I'm truly sorry for blogging this late once again. Last night I encountered what would be my last dilemma in the fifth floor of John Jay in Columbia -- getting locked out. It was around two o'clock in the morning when a floormate of mine knocked on my door and asked me a question. I got out without noticing that my key was still in the room. It was only about an hour ago that I was unlocked, and at that time I had yet to prepare my luggage. Luckily I traveled light, making my packing easier.
I believe that this experience in Columbia had an immense change in my life. It was my breathe of the college life, a life where I make the calls, a life where my parents were a thousand miles away from me, unable to tell me what to do. My life was mine for three weeks. I did whatever I pleased. While this was a sigh of relief from all the burdens everyone has placed upon me back home, it was also a slap on the face of reality. Before this trip, I had never done my laundry by myself, for the most part or had someone call to wake me up for class. These were changes I had to adapt to, or else I never consider myself capable of being independent. These changes were difficult, but I knew I could do it.
Aside from this, the Ivy League Connection has done a great of altering my views of college. To tell everyone the truth, the main reason I applied to this program was for the opportunity to live in New York City. Opening myself to different colleges must have been the least on my list of priorities. This whole perception changed once I arrived to Columbia. During my stay here, I have fallen in love with Columbia. This college is, in my opinion, the best location ever -- New York City. Not only that, the college provides an unlikely strong sense of community deep within an urban campus as well as an intense core curriculum that intrigues me. Columbia is one of the other schools I am now considering to apply to, along with NYU and UPenn. If it weren't for this trip, I would have never considered looking at these colleges.
Another topic I have decided to broaden my horizons is my major. Just like the college I have decided to attend for the next four years, I decided that science would be my field of study. Although I do take some interest in some fields of science, this is what my mom wants me to do. I never really took the chance to consider any other field in fear of disappointing my mother, but I've learned over this course of three weeks, from various people who have stated the same thing, that you have to enjoy what you do. You will never be successful if you are not happy. These are phrases that resonated through my head. Will I be happy becoming a scientist? Is this the right thing for me? These re-concurring questions will remain in my head until further notice, but right now, I'm content. I'm giving myself the chance to consider other options than science. Anyways, I do it to myself.
As of now, I feel like I've entered the ILC sure of what my future would appear as, but am leaving confused and flustered. I have no clue what I shall do in the future, but at the same time, I'm happy. I'm glad that the ILC exposed me to things that I would never take view and consider. Once again, I would like to give my upmost gratitude to everyone who made this possible. Mrs. Kronenberg and Mr. Ramsey, I am enamored with your hard work and dedication to have us students expand our views on college, and to the sponsors, your graciousness has given unforgettable memories and help for the future; none of this would happen if it weren't for you guys.
This confusion is only temporary; I know with the knowledge I have retained in this program, I will be sure to make a decision on the step of my life -- the right decision for me.
Well, today, we leave for home. It's been such an amazing three weeks. I can't believe this journey is done already.
I remember when I first heard about the opportunity, I really thought nothing about it. None of the other kids were very interested in a chemistry class, even if it was at Columbia. My principal called all of us and went one by one around the room asking us what we wanted to do with our future. I heard some say "graphic design" or "law," and by the time she came to me I said I was interested. Essentially, I was kind of scared of her, so I told her that I would write that personal statement. It only made sense that, of course, I was interested in health science and after all, "chemistry is the building block of all science." It also didn't hurt that some of my friends decided to write the personal statement, too.
My first rough draft was extremely rough. One of the assistant principals, Ms. Kaplan, said that it lacked depth, and that I only wrote about my accomplishments. My second draft was a lot better, with more included about myself, but it just had some grammatical mistakes that my English teacher, Mr. Wade corrected. My third draft was the best so far, and I turned it in the day it would be taken down to the district's office.
I waited a couple of days and I really thought I didn't receive the offer to go to Columbia. To my surprise after a visit to Ms. Kahn's office, and a congratulatory visit from Mr. Ramsey, Gabe and I were allowed to fill out the actual application for Columbia. After filling out a long application, getting recommendations, and waiting for transcripts to be mailed, Columbia accepted us.
Along with being accepted as an individual, I had to represent my school, my district, and the Ivy League Connection itself. I had no idea what the Ivy League Connection would do for me. I had to introduce myself to the city council and the board members of education. Just being picked out of a pool of four schools made me confident, but I thought it was just the extent of it.
Arriving at Columbia, I was so nervous. Thankfully, there were five other people who I sort of knew along with me. Meeting my suite was very nerve-wracking, about ten other girls. Everyone ended up very nice and friendly. I can now say I don't sweat it when meeting a new group of people. I made some really awesome friends, who I know I'll stay in touch with for years to come.
Class was a different story. The first day of class, I was already lost. It seemed that everyone knew so much more than me. I finally got tired of not knowing what was going on, and I just asked my lab group. I realized that there was no way I was going to succeed in class if I just sat there. They were willing to explain the material, most of time. I became comfortable in asking them questions and using lab equipment I never even heard of.
Going on the college visits really opened my eyes to what other choices I have. I know for sure that I will apply to some colleges on the East Coast, and I know that if I work hard I can definitely get into some.
Living in a dorm has made me more independent. I could go out for food at ten o'clock at night, as long as I made it back by curfew. I saw my friends whenever I wanted. I also tackled the hard task of laundry, by myself.
This trip to Columbia has been successful for me in a lot of ways. I grew more as a person. I am now more confident, more open, and can express myself easier. I hope that when I get back home, my peers can notice this change, and maybe, just maybe, it will rub off on them.
I just want to thank all of the sponsors for providing for this wonderful opportunity. I want to also thank Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, and Mr. Gosney for all the hard work they've put into such an amazing program. Mrs. Lilhanand took such great care of us, thank you! The Ivy League Connection made the wheels in my head start turning about who I am as a person and what I want in life.
To be honest, I didn't know what to expect before I came to Columbia. I kind of worried that I was not going to like living at Columbia, I didn't know if I was going to have a roommate or if my possible roommate would become a friend or foe, I worried about my time management, I worried about waking up on time and not being late for class, and I was incredibly worried about being able to keep up in class. No matter how much you hear from a person or learn from a website or etc., you can never be fully prepared. Even though you may get advice from a primary source, it's still difficult to predict anything because you have never actually been there yourself. Or, at least, that is how I feel. So although I was excited for Columbia, and although I had no qualms about generally having to be responsible because I'm living away from my parents, I was still very worried about a lot of things.
When I came to Columbia, I discovered I had a single room, which alleviated some worry. I wouldn't have to be super conscious in my own room, because it wouldn't actually be my own room. Then I got to meet most of my suitemates, and we all got along pretty well. Now, I realize I was incredibly lucky to live with this group of people. There are other suites in which the girls are not as friendly or kind to one another as we are. Class started, and I became intimidated by all the terms and concepts I had never heard. But as time went on, I became more comfortable in class. I spoke out more, and I began to have an easier time grasping the concepts -- to a certain extent (I could never fully grasp it with my basic background in chemistry). I faltered a few times on waking up on time, but I was never late! I admit I also had some time management obstacles. When your two weekends are taken up already, you want to spend time with your friends and do all the stuff after class that you'd normally do on weekends. But I also knew that if I indulged myself, I would get nothing done and I would mess up my time here. So although I was enticed by all the invitations to places or events I wanted to go to, I refrained because I didn't want to burn myself out.
In these three weeks, I picked up a daily routine. But even though I generally did the same things every day, there were also new or random aspects to each day. Some days I spontaneously went places, or I relaxed outside, or I did this or I did that. I'm going to miss seeing my friends every day, and hanging out with them whenever and wherever. I'm going to miss walking into the Havemeyer building and down the stairs, feeling like it was my class building. I'm going to miss conducting lab experiments, getting to know my fellow classmates as well as my wonderful mentors. I'm going to miss pulling my lanyard out of my bag and unlocking my suite door in that special way which makes the small process easier. I'm going to miss greeting people in my suite when I come in, and unlocking my door, and walking into a cooled room from the hot day. Essentially, I'm going to miss feeling so at home and comfortable here. I'm going to miss being able to say "I'm going back home now," referring to Suite 6A in Hartley.
I feel like I'm coming away from this experience as a changed girl. No, a changed young adult. I now generally know what it is like to go to college. After senior year, living in dorms won't be such a shock for me, therefore I will have an easier transition and adjustment, and thus an easier time focusing on my academics. I now generally know what I should do in class as a better method of improving my performance, and when I get to college it won't take me weeks to utilize my drive and get enough courage to do it. But most importantly, I have gained insight into what I want from a college. I think that is the best gift that this program has given me. Before, I was so incredibly lost when it came to choosing colleges. I ran on general information, prestige, and parent's choices, but now I have become more solid and thoughtful in my consideration of colleges. Even though I still have questions and am still indecisive about particular aspects, I have a better handle on what I want when I get out of high school.
Thank you, sponsors. Without you, none of us would have had such a wonderful experience. I promise that when I come back, I will make the most of my experience by trying to carry on the things I have learned to the students in our district. Thank, Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg, for creating this program in the first place. I know of no other program like this, making it unique and a very valuable asset to the students in our district. One summer at a time, you are helping kids and changing lives -- which I think, is a fabulous affair.
My final day in class consisted of presentations. Working in pairs or individually, everyone taught their project to the class through PowerPoint. During lunch, there was a mandatory college presentation, which was led by the assistant director of undergraduate admissions for Columbia. She stressed, "Do your research" and ways of doing so would be college visits or tours, research through the Web, live on the college campus, and talk to others. She touched on the meaning of Ivy League, Columbia's core curriculum, class sizes, what the admission office is looking for, importance of scores, number of recommendations, decision types, and financial aid. I think that though I knew some facts already, there was a lot of gaps that were filled in for me. It proved to be useful overall.
I cannot believe that it has already been three weeks! My experience at Columbia has been so amazing and indescribable. Though I was kept constantly on my toes, it felt good to be on the fast pace track. I enjoyed being able to do school work, but at the same time know that there was always some other activity I could do. I loved the laid out campus and being able to show others direction on the very first day. I found it interesting that the weather would be 73 degrees with sunny skies one day, but then 73 degrees with thunderstorms and lightning on another. I never got to try out all the food on Broadway, but it was great being able to see the different cultures. I will miss my class and suite mates greatly, for these three weeks with them seems more like 3 months!
From all the little details to broader ones, Columbia's impact gave me both similar and different insights than Brown. I am leaving this campus with a similar sense of independence and stronger leadership. I am walking out with knowledge not only my class, but from the general day to day activities. I have gained a taste of the New York experience. I only met residential students at Brown, but now I know and understand some of the ways of commuter students. I went to colleges, fairs, and presentations, which gives me a step up in figuring out what I want for my future. I am not as afraid and worried about what will happen. I have learned to take deep breaths, pace myself, and take charge of what I want from life.
I left Brown thinking that nothing can beat the experience, but Columbia has blown me away. I normally do not prefer big cities like Manhattan, but by attending Columbia, it has expanded my options. One can never really understand how they actually feel about a certain location unless they stay for a duration of time. Columbia is an amazing college and I am not saying so because it is an Ivy League. Many students tell me that there will be an attachment to a certain college and that is when you know it is a good choice. Three weeks ago I would have said that Columbia is not the college for me, but now I am sure that it will be on my college list.
The quote by Les Brown, "Shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you will land among the stars" can be applied to my experience in the East Coast. I took this wonderful opportunity and chance to first go to one of the smallest state and then to one of the largest cities. I went through stress, laughter, pain, and joy, but new doors are opening.
Thank you so much to all the Ivy League sponsors and supporters! Thank you to Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenburg, Ms. O'Brian, Ms. Lihanand, and all who have helped me along my journey through the ILC. Once more you have provided me with an unforgettable experience that will forever impact my future. I am grateful for everything you have done and I hope that the ILC will flourish and pave new and wondrous opportunities for new generations of students.
*I will try to create a slideshow in the next few days, showing the Summer Columbia 2009 students from start to finish
Hello! We are a group of students from the West Contra Costa Unified School District in the San Francisco Bay Area attending either the Intensive Seminars on Modern Chemistry Summer Program or Issues in Biological Conservation Summer Program at Columbia University. This blog will allow us to share our experiences at Columbia University and New York with the everyone else. We hope you enjoy reading our blog and invite you to respond.