Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Day With Dyana So

Today we all woke up nice and early to meet with Mr. Ramsey and catch a train to Philadephia. Since we had to make it to our train at 7:00 AM we did not get to eat a hot breakfast. But Mr. Mannix did manage to get us each a nice little breakfast package. We then split up into two groups and took taxis to the train station. Our cab driver strikes up a little conversation with Mr. Ramsey angle we learned that he was from Ghana.

The train station was a long way from the hotel so thank goodness we didn't have walk. If I didn't know that we were going to the train station I wouldn't think that the building in front of me was one. It looked like a magnificent art museum at the very least. The inside had some part that was under reconstruction but it looks amazing nonetheless. As we walked deeper into the station, toward the gates, it starts to resemble the airport a bit. There were people carrying around their luggage, clothing stores, food stores, and there we even contraband detection dogs. Thanks to Mr. Mannix's awesome planning skills, we got to our gate early and had time to eat our food. While Getting in line to get to the train Mr. Ramsey bumped into a lady and it turned out that she was from Pinole. What a small world! Soon enough we boarded our train and we were on our way to Philly.

I have never ridden AMTRAK before so it was all new to me. It is so amazing that I am traveling through four states in a matter of just 2 hours. That's more states I have been to than in the span of 8 years. Unfortunately the view from the train were not as spectacular as the airplane view, so it wasn't much to see. However when we arrived at Philadelphia, the train station was really something. Both the inside and outside had Greek style columns and the building itself looked aged. It was nice to know that there are people out there who work to preserve history. I mean even the information board was an old fashion kind that spins when the information has to change. 
We took a cab to a hotel to meet with Mr. Hillyer, who was the chaperone of the Penn cohort, and we had a nice warm breakfast. I ordered waffles and was pretty surprised to see my waffle. Seemed like it was cooked in a Liberty Bell cast. Mr. Hillyer contacted Dyana to confirm our meet up and Mr. Ramsey took the chance to invite her to join us for breakfast  so we got to see Dyana earlier than how we planned it. It was a good thing because she got more time to tell us about the college experience. She told us that we shouldn't force ourselves into a major and we should explore our options. Mr. Hillyer even said that if we ever hear about something at the immediate thought was " That's cool " then we should look into it and get involved. I thought that was a really great way to discover yourself and discover your interest. 

After breakfast Mr. Ramsey and Mr. Hillyer had to attend a meeting with the UPenn people make more connections. They went their way and we went our way with Dyana to start the college tour. Luckily, Dyana made it so that she was our tour guide, the group included our group and a couple of other people. Dyana's bubbly attitude lightened up the bunch and she was constantly encouraging everyone to ask questions. In addition to the information she gave us about the university, she also added her own input here and there so we all got to see it from a student's perspective. Dyana's said that the UPenn's libraries are connected to many other big, important libraries and that if a student needed at book that wasn't in the library you were in then they would get it to you. It amazes me how much work they are willing to put in to ensure that their student have the best possible education.   We don't really have anything like this on our side of the country and it was good to know that something like that was out there. After the best college tour I have ever had we rested a bit before attending the information session. A little bit before the session we got to see Junhui Zhou, a fellow student from Pinole Valley High. He told us about his classes and he really seems to be on cloud nine. We didn't get to talk much since he had to get back to his program. There were a lot of people in the session and quite a few of them were international. Before the information session I thought that UPenn was an outstanding college and it was something I would consider. I like the financial aid that they offered and the small size classes. The atmosphere that Dyana described seem really appealing to me and the university really has a lot to offer to their students. And I love how the seasons are so distinct, I mean it was green and warm in the summer and in the winter it would snow. But after the information session I started to think about some things that the admission officer said. He talked about why a student would want to attend UPenn and those reasons didn't match with my personal reasons of why I would want to attend a college. As great as the financial aid or the atmosphere or the weather was, I had to consider the most important thing which is academic. As great as UPenn is I had to make sure that I consider a college that seem fitting for me and also challenge me at the same time. Maybe my perspective would change as I mature through my junior and senior year but I would have to just wait and see. But I am glad to be able to have the opportunity to know about this and it may have saved me from a lot of trouble in the future.

As soon as we were finished with the information session we rejoined with Mr. Hillyer and rapidly walked to meet Mr. Ramsey and Dyana at Distrito for lunch. According to Mr. Hillyer it was a restaurant owned by the Iron Chef from the Food Network. I have never eaten at a real Mexican restaurant before so I wasn't really sure what to order. With the help of the waitress I decided on the mahi-mahi taco. The fish was deep fried so it was nice and crunchy with a soft shell taco. During the lunch Dyana had the chance to talk to us more about her whole experience regarding college. We all hit the book store afterward and got our UPenn shirts and such. Then it was time to leave so we said goodbye to Dyana and Mr. Hillyer and went our separate ways. We got back to the train station via cabby and rode the train back to DC. Outside the train station I noticed all the people arriving in DC to celebrate our nation's Independence Day. The were buses and buses of people and more. I can't even imagine what tomorrow would be like.

We rested for a bit after arriving at the hotel before heading out to find a light dinner. In an attempt to find a place to eat we stumbled upon a nice little waterfront park. It was so neat! It had a great view of the river that separated DC from Virginia. It had stone slabs that featured pictures of what DC looked like back then and one had a city plan of DC. There was a little maze in the park and we all walked through it. When we got to the middle instead of backtracking through the maze Mr. Mannix opened imaginary doors for us to show us that there are other ways of taking the path, just as the ILC is doing. After the park we walked a bit more before deciding on pizza for dinner. We ordered it to go and ate it in our room. I have never eaten pizza from an independent restaurant before. It was cheesylicious! And that ended today's adventure.

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