Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lab Time Baby!

Today was our first time in the lab. It was incredible. This wasn't your average high school experiment, in fact, it was far from that. When we first arrived to the Havemayer Building, we were told to wait outside the laboratory. Finally Professor Avila arrived with a handful of laboratory lab coats and goggles for our protection during the experiment. After we were ready to enter the lab.

The laboratory was extraordinary. The lab was so clean, so organized, so equipped. These were labs I would never imagine myself being inside working. The labs at Pinole Valley cannot even compare to the facilities in Columbia. There, we conduced a lab determining the freezing point of acetic acid. At first, I was completely confused. I had no idea what we were doing. On top of that, I was paired with only one person, while everyone else was placed into groups of three or four, making the experiment a bit more difficult.

Eventually, my lab partner and I understood the lab and were successful enough to finish what was needed to be done. I really did learn a lot from all that we did today. Later during our discussion, I was able to answer questions our mentor asked us such as the definition of supercool, which is when the temperature of liquids are below the freezing point but soon become frozen, resulting in the temperature from rapidly rising.

During lunch, Professor Avila treated us to lunch, along with brining a couple of graduate students at Columbia University, each one having a specialty in a single subject. There were students in physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and theoretical chemistry. I, interested in the field of health science, went along with an organic chemistry student. The student was very informative in giving us the depth of his specific field. He told us that organic chemistry was based on making the various pills and drugs that help people overcome symptoms and diseases. Right now, the student along with his follow researchers, are working on finding a cure for cancer. After lunch, the student brought me to his laboratory, where he gave us a in-depth look on his occupation. 

After lunch, we were graced with the presence of the famous Columbia Professor, Gerard Parkins. He went on into a deep seminar telling us where he found a flow in a the structure of a molecule. I believe the main point he wanted to get out of us was the fact that he didn't settle for the current molecule that the current scientists had. I believe he tried to show us that hard work, perseverance, and and a little faith go a long way -- going as far as to prove everyone wrong.

The Five Ls

Today's day started a bit later and breakfast was not as crowded. Our class is one of the earliest classes, so we left the dining room at about 8:45 to make it to the lab at 9. We were early, and we got our own lab coats and protective eye wear. Then, we split into four groups among the four mentors. I am part of the Nitrogen group with Dr. Subir as my mentor.

Lab: First, half the class got a demonstration from the Michael the mentor. Then we switched with the other half of the class for a lab safety lecture from Aaron. After we split up into our groups which split into smaller groups. My lab partners are Zach, who is from New Jersey, and Vlad, who is from Romania. The mentors said that the point of the lab was just to learn how to use the program MicroLab, which measures temperature, time, and all sorts of measurements. Both of my partners were hard and efficient workers. The lab consisted of finding the freezing point of glacial acetic acid (it smelled like really strong vinegar)by putting a tube of it in another tube of water, and that tube was in a beaker of ice-water slurry. First we calibrated MicroLab's thermocouple using a thermometer and ice, room temperature, and warm water. The program crashed, but luckily it was right before our first trial. For trials one through three, we did not stir the acetic acid, and our first trial showed a really impressive supercooling curve. For trials four through six, we each took turns stirring the acetic acid. We finished about ten minutes early, so we did another trial to show a student who was late.

Lunch: Professor Avila arranged for the class to eat with some graduate students and ask them questions about chemistry. It was about two or three people for every graduate student, but I got lucky because I was the only one paired up with my graduate student. Teresa said she was entering her fourth year as a graduate student and she organic chemistry with a little bit of biology, which I was really interested in. She told me that she enjoyed attending a smaller university after high school because all the faculty in her department knew her and supported her, whereas she only sees her adviser once a month at Columbia. She told me that science was a good choice because the university gives you a stipend, so it's kind of like getting paid to go to school. Afterward, she told me about her latest research project. She said that she was working with cancer cells and a protein linked to many mental health conditions. She said that hopefully she would find out how to prevent that protein decreasing to prevent those diseases from occurring. When I went down to her lab, she gave a tour of her lab. She feeds the brain cancer cells with some nutrient broth (it looked a lot like Hawaiian Punch). Then, she showed some of her samples under the microscope. I really enjoyed talking to her, because biochemistry is something I am interested in as a possible major.

Lecture: After lunch, we met in our lab groups again and discussed the data and some questions. Then, Professor Gerard Parkin came in to give us lecture. Before that, Professor Avila, being the jokester he is, told us to take notes on a short biography of Professor Parkin, so we could bombard him with specifics about his life. It was pretty funny, but Professor Parkin did not seem fazed at all. His lecture was a bit difficult to grasp because I didn't know what he was talking about until the end. But then, he did a magic trick, so that fixed that.

Lousy Weather and Mrs. Lilhanand: After the lecture, we were allowed to leave class about five minutes early. We had been in the building the whole day, so I was really surprised to see these dark gray clouds and big gusts of wind. It wasn't unbearably hot anymore, and I knew that meant one thing -- a storm was a-brewin'. Now, I've been on the East Coast before, and I did check the weather this morning and it said that there would be thunderstorms. I'm not a big fan of thunderstorms, I'm actually pretty terrified of them. I was getting more scared by the minute while waiting for our daily meeting with Mrs. Lilhanand. All of did see and hear the lightning and thunder, but thankfully Jessica protected me. We went inside because it was starting to sprinkle, and then it poured. Julie finally got Mrs. Lilhanand to be a contributor to our blog! After, we ate dinner, and I went back to my room to write down the procedure for tomorrow's lab. I fell accidentally fell asleep for about two hours, and I just finished summarizing the procedure. I think it's best that I go to sleep now. Goodnight!

Presentation by Garard Parkin


Today for our first lab, we were supercooling acetic acid (95%). It was very exciting because we used this temperature gauge called a thermocouple that senses the temperature and sends it into a program called MicroLab. Microlab then reads the data and plots the points on a graph versus time. It sounds confusing, but it's actually really simple. The lab was especially invigorating because we cooled acetic acid to below freezing point and then watched the temperature shoot back up to freezing temperature (a liquid's temperature rises back up to the freezing temperature before it starts to solidify) on the graph that MicroLab plotted. I had used LoggerPro before for data collection, but it is nowhere near as sophisticated as MicroLab. The MicroLab interface has ports for everything: pH, temperature, pressure, light, etc. It was a brand new experience.

After our lab, Professor Avila had planned a luncheon where we would meet and talk to a graduate student. Every graduate student was working in a lab and had specialized in a certain type of chemistry. The graduate student that I had lunch with specialized in organic chemistry and even took us down to the lab where she worked! We were also able to go down to Columbia University's server room. I had never seen a server room before; it was just shelves and shelves of servers with wires everywhere. It was also very hot.

When we returned to the Lecture Hall, we had post-lab discussion about what we did in the lab earlier. Following that, there was a presentation from Professor Gerard Parkin. He's currently doing research at Columbia University and his presentation was about his discovery involving Bond Stretch Isomerism. Bond Stretch Isomerism is the idea that a compound can exist as the exact same structure except that the length between the bonds of the atoms/molecules differ. I actually found this to be immensely fascinating.

Even though I knew nothing about the topic when Professor Parkin started his presentation, I learned a lot when he finished. It felt like an adventure because Professor Parkin started with a very simple introduction about bond stretch isomerism and from there moved on to history and the concept behind it. However, Professor Parkin ultimately disproved the theory of bond stretch isomerism at the end of his presentation! He basically spent an hour teaching us something completely new and then told us it was wrong! I was astonished.

Although there's a lot of theory behind what Professor Parkin had just presented, I really enjoyed the fact that he was able to simplify a complex idea to allow us to understand it. I really learned a lot in only an hour!


Lab # 1


Saecond day of Chemistry class!!

Today's class was slightly different from yesterdays session. Yesterday was a day of introductions and class rules. Today's excitment was our fist lab. What made this lab seem professional was the lab coats and protective glasses given to us before starting the lab. Before getting started we had to cover basic safty and lab rules in case of an emergancy. The perpose of the lab was to indicate the freezing point of a Glacial Acentric Acid. In order to measure the freezing point of an organic conpound you need to slowly cool the liquid to a point where it will eventually cool below it's freezing temerature and then finally crystalize. This lab was the best lab I've ever done in my life and clearly its not going to be the last one.

In addition to having done our first lab today we also had the opportunity of having lunch with about eleven chemistry graduates. Most of these chemists if not all of them now work in the Columbia laboratories. Our professor wanted for us to engage a conversation with one of the many chemist who volunteered to spend their lunch with us. We were to ask plenty of question to sort of have an idea of how they became interested in chemistry and much more. Each chemist majored in a special field in chemistry such as an organic, physical, and biochemistry.

I had the opportunity to meet Dan who actuallt majored in Organic C hemistry. Dan now is working in the Chemistry building at Columbia University. Did i mention that he is currently working on recieving his Ph.D and getting paid. ( I wish I could get paid for going to school ) Some advantages of being an organic Chemist is that Dan has flexible working hours which means he can go on and off campus. He also has the liberty to choose what he wants to research. being an Organic chemist means that you have to work with alot of materials that are natural and can be found in our enviorment. Organic Chemistry sounds like a fun carrer to look into.

For the second half of today's session we had the honor to meet and be lectured by well known Gerard Parkin. Gerard Parkin assisted Queens College of Oxford University then in 1988 joined the faculty at Columbia University. Did I mention he is a MAGICIAN!!!!!!!

Well I guess thats it for today. NIGHT.

Out Exploring

Well, yesterday's class was pretty standard. It was full of introductions, and some teaser experiments for the days to come. At one point, I went to the bathroom, and when I came back everyone exclaimed that I missed the exploding gummy bear. That was slightly disappointing.

For dinner, my RAs brought our suite group (minus three girls) out to dinner at Katz's Deli downtown. It was there that I experienced my first true New York Deli food and rush. We stood in long lines, just to discover we had to go to a different line. We eyed the numerous, and famous, pastrami sandwiches make their way around the deli or out onto the street. We sat admist chattering people -- of numerous languages, by the way -- and surrounded by the wonderful smells of a deli.

Today was the second day of classes, and it was much better. In the morning, we conducted our first lab experiment. Its purpose was to determine the freezing point of acetic acid with and without stirring, and also to compare them. Of course, there were several errors -- enough for our mentors to cancel the lab report that was to be due tomorrow. Yay! But later on we segregated into our groups and discussed our results.

For lunch, our professor brought in several Columbian graduate students to speak with us about various areas in chemistry. I joined someone involved in both organic chemistry and biochemistry, and after we ate lunch, he brought me and another student to see the Chandler Labs, where we learned about many different tools and learned about the different projects he worked on. It's actually amazing, because he just recently created a compound that can be put into neurons and make them glow. Thus, they can follow the cells in the brain, and specifically determine the functions of the brain. He's got three patents on it already.

After lunch, the students congregated in the seminar room and split up into groups to discuss their experiments before the guest speaker came. Today, our speaker was Professor Ged Parkin, and he lectured about his discovery that the theory about bond-stretch isomers is actually false. That which people assume to be bond-stretch isomers are, in reality, a mixture of two compounds -- the power of both average into the same power of the original. It's difficult to explain because I don't have a solid grasp on the concept, but I can say that it really was fascinating. Plus, he had a sense of humor -- and some magic tricks! This lecture made me more interested in chemistry, actually.

Oh, and I'd like to note that walking around the immediate campus at night with the cool air and peaceful atmosphere is really calming. The campus is really pretty at night.

PS: Sponsors, thank you so much for giving us this opportunity. I am having such a wonderful time, learning new things, experiencing life as a college student, and creating close bonds with other people. I am sure I won't regret these coming weeks.

It Ends in Rain

The sound of the alarm rang across my floor this morning. My schedule is still being adjusted here and there, but I am pretty sure it will find a balance. I went to breakfast with a couple of friends from my suite and then headed to class after we ate.

Today my agenda was slightly altered since the class needed to use a computer lab. For the first hour and half of the morning, I worked in a group of four to classify spider communities. Thankfully, they were not real araneaes! Our objective was to use the concept of biological diversity through the classification of life forms, in this case spiders. The groups were given packets and in it were pictures with "sites" of little spiders with different shapes, patterns, and sizes. Our task was to make a chart of each different species, use the Simpson's Diversity Index formula to find diversity range, and create a collective curve graph. The task seemed simple enough, however it was actually hard to use the morphological species concept (when organisms look alike then they must belong to the same species) to determine number of species. The different phenotypes (appearances) were not always clearly defined and thus there was a lot of mistakes. My group and I were able to get the job done after splitting up the work and we had to write about which site we would save based on our data. I headed to lunch soon after.

Since my agenda was altered, I only had about an hour of lunchtime. I wanted to see the mid-day activities, so I rushed over to Lerner Hall. I was able to take a small dance lesson taught by one of the RAs. I learned a bit of the "Thriller" dance, by Michael Jackson. It was very enjoyable since I have seen the video many times. Sadly, I could not learn all the steps for class would begin soon.

My class went into the computer lab and since there was only 3 rows of 4 computers, everyone worked with a partner. This time in the lab, our objective was to look at threats to biodiversity. Using The Wold Conservation Union list of species from the Red List of Threatened Species (www.redlist.org) my partner and I searched Turkey and looked up from 12 types of threats to see which one was the greatest. We found that the highest percentage was 74% from "Natural System Modifications". Everyone was required to look up the threats globally too and the highest percentage was 64% from "Biological Resource Use". Other groups did different countries and I will see the comparisons later on.

My afternoon class began at the normal time and we had a lecture based on "threats to biodiversity". One of the interesting estimates that I learned was that approximately 50-150 species are going extinct per day! It is assumed that some have not been identified by scientists. HIPPO G.= Habitat destruction, Invasive species, pollution, poaching,overpopulation, and global climate change. This was one of the ways I was taught to remember types of threats to biodiversity. The lecture went on to go more in depth with each of the topics. I found out that the class will have a final presentation with partners during the last day of school where I shall be the teacher! It will be an interesting day. I left with more homework in hand too.

I met up with the rest of the ILC group and talked to Ms. Lilhanand about the day, which I personally enjoyed more than yesterday's 2 straight lectures. Rain, lightning, and thunder greeted us, but it did not stop me from getting to my dinner! The weather still felt pretty warm too, until it picked up. Later on tonight I shall be taking my suite picture and working on the homework before it grows!

Monday, June 29, 2009

An early start!

Hello everyone!!!

Today was actually our first day of class which meant that we had to be ready to go to the John Jay Hall where breakfast, lunch and dinner will take place for the remaing thirteen days, not inculding weekends. Although breakfast did not start until 7 A.M people were already lining up since 6:30 in the morning in hopes of avoiding the ten minute wait. I guess that didn't work out so good for them. This morning was actually our first day eating in the John Jay building and by the looks of the inside it sort of reminded me of the Harry Potter movies. After eating my cereal me and my group headed towards the Lerner Hall for a class orientation.

Once we got sited we played a game called Up and Down and what we were basically asked different yes or no questions and if your answer to the question was yes then yo had to stand up. I was actually suprised by the amount of international students enrolled in the Columbia High School Summer program. most of them had to be on a plain for more then ten hours!!! During the orientation we received a folder containing our Columbia ID but unfortunitly I did not recieve my Id and was asked to get durring my midday free time. Sortly after we reviewed the major rules we all seperated to go to the morninh sesstion of our class.

The Modern chemistry class took place in the Havemeyer builing which is a chemistry building. Our proffesor, Luis Avila, is a real fun guy which actually gave me an eye opener that not everything about college has to be all work and no fun while doing it. The proffesor is assisted by our mentors mahamud Surbi, Corey Reeves, Michael Agne, and Aaron Goldmen. Although i did not understand most of the things the proffesor went over at least I noe that there is plenty of people to ask for help. It also good to knoe that the Proffesor is an approachable guy ang i think i shouldn't have problems asking him for help. It was googd to know that there is one of the mentors that we can relate to since he too is from the bay area. The whole morning we just spent the time formly introduce ourselves to the rest of the class and getting to talk a bit about who we are and what we do for fun.

The second part of the session we had to go to our locker provide for us to get our binders given to us in the bigining of class. The proffesor lectured about the properties of light and gave us a demonstration on how every property works. i have to adnit that all the demonstration were prety awesome!! The things I'm going to like about this class is that we will get to have fun while learning and will have the opportunity to do plenty of labs as well as going on a field trip to the Weatchester County department of Laboratories & Research on the tenth of July.

The rest of the day we just went out for a walk on Broadway street which is just outside the University. Now I'll just go to be to get up early for class. Bye!

The First Day of Class

The first day of class was very similar to the ones I've experienced at Pinole. Anxiety, fear, intimidation, excitement -- all of the feelings a student feels when he or she first enters the classroom for the first time.

As everyone -- residential students and commuters for the program -- congregated inside Lerner Hall (I think!) to receive our course schedule for the next three weeks, I noticed the tremendous amount of students. I estimated about two hundred high school students to attend this program, but the sight quickly altered my perception. Students from all over the world came, united to study at Columbia University.

When I first received my folder, I noticed that the administration had given me the courses of Ms. Tiffany Sanchez who signed up for Creative Writing. Confused, one of the assistants just told me to follow my assigned class. Thus, I went, along with Cristina, Julie, Jackie, and Sophia all the way to the Havemayer Building to meet my professor.

Professor Luis Avila is his name. This man appeared to a majority of the class, but told everyone that he is of Venezuelan descent. He teaches at the very own Columbia University and has been here for a good decade and more. To me, Mr. Avila came out as a very friendly professor with a passion for the material he teaches, so passionate that he asked any students in the class a few times to leave if they were bored.

Mr. Avila begun his class with a small icebreaker: each student would first state their full name, location of residence, hobbies, along with a small piece of paper the professor asked each person to pick out of an envelope. Each strip had one term; after telling the class what the word was, Mr. Avila would ask the holder if he knew what the term was, and if he or she didn't, he would then direct the term to the entire class. I thought it was a great way to break the ice, both for the people enrolled in the course, and for the course material itself.

After lunch, Mr. Avila dove right into his teachings. When everbody first arrived into the lecture room just a few floors from where everyone met, we saw that he was preparing numerous things. We all knew that he was about to show a series of various experiments, but he caught me off guard with experiments he displayed to the class. These labs made the ones that my class and I have done back in Pinole Valley look like elementary school science.

Mr. Avila showed us a number of labs that caught our eyes, at the same time explaining the reason for each experiment's outcome. There were times where I was completely lost, where I felt that the students and Mr. Avila have taken their discussion into another dimension, but I was lucky sit aside Julie and another fellow Modern Chemistry student who helped me to understand everything.

Overall, this was a incredible day. It was a first bite into not only what would be my first class in this summer, but my first taste into a college course as well. I'd really like to thank Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Krnonenberg, and all the fellow sponsors who have worked so hard to send me to such a wonderful opportunity. Your guys' effort is greatly appreciated!

First Day of School!

I have 12 people in my suite with 2 from Turkey, 1 from Greece, and others from different US states such as Texas, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New Jersey, and New York itself. I also realize that my laptop has no programs on it, so my picture downloads are not working well. I will have to find a different source or download something, but I shall find a way!

It was orientation day and I had to wake up at around 5:45 to get ready for breakfast. Our suite thought that we would make it past the crowd and lines if we woke up early, but I guess others had the same plans too. It was about a 5 to 10 minute wait before I helped myself to some hash browns and pancakes. Then it was off to take our seats for orientation. I was placed on the second floor of the auditorium, as many students filed in. A series of questions was asked to our portion of the group and we were to stand if it had a relation to us. One of the questions was, "Are you an international student?" The results: approximately half the amount of students stood up. It is so amazing to know that there are students from all around the world coming to this one school. Over all I believe there are about 800 students this summer for the Columbia High School classes!

After finishing with the warm welcoming, everyone rushed out to find their classes. My class, Issues in Biological Conservation, is located in the Mudd building in the morning and in the Hamilton in the afternoon. Luckily one of my suite mates knew where my first class building was, so I had no trouble finding it. My professor, Dr. Kevin Olival, has recently gotten his Ph.D from Columbia University and is currently working at the American Museum of Natural History. (My class and I will actually be taking a trip down to get a"behind the scenes" tour of the museum next week. So that will be really great to see!) There is a teaching assistant as well as an RA present to provide more support for the class. There are about 24 students, but it seems as if there are less people. It could be that the rooms are spacious, making it look like there is only about 15 students in my class.

During the morning, it mainly consisted of introductions. Then we began learning the fundamental concepts and the definition of biodiversity. I was familiar with some concepts, but there are many that I have to research. It was a PowerPoint presentation, and once it finished we went to lunch. During lunchtime there are Mid-day Activities which the RA's organize. Today there was a carnival! There was snow cones, Rock Band, sports, dancing and sumo wrestling! I actually tried the sumo wrestling with Julie, but though it was pretty funny, it was also very hot in the costumes.

Lunch is about 2 hours long, which I am very happy about. There is no rush, and a lot more relaxation before class starts again. My afternoon class was also a lecture through PowerPoint, and it was an extension of the morning talks. We dove into the more specifics and dimensions of biodiversity as well as reasons to why there are threatened ecological regions. I really hoped that there would be no homework for the first day, but just like my math classes, I left the building with a packet of reading and questions to answer.

There was a debriefing with Ms. Lilhanand, and then Julie, Cristina, Sofia and I went to the bookstore to get a couple of needed items for the class. Ms. Lilhanand is a BIG support to us through supplies as well as safety. I wanted to walk along Broadway Street, but I had to make sure I knew where NOT to go. After a quick lunch, the four of us went for our stroll. I was trying to find post card stamps, but I think I am going to simply get the regular stamps. The highlight of our walk was Pinkberry! I had heard so much about this place and it sure was GOOD! I got a yogurt parfait and I was able to choose the fruits, toppings and yogurt of my choice. It was delicious! It was pomegranate yogurt filled with granola, raspberry, mango, and blueberries. All my favorites in one bite!

Now I must get to my homework before bed. I can't believe it is only Monday, however I have a feeling it is going to be Monday again very soon!

THANK YOU! To all the sponsers and supporters of the Ivy League Connection. I am so grateful for the opportunity and experiences in the Big Apple. I am so excited to be here and I do not think that I would have seen the wonders of Columbia anytime soon if it were not for your help! Thank you Don for taking the great pictures and always commenting! I love reading the comments and it is always great to recieve one!

To Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenburg, none of this would have happened if it were not for your dedication to the ILC. Thank you for your persistence and drive to get things done! And of course Ms. Lilhanand. You are a wonderful chaperon, and am so glad that you are here to guide us through the complex city.

Second Day At Columbia

I know it's been awhile, but I could not figure out how to connect to the Internet. Julie connected me in 30 seconds, while yesterday I spent well over an hour trying to connect. I have a pre-written blog from yesterday though.

This has been my first full day in New York City. This morning we got to sleep in for a little bit, after a six hour long flight and walking near Rockefeller Center, Times Square, and the Waldorf Astoria. At 9:45 we met downstairs of the lobby of the hotel. Mrs. Lilhanand took us on a walk to Trump Tower for breakfast. As we were walking there, we stopped in front windows full of quilts that were made in memory of AIDS victims. Then, one of us noticed that barricades were being set up along 5th avenue. A passerby said that a gay pride parade would start at 12. All of us wanted to see it, so we rushed ourselves over to Trump Tower for breakfast. Inside was a beautiful waterfall that we almost didn't see. After breakfast and a change of plans (the van would pick us up at 1:30 instead of 1, and we would get a late check-out at the hotel) we went to 5th Avenue and waited in front of the barricades. The parade started and rainbow colored flags were waved. I never realized that there were different organizations that weren't primarily gay that had a lot of gay supporters and volunteers. Those drag queens were so fierce with their tall high heels and neon colored dresses. But then, we had to leave early and go back to the hotel. On the ride to Columbia, all of us were quiet, I don't know if it was from the tiredness or the nervousness. I was worried about being late to check in to Columbia, but they were really nice about it. I got my room key and Jackie, Jessica, and Sophia are in the same building as me. My residential advisers (RAs) are really nice. Joy is from Long Beach, while Ursula is from Barcelona. The people in my suite are international and out of state. I'm so amazed the international students speak perfect English without missing a beat. Some are from Turkey, another from Colombia, one from Brazil, and one from Lebanon, one from New Hampshire, another from Pennsylvania, and one from Miami. I think around two are from New York. I have a single room and I'm on the top floor of the suite. My room is pretty roomy and the welcome barbecue had a lot of good food. I went with my RAs and my suite mates, which is where I learned more about them. After, we had about an hour to kill, so I tried to connect to the Internet (and I think you know how that turned out). Then we had a suite meeting on the lawn in front of Hartley and we just went over the rules and got to learn everyone's names again. After, we all went to Pinkberry, which was very delicious. Then, Gabe and I decided to go walking along the Columbia campus. It was kind of dark, but it was still really beautiful. We saw fireflies for the first time! We even saw a church that was closed on Sundays. And now I'm at my suite typing it up and it's about 10. I'm still used to that California time, so I'll probably be going to sleep soon.

Here are my thoughts on Day Two at Columbia:

I woke up really early to get breakfast with my suite mates so we could make the orientation at Alfred Lerner Hall. It was my first time eating in the John Jay dining hall, and it was pretty good. After breakfast we waited in line to get into the Hall, and then we received our student IDs, schedules, and a map. Luckily the chemistry classes are going to be held in the same building, just on different floors. After the orientation we were led to the Havemeyer building by our mentors. There we met our professor, Luis Avila and we learned more about the other students, the professor, and mentors. One of the mentors, Aaron Goldman, told us that he was from Berkeley and that he taught around the area. One of the other mentors even commented "What's with all the California people?" after we introduced ourselves. He gave us a binder full of our labs and schedule. then we got our own lockers in the buildings. I did not know there were lockers in college. Professor Avila stressed that he wanted us to become "active learners," which means we will research the things we don't know and not just what he tells us. He's also pretty funny.

After, we had lunch and went to the carnival on the lawn for some snow cones. Then, we went to Gabe's room to chill out for ten minutes in air conditioning. After, we made the trek back to the Havemeyer building to be there before two. There, Professor Avila did some experiments using lights, liquid nitrogen, and magnets, just to name a few. By far, my favorite was the Gummy Bear Sacrifice experiment. Julie took a really good video of it. After he went over some safety rules. Then one of the mentors, Dr. Mahamud Subir, taught us how to find science journal articles online. Then, we ended the class for the day.

At 5, we met Mrs. Lilhanand in front of Wallach Hall for our daily meeting. Mrs. Lilhanand was kind enough to take us to the bookstore for some last minute school supplies. Jessica, Julie, Sophia and I went to go eat dinner and then we walked up and down Broadway just looking around, and we did go to Pinkberry (I think I might have an addiction). After, Sophia, her suite mate Jenna, Gabe, and I went to my room and we just talked and tried to do homework. I'm going to go do some "active learning" because I did not get a lot of terms that we learned about today, but first I would really like to thank Mr. Ramsey and Mrs. Kronenberg for giving the amazing and awesome opportunity and for continuing on with this program. I would also like to thank Mr. Gosney for taking his time to photograph us in the wee hours of the morning and commenting on every single blog. I want to thank the sponsors for funding this trip of a lifetime. And especially thanks to Mrs. Lilhanand for being a wonderful chaperone, she really knows her way around the city. Goodnight!

The Dancing Gummy Bear


Today was the first day of class. If I haven't said so already, the class I'm taking is Intensive Seminars on Modern Chemistry. I had to be ready at 6:45 AM for breakfast and then orientation. The orientation was very short and brief but it we got our folders with our Columbia University IDs and our class schedules. It turns out that the chemistry class starts at 9:00 AM, 1 hour earlier than most of the summer programs at Columbia U. It doesn't bother me much because it still means that I can sleep in a little until 7:30 or 8:00 AM.

After orientation, we went to our class. The class is in the Havemeyer building which is completely devoted to studying chemistry at Columbia U. Our professor's name is Luis Avila. We also have four other mentors who will be helping us out with labs and understanding the course material. Our class is split into two periods, generally one lab in the morning and one lecture in the afternoon. For this morning, our professor decided to have an icebreaker where we were to pick out a random science term from an envelope and explain what we knew about it. I had no idea what 85% of the words were! I had originally thought I knew a lot about chemistry but I actually have no idea what the terminology is for many different things. But this is okay because where's the fun in knowing everything before the class even starts?

The second period of the class was even more exciting. For this period, Professor Avila showed us many different examples and displays of different chemical properties and experiments. One of the most exciting was the "Dancing Gummy Bear" experiment (shown below). The professor heated up and melted solid Potassium Chlorate (KClO_3) and then dropped in a gummy Bear. The sugar in the gummy bear reacts violently with the Potassium Chloride and the Potassium Chloride decomposes into KCl & O_2. I'm not sure what happens to the gummy bear though, if it just happened to melt or if that too decomposed into other compounds. However, if I had to guess, I would say that it decomposed into water, carbon dioxide, hydrogen gas and then other compounds from what a gummy bear is made out of (gelatin, flavoring, etc.).

Note: The video starts after Prof. Avila drops the gummy bear into the tube

As you can see, the class is very exciting and the professor is very lively and enjoys making chemistry fun for everyone. I can't wait for tomorrow's class.

I would like to give a special thanks to the sponsors of the Ivy League Connection. Even though it is only my 3rd day in New York and 2nd day on the Columbia campus, I have already seen so many new things and met so many new people that I doubt that I would have ever had a chance to come to the East Coast without the ILC. Thank you very much!

I would also like to thank Mr. Charles Ramsey and Mrs. Madeline Kronenberg for setting up the Ivy League Connection and running it every year, Mr. Don Gosney for taking all the wonderful pictures of us and reading all our blogs and commenting on them, and Mrs. Lilhanand for being our wonderful chaperon and making sure everything is taken care of and keeping us busy.


From Ms. Lilhanand...

Yes we are all well and still kicking.

As you saw in the recent blogs of today, we did not have access to the Internet at the hotel last night. Furthermore, our rooms were not available when we checked in around 6:30 or so. We had to leave our bags, all 14 of them, with the bell captain. Even after we returned around 10:30 we still had a little delay. One of the issues was they told us our request for 2 double beds plus 2 kings was not guaranteed, and initially they only had kings left. Long story short, we got in our rooms around 11:15 or so but it wasn't until close to midnight before they delivered a roll-away to one of our rooms.

Enough said of that...as I warned the students we hit the pavement and started walking after dropping off the bags. Of course it started to pour as soon as we were ready to leave the lobby, but the rain was very short lived. I wasn't about to have anything "rain on our parade"...so we walked to the Rockefeller Center then on to Times Square.

Packed doesn't justify the situation of Times Square. One side of Broadway was cut off to traffic and there were numerous lounge chairs filled with people just doing what we were doing, people watching. (I found out tonight that the city is trying this semi street closure out for a month or so to see what happens.)

Dinner at ESPN was a hit, even if we did have to wait half an hour or so to get a window seat overlooking Times Square. It was worth it. While I held down the fort waiting for a table, the kids went to ToysRUs, about 4 stories tall with a real ferris wheel inside, really! Of course they wanted a ride but the line was too long and I got a table and called them back.

After dinner and after LOTS of pictures and videos, (you will soon be able to see) we walked on to the Hershey store and the M&M store and founds lots of fun items, like a large chocolate syrup container, ID labels with lots of M&M's...

Our steam was just about all steamed out so we started walking back to the hotel. Just before entering the elevators I negotiated what time we would meet in the morning in the lobby....I gave in to 9:45.

Yes they were all there ready to go at 9:45. (I had already been up earlier and walked out to get a cup of coffee and pastry) As we walked past the St. Patrick Cathedral, we decided to go inside. There is no wonder why this is such a famous cathedral. The stained glass windows, large archways, huge interior, plain and simple purely spectacular...it is too hard to describe. Since a service was just about to start we headed out.

We continued down 5th Avenue a few more blocks and there it was: Trump Towers. I was excited to show the students the beautiful waterfall inside. I told them we would have brunch by the waterfall (instead of lunch with an earlier breakfast...that was negotiated so they could sleep in a little this morning). Well wouldn't you know, we entered and to my complete shock and dismay, no water in the "waterfall".

We ate then I wanted to show them the public garden on the roof and that, too, was closed. At this point I was 0 for 2. Just as we took one more look at the golden colored marble that covered the walls and floor, Sofia said, look the lights just went on....and then lo and behold the waterfall started. Needless to say, we had to take some pictures.

We started to head back. Oh, I forgot to mention while we were walking towards Trump Tower, we found out there would be the Gay Parade today at Noon. So I dropped the students off on the parade route, 3 blocks from our hotel, and quickly went back to the hotel to arrange for a later checkout time and a delayed time for the van pickup. I worked it out and then returned to the parade.

By 2:00 we were walking on campus checking in. (There was an issue with Sofia's paperwork. They said they never received her medical papers...we filled them out on the spot and I signed them as her guardian....then later tonight Jackie called with the same problem.)

All the students except one got a single room. As soon as they dropped off their luggage in their room I tried taking them inside the library...again, as last year, NO one can enter without proper ID. From there we headed to the bookstore. We checked and no texts were ordered by the professors so the students will find out in their class tomorrow if we need to purchase materials. While we were in the bookstore I let each one pick out their choice of a T-shirt or sweatshirt...or even sweatpants with Columbia plastered all over. All of them had grins from ear to ear and said thank-you....the thank-you goes to the sponsors.

The group was eager to return to their rooms to meet up with their RA's and other roommates in their first meeting at 4:00 , then off to the bar-b-que at 5:00. I left them from there and stressed they had to blog tonight and they could not go anywhere without contacting me. I received 3 phone calls since then, ...I wonder what flavor ice cream they picked.

It is now late so I'll sign off.

PS This group looks like a great group of kids...I'll keep you posted and look forward to seeing Madeline this Wednesday.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

living the college life!

Waking up on Saturday morning knowing I was headed towards Oakland to hop on a plane to leave the state for the first time in my life made my stomach feel like it was on a knot. However, I would have to say that for being my first time on a plane is was okay in terms of the takeoff and the landing which were the parts I was most concerned about (I also got to sit next to a nine month old baby!!). I expected it to be worse, but as things turned out I actually enjoyed myself. Having experienced this I now have a larger knowledge of how to roam about and find my way through an airport. Also the city is not so bad because there is so much to take in!

The first night in New York, we stayed in a wonderful hotel called the Marriot and the only thing I have to say is that I slept like a baby. The pillows felt like you were sleeping on a bunch of feathers. After leaving our belongings in our rooms we headed out to explore the Big City. I was actually suprised by how many different languages and people I have seen on the streets in the Big Apple. There were people from England, France, different parts of Asia, and other places from all over the world.

I also had the opportunity to witness a gay parade like the ones that take place in San Francisco. I have made the comparison and I have come to the conclusion that the San Francisco parade is way better just because it's more lively and way more colorful. However, I enjoyed the parade just because it's New York!!

Finally at Columbia and loving every second of it!! Today we finally checked into our rooms and I have to say that they are pretty awesome! Seeing the dorms in person give me a perspective of a college lifestyle and see how everyone has to live together as a community. We got together with our RAs and suitemates to go over the rules and they have made it very clear that everyone should be in their assigned suite by eleven P.M which is about nine P.M back home. Let me talk about how much I love the way the suites are set up. First of all, the suites have an apartment style to it which includes a bunch of rooms, a bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen (I will definitely be cooking something on that stove. Maybe.)

Well, tomorrow we will be receiving our class schedules and a second orientation for the class that we will take. I hope I pass this course and fortunately meet new people throughout this whole process.

First Day at Columbia

So as you guys must have seen, I posted three videos: Arriving in New York, After Brunch in the Trump Towers, and First Night at Columbia. For this post, I'd like to elaborate on my experience during the first day at Columbia.

Before we checked in, Cristina and I were very much uncomfortable with the possibility of being late. Thankfully, not only did we get in just in time, but it didn't seem like the time restraint was really much of a restraint. Julie is in another hall, of which I forgot the name, while Jessica, Sofia, Cristina, and I are all in Hartley Hall. However, each of us are in different suites. We were all slightly disappointed at first at not being quite together, but I think we are all having a wonderful time meeting new people.

After Mrs. Lilhanand took us to the bookstore for souvenirs, we went back to the dorms to meet with our RAs and suitemembers. When I got back to my suite, the ones present ended up gathering in the common room just to talk. Soon, many of our other suitemates joined in the conversation. We learned everyone's names, what year in school we would enter, what we were studying this summer, where we were from, and so on. In my suite, I have suitemates from San Francisco, Chicago, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut -- as well as London, Puerto Rico, Spain, Turkey, and Poland. I'm missing some of the girls, but I'll find out later. Most of us will be entering our senior year in the upcoming school year, but there are a few juniors, and one sophomore.

At the BBQ, suite/corridor -mates were supposed to bond over dinner, I believe, but the tables couldn't accomodate as many as say, 13 people. Our suite split up, but our table also got two others -- a boy from Chicago, and another boy from Greece.

After dinner, the different groups went their own ways, and the RAs explained a bunch of official stuff to us like rules, times, contact info, etc. And after that, our suite and one of the boy groups went off to a lawn by the Library, and played a couple games. Of the boys, we met a few others from Europe and someone from Ghana. I didn't personally meet everyone, so I don't know from what other countries the others may be from. It was during this time that the international aspect of this program really hit me. It is absolutely incredible to be meeting people from literally everywhere, and I expect I will be meeting even more foreign students.

A few of us went out for ice cream afterwards, and when we returned we started to really settle in. At one point, about 6 of us were actually just hanging out in one girl's room, finding each other online and getting contact information and whatnot. I'm amazed at and so glad for developing these friendships so quickly. Many of us are really sociable, and it's been quite easy getting to know everyone. Plus, the RAs are doing such a great job, and they are such a help to us. We already have plans for dinner tomorrow night, July 4th, and other stuff as well. I'm sure this will be an exciting three weeks with these people.

New York City at last!

Good evening everyone from Columbia!

Yesterday and today have been an extremely long day. To begin, I didn't sleep at all the night before the flight so that I would be able to sleep the entire flight going to JFK International Airport. My strategy was somewhat of a success; indeed, I did manage to sleep for probably five hours of the approximate six hour flight, but at the same time, that was all the sleep I received – five hours. This drained all of my energy for the day. The only thing pushing me to stay awake was the excitement of the journey that lied ahead of me.

When I first arrived at New York, the first thing I noticed was the complete weather change. To me, it was a bit depressing. That warm California Sun that I love to see every summer had disappeared and left a grey, overcast sky. The atmosphere was also a lot more humid than the dry, brisk, Californian weather, reminding me of the weather I would experience when I would return to the Philippines.

Then, the crew and I embarked on a drive to our hotel in Manhattan. Passing through New York neighborhoods, I also noticed a difference of architecture between the buildings of New York and the ones in the Bay Area. In New York, and likely in most parts of the East Coast, the buildings seemed to be old. The houses we passed had a rustic, vintage style compared to the suburban homes in the Bay Area.

As soon as we arrived to our hotel, the Marriot, it began to rain. The rain was quick, yet strong, leaving the city damp during our stroll to Times Square. Our walk around reminded me of my eighth grade trip to New York. Most of the sights we saw were things that I have seen before – only this time, I felt that I was more mature enough to appreciate my surroundings.

My stay at the Marriott Hotel was a real treat. Being the only guy in this trip had its perks; I got my own room at such a luxurious place. I was really glad. I have little time for myself back home, and my night alone in the room just allowed me to relax.

The next morning, I, along with everybody else, left the hotel and continued our venture around Manhattan. There, we visited and ate breakfast in the Trump Towers and saw the gorgeous fountain that Mrs. Lilhanand had talked about. While walkig down Fifth Avenue, one of us noticed the movable fences put up to close down the street. A man overheard our conversation and explained to us that the Pride Parade was to be held there at twelve o'clock noontime. Excited, the group and I quickly asked Mrs. Lilhanand if we could watch for a while, and as soon as we requested, she magically made altercations to our plan .

We only watched about a little less than a hour -- but what an hour it was. This was my first time watching one these parades, despite my relative location back home to what many people consider an area where many homosexuals live. The entire parade was filled with floats of motivation, occasional club promotions, various groups, etc., but what caught my eye the most were the number of political campaigns placed within the parade. These people are all about change; they marched in hopes of a more equal future -- and because of this, I supported them with my cheers. The whole atmostphere was incredible; thousands of people came to the celebration to show their support.

After, we got to business. We packed our bags and left the Marriott for Columbia. When we first arrived there, I did not even notice the school at all. The campus is small, yet very beautiful. The red-brick buildings are exemplary pieces of architecture. The moment I laid foot in the intimidating campus, I became nervous, full of timidity. I was afraid, afraid of the people I would meet, afraid of the class I would take -- afraid of everything. 

Once Mrs. Lilhanand bought us a gift from the Columbia store, she left us to be, all alone. From there, we went to our rooms. I got to meet some of the people who slept in the same floor as I do (John Jay, floor 5), specifically my group. These people were different people from different locations of the map. One was from Turkey, another from England, and others from other parts of the United States. I got to learn a lot about them just starting small conversation with them.

Now, I sit here in my small single dorm, typing this blog, getting ready to sleep before my first day of class. Columbia demanded that everyone be at the dining room by 7:00, meaning I don't get to have a long sleep. Wish me luck! 

Just Amazing

I am sorry that there was no blogging yesterday, but due to the lack of Internet access no one was able to post. However there is only one word that I can think of at the moment, Amazing! I have been in the city for two days now and the buildings, streets and atmosphere are stunning. I did not believe that there was too much to see or do, but I actually there is a lot to take in!

New York City is VERY different from Brown. As some may know, I went to Brown University last summer to take a leadership course for two weeks. Providence was always pretty calm and quiet with very little cars and people on the roads. In MAJOR contrast, the NY streets are filled with noise, people, big advertisements, lights and vehicles. It was right after we landed at the JFK airport that I found out driving around is very scary. Providence streets are spacious and there normally does not seem to be many cars; probably due to the fact that Thayer Street has many stores and restaurants which are in walking distances. However I got to experience the New York traffic right away as we weaved into the Manhattan streets.

Also after arriving at the hotel I learned that Manhattan is really crowded during the afternoon and the streets at night are still filled with activity. Whereas Thayer street reminded me a bit like Berkeley, this city that I am in is like San Francisco plus Las Vegas all in one area. There is so much action and big stores! The bright colors and musty air made the city stand out like nothing I have ever seen! People simple sat in the streets to relax and enjoy the view. Another example of the enormous population was today during the Gay Pride Parade. There seemed to be floods of people both young and old standing by the rails, shopping in stores, and simply walking from place to place. I have never seen anything like it!

Columbia University is beautiful! The buildings seem a bit similar to Brown, with the red bricks, but I have yet to explore more of the campus. The rooms are completely different though! At Brown I was in dorms and here I am in a suite. I must say that I really like the suite style! The rooms have air conditioning, but at Brown I had to buy a fan that did no work very well (it was very hot in the rooms!) Also there is a kitchen, which will prove to be convenient later on. I have a room to myself, but my suite mates are all right next door. I wonder how different it is going to be (being in a single room) since last year I stayed with Gina, a high student returning to Brown University this year.

Yesterday and today was filled with walking, talking, and lots of fun. I have so many pictures that I would love to post but I think it would not all fit! We are trying to set up a link with photo albums on the computer so that it would make it easier to view what we see! Tomorrow is orientation and the first day of class. I wonder what is to come!

Second Day in New York!

Hello everyone!

One quick note, no one was able to blog yesterday because the hotel we were at did not have free wi-fi in our rooms. Sorry no one could read about our adventure on the first day.

It's our second day in New York and we arrived in Columbia today. When we arrived at the JFK airport yesterday, the weather wasn't super hot but it was still warmer than in the Bay Area. I was warned that it would be humid, so I'm not surprised by the weather. We were picked up by a taxi/shuttle company and the driving was crazy! The driver was weaving in and out between traffic and squeezing into very narrow nooks. The driver was also cutting into traffic in any opening the he saw. It was slightly terrifying because it felt like we would hit a car or something, but we didn't. Mrs. Lilhanand said that the driver from last year was doing the same thing, so I guess that's how taxi drivers in New York drive. The efficient ones at least.

Yesterday, our rooms weren't available when we arrived at six so we walked around the area near our hotel with Mrs. Lilhanand. One of the places we went to was Times Square and it was so crowded! I went to Japan last summer so I'm used to crowded streets but it was still very different from the Bay Area because although there might be people on the streets, the streets aren't PACKED with people. The atmosphere of New York is also very different, it's much more urban than El Cerrito.

Anyways, I'm now in my dorm room and I have a roommate! She's really nice and from London. Actually, a lot of the residential students are from out of the country, even in my suite, there are 6 out of 8 girls from overseas. Two are from Turkey, one is from Dubai, one is from Canada, one is from Brazil, and the last one is from London (my roommate). The other girl from the US though is also from California! She's from San Francisco in fact, very close to where we're from. But it's also refreshing to hear about things from her perspective because San Francisco is it's own community and things there are different from El Cerrito and West Contra Costa County. It's really interesting meeting all these people from around the world and learning what it's like where they live because I haven't met many students that have lived outside the country.

Well, our class starts tomorrow, so I'm very excited and look forward to meeting my professor. On a slightly different note, Columbia University's campus is beautiful. There are lawns everywhere and everything is so neat and clean and orderly. The campus gives off a very relaxing feeling.

One last thing, I haven't gotten my photos uploaded because we're still deciding how we want to upload them, but when we figure it out, everyone will be posting their photos to the blog and there'll be a link to everyone's photos in New York.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Columbia Will Never Be The Same

Shortly after the second contingent of ILC cohorts left El Cerrito High at 3:00 AM to join the rest of their team from Brown, the front of the school started filling once again but this time with our fine students headed for Columbia University.

Leading our group to The Big Apple is Hercules High School Assistant Principal Cheryl Lilhanand.

At times, some have mistakenly likened these trips east to “summer camp”. These students, though will be enrolled in Issues in Biological Conservation and Intensive Seminars in Modern Chemistry. I always thought summer camp was about learning how to weave lanyards and sing Kumbaya by the camp fire. Like a lot of things, I guess I got this one wrong.

Before the van departed at 5:20 in the morning, Ms. Lilhanand spoke to the Columbia team and the many assembled parents to let them know of the many sights in New York City she would be escorting them to. She especially emphasized that most of these tours would be walking tours as that was the only way to actually see New York City. If this year’s adventure in NYC is anything like last year’s, we should expect lots of great photos posted to the blogs coming up.

Before they said their goodbyes to their parents, I quizzed these six scholars to make sure they knew why they were heading off to Columbia. Because of the sleepy nature of the early hour, some were confused and thought they were going off to study chemistry and biology but once prompted they remembered that the real reason they’re going to Columbia is to blog--and blog they will.

Tune in later this weekend and we’ll see just how successful they’ll be at their task.

In just two hours...

I'm packing my things into the family's SUV, and am heading off to El Cerrito. I've decided to pull an all-nighter tonight, in hopes of sleeping the entire flight going to New York City. The past few days, as I've mentioned in my previous blog, have been lived to the fullest. Each day was spent relishing the time my friends and I shared. Now, the time has come: it's time to embark. My feelings are far beyond ecstatic. I have so many predictions filled within in my mind that they have seemed to blend into unimaginable, incomprehensible nonsense. I would rather keep it that way; I want to live this experience like I have been spending the past two weeks in the Bay Area -- with vigor and excitement. So I'm off, Columbia University -- here I come! 

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Couple of Hours

It's the night before we leave for Columbia University, and I'm almost done packing. I don't think I'll get much sleep tonight because I'm excited and kind of nervous to go (on my own for three weeks, whoa!) and because of the early meeting in front of El Cerrito High School before 5 a.m.

It's my first time going to New York City, and I hope I'll get to enjoy the most populous city in the United States. I checked the forecast and it said there would be thunderstorms for a couple of days, kind of a bummer. One place I do hope to visit is the UN. I want to see the General Assembly Hall and items from different parts of the world.

Well, I guess I better get some sleep before I regret it. It baffles and excites me that in less than 24 hours I will be on the other side of the country.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Just a couple more days...

Wow, I am surprised at how fast time goes by! There is only a couple more days before we head off! I have not finished packing yet, but I think that's part of the fun; deciding what to bring! NYC seems to be filled with TOO many places. I have no clue where I would like to start. I wish I could see it all!

I agree about visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as Carnegie Hall! Both places seems to be a highlight in NY. I think it would be really nice to visit some parks too, such as Manhattan's Central Park. Of course I want to visit the great Statue of Liberty! Plus it would also be great to visit Eilis Island, the location of the World Trade Center, Yankee Stadium, and all the building and streets that make up the city.

I LOVE taking pictures, so anywhere I go I will be taking shots. Even of the FOOD! Does New York Cheesecake actually taste better in NY? There is only one way to find out!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I've been to New York a couple times already, and I've always passed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Never have I actually gone inside, so if time permits during my stay at Columbia, I hope to maybe visit the museum. I'm a semi-history-geek, so I think I would enjoy the museum very much.

Another place I would like to visit would be Carnegie Hall. Music is a major part of my life -- I am a singer and a pianist. So to visit Carnegie Hall, to step inside it and behold its wonders (excuse my melodramatacism), would be very much exciting for me.

...Wow, we're leaving on Saturday! That's a mere four days away. It's really hitting me now. I'm excited, & I look forward to seeing everyone this weekend!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Preparing for Columbia!

Hello everyone!

I finished reading the Columbia University blog from last year (it's a lot) last night and it's really got me thinking about the classes that we're about to take. I looked at the course materials that the Issues in Biological Conservation program would need and learned that they would have an overnight camping trip! Lucky! Sadly (maybe?), we [the chemistry program] do not have any course materials that we would need to pack prior to going. While reading the blogs, I skimmed over a lot of the descriptions of different places because I don't want to expect anything before I go and see it for myself. I actually enjoyed reading the posts, not just because I was able to read about everyone's experiences and suggestions of where to go, but I also because I enjoyed everyone's different writing styles.

I went onto Google Maps to see the surrounding area and stores near Columbia, but it was very difficult to distinguish any buildings from the look of the roofs. So then I tried using Google Streetview but then there were so many streets and different paths I could take, so I didn't know where to start! I guess I'll just have to explore once I get there =]

On a different note, I started making a list of personal, non-educational places (I mean stores) I want to go to while in New York. Just to name a few, I'd like to go are Midtown Comics, the Nintendo Store, and the Apple Store on 5th Ave. (the latter two were suggested by Dennis who went to Columbia U last summer)

I would also like to go see Butler Library after reading Andrew's description of it. Actually, I didn't even think of the books in there while reading his description (hahah).

After reading one of Nick's posts from last year, I have an urge to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art because he mentioned that there was a rooftop garden. I've seen a play structure on a roof before and I thought that was pretty mind-blowing already, so I really want to see a garden.

I also thought it was cool that last year's participants were able to go to a college fair while at Columbia U. I've been to college fairs here in the SF Bay Area but would love to see the different colleges available in the East Coast. Unlike the college fairs that I've been to that mostly have schools in California, it seems like the college fair that everyone went to last year had a lot of different schools from different states on the East Coast, not just from New York.

Dennis also suggested getting a 7-day pass (or even a 30-day one) for the subway since we will be using it a lot :)


Harvard University

Known as one of the most prestigious colleges in the United States, Harvard University is an exemplary institution of higher learning. Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest university in America. The college is located in the north-east section of the country, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

This Ivy-League college has nine distinct institutions: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, along with its sub-faculty, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, which together serve Harvard College, the university's undergraduate portion, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Harvard Division of Continuing Education which also includes Harvard Summer School. The university also hosts other various schools such as the Faculty of Medicine which includes the Medical School and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard Divinity School, the famous Harvard Law School, the Harvard Business School, the Graduate School of Design, the Graduate School of Education, the School of Public Health, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the former Radicliffe College which is now reorganized as the Radicliffe Institue for Advanced Study.

Another unique feature about Harvard University is the museums that it contains. There are ten museums within the campus. For instance, there is the Fogg Museum of Art, which houses western art galleries spanning from the Middle Ages to the present. The Busch-Reisinger Museum hosts central and northern European art. The Arthur M. Sackler Museum, which includes ancient Asian, Islamic, and Indian Art.

With the many things the college has to offer, the school campus is scattered around central Cambridge and Boston. The Harvard Business, for example, is located in the Boston neighborhood Allston. Other buildings such as Harvard Stadium can be found in Allston as well. The beautiful Harvard Yard is the center of the main libraries, the famous Memorial Church, and many of the freshmen dormitories. The rest of the undergraduates at Harvard - sophomores, juniors, and seniors - live in twelve residential houses, located along the Charles River and an area northwest of Harvard Yard known as Quadrangle.

As far as admissions go, getting into Harvard University is extremely difficult. For its class of 2011, the University only admitted less than 9% of its applicants. But for those are admitted, they are entering a institution of great prestige. U.S. News and World Report's "America's Best Colleges 2009" ranked Harvard number two, tied with other Universities like Yale, Princeton, and MIT.

Yale University

Yale University is located in New Haven, Connecticut. Yale University was founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School to train ministers. Lux et Veritas (Light and Truth) is the motto of the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. The private university's school color is Yale blue, which is an genuine shade (UC Berkeley uses this shade also). In 1889, the first college mascot in America was established, Handsome Dan the bulldog. There have been sixteen Handsome Dans so far. In 1966, Yale wanted to merge with Vassar College (its sister school) to become coeducational. Eventually in 1969, both of them separately became coeducational.

Yale has about 3,300 faculty members, 5,300 undergraduate students and 6,000 graduate students. Half of all Yale undergraduates are women, more than 30% are minorities, and 8% are international students, while 55% attended public schools. All Yale professors are required to to teach at least one undergraduate class. Yale offers 70 undergraduate majors. About 45% of Yale undergraduates major in the arts and humanities, 35% in the social sciences, and 20% in the sciences. Yale University includes the Sheffield Scientific School and the Yale School of Fine Arts.

Yale University Library holds over 12 million volumes and is the second-largest university collection in the United States. The Yale Center for British Art is home to the largest and most comprehensive collection of British art outside of the UK. The Yale University Art Gallery exhibits masterworks from all major periods.

Payne Whitney Gymnasium is the second-largest gym in the world. One myth is that Mrs. Payne Whitney wanted Yale to build a great cathedral, but that the University desired a gym. Since she was getting old, a gym was constructed that could pass for a cathedral. When it was completed, Mrs. Whitney shortly died, knowing that she gave Yale a fabulous church. “The cathedral of sweat" is home to the original Handsome Dan, who is stuffed and put on display.

Yale intramural sports are a vibrant aspect of student life. Students compete for their residential colleges. About half the sports are coed. Yale crew is the oldest collegiate athletic team in America.

Communiversity Day offers a fair for New Haven schoolchildren, who take part in activities and demonstrations offered by student volunteers. Almost half of all Yale undergraduates participate in community service.

Yale alumni include: U.S. Presidents William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Presidential nominee John Kerry, Pulitzer Prize winner author and Nobel Laureate Sinclair Lewis, lexicographer Noah Webster, inventors Samuel Morse and Eli Whitney, and Academy Award winners Meryl Streep and Jodie Foster.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Bit About Brown University

Last summer as well as autumn, I went to Brown University for a leadership program. For two weeks I explored, learned, and stepped up to make my own decisions as I walked around Providence, Rhode Island. It was very fun and it was also a great experience as I met with new faces and strong future leaders from all around the world.

Brown University was founded in 1764 as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and it was located in Warren, Rhode Island. It was in 1770 that the college moved to College Hill, one of six neighborhoods that make up the East Side of Providence. (It is also its current location today.) Nicholas Brown gave way to the name Brown University in 1804 due to his strong support. The college itself has a very diverse and independent nature. Based on the principals of founder Roger Williams, Brown was the very first college in the nation to accept students without concerns of religious memberships. It stands today as the third-oldest institution in New England and the seventh oldest in the United States!

Brown began as an all male school with Pembroke College as the women’s college. It was not until 1971 that the two colleges merged to form the coeducational institution it is today. With thirty-seven Varsity athletic teams, 17 for men and 20 for women, Brown has the largest athletic program for women in the nation! The president of the university, Ruth J. Simmons, also stands to be the first permanent female president there. She is the first African American and second female president of an Ivy League institution. At Brown, one will meet a variety of people, all whom have a common feature of hitting the books.

The main academic features of Brown comprises of the College, the Graduate School, and Alpert Medical School. In the College, there are about 80 fields offered with Biology, History and International Relations being the most popular. It has the oldest undergraduate engineering program in the Ivy League and also the only school to have a major in the History of Math! However adding to the independent ways of Brown, if a student cannot find a certain concentration of interests, they are allowed to design their own! The Graduate school offers 8 different master’s degrees and over 40 subjects for Ph.D. degrees. The Alpert Medical School is one of seven Ivy League medical schools and this year by U.S News and World Report, it is ranked 34th for research and 29th for primary care. For international studies, the Watson Institute for International Studies is the organizer. The Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women was also established in honor of the Pembroke College.

There are eight libraries at Brown that hold more than six million items! I was able to visit the Science Library, which towered about 12-14 stories high! I visited a great museum close by too, but the name escapes me though. I walked along the famous Thayer Street, which reminded me a lot of Solano or Berkeley. I went to malls, classrooms, research institutes, shops, restaurants and Boston! This time going to Columbia I hope to get to visit all these types of places and more. The Big Apple! I need to do a bit more research, but I wonder what type of impression it will have on me this summer!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dartmouth University

I can’t seem to wait to get on that plane although I’m a little frightened to get on a plan for the first time in my life! I can’t believe I am going to be wandering on the streets of the Big Apple and hopefully witnessing a hot dog eating contest. As everyone knows I am a girl and therefore I have a weakness for malls and hope we get the chance to wonder the mall while on our stay in New York City. I can’t wait.

Dartmouth being the nation’s ninth oldest college was founded by Eleazar Wheelock in 1769. Eleazar, a minister from Connecticut, first started with Moor’s charity school which was mainly dedicated to the education of the Native Americans. Later Moor’s charity school was moved from Connecticut to Hanover, New Hampshire with the intentions of expanding the school. After Eleazar moved his school to a newer location he soon found financial problems to be able to maintain his school. Luckily Eleazar counted on the help of his former student, Samson Occom, and the Royal Governor of New Hampshire, John Wentworth. Samson assisted Eleazar with raising substantial funds for the college and John Wentworth provided the grounds on which Dartmouth would be built. Today Dartmouth is located in Hanover, New Hampshire and covers about 269 acres surrounded by the beautiful color green giving Dartmouth its nickname “Big Green”.

Dartmouth is a private, four-year Liberal Arts University that runs on a year-round calendar and is home to 4,100 Undergraduates and 1,700 Graduates. In fact, students are required to spend the summer after their sophomore year on campus. This Ivy League school provides many programs which add to the quality of the undergraduate and graduate experience. Also there is plenty of student-faculty interaction, hand-on in independent research, and a variety of off-campus activities and programs. Some of the Graduate programs include the study of global markets at the Tuck School of Business (1900), more than a dozen programs in the Arts and Sciences, Dartmouth Medical School (1797), and the Thayer School of Engineering.
Students can even dine in the Hanover Inn (yes I did say Inn! Isn’t that awesome?!!) or go to one of the nine libraries location on campus .The Hanover Inn was built eleven years after the construction of Dartmouth, but it wasn’t until 1901 that it was given the name, the Hanover Inn. Before the reconstruction and remolding of the facility the Hanover Inn was known as the Dartmouth Hotel. Since the reconstruction in 1901 the Hanover Inn kept growing when in1924 an east wing was added and in 1939 an outdoor dining terrace was added. The Hanover Inn allows weddings and special event to take place in this facility (imagine tying the knot with the one you love in this cool place. That’s a day to remember!).

If I ever decide to attend Dartmouth I will have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world since most of Dartmouth’s student body come from fifty states and fifty-three countries!

First Blog

Well, now that school is over, I can concentrate on bigger things, such as chemistry at Columbia. I am glad there is a two week "mini-vacation" because I'm not ready. I did not realize that our trip is less than two weeks away, and now I'm feverishly making a list of what I need to pack and buy. I went to my orthodontist today, and the secretary said that her daughter lives in Manhattan and that it's been raining for a while. I better go find my umbrella. I also read over the checklist and found my flashlight.

I just finished reading last year's Columbia blog, and one thing that I got from it was that they were always busy and always had things to do. I can't wait to experience the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, and the subway that slinks through it. One thing I really do want to see is Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest at Coney Island. Another thing that I remembered after I read the blog was to bring bug spray. Bugs love me, about as much as I hate their bites. I looked through the picture slideshows and I noticed they were always in overcast weather. One thing that I know I will miss is the sunny California weather. I'm still reading about Vassar, UPenn and June Chu, Columbia, Bard, NYU, and the all important New York City. I hope to finish my Ivy League assignment by tonight.

All I can say is that I'm really excited to go to the other side of the country!

First Blog Thursday!

The last week of school has past and summer has begun. I would like to give an apology for failing to check my e-mail and online obligations. These past few days have been a whirlwind of experience; the days are long, but filled with so much adventure and the usual summer activities in which an adolescent indulges. There are less than two weeks until my great trip to Columbia University, so I've decided to spend most of my remaining time in California with my friends, family, and loved ones. 

Nevertheless, going to New York City in a matter of days remains as the prevailing thought in my mind. Of the four colleges we plan to visit - Vasser, in which I read that the infamous chef, author and travel guide Anthony Bourdain attended, Bard, UPENN, and NYU - I am most interested in visiting the University of New York. Like I've said many times, I am deeply fascinated with the city lifestyle and hope to receive a taste of it during my college years. I've also heard that the campus - or lack thereof a campus - is scattered throughout New York City, making appeal more to my liking.

So, as the time nears, I continue to live the remainder of my summer in California with vigor as well as ease, hanging around with friends. I also won't forget to go online to check any updates. As for my research assignment, I shall attempt to finish it today!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My excitement and UPenn!

Hello! This is my first official post (the testing one does not count) so I'll be sure to make it good.

Since its less than 2 weeks until the Columbia program, I'm already starting to pack! I'm so excited, I can't wait to go. Especially since I'm going to New York to take a chemistry program at Columbia University. It's hard to know what to expect since I've never been to New York. I wonder what the dorms will be like when I get there. I hope to be able to visit the Museum of Modern Art as I love seeing different types of art that are prevalent in MoMA. Also, there's going to be an exhibit of Aernout Mik's work throughout the museum until July 27th. I would also like to visit the New York Hall of Science, a hands-on science and technology museum. An interesting fact is that it was built for the World's Fair in 1964 but it wasn't torn down afterward like most exhibits constructed for the World's Fair.

While in New York, we'll also be visiting other colleges besides Columbia U.; Bard, Vassar, University of Pennsylvania and possibly New York University.

The University of Pennsylvania is a university in the city of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. The building was originally erected in 1740 as a charity school in Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin took and used the building to open a new school that was not focused on only educating clergymen. Thus the institute was opened to students in 1751 as the Academy of Philadelphia. The name was later changed to the College of Philadelphia in 1755 until 1779. The college was again renamed in 1779 to University of the State of Pennsylvania and remained so until 1791 when it was merged with the The Academy and College of Philadelphia under the name of the University of Pennsylvania. It is known for being the first university in the United States as it was the first to become chartered as a university when it changed it's name to the University of Pennsylvania.

Currently, UPenn has four undergraduate schools (including the Wharton School of Business and the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS)) and many more graduate schools. UPenn is well known for it's business and nursing school, having been ranked in the top 3 business and nursing schools in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report since U.S News began reviewing college programs. UPenn's programs in arts and sciences are also well received. Since it's founding, UPenn has been affiliated with 19 Nobel laureates. The first was Otto Fritz Meyerhof who won the prize for Physiology/Medicine. The most recent Nobel laureate is Harald zur Hausen who won the prize in 2008, also in the category Physiology/Medicine. In fact, eight of the nineteen Nobel prize winners from UPenn won it in the category of Physiology/Medicine. Six won the prize in Chemistry, four in Economics, and three in Physics.

It is rated Green by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) as being a university whose policies exceptionally protect free speech. UPenn was also the first medical school in the U.S. and the first university teaching hospital. The University of Pennsylvania can boast another first, it was the birthplace of the first student union and student union building, the Houston Hall, in America. UPenn has had a long history of starting the nation's first liberal arts curriculum. It was Benjamin Franklin's goal that the university's goal was more than just educating clergymen. He wanted to educate the business and governing class as well and break away from the tradition form of teaching by teaching practical subjects such as natural history, geology, geography and modern languages instead of Greek and Latin. As stated before, UPenn is well known for its business school, the Wharton School. Wharton School was the world's first school for business when it was founded in 1881. Wharton is highly selective and one of the most competive business schools in the U.S. It currently offers more electives than any business school in the nation, nearly 200, and has churned out many successful businessman (and billionaires!) such as Donald Trump and Warren Buffett.

All in all, I very excited to go visit the University of Pennsylvania. While there, we'll also be having lunch with June Chu, the director of Pan-Asian American Community House (PAACH). I look forward to meeting her and hearing what she has to say about UPenn and the Asian-American community there.

Just an Update

I have yet to post my writings about Brown, but I shall once I gather my notes together. 
I am constantly thinking about how big of a difference it will be between Brown and Columbia. I have a feeling that the weather shall be the same, hot! Nevertheless I am curious about how the city itself will look up close. I hope I won't get lost!
With all the college visits and travel plans, I am so excited to not only seeing different areas of New York, but UPENN too. It's going to be really fun to get to meet June Chu, the director of the Pan-Asian American Community House (PAACH). I do not think Bertha will be there this summer, but her advice of "socialize" will definitely be a useful suggestion for anyone! 
I keep on thinking that Columbia is this week! Yet I still have one more week, thankfully since I have not quite packed everything yet. Anyways, I can't wait! 

Monday, June 15, 2009

Columbia University

Flashing lights, incessant honks, and the rumble of a big city. This and more surrounds Columbia University. Found in the heart of the Big Apple, Columbia is located in/at (?) Morningside Heights, but had moved there from 49th St. and Madison Ave. in 1897. The university encompasses three undergraduate schools (Columbia College, Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the School of General Studies), thirteen graduate and professional schools, and a school of continuing education. It is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It originally began in 1754 as King's College, which explains why their emblem involves the crown and everything. It first established an Anglican affiliation, but "all constituencies agreed to commit themselves to principles of religious liberty." The university shut down at the start of the American Revolution, and then reopened under the name of Columbia in 1784. It became coed in 1889, when it became affiliated with the Barnard College for women. It was the first American medical school to grant the M.D. Its first Nobel Laureate was Theodore Roosevelt, for Peace. Since then, it has been the home institution to 77 other Nobel Prize Winners. In looking at the list of winners, I found it to be mostly divided between Physics, Physiology, Chem, and Economics, with Physics being the bulk of the awards. In addition, there are four Nobel Laureates for Literature, and two Nobel Laureates for Peace.

During my spring break, I traveled to the east coast to visit a number of schools, Columbia among them. I took the student-guided tour and discovered many interesting aspects about Columbia. For one thing, students are required to take a swimming test. I guess it has to do with the school being right next to the Hudson River. This tradition has been in place since early on, and all students are required to do it...that is, all students except those majoring in engineering. They have been exempted from it because they were expected to just be able to build a boat if Columbia got flooded over. It's pretty funny.

There are three things I absolutely and utterly love about Columbia. First is their joint degree with Julliard. Even if it's a very difficult program to get into, after first getting accepted by the highly selective Columbia, I still just like the fact that they have such a program. Secondly, I love how they have a graduate school for Journalism. It's even more exciting that the Pulitzer Prize is awarded in the actual building itself! The student guide told our group about how the gathering is filled with all these distinguished and famous figures, and how Columbia students actual get to be there for the ceremony. But what I love love love most about Columbia is its pedagogical approach: global perspective. The university puts great emphasis on having well-rounded students with global perspectives. They achieve this through creative and outreaching courses, like the course, "New York City from Colonial Outpost to World Capital: an Urban Case Study." An Ivy League Connection student from last year studied this course in the summer of 2008. In addition, Columbia enforces a solid core curriculum. You thought you were done with PE in high school? Or maybe you were able to skip PE altogether? Well at Columbia, you can't. They make sure you are well-rounded enough to succeed in the real world. They require you to have a certain number of credits for all the different subjects. And what may make it easier for people who may hate a particular subject, is that they can choose courses which are related or intertwined with their own interests.

This university seems to be a very free thinking type of institution. It seems to be very liberal, as shown by "global perspective" and the large bulk of activism that resides there. They even have a building dedicated to students who want to speak out in the University Senate. This university even had to close down in 1968 because over 1,000 students were protesting. It is truly incredibly. I feel so very honored to be studying at Columbia this summer. In addition to everything I have learned through research, the personal stories of those who attended Columbia last summer just give me more to look forward to. I can't wait to hop on that plane on the 27th. Nevermind the fact that we're leaving at 4 am, hahaha. I really have no other words to convey my feelings about this wonderful opportunity, except...YAYY. (: