Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Living History at UPenn

Today started early for me, though not nearly as early as yesterday. I saw last night that the hotel had a fitness room on the third floor, so I dragged myself out of my soft Hilton bed (complete with four plushy pillows) to go try running on a treadmill for the first time ever (the streets in Philadelphia are narrow, and, unlike California, it seems pedestrians don't really have the right of way, and there is no road sharing). It took me about ten minutes to get used to the feeling of the floor moving without me going anywhere, but afterwards, it was fun to play with. After a nice 27-minute workout, I rushed back to my room to call everyone (I was assigned wake-up call duty by Mr. Chan-Law).
One mode of public transportation.
Independence Hall, from afar.
City Hall, 1791-1854.
We first headed out to Independence Hall via taxi. We had an extra hour before the tour, so we all walked down to the nearest restaurant and grabbed some breakfast. All of the guys wanted the Philly cheesesteak, but it was too early. I wanted a fruit salad, but it was also too early for fruit, apparently; I had to settle for an omelet, and now I no longer wonder how America developed such a huge obesity problem. After breakfast we headed to the famous location where colonial delegates signed the Declaration of Independence; we also met up with the Columbia group for this tour. The first part of the tour showed where the Constitution was signed and what the room looked like; the guide was a little flat, and frankly, he seemed tired of reciting the same history every day. At the west end of Independence Hall, we had a female guide who showed us the first rooms for the House of Representatives and the Senate (before D.C. was built); she was much better, and even threw in some jokes during her presentation. The whole tour only lasted about 30 minutes. We saw the Liberty Bell through a glass window (the line was too long), and we were going to check out the Constitution Center, but decided against it due to time constraints.
The Declaration of Independence was signed here.

Area for the first House of Representatives.

The first gathering place for the Senate, just upstairs.

Inside architecture.
Outside architecture
Our second tour was of the University of Pennsylvania; it was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740, and has since become known as one of the more social Ivy schools. The buildings were beautiful, and screamed of history on the outside; inside, they were modern but still amazing. Unfortunately, they do not have a nutrition science major, but it was still interesting to see the campus. It was very different from a California school, which is typically all modern architecture, inside and out. There is also a certain feel to UPenn, similar to UC Berkeley - it seemed like a school for the privileged. The student tour guides were dressed nicely; our tour guide (Anna) wore black dress pants and a black shirt despite the hot weather. Usually, the tour guides at California schools are either dressed in a uniform, or have on jeans and a t-shirt. Of course, I guess if one can afford an Ivy League school (especially UPenn, which provides no merit-based financial aid), then one has the right to show off a little.
Penn is still bustling with tourists and students during the summer.

The main campus library; probably has every book...

When the tour ended, we were all hungry again, so we walked to the nearest food cart and ordered some small Chinese dishes (I got vegetable fried rice). We walked back to the heart of the campus to eat with the Columbia group, who had also toured the school. After talking with Adrianne Ramsey for awhile, the group left, and we headed back to our hotel rooms to take a break before dinner.

Tonight we had dinner at the Fountain Restaurant with UPenn alumni and admissions officers. The woman I sat next to (actually a current student), Monique Sager, was wonderful to talk to; in fact, I think she may have been a distant cousin. We coincidentally sat next to each other, but we discovered that we had the same ethnicity and culture, grew up in similar environments (both by the bay), and she had 33 food allergies while I had a gluten intolerance. I've never met a random person before with so many similarities, but it was fun, and was an immediate ice breaker. She told me a little bit about the university and its culture, as well as what to expect. I specifically asked her if AP classes actually prepare students for college courses. She said no, they are completely different. She also added that Ivy League schools state that they accept AP credits, but the credits do not really count for anything.
My delicious, though salty, entree.

On top of the great company, the food was excellent as well. The restaurant was very understanding of my dietary needs, and provided me with all gluten-free meals (including bread!). I ordered a caesar salad (no croutons); sauteed sea bass with shrimp, lobster, and bomba rice; and mint ice cream for dessert. They also gave us something in between the entree and dessert; it tasted like tart raspberry, and resembled a more solid gelatin, but I did not catch the name of it. The seafood was too salty for me, so I only had a couple of bites, but the rice was mouth-watering. It seemed like a rich, nontraditional version of mac and cheese. 

1 comment:

  1. Rachael,

    I'd like to learn more about Ms. Sager's thoughts about the AP courses and how how Ivy League schools handle these courses and credit for taking the courses and the AP tests.

    I can only imagine having the tour guide job you mentioned and having to recite the same spiel dozens of times each day. Sounds a bit like Groundhog Day.

    I find it amusing that so many of these blogs seem to revolve around food--really good looking food.