Wednesday, June 20, 2012

They like it big in Texas? New York likes it bigger.

Even early in the morning, the station is busy.
I had another exciting, busy day on the East Coast, beginning at 7:15 AM. I had no time to run though, because we had to catch our train to New York City to visit Columbia University and Times Square! I had never ridden on Amtrak before, so it was definitely a cool experience. The only thing I had to compare it with was the Bullet Train in Japan, so it seemed slow and bumpy; but it was just as punctual. The only bad part was the smell underground - it was hazy, and smelled more like oil and mechanics than of oxygen. We had breakfast while waiting for our train to arrive. I took advantage of being out of the meat-loving part of Philadelphia and ordered a delicious fruit salad. Then we played Old Maid together until it was time to line up for boarding. Security is very lax, so we didn't even need to show our IDs.
Times Square, just as busy!
We got off at Penn Station and hopped on the subway to Times Square first. It was my second time there, but I was still awed by the myriad of advertisements which were almost as big as some of the buildings. I felt very small compared to everything else, and had to crane my neck to look up at the skyscrapers. People were everywhere - it was far more crowded than San Francisco; in the middle of the street, they were doing some sort of mass yoga workout to advertise a company's products and celebrate the summer solstice. After an hour of marveling at and taking pictures of the buildings and billboards, we headed back to the subway to go to Columbia.
Formerly an asylum, now the French house.

The middle of campus.
The campus seemed like it could be its own city. Just 14 years older than UPenn, this school also held on to its 18th-century roots. The buildings appeared older, with its own style separate from the rest of New York. The inside was just as beautiful as UPenn, though the color scheme at Columbia followed the school colors more than it did at UPenn. It was smaller, but not any less grand. The information session and the campus tour gave very similar statistics; I think we would have learned the same amount with just the campus tour, rather than getting both. By the way, it was supposed to be 100 degrees in both New York and Philadelphia today; I drank probably three bottles of water just while in New York! After the campus tour, we rushed back to the subway to catch our 5:39 train back to Philadelphia, with Eric Wang as our guide to the quickest route.
The Low Library; it has no books.

Waiting for our train.

The rush was actually unnecessary; our train was delayed by about twenty minutes, and we played two more rounds of Old Maid. We got back to the hotel with just enough time to shower and unwind a little before heading back out for dinner at Amada. We all chose to do the "Chef's Selection," in which the chef chooses your various dishes (this restaurant served only appetizers, so customers have to order several). It was the equivalent to a four-course meal; some of my favorites were the wild mushrooms and the potato bread (that's not its real name; I don't know what most of the items were, but that's what it tasted like). We did not finish until 11 o'clock, and we were all stuffed and tired. Tomorrow, we're up at 6:45 AM to go visit Princeton!

Wild mushrooms, and wildly delicious.
Spinach, fig, and ham; somehow it worked.

Calvin's creative way of thanking the chef: food art using the leftover dessert sauce.


  1. What IS in Low library, if there aren't any books? -- your mom

  2. There are art exhibits, mostly. It used to be the main library, but they collected so many books that the buildings began to sink into the ground. So the built a new, bigger library across the street, and transported all of the books via conveyor belt.