Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Final Countdown

This is it. In less than 7 hours I will be with my cohort: checking luggage weight, saying our goodbyes, realizing all the little (hopefully) things we forgot, and doing our best to stay awake.

I cannot wait to visit UPenn, Columbia, Princeton, and take the class at Cornell. As a rising junior, this opportunity is perfect for my situation. My next year will be a flurry of AP courses, standardized tests, and making important decisions involving colleges. Taking the Freedom and Justice class a full two years before I actually go to college is going to be a huge advantage for knowing what to expect, and hopefully learning more about my career goals. Touring the campuses and meeting admissions officers is yet another benefit involved in the program. Even if I do not fall in love with one of the schools, I will be much more informed about what I am looking for and what I expect in a college. I cannot wait.

I am all packed, and ready to go. Luckily my last weekend in El Cerrito was beautiful, and the fog only rolled in late today. This will be the first time I am away from my family, or home in general for that matter, for this long. Of course I am a little nervous: about my roommate, the class, meeting new people, and all the other possible issues. But I know it will be an amazing experience, and I am really excited.

So finally, here we are. The night before departure has arrived. The countdown is down from days to minutes. And I am ready.

Ready To Go

24 hours from now, I'll be in Philadelphia, thousands of miles from home. It's a bit surreal to be honest. To think that in day I will be environment radically different from the Bay Area, meeting new people, seeing new sights, and living in a completely different setting. Wow.

Our first week will be filled with college tours to UPENN, Columbia, and Princeton. I have already seen UPENN and participated in the ILC program at Columbia, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm stil extremely excited to see these schools once again! I loved both school and am looking forward to getting to know more about these schools which will help decide which schools I want to apply to. Princeton is also exciting because I get to visit a world renown institution that I know I wouldn't have even thought about visiting had it not been for the ILC.

Reading the book Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy has made me yearn for more knowledge about the hotel industry. Author Isadore Sharp explains his business philosophy which centers around the customer, and what the customer wants. He forgoes the common notion of providing customers with products that a just slightly inferior as opposed to more expensive and higher quality items just to save money. Sharp believes that if his hotel or service gives his customers the highest quality products and as well as provide the best service, he is gaining customers that are worth thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars. While it may seem absurd to spend much more on a silk curtain that looks no different than a much cheaper polyester curtain, no one can really say Sharp is crazy because he was been wildly successful in the hotel industry.

While it may be hard to say goodbye to the people and things I love at home, I know for one month I'll get a taste of what studying at an Ivy League university is like. I'll get to meet new people and learn about different cultures from around the world as well immerse myself in the Hotel Operations and Management course. I can't wait to learn as much as I can! I intend to soak up as much as possible during this one week adventure!

Let's Go!

Time To Fly

With less than 12 hours to go, I'm making sure I have everything ready to go before driving off to El Cerrito High School, where everyone will rendezvous before the flight to Pennsylvania. As I finish packing my bag, however, I can't help but think of the adventures my cohorts and I are about to experience. It seems like only a week ago that Don first came to our school explaining all about the ILC. Although my sister already insisted that I should head out to the East just like her, Don helped persuade me on why I should participate in this program.  The thought of heading out with students and not with parents seemed too good to pass. This experience would be like a preview on how actual college life would feel like.

I have been waiting for so long to go to the East. But now that it is less than a day away, I'm more anxious than anything. Maybe it's because I never went so far away from home with fellow cohorts, or maybe it's the anticipation for this trip has been too long. I've waited and waited, but now, it's suddenly in hand's reach. Well, either way, I'm still very excited to be part of this program representing this school district.

Since the beginning of summer break, I've been wondering what it would be like in New York and Pennsylvania. Of course, when I'm actually at my destination, everything will be so much different than what my imaginations are like. Since all my past presumptions of nearly everything never comes true (just like how I assumed what the Cornell dinner would be like), I've learned to expect the unexpected. Still, I can't help but try to wonder about the trip that all the past ILC alumni say is wonderful.

After publishing this blog, double checking my bag, and finishing the book assignment, Cornell would just be a fly away. That is, a five hour flight. Also, not to mention it would be very early in the morning. Waking up at 2 AM would never feel so good!

I've Got a Date with Cornell

As I pick out my outfit for tomorrow, paint my nails for the final time, and touch up the last of my packing essentials, I become excited for my date with Cornell; and for this event, I definitely won't be stood up. Of course, I am also nervous - I have never been away so long, and now I am under pressure from Don to become a temporary insomniac during my 3:40 AM trip to the airport, and 5-hour flight, as well as trying to keep my suitcase under his personal weight requirement of 42 pounds. However, these are small issues compared to the great adventure that awaits me; tomorrow evening, I will be in Philadelphia enjoying dinner with the rest of my cohort.
I am excited to see the other campuses (UPenn, Columbia, and Princeton), but since they do not seem to have a nutrition science major for undergraduates, I am really most excited to see Cornell (which has an excellent program in two different colleges - Agriculture and Human Ecology). There's also the excitement of being a tourist. I've never been to Philadelphia, so hopefully we will get to see as many points of interest as possible. My list of what to get is ever-growing, thanks to my brother (unfortunately, Max, you get one thing only), so souvenir shopping is definitely a must.
Although it will be fun to have my own hotel room for the first week before Cornell, I am looking forward to meeting my roommate in the dormitory. Dorm life will be another new experience, though not completely unfamiliar, thanks to many years of YMCA summer camps (living with one girl in a cramped room will hopefully be easier than living with ten girls in a cabin that's not much bigger). I will be sure to take many pictures, too, so that everyone (the wonderful sponsors of the Ivy League Connection, especially) can experience this trip with me - day by day, just as the doctor ordered.
Now it's time for the final step of any lengthy trip - spending time with the people I won't see for a month; because although the break from my family will be nice, in the end, they are the people who really got me here.

Off To The Races

Well, junior year is over and I couldn't be happier. After endless nights of studying for SATs, SAT Subject Tests, ACTs, and AP tests, it feels wonderful to have them all behind me now (until I get my results back...). My mother always told me that junior year would be the most crucial year of my high school career, and boy, was she ever correct. Night after night I would stress out about my grades and sort through every possibility to get my grades up. In the end, I managed to get straight A's (I think...*knock on wood*). Overall, I would not trade my junior year for anything else because it has taught me valuable academic skills as well as showed me my mental and physical capabilities.

Now that school seems to have ended about a month ago, I could not be more excited to go to the East Coast! I have finally finished packing and quadruple-checked my packing list and thanks to Don, who brought my loaner items to me yesterday, I am sure I have everything I need.

This whole week I have been looking forward to this trip. Every day, I read and reread all the handouts and itineraries concerning Cornell and the other colleges we'll be visiting (Princeton, UPenn, and Columbia) during our one week stay in Philadelphia. I hope to absorb as much information as possible during these campus visits and dinners with the admission staff of each college.

As the time approaches, concerns fill my head: will I wake up in time? What if I forget something? What if my shampoo explodes in my luggage? I have set my alarm for 1:45 AM just to make sure that I cannot possibly be late (since Don foiled my plan for not sleeping tonight). However, I pretty sure I will be too anxious to sleep anyways.

I will be totally honest with you, throughout all my travels on planes, I have enjoyed the plane ride more than the actual trip itself 9 times out of 10 (mainly because I want to work in aerospace/aeronautic engineering or become a pilot), but I 100% positive this trip will be that one where the trip itself will surpass any of the flights I may go on in the future. And who knows, maybe my initial career goal will change once visiting the other colleges and taking Freedom & Justice at Cornell. The possibilities are endless.

This is it, in 15 hours we'll all be at El Cerrito High School ready to embark on this amazing trip. I cannot thank Don Gosney, Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, and all the supporters of the ILC enough times for giving me this opportunity. I don't think I have ever been this excited to go to school in my life. East Coast watch out, because this WCCUSD entourage is going to blow your mind!   

Philadelphia Bound!

In 18 hours I’ll be meeting my cohort at El Cerrito High to soon board a plane to Philadelphia!  Since the end of school last Friday I have been anticipating this moment; reminiscing on all the preparation that was required to get to this day.  All the memorable events, between the rigorous application process, luxurious dinner, and orientation (all while dealing with the demands of junior year) have been stepping-stones to tomorrow’s departure. 

Yesterday I finished the remainder of my shopping and will spend the day checking, double-checking, and then triple-checking my packed belongings as to be 100% sure I have everything.  A friend of mine and current participant of the ILC made the greatest suggestion of creating a Excel spreadsheet listing each item I will be packing and where (main, carry-on, pocket) it is located, something I found to be extremely useful, just to have a checklist while traveling and to insure I do not forget anything while moving from place-to-place. 

My largest current concern: waking up on time.  Today I woke up at 7:30, early for summer standards but still a mediocre attempt for “practicing” for tomorrow, but I have my alarm placed strategically on the other side of my bedroom notched on the highest volume and coffee already set-aside in the kitchen to insure a smooth early-morning transition (yeah right…).

Philadelphia will be our first stop, where we will establish a home base while visiting UPenn, Princeton, and Columbia.  Being one who generally needs a lot of sleep, the fast-paced long days, in addition to the 3-hour time difference, will be a challenge at first.  I have never explored the city and really don’t know what to expect but I am thrilled nonetheless to see the sights of a metropolis with such a rich history.

As for Cornell I really do not know what to expect aside from the input of past ILCers, alumni, and ILC administration.  Though reading Princeton Readings in Political Thought may sound intimidating, it has given me greater insight to what the class is about and what I can expect to learn.  Though some sections may be incomprehensible to say the least, part of the experience will be to understand and analyze these philosophies.   

I thought the stress was supposed to end with the conclusion of the school year, but it was only the beginning.  Nevertheless, I cannot express in words my excitement without posting some sort of elated facial expression, but I don’t know if the inclusion of such a picture would be appropriate for the blog.  The sad part is this is most likely the final blog I will write from the comfort of my own home until the end of the trip, but I am so ready for the journey to begin all the same.  During the school year I promised myself that I would have a productive summer, and I think the opportunities that lay in this trip go up and beyond those standards that I had in mind.