After hearing stories about the dangers of arriving late to BART, I made it a point to be on time. Not only was I on time by the ILC’s expectations, but my mom and I arrived at EL Cerrito Plaza BART Station with about twenty minutes to spare. I felt a sense of relief, knowing that I wouldn't be that one person who’d be used as an example of what not to do in the future.
Once we all gathered as a group at the station, Don gave us everything we needed to get to and from our restaurant. Since we didn’t leave as early as expected, we caught a direct train to Civic Center BART station, where we would then catch a taxi to get to the restaurant. Ambassadors were given the responsibility of dealing with the taxi driver and making sure we handled our spare change, receipts, and tips accordingly. Although it took a while to catch a taxi that was willing to pull over to the side of the curb, we eventually did catch someone’s attention.
Facilitated by Ms. Kronenberg, almost everyone in the room introduced themselves. I could see a few familiar faces, some of whom I interviewed with at the beginning of the year. It's shocking how fast these past couple months have flown by. The night was off to a good start, and it was time to eat and converse with everyone.
I had no idea what to expect by our dinner at La Folie. Not only have I never eaten French cuisine until last night, but to eat in one of San Francisco’s top fine dining restaurants as well. All I knew about La Folie was from the positive yelp reviews I read online. Its yelp reviews did not disappoint. Every detail of the restaurant was taken care of. At first, I thought I’d leave hungry for more, while looking at the appetizer’s small portions. But I was mistaken; it was done to leave room for the full course meal we’d indulge in.
The food was delicious. I chose the Asparagus soup and “Le Boeuf”, a dish that prepared three different types of meat cohesively. The soup was creamy without being too thick. But the meat was the real showstopper. I can honestly say that the meat I had last night was one of the best meats I have ever tasted. It was that good. To top it all off, I enjoyed taking in my chocolate cake with every bite. It’s not every day someone can be offered such an opportunity.
I was in great company, eating great food. What more could I ask for? During the dinner, I was able to talk with several people at my table. Two of whom graduated from Vanderbilt University, Tyler Sanchez and Rachelle Soderstrom. This was a great opportunity to not only listen about their college endeavors, their lives leading to and after attending Vanderbilt. Listening to student’s experiences and visiting campuses trumps college board's college search any day.
Among the useful tips they shared, Tyler mentioned how money shouldn’t get in the way of choosing your desired college. He applied to dozens of scholarships during his senior year, and reaped in rewards as a result. As he said “You have to be in it to win it.” By taking the initiative of going out for numerous scholarships, he was able to save a good amount of money. Many students choose to attend more “financially feasible” colleges. But as Tyler stated, college is totally feasible as long as you’re proactive. By the end of the night, Tyler and Rachelle gave me their business cards for future use. They were more than willing to help me, whether it was finding local eateries in Nashville, or answering questions about the Vanderbilt itself. Their willingness to assist someone like me in the midst of their busy lives blows my mind.
Not only did our dinner exceed my expectations, but the night went above and beyond my wildest dreams. I am so humbled to be a part of the ILC, a program unlike anything offered in the country. The Ivy League Connection has done so much for me in these past couple months, and my summer hasn't even begun. With four milestone events down, the orientation is the last event standing in the way before we can embark for the East Coast!