr. Richardson was unique in that he is the Northern California admissions officer and will read our applications should we apply. One of the most important pieces of advice he gave us was that the essay is the only part of the application where prospective students can come off as a human. With this in mind, Mr. Richardson said that we can write about anything in our essay from a strategy game to sailing as long as we portray ourselves as something more than statistics on a computer screen. He said that the only way to make an application pop to him is to not write about I did this and I did that but write about something we’re really passionate about make sure that if anyone read it, it would seem as if we were having a conversation with him.
After brunch we had an interesting cab driver to transport us and our luggage from the Empire Hotel to Columbia. While we had made plans regarding who was going to go in each cab and have the two cabs follow each other, as soon as we hailed a cab our plan went straight out of the window. First off, Mrs. L. wanted to ride in the first cab so that she could direct the driver to the right gat at Columbia, and secondly she wanted the first cab to wait until we could hail a second one. Well, as the events played out, Mrs. L. wasn’t able to ride in the first cab and as soon as Will, Masao, and I situated ourselves in the taxi our driver sped away. The ride there was interesting because our driver swerved in and out of lanes, honking cars, and yelling at other drivers as we made our way to Columbia. About 10 nerve-wracking minutes later I was relieved to set my feet on firm ground and walk to my dorm, John Jay.
Prior to dinner we had an orientation with our R.A.s. My R.A. seems to be very relaxed and determined that we have fun. After going through rule of the program, he told us about several trips he had planned out for us. He also said that we don’t have to go on his trips if we don’t want to because there is 90 other R.A.s who has planned trips for the 1300 students for this program. As the day winds down, I am more excited than ever for the first day of school!
Today is the day we have all been warily awaiting. Today we moved into our dorms at Columbia where we will reside for the next 3 weeks. The campus is awe-inspiring. So far, I love it.
After we just nearly survived a trip with our most aggressive, reckless taxi driver yet, we made our way into the heart of the Columbia buildings. The sheer height of the buildings that surrounded us was enough to give Columbia its own unique atmosphere never mind their striking architectural style which I felt was a slightly more modern version of the best of the Harvard, Yale, and Penn campuses.
Whereas all of the campuses we have toured have serene, peaceful courtyards, the courtyard at Columbia feels like it is a whole new universe because it is tucked right in between the busy, bustling New York City streets. But before I was completely absorbed by the ambience of the campus, we made our way to John Jay hall to check in.
Columbia clearly takes their high school summer programs seriously because there were Columbia students marked by their Summer High School Program Shirts almost everywhere you looked. After I received my room key, many of them were more than happy, even anxious to answer my surfeit of questions : where to buy stamps, where to send out letters, how to use the gym, how to receive letters, what neighborhoods to avoid at night, how to receive my Columbia ID etc.
My dorm room was an unadorned but warm single room. So, while I will be unable to develop a close relationship with a roommate, I will have plenty of space to think and study with by myself. Although I was unable to catch my RA’s name for now, he seemed laid back and truly happy to be helping. He told me to be back in my room by 5:30 for orientation and the Columbia Cohort used the downtime to purchase essential supplies for our classes and Columbia sweatshirts.
I have only been here for a few hours but I am already bursting with excitement and anticipation for the coming weeks.