Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Summer Solstice

The Enormous Station

We woke up relatively early today (7 AM) so we could catch the train to New York City. As soon as we stepped out of the hotel the heat struck us. Even at 7:45 in the morning the humid heat was already oppressing. Unfortunately we knew it would get much worse. A brief 15 minute walk from out hotel brought us to the Amtrak Station. At the station I had a steak, cheese, and pesto breakfast burrito and my first of MANY water bottles for the day.

The boarding process for the train there was fast and easy, the only issue was the environment of the boarding area, which I'm sure my brief exposure to already shortened my lifespan by a few years. The ride was pleasant and gave me a chance to see more of the East Coast. The difference in environments between the East and West Coasts is easy to see, and I appreciate them both, I could not chose a favorite.

Yoga in the middle of Time Square,
 you know, standard stuff
After we arrived in New York we took the subway to Times Square. Stepping out from the subway we were immediately assaulted by the sweltering heat. As usual Times Square was a bustle of activity and drama. In celebration of the Summer Solstice a clothing company had huge areas fenced off in which hundreds of people gathered to do yoga under the blazing sun. We saw some drama occur when a bus hit another driver's side view mirror.Luckily we left before the swearing starting. Seconds later we were approached by a group of men who handed us their "free" CDs then immediately asked for donations. When we declined, they took their CDs back and moved on in search of more generous prey.

Columbia's Campus
After our adventure in Times Square we took the subway to Columbia University. Thanks to Eric Wang's guidance (he went to the Columbia program last year) navigating through the Columbia area was easy. On the way to lunch we stopped by the gift shop so Rachel could get a sweater for her brother. I was glad to go, since it provided a welcome reprieve from the heat. For lunch we had sandwiches from a local deli. The sandwiches were small, but very tasty and satisfying. After lunch we headed back to Columbia for the information session and tour.

Where they keep the French
During the session (in which we were front row again, sorry no photo evidence this time) I learned a whole lot about Columbia. From its numerous core class requirements to the excellent on campus housing options. Unfortunately, as of right now, it does not seem like Columbia is the school for me. The programs offered are all excellent, the campus is beautiful, and the social aspects seem very appealing, but living in New York City does not appeal to me. I still greatly enjoyed the visit. I am becoming more knowledgeable about all aspects of college, and learning more about what I want to do in my future.

Our our guide told us an interesting story about the one building on campus which looks different and out of place. It is the last remnant  from the insane asylum which occupied that area before Columbia, and apparently home to the French department.

After our tour we began the journey back to Philadelphia. Everything was going exactly to plan until the word "delayed" flashed up next to our train. Luckily we had a deck of cards and the delay was not too long, so we entertained ourselves playing "Old Maid" and "Indian Poker" until the train arrived. The train ride back was a good chance for me to work on my blog, and I spent the whole trip typing away on my I pod.

One of our desert dishes:
chocolate cake and saffron ice cream
After a quick shower and rest time at the hotel it was out again for dinner. We dined at Amada, a restaurant which specializes in tapas. We ordered the chef's choice, and that turned out to be a good decision. Dish after dish arrived, I think we counted seventeen in total. Five appetizers, five cold dishes, four hot dishes, and three deserts. The restaurant was very helpful and compliant with or groups various food allergies. It was an extremely enjoyable experience, and although the environment was much more casual than previous ILC dinners, this meal was definitely another top meal of my life.

After dinner it was back to the hotel for blogging and bed. Then tomorrow its off to New Jersey to visit Princeton University.

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