Saturday, June 30, 2012

Girl Time at Times Square

When we say "shop 'til you drop," we mean it. Today all of us met on campus at 10 AM and walked together to Deluxe Restaurant for breakfast. There we mentally prepared for our long day of intense shopping across a few of the many shopping areas of New York City.

We started out our "girl's day" adventure today by visiting Time Square. Once there, we decided to first go to Toys R Us, not to shop there, but just to look around. Every level of that blog just looked so magical, we couldn't resist but to take pictures on each floor. My favorite was the barbie section on the second floor, there was a life-size barbie house! I felt like a kid again and I could only imagine how the children there felt being at probably the most amazing Toys R Us store in the nation. After all, they even have a ferris wheel there!

After Toys R Us, we proceeded towards every other store you can imagine! Ann Taylor, Forever 21, United Colors of Benetton, Urban Outfitters, Steve Madden, the list goes on...

I absolutely love shopping so I enjoyed every single bit of our saturday adventure. My feet were literally throbbing in pain, but I refused to give up and let go of all the other stores I could visit. One store I really wanted to walk through was Macy's. We walked all the way over to Macy's but by the time we arrived, we were all so exhausted we did not walk through the story at all. So technically did visit the store, but it was almost pointless because we did not look at much. It only served as a teaser for wanting to go back and examine all the endless aspects of the store and look at every piece of unique mercandise. We shopped for at least 7 hours today, but there still remains a good amount of stores that we have all agreed that we must visit before we leave New York once and for all.

In case if everyone is wonder, all I bought today was a maxi skirt because I was waiting to get to Macy's before buying my friends and family souveniors, which now, I must wait until another day.

By the time we came back home, it was around 7PM and we were all extremely tired. My shoes had ripped, but feet hurt, my arms were sore, and my body cannot move...It was the most intense shopping experience you can think of. Overall, we all had such an amazing time, I personally would have never perferred to exchange today's adventure with doing anything other.
Now I'm sitting in my suite with my amazing dorm girls watching Mean Girls.
Today is girl night to the extreme, I'm enjoying every second of it.

Hauling in NYC

The term "hauling" in the clothing world means to obtain as many items for a fair price. So yes, I literally shopped till I dropped today; not a very good thing either.

My day began at 8 AM, two hours before the designated meeting time for our shopping spree. I guess my body got use to the waking up at that hour, so I laid in bed awake for a good amount of time. I’m actually amazed I was awake at that time; since the Columbia cohort barely made it back in time for curfew the previous night, I expected to be knocked out. So after a little self-motivation and a shower, I was ready to meet with Adrianne, Morvarid, Tomi and Brittany for our girls’ day out. I feel bad for my roommate though; Adrianne decided to be my roommate’s personal alarm clock and started banging on the door while I was in the shower.

Since the dining halls do not serve us food on the weekends, we decided to eat at a restaurant a few blocks away from campus for brunch. The quaint restaurant had so fairly priced food and a nice TV in the wall to watch the baseball game. Although, I am not a huge fan of the sport.

After our fill, we trekked to the subway towards 42nd street. From there, we started our walk to Times Square. We shopped to our hearts content at the Forever 21 store located on Broadway. We ventured through four floors of clothing and accessories for hours. I should never shop without my best friend, Lynda Le. Without her there, I do not have control over what I buy and my parents will not be happy when they see my bank account amount.

Once we finished our haul at Forever 21, we did a little window shopping at various stores. From Zara to United Colors of Benetton, we walked a good distance to find stores of interest. Adrianne stayed behind at the American Girl store at one point, reading books about the various role models for little girls. So after having to persuade Adrianne to leave the store, we continued our shopping to probably the largest store in New York City; Macy’s! The Macy’s in NYC is known for being the biggest branch in the world. But for most of us, excluding Morvarid, it was an eight block walk that we did not look forward to. Who knew walking about New York would be so tiring?

Street Performers outside Macy's

New York Public Library
Due to rules set by Ms. L, we left the Macy’s with a promise to shop again when given the chance. In all, the day was fun, busy, and tiring with all the walking we did around New York. Not only did we shop, but we were able to see more attractions and buildings, such as Rockefeller Center and the New York Public Library. Hopefully tomorrow will be as fun with our trip to the Natural History Museum. “Dumb dumb want gum gum?”

Shop 'Til You Drop

Unlike my usual boring mornings, today was more more exciting; Aurea, Adrianne, Morvarid, Brittany, and I had plans to go on a shopping spree in Times Square! 

I first met up with Adrianne, and the two of us then went for breakfast at Deluxe, a close by diner  located only a few blocks from campus. After hearing about where Adrienne and I where, the other girls decided to followed suit, and the five of us enjoyed an early brunch together.  

The ever elusive Ferris Wheel!
The first store we decided to go into was Toys 'R Us. While we still weren't able to to ride the Ferris Wheel, we were still able to explore more of the store.

A Willy Wonka  themed candy store!
Everything about the store's interior was absolutely amazing. Their displays were all fully-functioning, life-sized replicas were perfect down to the very last detail, as if they pulled them directly from my younger self's imagination.  The store had three floors in total, with each floor divided into sections that are devoted to a certain theme or franchise! Some of the themed departments we visited were Jurassic Park, Barbie, and Willy Wonka.

Disney Princess Barbie dolls!
And the toys? There were just too many to count! The shelves were packed with new brands and releases. Just seeing all the toys, made me like a little kid again! But what else would you expect from the world's greatest toy store? I would have been more than happy to spend the entire day there, but unfortunately, the other girls wanted to explore more of Square. 

After leaving Toys 'R Us, we decided that we wanted to do some actual clothes shopping, so we headed toward's Time Square's three story Forever 21.When I stepped into to the store, the first thing I thought of were my older sisters--they absolutely love this store and I can't wait to rub in that fact  The second thing I thought was that the store was huge! I had never seen so many cute clothes in my life--and that was after I had only seen the ground floor, there were still two more to go! We ended up spending about an hour in the store, and I bought a dress, a shirt, and a skirt. 

We then left the store and began walking up and down the streets of Times Square and Broadway, visiting store such as Urban Outfitters, H&M, Express, and UNIQLO. 
Forever 21's second floor

Inside UNIQLO!
While browsing around the streets and store, I realized something; New Yorkers like to go big. Out of all the stores we visited today, not even one of theme had only one floor. Back home, it considered a luxury for a store to have even two floors, but here it's practically expected! 

Our final stop was Macy's. When people say that Time Square's Macy's is the largest in the world, they're not kidding. The store has nine floors that spans over an entire block. Each floor seems they could be stores all by themselves, they were all absolutely packed clothes, shoes, accessories, electronics, restaurants, you name it. With all the things to see and do, pne could probably live in the store without ever having or wanting to leave! It's like a mini New York City!

Now, I would like to end of this post by pointing out that my blog's title is not an exaggeration. When I got home this evening I literally flopped onto my bed from exhaustion. My day was filled with excitement, new experiences, and lot and lots of walking. I have to admit, there were a few setbacks here and  then but overall today was really fun and I honestly can't wait to go out with the girls again! 

Girls Day Out!

Since today was Saturday and that meant no class, it was really relaxed and I was happy to be able to go out into the city. Brittany, Aurea, Morvarid, Tomi and I went to a restaurant called Deluxe for breakfast, which is about two blocks from Carman Hall. After getting waffles and cranberry juice, we went to the subway to go to Times Square.

Times Square is very magnificent. There are so many places to go and so much to do! We first went to Toys-R-Us, where we had a lot of fun posing with many different exhibits and being "little kids" again.

Jurassic Park exhibit
Epitome of ultimate strength
Morvarid with the Lego statue
Charlie's Angels!
Aurea and Morvarid
In front of the Barbie exhibit!
Brittany and I
SO many Barbies inside...
After going through the Toys-R-Us, we went to several other shops before finally settling on Forever 21. I am normally not a big shopper but this time I had so much fun going through the four different levels and finding really cute dresses and tops. I ended up buying a dress, a top for my sister, a present for my mom, and some jewelry. It was quite the experience!

Once we were all done in Forever 21, we had a quick stop at Jamba Juice before going to Fifth Avenue, where we stayed for such a long time. We went to H&M, Steve Madden, American Girl NYC, and Macy's. It was a great adventure!

Me in American Girl!
With my favorite American Girl, Addy!
Today was great fun. Tomorrow I will go to the Natural History Museum with my friends and I'm really excited to see the exhibits.

Sarah Lawrence College Review

First Impression: I should start by noting that it was incredibly hot, the day we toured Sarah Lawrence College (SLC). This made all the roads and hills feel longer and steeper. Nevertheless, I liked what I saw.


  • SLC is 30 minutes by train from NYC.
  • Bronxville is a nice town, both quiet and pristine.
  • The campus is small enough that you can walk to any part of it, in no time at all.
  • The student to faculty ratio is 9:1. 
  • The curriculum takes a very liberal approach to education. You can design your own major and course load, and the faculty will support you and give you the tools to do it.
  • The school is beautiful. The grass is a deep green, and the buildings are all tutor style.
  • The music, theater and visual arts departments are fantastic.
  • The admissions process is personalized. It's all based on personal statements, essays and interviews. They don't even require SAT or ACT score submissions.
  • Financial aid is very generous.
  • Joining or creating a new club is unfathomably easy.
  • Connor Miller goes to SLC: huge plus.
  • The rest of the positive aspects of SLC are true of all schools we visited: excellent academics, committed alumni network, brilliant professors, etc.

  •  The undergraduate population is very small. I don't want to go to a college with less students than my high school.
  • The school's main focus is on writing and theater. Although those interest me, I want to explore greater options than that.
  • It's really hilly.
  • A school of that size, with that much of a focus is bound to be somewhat homogenous. I want to go to a really diverse school: racially, culturally, economically, politically, etc. For that, once again, I need a larger population.
  • It's not a university, so no groundbreaking research is being performed there.
  • SLC suffers from the same problems with me as every school on the East Coast: extreme weather, 3000 miles from home, people use "mad" as an adverb, etc.
 My thoughts: In essence, although SLC is a great school, I don't think it's right for me. I'm glad I toured it though, because it helped me determine what I'm looking for. Maybe my opinion or interests will change in the next couple years, but at the moment I'll have to look elsewhere.

America's Wealth Disparity

Today, in both of my Constitutional Law classes, we spent the majority of our time discussing the First Amendment, why we need it, why we cannot let it get out of hand, and some of the cases involving its use. I found all of this very interesting, but I am not going to go into huge detail with this because I could be here all night, and because I'd like to get to some of things I don't talk about every day, which I feel are more important at the moment.
The man came up and asked us if the fish was ok with us. Looked good to me.

I've acquired a taste for octopus.

Our striped bass (this is half of the fish, Andrea received the other half.)
If you fast-forward past our classes, past the 95 degrees, and to 8:30 PM, we were just sitting down for dinner with four current Columbia students: Mario, Theo, Andrea and Matt, a former ILCer and El Cerrito High School graduate. I sat in the very middle of the table, so I was actually able to talk to all four of them. I can't put summaries of each of my conversations with them, but we talked extensively about core curriculum (which, while demanding, was actually very well-loved by everyone), living in the city (many more opportunities to be involved in the surrounding community), diversity (very diverse, and if it is what you're looking for, very well-integrated), and while it was not directly related to Colombia, I talked for quite a bit with Mario about our society's income inequality. We all talked for hours, sometimes about Colombia, sometimes about some of the problems facing society, and sometimes simply about life and stories from Colombia. On the note of income inequality, though, I felt like going on a tangent in this blog and kind of talking about the problem of wealth disparity. Please excuse the lack of transitional sentences, as I've written this blog totally out of order. My goal though is simply to get my thoughts across.
For anyone who did not read my blog yesterday, I was discussing a bit of a money issue I was having with the Phillies-Mets game I was trying to go to. To make a long story short, the Resident Assistant is taking kids to the game for a price of $80, which, when compared to $10 student tickets for the same game, is very expensive. My problem, though, is that I am in an environment where there are very few people as money-conscious as I am, as the vast majority of kids at this High School program come from more affluent backgrounds. As a result, cheap $10 tickets do not hold nearly as many advantages to most people as they do to me, so convincing the RA to go for cheaper tickets would be difficult. Anyway, today, I did ask the RA, and rather than tell me that some kids had expressed the same concerns as me, or even that he could not change the price, he told me that the majority of kids were actually pushing for a HIGHER price. It is strange being one of the few kids at the program overly concerned about money, although it is kind of my nature to be the one running against the crowd, so I don't mind. Going back to the topic of the game, though, let me tell you, I now appreciate more than ever those $2 A's tickets back home!
On a side note to this issue, I'd like to express my concerns over a major problem facing society. While this problem is relatively well-known (depending on what circles you run in; I'm sure Mitt Romney is completely unaware), I am supposed to blog about what I think of this experience, so I'll just say it anyway. The problem I'd like to talk about here just because I can is the United States' ridiculous wealth disparity. I'll start by saying that I've had long conversations with over 100 kids at this program, and not a single one of these kids treats money the way I do. Before anyone gets the wrong idea, these kids have done absolutely nothing wrong; they all seem to be perfectly good kids who more than deserve the chance they are getting to study for a few weeks at one of the world's top universities. I have no problem at all with upper class students being here. My cause for alarm is the kids who are not here. I have talked to hundreds of kids the past few days, and I have yet to meet a single student who has shown any remote signs of representing the lower class, in fact, I have barely met anyone representing the middle class. I do not openly ask kids what their families' incomes are, but there are certain things that give you an idea: things like spending $100 on a baseball game where there are $10 tickets available, or constantly paying to eat out when you have free food in the cafeteria, or introducing me as "the thriftiest kid you've ever met." The reason for the near non-existence of lower and middle-class students at this program is, I believe, America's ridiculous wealth disparity.
Without going into too much detail (this is a daily blog, not an essay, and I'd love to get sleep), money buys opportunity. Students with money can attend private school or can move to wealthier areas and attend a wealthy public school. Let me make perfectly clear that I am not upset with those who are wealthier; they have done nothing wrong. That being said, though, lower class students do not have this opportunity. Many lower class students will live in lower-income neighborhoods, and may attend "dropout factories," where fewer than 60% of the freshman class will still be in school by senior year. Success in these dropout factories is unlikely. College? Hopefully. A 3-week Summer program? Almost no chance. And as the upper classes can buy more and more opportunities unavailable to the lower classes, the lower classes get left behind. I just tried to write a summary of how the wealth disparity affects educational opportunities in about 30 minutes, so it is far from my best writing, but I hope you understand the idea I am trying to get at.
And just because taking a jab at Mitt Romney ties in directly to what I've written about money buying opportunity, Mitt Romney said earlier this year that he would bet $10,000 for something as a joke during a GOP primary debate. While he was joking of course, those $10,000 that he offered as betting money could pay for a lower-class student to attend this program, But instead, he can use his money on one of his 5 houses (worth a combined $30 million), as the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.
Ok, that doesn't directly relate to my point earlier, but if he sells one of those houses, he can use those millions on the education of his sons, while the lower-income families cannot. And THAT is buying opportunity.

Seven Reasons to Speak

Today was really cool (figuratively, not physically). The temperature rose to 96 degrees, in stark contrast to yesterday's 80s. I almost felt sick when I walked into the cafeteria; the mix of external warmth with heat from the kitchen, compounded by humidity and strong food smells, left me woozy.

I felt much better when I entered our air-conditioned classroom. We went over three Supreme Court cases, today. They all took place during World War I or II, and revolved around the issues of Freedom of Speech during wartime. It's interesting how seemingly identical, or at least very similar cases will receive totally different decisions, even from the same Justices (I didn't notice this on my own; one of our teachers brought this to light for us).

I spent my lunch attending another TED talk. This video was on the relation between morality and science. This lecture was handled very differently than the one from yesterday. While the man we saw before focused on objective facts and their clear implications, this guy brought a lot of his own opinion into the mix. This gave room for the following discussion to stray from the topic at hand. It was still very interesting, though.

After lunch, we discussed the philosophical justifications for the 1st Amendment. Basically, utilitarian philosopher, Mills, argued that Freedom of Speech is necessary for 7 crucial reasons: it allows the validity of ideas to be tested, educates, allows coercion, allows property rights, enables constructive criticism, allows self-expression, and advances science and culture. We also went over the limitations of the fist amendment.

From about 4-7:00 PM, I just relaxed in my room and studied. Around 7:20, I started to get ready for the dinner with Columbia students.

At 7:40, our cohort met outside Lerner Hall. We took the subway down to Columbus Circle where we met with Ms. L. She walked us to Marea, a fantastic Italian restaurant. Our guests were Matt (one of the first students to go through the ILC) and some of his classmates. There's not too much to say about this dinner that wasn't true of every other dinner; the food was outstanding, and the conversations were entertaining and informative.

The meal ran later than expected, so we had to hurry to get back to our floors before curfew (midnight). When we got back on 116th street, we literally ran from the subway station to dorms, in our dress clothes, in scorching heat. Lucas  and I made it back with only 4 minutes to spare.

People had started playing cards in the hallway, so for the next hour or two, I played a game of Texas Hold 'em. There's no class tomorrow, so I'm going to go on a few trips around the city.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The First Amendment and a Plight

As I said before, my mornings thus far follow a basic pattern of wake up, study, and go to class. Today was no exception.  

The main focus of today's class were the rights bestowed on us by the First Amendment, namely the right to the freedom of speech. As per routine, Luke began the class with a discussion topic. This time, we were asked the question "What is the purpose of free speech?" By the end of the discussion, we reached the following conclusions: 

  • To promote truth
  • To promote peace
  • To prevent rebellion
  • To promote tolerance
  • To promote autonomy
  • To promote democracy 
  • To promote self government 

  • To prevent "dogma", the presence of only one dominating opinion 
The cases we went over today were Schenck b. United States, Abrams v. United States, and Masses Publishing Co. v. Patten. Each of these cases shared the same basic issue of whether the First Amendment protects citizens from being for prosecuted potentially harmful propaganda. The rest of the class was spent exploring the powers of the First Amendment. 

Instead of just hanging out for lunch, I decided to join Lenny at a "TED Talk", which is where a group of students watch a short speech from non-profit organization that allows people to share their new and innovative ideas with the world. After the video, students discuss about the information presented to them. Today's topic was, presented Sam Harris, was on how "science can answer moral questions". If you would like to watch the video, you can do so here

Personally, I feel as though the integration of morals and science is impossible. Science is based on fact, and morals on opinion. Scientific questions have testable, definite answers, whereas morals do not.Basing morals on scientific research alone would then restrict individualized belief, which would in turn  hinder both cultural and personal ethics through a process similar to assimilation. While I didn't agree with Harris' arguments, I still really enjoyed the talk. Being able to hear everyone's opinion exposed me to some new viewpoints that I had never previously considered. I think that exposure such as this is very important if one wants to be an active member of society, as being introduced to new opinions and beliefs is something that is sure to happen   nearly everyday. 

Before the actual lesson started, Jeffery began to talk about on of our upcoming assignment, a research paper arguing the constitutionality of a current legal issue, such as the death penalty or Affirmative Action. While the paper itself is due on the 9th, our topic is due this Friday. 

The afternoon class's lesson continued the theme of "speech and it's limitations". One of the main focuses of the lecture was how the freedom of speech is so heavily protected, the reason for which is outlined in the following seven points: 
  1. The Harm Principle: States that as long as speaker's intent was not to cause harm or destruction, they are allowed to say whatever they please. 
  2. Education Agreement: States that if we allow the educated to express their ideas, they will inform and incite the uneducated.   
  3. Liberal #1: States that you may say whatever you please as long as it is without the intent to forcibly  coerce others beliefs. 
  4. Liberal #2: The "property of rights." States that certain forms of speech are immune to state intervention. 
  5. Democratic Agreement: States that publicity and criticism are protected under the First Amendment.
  6. Self Expression: States that everyone has the right to express their unique opinions. 
  7. Advancement of Science and Culture: As the name suggest, freedom of speech allows for the spread of enlightened ideas and opinions. 
After class, I decided to eat lightly in order to save room for our evening dinner with current Columbia students. With over three hours to get ready, I spent most of my time getting ahead on my weekend homework before I finally went down to meet with the rest of the group. At 7:40 PM my cohorts and I left school to meet with Mrs. L at Columbus Circle. 

Tonight we ate at Marea, a very elegant Italian restaurant with a very wonderful, and dedicated staff. Not only was the restaurant kind enough to offer our group a private room for free, but it's servers were versed enough with the menu that they were able to recite the menu by heart! They even gave us complementary muffins on the way out! 

During the dinner itself, I mainly spoke with Mario and Adriana--two rising junior Columbia students who who's relationship was eerily similar to that of Adrianne and Lucas. Between laughter and dining, we also talked about things such as Columbia's core curriculum, dormitories, and facilities. I honestly think that this was my favorite dinner so far! Not only was the food great, but I managed to learn a lot about Columbia and found out that it's not too different from what we're experiencing now at the High School Summer Program.

The only problem with this evening was a matter of our curfew--by the time we reached the desert course we had less than half an hour to get back to our dorms. After a few rushed goodbyes, we ran to the subway and back to campus as fast as we could. Thankfully, in the end I made it back to my dorm on time--with only four minutes to spare!

I'm glad to say that I'm really starting to adjust to everything both in and out of school. Not only am I talking more in class, but I'm also participating in more activities and meeting more and more people. Now that my first official week as a Columbia student is over, I'm really excited to see what the next two weeks have in store. 

They Say Rain Is A Sign Of Luck...

Aurea, Adrianne, Britney, and I went to the Maroon 5 concert! I absolutely love their band ever since a very young age when I use to always wait for their music to come on Alice 97.3 radio station. At that time, I didn't even distinguish them by a particular name like "Maroon 5," I just knew every lyric to their songs without even knowing who they really were. I remember being only in elementary school and being completely obsessed with their songs, not even knowing what half of the things they said really meant. Now that I'm older, I'm not really as obsessed with celebrities like I use to be since now I realize that they're all just normal people, but I will always love Maroon 5 because their music almost create a 6th sense for me in which I can connect to the past. Believe it or not, I have so many memories with their music that I will always have a soft spot for them in my heart. It sounds kind of "cheesy," but it's true!

When I realized there was going to be a FREE Maroon 5 concert, I was absolutely estatic. Back in California, my friend had gotten tickets to go to their concert in Lake Tahoe, but she paid nearly $2000 dollars per ticket, plus the venue was too far from my home. I felt really unfortunate for not being able to go, but in the end, it seems like Maroon 5 came to ME!

We tried sleeping a lot earlier last night and take naps often to be perpared for this big, eventful day today. In all, we were successful! We woke up at around 4AM but all met out at the gazebo at around 5:30. Unfortunately, the thunderstorm broke out and rain poured over us like an endless waterfall. A lot of my friends told us later in the afternoon, "did the rain and thunder wake you too?" Little did they know we were out their under the rain while they were in their warm cozy beds watching the lightening flicker through the window their dorms.

When we arrived there, we met a lot of people that actually stayed their from midnight and were right next to us! We felt bad for them because we technically had a bare minimum of 4 additional hours of sleep compared to them but still ended up as far back as they were. Although our positions weren't the best, I'm still glad I went because it will always be reminded of it as a memorable experience. Long story short, we had a lot of laughs and just an over all good time together. If only we wouldn't have been worried to risk lose our spots even in the back when we saw people moving to the front, we would have had a really nice view of them. Either way, I'm sure the nation had a nice view of us since we were recorded on TV while I was asking Adam Levine (the lead singer of the band) to prom. It was a total joke, but nonetheless it was funny. I just held a sign simply saying, "Prom?" in large dark letters just to be different from the endless crowd holding generic "we love you" and "I got the moves like Jagger" signs. Although, I'm sure Adam said yes secretly to my invitation either way(totally kidding by all means).

After the concert, Britney and Aurea grab a bite to eat at the nearest bakery while Adrianne and I sat together to rest our feet. We met up with the RA and the other students right outside the bakery in front of Saint Paul's Cathedral and prepared for our walk back to the metro. We arrived back at around 9AM and managed to have an adequate amount of time to eat breakfast as well.

For class today, things were a little bit different than usual for our first session. Instead of a discussion, we went to Hamilton Hall room 318 and watched a documentary about Hamilton himself. It certainly had a touching effect sitting in a hall dedicated to him at a university that he actually attended. The window to my room is actually right above the monument dedicated to him and as I am typing at this very moment, I look down and notice him still standing tall and proud despite all the misfortunate events that occured in his lifetime. He was a man spark by ambition and tragedy and will leave his mark always, not only on this nation, but also New York and the nation as a whole. While watching the two hour long documentary, I endlessly took notes to as I watched and jotted down almost all important aspects of his life I did not know about. It wasn't quite necessary to write notes during the class, which is why I was probably the only person constantly writing notes during class, but I did it anyway for the sake of my learning. I enjoyed the documentary a lot and stayed a little bit after class to ask the professor some questions and clear up some of my confusion in regards to some aspects of the documentary that were relatively unclear. In all, class today was really enjoyable.

After class, I came home and took a nice nap in preparation for our dinner. I was so excited to go out again with my cohort and Mrs.L! The first week of our trip, dinners like these were basically embedded within our routine, but now I rarely see my entire cohort and Mrs.L so I miss them all dearly. The dinner to place at Marea, a delicious restaurant right across from Central Park. No sooner had I realized before entering the restaurant that the zesty aromas of the dishes teased my nostrils with nostalgia.

Promptly upon our arrival, we proceeded to enter our downstairs private room and were greeted with a few of the many marvelous students from Columbia University. Each of them were all so unique and friendly that I truly had an amazing time with all of them. I had the pleasure to sit with Theo and Matt, and also speak to Andrea and Mario. Unfortunately, Andrea and Mario were on the other side of the dining table so I did not have the full opportunity have a very thorough conversation as I would have liked, but I was still honored to have the opportunity to talk to them as much as I did. For most of the night, however, I spoke to Matt and Theo about a lot of different matters. Whether we were speaking about Columbia, the education system, ourselves, or simply joking around with one another, I truly had a good time. They definitely intensified my already great interest in Columbia University. They were all very nice and I enjoyed their company! Hopefully next week if I have the opportunity to attend the poetry night, I can see them all again.

On a different note, however, by the time dessert arrived it was already 11:25 PM and our curfew was at midnight. Anxiety stormed it's way into our hearts and we were extremely nervous about making it back to our appropriate rooms on time. As soon as we noticed the time,we ate our desserts as fast as we could, thanked all our guests for being there, and rushed right out of the restaurant and down to the subway. We had 10 minutes to get to Columbia University from Columbus Circle, run in our hall, and be literally inside our rooms before the clock struck 12:01 AM. When the train door opened allowing us to exit to Columbia University, we all just physically ran up the stairs and across campus to reach our dorms as soon as possible. At this point, we only had 5 minutes left to make it to the other side of the campus. From the metro to the other side of the campus, I ran in 3 inch heels and a dress; now that's what I call a Wonder Woman. I was running in about the same speed as the rest of my cohort and they had switched to flats from their bags, or in the men's case, they already were in flats. Since my hall was a lot farther than the rest of my cohort who conveniently lived in the same building, Mrs.L asked one of the guys to walk me to my hall before going to their own room if possible. However, realistically we only had 4 minutes which was EXACTLY what it took to have our IDs checked, wait for the elevator/run up stairs, and be in our rooms. They couldn't walk me to my hall and I honestly didn't expect it of them because if they did, they would have been punished for violating the curfew. Instead, they just made sure I was in my dorm by checking up on me and calling me as soon as I got there. Thank goodness they didn't come because I made it to my room exactly TWO minutes before curfew. If they did come, there would have been no way they could make it back in time to their own hall.
While running in my heels, there were about 15 RAs sitting and walking around campus, and they all made some sort of comment like, "wow, now that's what I call determination" while all the girls just watched shockingly to see me run in heels. I'm assuming it's not every day they see a girl sprinting across campus like that; I guess you can say that today I have discovered a hidden talent?

We Will Be Loved - By Columbia!

Last night was a lot of fun. I stayed in Morvarid's dorm until about 10:30 (I was definitely enjoying the wifi) and even had a pizza study break. Then I went back to my dorm so I wouldn't be late for curfew, where we had a suite meeting. It was nice because we haven't really had a sit down meeting since the first day and we took the the time to get to know each other better. It was a nice meeting and I hope we'll be interacting more as a suite as time goes on.

Our lovely suite! (From left to right): Torre, me, Kristen (R.A.), Nas, Jennifer, Nathalie, and Sangela
New York pizza is to die for
Meet my roommate, Nathalie! She's from Lebanon
She speaks French AND Arabic
And is a wonderful person who takes wonderful pictures (:
I didn't get too much sleep though, because today was the Maroon 5 concert! Actually, to clarify, the term concert should be used loosely. What really happened was that Maroon 5 opened for The Today Show, so they weren't on for the entire time. I awoke at 5, armed with a couple of posters and ready to go. But the weather had a different story. As soon as I stepped outside, it began pouring rain and there were flashes of lightning! Thankfully, I had remembered to bring my umbrella, so I ran across campus to the Gazebo, where they were handing out ponchos. Then the RAs lead us to the subway, where we took the metro to Rockefeller Plaza.

Aurea, Morvarid, and Brittany
Momo and I on the subway
Our wonderful new friend Brittany!
Outside of the plaza
Brittany and I
I read up a lot on Rockefeller in APUSH and was sad I didn't get to go inside! Hopefully another day

Forming a human chain to get through the crowds...
Morvarid and Brittany
Dre Dre and Ray Ray (=
Ahhhhh!! All Maroon 5 fans should be screaming at this wonderful quality of a picture
Al Rocker as he began the show
Poster I made for Adam Levine!
Wonderful Maroon 5 posters we got!
I haven't been to too many concerts, so I was a little unsure on what to do. To sum it up, you really have to push your way through to make it to the front. Morvarid, Brittany, Aurea, and I were at first standing behind the stage, but that was completely pointless, so we worked our way around and made it to a spot that wasn't very close to the stage but had a good enough proximity. We got photos of Adam Levine, the lead singer in Maroon 5, and even some videos. The band played three songs and then the show began, which is when people started leaving. We got back to Columbia at nine, so I took the time to get breakfast and then read up on the cases. Then I went to the morning session. Honestly, it was very hard getting through the morning session due to a lack of sleep. Even though I had coffee with me, it was hard to really stay on point through the lecture. Fortunately, I was able to get lots of notes and memorized them later, even though I didn't participate in the morning discussion as much.

Coffee doesn't help me in the mornings; it just makes me more tired!
  • Schenck v. United States - Charles Schenck was the Secretary of the Socialist Party of America and mailed documents that were opposed to the World War I military draft. It was determined that this violated the Espionage Act of 1917, which upheld that Schenck didn't have a first amendment right to express his freedom of speech against the draft. Due to this, Schenck spent six months in prison.
  • Abrams v. United States - The Russian defendants were charged and convicted for inciting resistance to World War I. Due to the Sedition Act, it was determined that it was a criminal offense to urge the stopping of production of war materials against Germany to help America's WWI effort. The Abrams were sentenced to twenty years in prison.
  • Masses Publishing Company v. United States - A New York postmaster refused to allow circulation of an antiwar journal, which violated the magazine's first amendment rights.
Not only did all of these cases take place around the same time, but they all connected to the limitations on freedom of speech, which we discussed more in the afternoon session. I ate a very quick lunch and then immediately headed back to my dorm to take a well-deserved nap.

After midday break, I went back to class and was ready to participate more. Jeffrey started off class with handing out the research paper syllabus. The goal of this paper is to: "...construct a clear and persuasive legal argument that uses legal precedents and texts to substantiate your claim. Avoid moral, political, or other types of arguments." Jeffrey said that this research paper will be like nothing we have read in high school. I'm nervous but excited for the challenge. We were given another page that has eight topics to choose from, but we also have the choice of coming up with our own topic. However, I plan on choosing from the given list. My top three topics are:

  1. Should the President be allowed more powers in cases of National Emergency to protect the nation? If so, what powers? Under what circumstances?
  2. In Germany, the sale and ownership of Nazi memorabilia is illegal. Should the U.S. limit the use of racist speech by prohibiting the literature and objects of racial groups such as the Klu Klux Klan?
  3. Affirmative action has been called reverse discrimination. Can certain forms of unequal treatment, such as affirmative action programs, be constitutionally justified? If so, how? If not, why not?
I  am still deciding what topic I will choose, but at this point I am really leaning towards completing number three. Affirmative action is a controversy that interests me and I love writing about women and African-American struggles in terms of education. We have until next Thursday to pick our topics, so I still have time. After Jeffrey finished explaining the logistics of the paper, we went into our lecture and discussion about limitations on freedom of speech and different types of speech.
  • Symbolic Speech - This type of speech deals with actions that convey a position, such as burning flags and wearing armbands in honor of war veterans. If no one knows what the message of symbolic speech is, then it may be considered an exclusion and therefore be unprotected. 
  • Majority v. Minority - An opinion can only be considered "true" or "right" if there is complete freedom of speech and ideas (i.e. market of ideas). It is unjustified for a majority group to stifle a minority's group's voice. Even opinions that are completely wrong should be exposed so society can challenge them and learn how our opinions are correct. Public discourse is a way of educating the majority, which means the minority opinion should be spoken and discussed as well.
  • Freedom of Speech: The Right - Freedom of speech is a democratic/political right, therefore the government cannot entirely restrict it. Free speech is valued because it is the expression of an individual and allows people to be who they want to be, which ties into self worth. 
  • Two Limits - Violations of freedom of speech is if it presents a clear and present danger to society or presents a government disruption. For example, court is in session and a man in the crowd is talking. The judge asks him to be quiet, but he continues talking. The judge then has this man escorted out of court but not before demanding a 40 dollar fine. What the man in the crowd presented was a government disrpution.
  • Slander/Fighting Words - Slander is speech that is untrue and can really ruin someone's reputation. However, fighting words are used to incite a fight with others. 
The first week of Constitutional Law has been absolutely amazing. I feel myself getting smarter every day and am really thankful that I am learning more political science on one of the most amazing university's in the world. Improvements I would have for next week would be to participate more in class in terms of discussion. I feel like I have improved in the past two days, but that I can really pick it up and not be intimidated by those around me.

After class, I took another quick nap and then got dinner with some friends in John Jay. Then I went back to my dorm, relaxed, and then got ready for the dinner we had with four rising juniors from Columbia. The cohort met at 7:40 and took the subway for Columbus Circle - a wonderful surprise was that we realized we were on the same train as Ms. L! Since we were a bit early for dinner, Ms. L went over the details of our weekend and gave us money for food, since John Jay dining hall is closed on the weekends.

Opinions about the Columbia on Columbia Dinner: 
(Note: I am calling it the Columbia on Columbia dinner because we are the ILC Columbia cohort, we are already at Columbia, and here we are having dinner with current Columbia students and talking more about Columbia. Tongue twister much? Say that five times fast.)

1. We dined at Marea's, a really nice restaurant that is not far from Columbus Circle. The food was seafood based and was absolutely amazing. It was definitely a huge difference from all the rich food I have been eating in John Jay dinging hall.

2. We had dinner with four Columbia rising juniors: Matt Arciniega, who attended my high school and our Columbia dinner back in San Francisco in May, and his three friends Andrea, Mario, and Theo. Matt sat on my left and Andrea sat to my right. What I really noticed was how friendly, casual, and even playful the four of them were with each other. They were from all different parts of the United States but Andrea even joked that she's "from the Bay Area." While they were casual with one another and we shared many a laughs at the dinner table, they were all clearly very serious about Columbia and really wanted to answer all of our questions.

3. Andrea is a political science and art history major at Columbia. She said that she applied to twelve schools and that her top three choices for college were Columbia, Cornell University, and Swarthmore College. She said the minute she stepped onto Columbia she knew it was for her. Andrea stated she knew this because she loved the city aspect and realized how much she didn't want to spend her four years in college strictly on campus. There are so many opportunities in New York City! Andrea spoke fondly of her Literature Humanities teacher, who took their class to see the opera. She also spoke of one of her art history professors, who led a lecture in MoMa. Andrea said, "Obviously you'll meet a wide range of professors at every school, but the professors at Columbia really care about you."

4. Theo is an economics major and is minoring in art history. He is from Princeton, New Jersey but didn't want to apply to Princeton because he wanted a new atmosphere. Theo's parents really bid Williams College to him but in the end he chose Columbia and does not regret his decision. I found it interesting how he stated that his parents campaigned Williams to him for an hour but that he chose Columbia instead because he really liked the atmosphere and the people.

5. Mario is a political science major and applied Early Decision to Columbia because the school really sold itself to him. Mario cracked a lot of jokes during the dinner and made it very lively. But he did somberly state how he didn't get to see his parents that often, but college is not someplace where your parents are supposed to come and hold your hand. He feels that Columbia really connects the undergraduate experience with city life, which really prepares you. He also said the financial aid package at Columbia was wonderful, and that it was cheaper for him to go to Columbia than Ohio State (he's from Ohio).

6. Before I came to Columbia, I was not sold on the idea of a Core Curriculum. I felt that it was too restricting and that I would never end up enjoying it. However, the four students really explained the meaning of the Core and how it brought Columbia students together. Andrea even stated that the Core was one of the reasons she came to Columbia. Matt explained that all freshmen take the year long course Literature Humanities, which discusses novels of Western Thought throughout all the centuries, starting with Homer's The Iliad and ending with Virginia Wolf's To the Lighthouse. Sophomores take the course Contemporary Civilizations, which does the same thing as Literature Humanities, just with philosophy instead of literature. Theo even stated that his mind was like mine but had been swayed by the Core. By the end of dinner, I realized how much I actually wouldn't mind the Core if I was a Columbia student and that it sounded much more interesting than I thought it would. Mario stated that the Core really forces students to break out of their comfort zones and become well-rounded students.

7. I was also conflicted about Greek life, but each student said that the fraternities and sororities at Columbia were all great and not exclusive. Matt stated that being in a sorority was one of the more relaxed activities he participated in. Each student also spoke fondly of the dorm life at Columbia; apparently 95 percent of Columbia students live on campus all four years. 

8. Columbia seems like a really connected community, which I like in a school. It's in the middle of the city, has about 4 to 5,000 undergraduates, has a splendid Core Curriculum, and is stated to be a really politically active school. I feel like Columbia is really changing my mind about some things. I know I am interested in pursuing writing and English in college, but now I am considering a possibly minor in political science. I feel like this dinner also really interested me in Columbia more, and I am definitely looking more into it.

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Unfortunately, the cohort had to leave dinner early to rush back to the dorms for curfew. Columbia HSP is very strict about being on time for curfew. I'm proud to report that we all made it back on time, but barely. I know we'll be more careful next time we're out so late like that.

However, I am really looking forward to this weekend and learning more about Columbia!