Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania and a Fantastic Dinner

I thought yesterday was fast-paced, but the pace at which we jumped around New York and Philadelphia today made yesterday seem like absolutely nothing. After a combined 3 hours of sleep in the 24 hours that were Monday, I woke up at 6:30 AM today on only 5 hours more of sleep, and soon after, we left our hotel to board the subway and head down to Penn Station at 34th Street. At Penn Station, we bought some breakfast and boarded the Northeast Regional at 8:10 AM. Seats were scarce and the air conditioning was ridiculously, but the hour and a half train ride was smooth and interesting. I was able to look out the window some, and while it was very interesting, New Jersey is not exactly very scenic. The scenery consisted mostly of truckyards, warehouses and suburbs, some nice and others not so nice, but I found it interesting simply because I like to explore and New Jersey was a part of the country I had never seen before.
The Northeast Regional - the guy on the left was tired too,
I guess
We arrived in Philadelphia a little before 10 AM, and headed right away to Independence Hall to meet up with the Cornell cohort. We toured Independence Hall, the site of the signing of the Constitution and the site of America's first transfer of power (George Washington to John Adams), which was a landmark event in that most changes in power in the world at the time had been either violent or nonexistent. I am super big on history, and to stand in the rooms in which much of our nation's history unfolded was a fascinating experience for each of us.

After visiting Philadelphia's historic district, we headed to Distrito in Western Philly near the University of Pennsylvania campus. I sat with Lenny, Mrs. L, and Ross, a rising junior at Penn, and Amy, a former Penn student and current admission officer. The Mexican food was delicious, and we were able to have a great conversation with Ross and Amy about their interests and our interests and some of the pros and cons of University of Pennsylvania. The one thing I'd say we discussed most over our lunch was diversity; my current high school is diverse in that there are a number of different ethnic and economic backgrounds, but the school, in my opinion, lacks integration of these diverse backgrounds. UPenn, Ross and Amy both agreed, was extremely diverse ethnically and economically, something that I love about Penn and something I believe may be the result of a more urban environment (I've seen a similar integrated atmosphere in New York). I also walked and talked for a while with Monique, who told me a bunch about her study of international relations, some of the classes she took for that major, and how every day life at Penn was. It was pretty difficult, I'll admit, to race through two courses of lunch and take advantage of the opportunity to discuss UPenn with current and former students, but I got a great deal of information out of it and had a very good time.
After our lunch, we hurried toward an information session and tour of the UPenn campus. We had trouble with the information session because of microphone problems, but I got a good page of notes and left feeling pretty interested in the university. The tour was what really sold me, though; our tour guide was extremely informative and energetic, and the university's tree-lined campus was made even more beautiful by the amazing architecture (in the photos below). I absolutely loved the Penn campus, and all the information, stories and other little tidbits the tour guide told left me very very interested in the University of Pennsylvania.
Locust Walk, Penn's main walk across campus

The roof of the amazing Irvine Auditorium

Penn's beautiful architecture

After 8 hours of sleep in 48 hours, I was exhausted, and I slept nearly the entire train ride back.
30th Street Station in Philadelphia
After returning to our hotel, we quickly put on our nicest clothes for a dinner in a fine French restaurant, Petrossian, near Columbus Circle. I had by far the fanciest dinner I've ever had; both the Chilean Sea Bass and the chocolate cake I ordered were both delicious. We also had some great conversations about some of our favorite things, stories, and our thoughts on today's visit to University of Pennsylvania, which turned out to be very popular. With every dinner/outing, each of us has become more and more talkative as we become closer friends and get to know each other even better. In fact, we've become so close that we decided to blog together, thinking it would be more fun (which it was) and more productive (definitely NOT the case). Better to learn that this doesn't work now than to find out later, though, so I have no regrets. I also had a great time with the kids I can now call close friends of mine.

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