Friday, June 19, 2015

Hectic Days No Longer - Welcome to Cornell

The Philadelphia Amtrak Station
Four days, three cities, two restaurants, one basketball game, and countless memories later, the Cornell cohort and I finally wrapped up our college tours at Emory University, Georgetown University, and University of Pennsylvania and have now arrived at our home for the next three weeks, Cornell University.  After wrapping up at two in the morning, I woke up at around 6:20, 30 minutes before we had to be in the lobby, to grab some Starbucks with Stephen and fuel up for the day ahead of me.  At around 7:05, two taxis picked up our squad and brought us to the Washington D.C. Amtrak Station, where we caught a train to Philadelphia.  At 9:00 AM, the train left the station and by 10:30, we were in Philly.  The train ride went smoothly and gave me an opportunity to get a little extra rest.  We departed from the train, checked our luggage into the Philadelphia Amtrak Station, and walked to the White Dog Café for our lunch with current students from the University of Pennsylvania.  

Panoramic of the block of the White Dog Cafe
We arrived at the White Dog Café around 11:15 AM, about 15 minutes before the restaurant opened up.  While waiting outside, we were able to meet Dyana So and Kahaari Kenyatta, both of whom were rising seniors.  They were both incredibly friendly and outgoing, which made it easy to break the ice.  Upon entering the restaurant, the Cornell cohort made small talk about last night’s dinner and our adventures in blogging late into the night. 

Dyana is from Pinole Valley High School and actually participated in the Ivy League Connection twice during her tenure in high school.  Kahaari and Briana Williams, a rising senior did not know what the Ivy League Connection was all about, so we explained to him, along with Briana Williams, another friendly rising senior who walked greeted us right as we entered the restaurant.  Throughout the duration of the lunch, the conversations were incredibly free-flowing.  No one ever seemed secluded from the conversation and the Penn students did a wonderful job of describing what their school was all about.  For most of my lunch, I spoke with Dyana with Shanti and Julie, where we all exchanged questions and answers.  Dyana gave us advice within her experiences at the college and in general going forward.  She also told me personally she knew people within Penn’s student newspaper, and to contact her later on.  At around 1:00 PM, everyone said their goodbyes, and we headed off to Penn for our tour of the school.

The Theatre
The presentation just began by the time we arrived at the college.  The initial presentation took place in Penn’s majestic theatre, where at least 500 students and parents all ready to tour the campus.  The presentation was pretty standard considering what I had seen in the two days prior.  The list of topics discussed included Need Blind, the application process and what the college looks.  What I noticed is that the presentation shied away from talking about student life and student involvement with the school.  I found this odd because Emory and Georgetown put such a great emphasis on their students and how all of their students created a family, not just a student body. 

While at Penn, I didn’t quite feel the same vibe as the former.  Following the presentation, twelve students at Penn broke up the massive crowd amongst themselves.  Our student tour guide was Stefanie Kligman.  In short, the tour wasn’t as quite immersive as the prior two colleges.  In long, the tour felt a little too cookie cutter.  It was apparent early that Stefanie was new because she did not speak with the same degree of confidence as her fellow students, who I heard when I passed them.  Our group also ended up making an unnecessary circle around the school, wasting a lot of our energy in the baking sun.  Nevertheless, I made an effort to appreciate the school while I could.  The architecture was fabulous and I loved how the school implemented trees and greenery at nearly every corner. 

I also had an interest in the student body’s traditions, which let me know that a strong student body did exist.  All in all, it was a very mixed experience.  I would have to say that the extra walking took my attention away from the tour and more on my lack of physical energy, which I wished did not happen.  I am interested in the school, but I feel as though I’d have to do more personal research to make up for the tour.
University of Pennsylvania 

At around 3:30 PM, the tour ended.  Our group took a brief visit to Penn’s bookstore, then headed back to Philadelphia’s Amtrak Station.  At the station, we were finally able to get our first real break outside of sleep.  We arrived at the station at around 5 PM, a full hour before we were supposed to be picked up.  The second I hit the benches, I was knocked out.  According to Shanti, I only slept for about 30 minutes, but to me, it might as well have been a full eight hours.  At 6 PM, the shuttle picked us up from the station and dropped us off at the airport about twenty minutes later.  There, we would run through the repetitive bag check-ins and security checkpoints.  By 9:30 PM, we were up in the air, on our way to Cornell University.  

We arrived at Cornell at around 11:30 PM.  Upon entrance, we were greeted by a multitude of students and RA’s.  After signing in, I was introduced to my three RA’s, Jake, Josh, and Rak.  They were all incredibly helpful in moving me into my dorm and helping me battle a couple of nerves that I had coming into the university.  I did not get my Cornell ID, nor did I get the key to the lock to my door.  I will be receiving these two items tomorrow at the orientation.  This past week has been no easy journey; we’ve had to take three planes, flag down countless taxis, adapt to the heat and humidity, and cram as much of the east into our trip as humanly possible, all while sticking to the itinerary and juggling time constraint after time constraint.  Now that I’m here, it’s time to get working (and maybe for tonight a little extra sleep).  

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