Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Sense of Community

A cool breeze brushed across my face when I awoke to the sound of my alarm clock at precisely 7 AM. I hurried across the room to shut it off to not disturb my roommates Jenna and Michelle. I was the only awake at the time so I decided to take a shower and get ready for the long day ahead. Once we all met up at the lobby by 9 AM, we walked over to Starbucks for breakfast
Tamilyn, myself, and Michelle at Starbucks

I am not much of a coffee person so I just decided to drink water and eat an iced lemon pound cake. After we quickly walk down the busy streets of downtown, we took a bus to the Navy Pier.
Inside of the Children's Museum
The view of Chicago from the ferris wheel

The first thing I noticed about the area was the enormous ferris wheel. It was the first time I was ever on one, but thankfully my fear of heights temporarily disappeared. Tamilyn, Tomi, and I got a chance to ride the carousel as well since Mr. Chan-Law purchased a family plan deal of ten turns on any ride. My sense of childhood momentarily returned as I rode my plastic, decorative stallion. Other regions we passed were the diverse food court and the beautiful nature preserve. Unfortunately, we had to depart from the pier to reach the University of Chicago on time for our scheduled visit.

In less than two days, I have gotten used to Chicago's public transportation. Since the university was rather far away, we transitioned from a bus to the Red Line Subway train. 
Tomi, Tamilyn, Rochelle, and Jenna on the train to UChicago

Unlike the Bart trains in San Francisco, the trains have voice monitors that indicate where they are located at every stop; I believe this is much more convenient than constantly looking out the opaque windows of the Bay Area locomotives. Once we exited at Garfield Street, we took another bus and finally reached UChicago. I thought the campus, or at least the areas we were able to see, was so neat and massive.We arrived about an hour early so Mr. Chan-Law allowed us to shop at the student store.
Unversity of Chicago's student store

By 2 PM, we entered the front of the admissions office, where we waited for the information session to begin. An admissions officer named Alex was the speaker for this event. With an engaging presence and powerful voice, he explained to audience at the Oriental Institute the university's academic experience, financial aid, campus life, and the extensive application process. Since the University of Chicago is a liberal arts college, there is a lot of academic flexibility and the classes are more focused on problem-solving and research. A few other facts I learned during the session were that 60% of the students were on financial aid, there are fifty-five abroad study programs, and there are about thirty academic advisors that help the students navigate their course work and out-of-class research. At 3 PM, the campus tour began.
Walking across Harper's Quad

As we ventured from the inner campus filled with gothic architecture to the more modern housing residencies, our tour guide Mason briefly discussed the history of the university and then delved into the student activities like fraternities, broom ball, and spring time concerts. Once the tour ended, my cohort and I returned to the hotel by 5:30 PM so we could get ready for the dinner at the Perrenial Virant restaurant.

Riding the local bus seemed so normal to me while we were commuting to the restaurant. I could not help but feel slightly nervous about meeting two of the admissions officers. As I learned months ago from the ILC, one's first impression should be a positive one. Fortunately, my nerves started to calm once we reached the establishment. Tonight's dinner guests were admission officers Callie Brown and Troy Carlson and three current UChicago alums: Mario, Tanya Mookerjir, and Nathan Brooks III. I sat between alums Tanya and Nathan, with Ms. Brown, Tamilyn, and Mr. Carlson facing me. The evening's meal began with three delectable appetizers; my favorite was the crispy carnaroli rice cake. 
Crispy Carnaroli Rice Cake

For the main course, I selected the CDK beef meatballs whose tangy and tender meat gave my taste buds a new flavor to enjoy.

CDK Beef Meatballs
Desert consisted of a small chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, three chocolate chip cookies, goat cheese fritters, and strawberry rue-barb tart pie; I was absolutely full when all these tempting treats arrived but I managed to enjoy one fritter.While we ate, Tamilyn and I began asking Tanya questions regarding her experiences of campus life and her education thus far. At the same time, we asked Mr. Carlson questions about the application process as well as his general overview of the school. He informed us that nearly 60% of students who apply have perfect grades and test scores. Therefore, personal statements and vague essay prompts like "What do you like about Wednesdays?" were important in testing one's creativity and uniqueness as an applicant. A commonality I heard from both of them was the college's diverse population, fairly small class sizes, and close community among the students. Hearing this made me reconsider what type of college I should apply for because I would rather have close bonds with my fellow students and faculty members than merely be another hay in a hay stack. I was able to chat with Nathan for a bit, who told me about the importance of time management, especially when balancing courses with athletics. In addition, Tamilyn and I spoke with Ms. Brown before the night ended about the rest our trip in the East Coast. 

Today was certainly filled with many events. Visiting UChicago made me realize that I need to truly feel 'fit' in the college I will attend. I simply cannot wait to see Northwestern tomorrow and see how it compares to this university.

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