Friday, June 22, 2012

That's Why I'd Choose Yale

Last night, Lenny and I stayed up until about 4 in the morning working on blogs, Lenny on his University of Pennsylvania blog after finishing his daily blog at about 3:30 AM, and me on my daily blog. It's not that we had left them to the last second, or spent hours wasting time, quite simply, we arrived at the hotel at 12:30 AM with about 3 hours left of things to do (Hang up/fix my suit, upload photos to computer, blog, upload photos to MediaFire, etc.). The problem we were facing reflected across the entire group; nearly every blog was entered somewhere around 3-3:30 AM. One night of this would be no problem, but I had gotten more than 5 hours of sleep once all week (the rest of our group had a similar experience), and it was beginning to take  toll on each of us. Don't get me wrong, we have been having a PHENOMENAL time, but this morning, Lenny and I both slept through the alarm, and woke up to call from Aurea at 7:38. We were supposed to be in the lobby at 7:30. Anyway, I'm not sure if Mrs. L decided right then or if she had already decided just by looking at everyone's faces, or if she has been feeling the effects of our schedule herself, but she told us that today would be a much more relaxed day.
Even after leaving 15 minutes late---Lenny and I leapt out of bed, dressed and got our things together in about 5 minutes---we were able to comfortably catch our train to New Haven, Connecticut. Today was projected to be a much more comfortable 88 degrees with some possibly severe thunderstorms in the afternoon, and in our haste Lenny and I forgot umbrellas. I have no real idea what the train ride was like, because I slept through the entire trip. We all did; everyone was out like a light after only about 10 minutes.
View of Long Island City from the train

It's tough to see due to the light coming through the window,
but this is a photo of Lenny, Tomi and Adrianne, and
Morvarid and Aurea all sleeping on the train. I took this
roughly 5-10 minutes after the train left.
We arrived in New Haven at about 10:15 AM, and after a short taxi ride to Yale University's campus, we entered the Admissions Office. The reason I have been in places like Philadelphia, Poughkeepsie, and New Haven in the past week is to see not only if I would like to study there, but if I would like to live there. For this reason, I have been judging cities/towns just as much as I have the colleges, and from what I saw of New Haven, I thought it was very nice. I have heard things about New Haven having some issues with safety, but the areas I explored I found to be very nice and safe. I looked online and saw that New Haven has 129,000 people, which is not very large; however, I found out that the New Haven metro area has nearly one million people. I found the city to be adequately large for my liking, as well as a very nice and safe enough place for me to live in (at least near the Yale campus, which is all I really need to worry about).
After entering the Admissions Office, we took a seat in a separate room to watch the video a large group of Yale Students made as an introduction to the university. The video, titled "That's Why I Chose Yale,"  ( was a musical video in which students sang out the countless reasons, which, as the title probably suggests, were why they chose Yale. The video made a fantastic first impression on me; the fact that all the information was presented in a musical way was a completely new approach to trying to attract students, and as a result it really captured my attention. The video itself also seemed to depict a sort of strong community that Yale has, and an atmosphere of students who really enjoy the time they spend at the university. Additionally, the video presented a number of examples of campus organizations and sports and clubs, and there seemed to be endless options for students to try to fit into; there seemed to be countless places where every student could pursue their interests.They say first impressions are huge, and before I had even attended the information session or seen the campus, "That's Why I chose Yale" had already made a huge impact on me.
The information session was good, but not great. I found out much more about what Yale valued and what they were looking for than I did about what life at Yale was actually like (although I'd find out more about that later). The session told me that Yale was looking for students: (I'll basically just list them off of my notes) who have engaging minds, who will see options at Yale on how they can engage (such as raising questions, proposing alternative methods, finding solutions, etc.), who will take initiative and who have something that excites them, who plan to continue to train their mind at Yale, and who create/help community and to make a better world. In a nutshell, Yale is looking for talented, well-rounded, motivated students who, after studying at Yale can help not only themselves, but their peers in the world around them. I cannot say how much I would love to study in an environment filled with students like this, and I feel that I am very much one of those students myself.
The small amount of information given about how life at Yale was actually like concerned mainly Yale's living situation and its core curriculum. Yale University has a residential college system, a system in which each student is assigned to one of 12 colleges, and students stay in this college for the entirety of their college life. It can be compared to a Hogwarts of a social, intellectual community. The residential college system is yet another reason I love Yale; I feel it really helps to integrate the social, racial and economic backgrounds that many aspects of society have trouble mixing together. Yale's core curriculum requires you to take courses in each of broad academic areas but each of these can weave into your interests.

After the information session, we met with a former ILCer and current Yale student Yohanna Pepa and walked to a nearby Cuban restaurant, where met with two other Yale students and friends of Yohanna. We discussed mainly life as a student at Yale, Yohanna about some of the classes she was taking, including classes about political philosophy and about ethics, among other things. As a group we all discussed a number of different scenarios in which you can learn at Yale, and overall I got the message that Yale was a fantastic place to learn just about anything that interests you (over 2,000 courses to take) with some unique aspects to learning that I hadn't heard of before (Yohanna mentioned that ethics classes were somewhat rare). I also understood from that Yale was extremely integrated in terms of socioeconomic backgrounds; many students actually hide the fact that they may be well-off or that their entire family graduated from Yale, all simply because they would like to avoid the pretentious image that can make many college campuses a little segregated at times. This is just another reason I would choose Yale. After finishing our delicious meal, we went to take a short tour of Yale's campus.

Yale's campus was spectacular; I thought I had seen some amazing architecture but Yale left everything else I've ever seen in the dust. In addition, the campus is in a pretty urban area, which I love, has a ton of green space and trees and truly spectacular architecture. 
We somehow managed to avoid the rain in New Haven, and in New York, we beat the rain by literally about 30 seconds. For about an hour after we returned to the hotel, the rain was absolutely coming down in buckets, and then after an hour, it was gone. The sky was very impressive;

For dinner, we went out to a place called Stardust at Broadway and 51st Street. Today, we mixed it up a little and went to the complete opposite of what we've been doing; we went to a very relaxed, casual restaurant. The restaurant was something I had never experienced; the waiters and waitresses at the restaurant, in addition to waiting tables, also sang and performed. The idea is that on some days people from Broadway shows come in looking for performers, and these waiters and waitresses all aspire to one day be on Broadway. The performances, though, as well as the food, were fantastic, and the experience was one I didn't even know existed until today. After dinner, we spent a little while visiting Times Square. Times Square was amazing, but the true highlight of the day for me was Yale University.

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