Monday, February 23, 2009

Back home from Penn

Hi everyone,

I have returned from my 4 day college tour of Penn, and I had a blast! From sitting in an in-depth history lecture to taking a look at Princeton and eating a cheesecake at Naked Chocolate (delicious), I was able to pack a lot of wonderful and valuable experiences into my brief stay. I just returned home, but I miss the East Coast already! (Perhaps not so much the weather, although I think I got used to it in the end. Cali seemed a bit too warm when I got back... how strange!)

My trip was not only an enjoyable excursion but also an extremely important one. By having the chance to be at Penn with classes in session and student life flourishing, I felt what it would be like as an actual student at the university. This firsthand interaction, in turn, definitely allowed me to realize how much I love Penn's rich culture and want to be a part of it. This realization, although quite simple, was attained through a long process of personal experience and consideration.

As a high schooler from the West Coast, I grew up in an environment where most students want and expect to go into the University of California system for college. With this kind of mindset, I never even considered applying to the University of Pennsylvania until the Ivy League Connection gave me the opportunity to go to Penn's summer Biomedical Research program. After spending an amazing summer at Penn (refer to my "Looking Back to Move Forward" post from last August), I gradually shed my narrow minded college preferences and began to consider Penn as one of my top choices for my undergraduate education.

Then, it was not until this recent visit that I began to consider Penn my first choice for furthering my studies. By touring the school, sitting in classes, and speaking with people on campus, I felt immersed in Penn's bustling college life, and immensely enjoyed it. I got a glimpse of the academic rigor presented by the university, and feel that such a stimulating environment can help draw out my potential and prepare myself for life in the outside world. In addition, life on the East Coast is so utterly different from life back here in California, and I realize that attending Penn can diversify my various perspectives and point of views.

Going through this process myself allows me to help my peers consider college on the East Coast as well. By telling friends and classmates about my fantastic experiences at Penn, I feel like I am making a difference by helping students realize the wide expanse of opportunities actually available to them. In turn, I hope students in this new college-going culture will work for their goals and challenge themselves to grow into even better academically achieving individuals. (By the way, please stay tuned for a special college-going culture blog... it is in progress. I will post the link to it on this blog once it is presentable.)

Having the opportunity to be at Penn, both over the summer and President's week, has effectively opened my mind to greater horizons, provided me with priceless lessons, and allowed me to meet great people and make some wonderful friends. I would like to extend my immense gratitude to those who made it possible-- Mr. Ramsey and Mrs. Kronenberg, for all your hard work in the Ivy League Connection program, and extending it to students throughout the district to let them explore options in their academic endeavors and succeed. Don, for never failing to respond with wise, well thought out comments to all my posts, and always giving me encouragement and insight. June, for endlessly helping me get to know Penn's people and culture, finding my way around town and around life, and almost everything else. My parents, for always patiently giving me advice, and guiding me toward better decisions. Last but not least, I would like to give a big thank you to all of ILC's sponsors! Without the support of our sponsors, this amazing program would be inconceivable, and this incredible journey I have gone through would have never been.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Princeton clips

Enjoy! And sorry... I'm pretty bad at narrating haha!

My college visit - Part 2!

The main focus of today was my visit to Princeton U. We took the train at 30th street over to Trenton, where we changed trains to Princeton Junction, and then took a shuttle to Princeton U. It was FREEEEEEZING! not to mention extremely windy, but we made it in one piece! It was worth it-- Princeton's campus was absolutely gorgeous! Take a look yourself. I am going to try and upload all the videos right now but no guarantees since there seems to be a connection issue on Blogger. Don't worry, they'll be up soon regardless!

My College Visit - Part 1 cont.

Reunion with June, and her Asian American Psychology class!

After lunch and the tour, I went to the Pan-Asian American Community House to find June Chu. It was great to see June! I missed her a lot and I liked visiting PAACH again. It had a lot more people there than the summer, but according to June, I just missed an even larger crowd. June and I then walked together to class. On our way we passed a compass on Locust Walk, and I learned it was unlucky to walk through the center-- it will make you will fail! 

June's started off her lesson with an interactive activity, in which she randomly put a label on every student's back. These labels were descriptive adjectives, such as "wealthy," "unstable," "intelligent," and "adventurous." Mine was "loyal." We were not allowed to see which label we had, but could see the ones on other people's backs. These adjectives were stereotypes we were supposed to regard our partner with. We were asked to discuss future professions with our partners, and during conversation, we would hint at what the other's stereotype was without actually revealing it.

A's stereotype is "humble."
A: When I grow up, I'd like to be an advertiser.
In this case, B would say something like,
B: Oh, I don't think that's a good career option for you, you might not be able to sell off your products. 

After this exercise, the entire class commented on what they observed and learned. This led into a discussion of stereotypes, and June proceeded into a lecture on the subject.

I found June's class extremely enjoyable, and I learned quite a bit about the topic presented. It was definitely a fascinating class, and all of the students were very active and involved. My favorite part was how her class was so interactive, and facilitated student participation and contribution. It was a class I would love to be in if I were a student at Penn!

After her class (4:30-6pm), June took my mom and I to downtown Chinatown for dinner. The restaurant was superb, and we all had a wonderful time! 

I think that's it for yesterday's update.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

My college visit - Part 1!

Morning Lecture

Like I mentioned yesterday, my morning started off with me going to Professor Walter Mcdougall's class on "History of International Relations since WWI." 

What made me decide to visit this professor, who is in the history department and not in either field of my interest (political science or business)? As it so happens, my government/economics teacher in high school mentioned one of his favorite college professors from when he was at UC Berkeley. When he also told us that the professor, Dr. Mcdougall, had moved to teach at Penn, I knew I had to go to one of his lectures myself! 

So after grabbing some Starbucks for breakfast, I went to the Department of History in College Hall to try and find his classroom. When I asked for help in the office, I was told he was in the Arch Crest! (Where?!? And class is starting in 10 minutes?!?) After the lady at the desk gave me some descriptions, I realized the Arch in Arch Crest was referring to the Arch building. I was off, and thankfully found the right room quickly.

Professor Mcdougall kindly allowed me to stay for his lecture, and sit in. I thought his history class was definitely unlike any I had and have in high school; it was extremely an indepth and detailed analysis of the subject. Dr. Mcdougall was also very passionate about his subject, and I had fun listening to him. The phrases he used that I liked best were "heard the ominous drumbeats of another war," and "a storm brewing and crashing."

Almost everyone was taking notes during the lecture, and most students had laptops. I sat in between two very contrasting individuals: the person on my left was extremely dilligent and never ceased her note taking for the entire class, while the person on my right was constantly sighing and texting. Observing these two and getting the general feel of the entire class was a very good experience for me. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience being in a real college class, with actual students around me. I could see that responsibility and independance were an important part to succeeding: the material was presented, but it is up to the student to absorb the information and actually learn it. In this kind of environment, a student is not just learning what to think, but how to think.

At the end of class, I thanked the professor and we talked a little bit about where I was from. He was very surprised and delighted when I told him why I had came to sit in his class. He also told me he remembered my government/econ teacher's name, which my teacher will be very happy to hear about. =)

Lunch and Self-Tour

My mom and I had lunch at the White Dog Cafe, after which I took her on a tour of campus. 

I said the weather was like Cali weather yesterday, but not today! Today it was COLDDD! 

Shrimp Mac and Cheese, Freezing in front of the Quad, Inside Leidy Labs, College Hall

I'll save my reunion with June, her class, and our night out for tomorrow! 


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Back at Penn!

Hi everyone!

I'm back at Penn for the first time since August. The Ivy League Connection sent me to Penn for a 4 day college visit, and I just arrived this afternoon! After a nice flight and some dinner, my mom and I are now resting in our hotel room at the Sheraton. We got to Penn very easily from the airport by taking the train down to 30th street, then the trolley to 36th. I was surprised that the weather isn't actually too bad; it's actually quite similar to Cali weather right now (just slightly more chilly).

My plans for tomorrow are first attending a lecture of "History of International Relations since WWI" 10:30 am to 12 with Professor Walter Mcdougal. Next on the agenda is visiting June Chu at PAACH, and attending her class on "Asian Psychology!" I am very excited and can't wait! It feels great to be back on the Penn campus, and brings back a lot of happy memories.

That's all for now, but I'll keep you guys updated on how things go.