Friday, June 22, 2012

Ithaca: We Have Arrived

We had a treat this morning when we got to sleep in until 8:30. After a quick shower Frank and I luckily did a room sweep, because I would have forgotten my toiletries bag. We then met in the Inn at Penn's lobby for the final time to check out. Our driver to the airport was late, and when Mr. Chan-Law called him he was "a block away" but we still had to wait another few minutes. The trip to the airport was fast and easy, and there was only a minor hiccup during security when Alex and Eric got stuck behind two people who both needed to get all their bags checked. When everyone finally got through security we got an a bus which took us Terminal F. Terminal F was a tiny terminal used for the local flights. Once we got settled we grabbed a quick brunch from Au Bon Pain. I had a chicken, bean, and cheese burrito and chocolate milk, it was a strange combination. Our flight was inexplicably delayed for half an hour, so we waited in the terminal for longer than expected.

Boarding the plane was interesting as it was the first time I had ever walked out to the plane and up a stairway. It was tiny, with only 4 seats per row, and maybe 12 rows. The flight was extremely short, but we had a couple scary moments when turbulence violently shook the plane.

The airport in Ithaca was tiny, and a very different experience from the airports I am used to. While Mr. Chan-Law was getting the rental car we did our good deed of the day and pointed out a bag which had been sent to the wrong airport to the airport management. Getting to Cornell took two trips because of all of our luggage. Luckily it was a short and pleasant ride.

We got an extremely special surprise at the Statler Hotel when we learned that we each got an individual room with a king size bed. When I got to my room on the 8th floor I was blown away. Everything reeked of luxury, from the huge, soft bed to the fancy backboard to the beautiful view seen through an enormous window. Calvin, Eric, and I (we were all on the same floor) soon met up in Calvin's room to hang out and play World Golf Tour. Then the group went to the local convenience store to get snacks and laundry detergent. Then we had more time to relax before dinner, which I spent showering, ironing, and socializing. We then met in the lobby to go to dinner.

Our dinner event took place in the Heights Cafe. I was surprised to see a group of 5 people waiting for us. Although not nearly as upscale as our previous dinners, the meal was very good, and the portions were too large for me to finish. Mr. Chan-Law ordered a selection of appetizers for the whole table to share, which I thought was a very good idea. I had a steak, asparagus, mashed potatoes, and onion rings dish, followed by a chocolate sunday topped with salted caramel in a waffle cup. At the dinner I sat between Julie and Katie (not sure how its spelled), two current Cornell students who very helpful and informative for answering my questions.  I learned a lot about Cornell's history, its split colleges, and what campus life is like. I thought the dinner was a good introduction to our time at Cornell.

After dinner we met again at Calvin's room, this time with the whole cohort, for our first blogging party. It was a little too fun. What normally would have taken me an hour took two, but the laughs were worth it. Tomorrow our college going experience truly begins, as we check in to our dorms, meet our roommates, and   attend the summer program's orientation.

My camera is still broken, so no photos until I can figure out a solution.

Relaxing With My Buddies

Today, we checked out of the Inn at Penn at waited for our ride to the airport. However, the driver was running late so we had to wait a little while. When we arrived at the airport and finished going through security, we took a shuttle bus onto the tarmac to go to a separate building for the regional jets. Like the car, our plane was also delayed for about 30 minutes. The plane itself was very different; it was propeller-driven and the cabin only had two seats per aisle. During the flight, I noticed that the plane was not that high up on comparison to the other airplanes. Throughout the whole trip, I could see the ground which was actually pretty amazing. We landed in Ithaca Tompkins International Airport which looked more like a lodge than an airport. At the baggage claim we committed an act of valor by notifying a staff member of a baggage that went to the wrong airport. After that, we loaded our luggage into our rented Ford Explorer. We ended up having to take two trips from the airport to the Statler Hotel because of the lack of space for the luggage. 

Our weird-looking plane
The hotel was extraordinary! We ended up living the VIP life when each of us ended up with our own rooms. The rooms were magnificent: they each came with a king-sized bed (and in my case, two beds) and a flat-screen TV. After exploring every corner of the room we all headed out to a local store to by laundry detergent and other necessities. We took a little break and headed out to dinner

My magnificent room (with an extra bed)
Just trying to jazz up my sleeping experience
My amazing view from my room (sorry about the glare)
We drove to the restaurant The Heights to have dinner with four students at Cornell (Julie, Beth, Lauren, and Katie) and the admissions officer for the school of engineering at Cornell (Jill Schaffer). I sat next to Julie and Ms. Schaffer. We talked about everything from the admissions process to the best places to eat in Collegetown. Our conversations were very informative and amusing. Everyone was very laid-back and very sociable.

The Entourage
As for the food, there was an abundance of appetizers. For my main course, I had the sirloin steak with mashed potatoes and asparagus. The food was very delicious and the service was spot-on. I will miss these fancy dinners and this hotel room. Tomorrow, it's off to Orientation!           
My delicious sirloin steak

From Philly to Ithaca

Waking up at 8:30 AM, it was the longest sleep I've had in our trip, which was very relaxing. Later, I double checked my luggage to make sure I didn't forget anything. When we were down at the lobby, we waited for the SUV that would pick us. Similarly, at the airport, our flight was the same. It was delayed for half an hour. Luckily though, everything else went smoothly at Cornell.

We arrived there at around 2:30 PM. It was the best plane ride because I was actually able to sleep the entire time. Ithaca's airport was every eventful. Picking up our luggage, my cohorts and I noticed an unclaimed baggage. Feeling like good citizens, we brought it back to the airport employees. When Mr. Chan-Law booked our SUV, and we set off outside. I was pleasantly surprised that the weather was not that bad. The sun was out but it was not humid. We arrived into the Statler Hotel, and Mr. Chan-Law came to us and told us that we all had our own rooms. It was very pleasing, and the rooms were wonderful. 
My Room

View of Cornell outside my Window

Needing some supplies, my cohorts and I walked to a convenience store. We came out of our fancy hotel and tried to find college town. As we walked, we admired the campus. The grand architectures were very similar  to that of the other Ivy League buildings. They were tall, magnificent, and pleasing to the eye.

After we got everything we needed, everyone washed up for our dinner at The Heights. The restaurant was quite small, and we drove past it before finally locating it. We entered and went to our own room. In the room, we were greeted by the Cornell Alumni. I sat next to a very nice lady called Beth. I also talked to Jill, the admissions officer, and Julie, a rising senior at Cornell. The conversations were about their experiences of Cornell. The food was great, as usual, because we picked a fancy place.

Food at The Heights
My first impression of Cornell was that it was amazing, and had a better campus than all the other campuses we visited.. The campus was enormous, as well as pretty to look at. Also, just like the Cornell alumni said, the students there all connect with each other, and down to earth. This was another reason why Cornell was one of the best colleges that I've seen.
Group Picture of All of Us

A Very Relaxing Day Before Our College Experience Begins

Woah, I can't believe all our college tours are over and right now I'm typing this blog in Ithaca! Today was a pretty relaxing day in comparison to the first few days of our trip. We took "secret agent SUV" to the airport, where we went through security and arrived at our gate well ahead of time only to find out that our plane was delayed. We took this time to eat and hang out for a little while before we all started rereading our books until we got on our flight.

We had a small plane with propellers, and I was told of all kinds of scary stories about these planes. I didn't really believe the stories because if the planes weren't safe, US Airways wouldn't have bought them but, the stories were still in the back of my mind. To be honest, I liked the smaller planes better than the larger ones. Yes, the smaller ones are louder, but it's a lot easier for me to concentrate when I'm on small plane as opposed to a larger plane.

When we arrived in Ithaca, we drove through campus to the Statler Hotel. The campus here is amazing. I love how the campus is huge, and there are is so lush and gorges. The buildings look amazing and the campus is like a series of hiking trails that go on and on.

The hotel is really magnificent. We all have our own rooms and I think the rooms here are nicer than the rooms at the Inn at Penn because the beds are much softer and more comfortable than the beds at the Inn at Penn, which were pretty comfortable.  We took advantage of have a couple of hours to go out and buy some supplies at Collegetown which is the home of Collegetown Bagels that I really want to go to. After we came back to the hotel and had a chance to relax a little bit, we went out to dinner with an admissions officer and four current students at The Heights.

The room, part 1

The room, part 2

The view from my room

I sat near two current students, Lauren and Katie. They talked about campus life and about Cornell in general. I found that what they said was informative and it made me look forward to tomorrow even more! 

Cornell and Cool Weather

Today, we woke up this morning only to head to the airport destined for Ithaca.  We cherished our last moments at the luxurious Inn at Penn.  We headed out the doors of the lobby and were pleasantly greeted by a decreased level of humidity outside.  Isaac picked us up in the Suburban (in the same black “secret agent” SUV as the start of our trip) headed to the Philadelphia airport.  We said a warm goodbye to Philly, who has treated us so nicely over the week, and soon boarded a small black plane headed for Ithaca. 

The Expanded Cornell Cohort!
The best surprise of the day so far: we walked out the airplane to be welcomed by 70 degrees weather with a breeze, my most preferable type of weather.  We were soon deceived by the layout of Ithaca, which we all perceived to be in the middle of nowhere, but we were soon to be proved wrong as the green surroundings decorated the town, with houses, a mall, and numerous cars.  The Cornell campus emerged amongst a group of trees as the luscious green, spacious campus came into sight and the Statler Hotel towered over many of the surrounding school buildings. 

We set down our luggage and took our first walk around campus, headed toward the Wilson Farms Market.  After getting a quick bite to eat, we settled back to the hotel to relax and absorb the beautiful scenery.  We soon departed for The Heights for dinner with Jill, an administrative officer at the Summer College, as well as four current students at Cornell. 

The Heights' Sirloin Steak
Similar to the Penn dinner, visiting the campus beforehand proved to spark better conversation with the Cornellians.  I sat near two current students, Katie and Lauren, who gave great insights to life at Cornell and the all the opportunities that the school held.  I was amazed by all of the available classes and activities Cornell has to offer across its enormous campus, including a wine tasting class (for seniors only) and a massage course.  Generally speaking, I have also been very impressed about how generous the Ivy Leagues are with financial aid as well, awarding only need-based scholarships (as opposed to merit-based). This topics of the dinner was similar to the dinner at Prospect back in May, as the Cornell students presented a particular interest in the specific classes we were taking along with what opportunities the ILC has available for their students.  This dinner was a great introduction to familiarize us particularly to life at school as they gave us tips for navigating ourselves around campus. 
Blogging Party!
The dinner made me extremely interested to begin my journey at Cornell.  Tomorrow we will meet up for orientation and hopefully get to meet more Summer College attendees.  I feel ready to start this next chapter in the ILC experience and cannot wait for what the future has in store for us!

Cornell, finally!

The big day has finally come! We are live at Cornell in the Statler Hotel, and it is awesome!
Today started at 8:30 AM; I wanted to wake up early, but somehow overslept two alarms and had to rush to finish packing. Despite my slightly chaotic morning, the rest of the day was much better. The driver who was supposed to pick us up was a few minutes late, and once again he brought an SUV with only five back seats. Thankfully, it was only twenty minutes to the airport, and the line for security, though long, also went quickly. The pat-downs are supposed to be random, but for some reason I seem to get one every time I go to the airport. I hope I’m not that terrifying.
We had to take a shuttle to terminal F, where all the propeller planes were. I had ridden one before in Japan, but I was still worried because it didn’t look like it would take off. Although it actually did fly, whenever we hit turbulence, it felt more like a roller coaster than a plane ride; the entire plane rocked as we moved up and down constantly. My stomach was only able to settle when we landed in Ithaca an hour later. From there, we picked up our bags within minutes, and, being the good citizens that truly represent our district, we reported a bag that accidentally came to the wrong airport. By then, Mr. Chan-Law had picked up our rental car. Due to the small trunk and our large luggage, he had to make two trips to get us all to the hotel.
Everyone got a huge bed!
We had thirty minutes to explore our rooms before we went down to the nearest convenience store. We each have our own room with a king-size bed, and the rooms are just as nice as the Inn at Penn. Since we only have tonight to stay here, we are all fully enjoying its amenities. At the store, we picked up a snack and laundry detergent. Then we came back to our hotel, and got ready for dinner with the Cornell students and admissions officer (Jill). Tonight we ate at The Heights; I really enjoyed talking with the students sitting next to me (Beth and Lauren), as well as the two sitting across from me (Katie and Julie).
About to go to dinner...

Mostly they talked amongst themselves, but I gleaned useful information about the school, such as how big classes are, what to expect on campus, and whether students can really avoid debt through the financial aid of the school (they said so far, yes). The food itself was also good, but limited for me. I ordered a hamburger without the bun, and some crème brulee after. I ordered other items first, but even the french fries were breaded. We took a group picture at the end, but mine did not come out well, so readers can look at the guys' blogs to see it. Overall, today was more relaxed than the other days this week. Tomorrow, though, will be packed with events and information. Cornell, I’m here and ready for anything!

Hamburger, no bun, with potato wedges.

The creme brulee had pop rocks!