Friday, July 5, 2013

Worming Through The Big Apple

Our day started out nice and early. The weather was decently nice and we caught a cab to the train station. Just as before, because we had to start the day out so early Mr. Mannix prepared some breakfast package for us. Our cab driver was a very nice older gentleman, he spun a little conversation with Mr. Mannix. He was a smart man, instead of spending the fourth of July trying to hustle around he relaxed and gave himself a nice day. We arrive at the station in no time and got to the correct gate. Since we arrived early we didn't have to stand in the excruciatingly long line. I cannot believe that I was going to New York. I remember not long after I learned English I thought that New York was New Yolk. It wasn't until one of my friends caught me saying it and corrected me.

The train ride there was uneventful so we all relaxed for a while, however it was long. From the train there was not much to see of New York, but it was a different story once we stepped off the train. Mr. Ramsey had warned us the day before that things in New York work at a whole different pace, much faster. While we were still in the train station I got to see a bit of that. There were restaurants and shops everywhere and a lot of people. When we got out of the train station we saw the skyscrapers of New York. Almost immediately I felt small and that the building was going to come to life and step on me. This city is probably one of the crowded place I have ever been too. I debated whether this was more crowded or July 4th in DC. We had a lot of time before we had to head to Columbia University for the college tour and information session. Of course when you are in New York, you have to see the Empire State Building. Key word: 'see'. There was a wait time of one and a half hour and that was just the outside. I didn't think that is was logical to waste our precious time in the Big Apple for a five minutes view. It may have been one of the most breathless views ever but it just wasn't worth it. The view of it from the outside was already breathlessly spectacular so that was satisfying enough.
We decided to have lunch since it was noon and we all had a light breakfast. The restaurant was actually a part of the Empire State Building so technically we can say that we got to go into the ESB. By the time we were finished eating it was time to head to the subway. On the walk there I really got to see more of New York and how busy it was. There were people walking the sidewalk and traffics occupying the streets. Mr. Mannix informed us that this was mellow for New York. Mellow!? If the condition that I witness was mellow then I really don't want to be there for normal. I bumped into a  guy while we were walking and before I could even whip my head around to apologize, he was long gone. New Yorker really do keep it pushing. 

We took the subway to New York and all went well. The Metro is much like the BART system we have in the west. Except there was this undesirable warm feeling in the air, I wasn't sure if it was from the weather or the hot tracks. I also noticed that in the east, security and safety is everywhere. There are signs telling you to say something of you see something and the large amount of K-9 units. We don't have anything like it in the Bay Area, not even in the AMTRAK stations. I'm also guessing that all this security is from 9/11. Anyway we arrived at Columbia University and the atmosphere there was considerably peaceful. We made our way toward the Low Library to check in. Unlike at UPenn, the information session was given before the tour. I learned that Columbia also try their hardest to give financial aid packets rather than giving out loans. Just like other great colleges they want to know why you applied above most else. One unique aspect of their application is that they want to know what books you have read, both through school and voluntarily on your own. Of course a long list of The Harry Potter series will not make the cut. Columbia, for me, seems to have it all. Amazing facility, golden opportunities, great academic systems, perfect financial aid, nice weather, and it has been just a bit away from where all the people are. When I first heard of Columbia and people's description of it, my thought automatically shifted it to the do not consider section. But after the session and tour I really had no idea what all those people are talking about. The worst about all this was that our tour guide did not seem too enthusiastic about the school as she can be. She just walked us around, pointed to buildings and told us what they were. Occasionally she would say how much she enjoyed something but that was it. Completely nothing compared to Dyana who just makes UPenn sound like Unicorn Paradise. But I still got good information on Columbia nonetheless. Fun Fact: You have to pass a swimming test in order to  graduate from Columbia except for engineering students because they can just build a bridge to get across the water. We completed the visit with some souvenirs from the bookstore.

The minute I step out from the Metro station I just stopped breathing for a moment. Times Square is nothing less of how they show it in movies. I just stood there trying to take it all in but that was just impossible. All of the nicest adjective in the English language would not have been sufficient enough to describe it. Everywhere I look there were screens with advertisement, lights blinking, signs spinning, and I had to catch my breath from just looking. We walked down the street and around the corner. And just when I thought that it couldn't get any better...BAM! Awesome times two. I really wish that Blogspot would support GIF so that I can bring the pictures to life since I took a bunch of zoetropes in addition to still pictures. While we were taking a group picture we got photobombed by Elmos and with Mr. Mannix's perfect timing the picture turned out to be one of the best pictures ever. There were traffic everywhere and people were just walking completely out of order. It was chaotic yet beautiful. I could never imagine myself living in such a bustling place like Times Square. It was the exact opposite from the area that Columbia was in. It must be really great, however, to live in a peaceful side of town and 15 to 20 minutes away is a whole different world.

Ever since I have been on the east coast, I have only seen two McDonald's. One in the train station that we frequented and one in Philadelphia. Having to read "Fast Food Nation" and watching "Super Sized Me" I thought that there were going to be fast food restaurants, mainly McDonalds, everywhere since they showed that it was pretty condensed in the east coast. After about three days and going through parts of New York that was almost McDonald's free, I had real hope for our nation. But after walking a couple blocks down Times Square I saw three McDonald's and the hope evaporated. Two of them were really grand, about two to three times the size of the ones in the Bay Area, and the last wasn't as big but still. I then realized that we just haven't been in the places with a lot of fast food.

Next we took a walk in Central Park, which was really refreshing due to the trees. The park was really big and we barely touched the beginning. Soon it was time for us to take the subway back to the train. Warning for all who plans to use the Metro subway system. A slight wrinkle will render your Metro Card useless so make sure to keep it nice and new. So then we got to our train after a slight delay and was on our way back to the hotel. It has been a long day and I am so exhausted. After two days of excitement, fabulous sights and excruciatingly long walks I was really feeling it. But I look forward to tomorrow nonetheless.

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