Sunday, July 8, 2012

All Too Real

I think I've forgotten what sleeping in feels like. For better or for worse, I have had somewhere to be literally every morning since I landed in New York. While I haven't gotten as much sleep as I'd want in summer so far, I'd still say, though, that always having somewhere to be is, in this case, for better. Every single I have gotten up early on this trip (so basically, every day), it has been to go find out where I might want to go to college, to go study Constitutional Law at one of the world's top universities, or to go out and see the city of New York and the surrounding areas.

Anyway, today, on Saturday morning, I woke up at 9:05 AM. It was a bit later than I had wanted to, so I had to rush a bit, but I was able to shower, run down to Starbucks for breakfast and then come back in time to meet by 9:45 for a trip to New York University. Our group left a bit late, but luckily, we were still able to make it on time for NYU's information session and tour.

It was only about 10:35 AM as we walked the few blocks from the subway to NYU's Admissions Office, but the heat was already reaching extreme levels. I absolutely love the heat, and I still prefer today's weather over a San Francisco 70 degree day, but let me tell you, I'd much prefer 90 degrees instead of 100. Every building we enter is kind of an oasis on these kids of days. And conveniently, the weather had been very cool in the weeks before we arrived; however, New York has gone through one heatwave after another since we've arrived. It's strange, though; I complain, but I don't think I'd have it any other way, because I really love this weather.

Anyway (I say anyway a lot because I go off on random tangents very often), NYU's information session was, for lack of a better word, informative. I was not blown away by any statistics, although the one thing that I absolutely loved was the strong international presence. They have campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, in addition to study abroad programs all over tons of major cities across the world (they have programs in six continents, they said). Aside from that, NYU did not have anything that really impressed me that much. It has plenty of things that I do love, such as an urban location, a perfect-sized student body and a fantastic education. The main drawback for me, though, was that the campus was actually TOO urban. I'd love for the school I attend to be in an urban area; however, NYU's campus is so immersed with the urban area that there is very little open grassy space to sit down. Washington Square Park is nice, and you could argue that this qualifies as green space, but it really is not the same to me as having actually green grass all over your campus, which NYU does not have. In fact, NYU does not have an official campus, which many people may love, although I am not one of those people. For me, it is actually TOO urban. Of course, NYU has fantastic traits which I'm sure plenty of people love; I just don't think it is right for me.
The under-construction Freedom Tower
After finishing at NYU, we hopped on a train to the World Trade Center Memorial. I had expected that I would impacted to a certain extent, as the September 11th attacks will always hold a somber significance in my mind. I was completely unprepared for what I experienced, though. It was one of the eeriest feelings to stand at the base of the exact site of the North and South towers, and to look up and visualize a passenger jet flying into each of the buildings, one 15 minutes after the other. I actually know quite a bit about the sequence of events that occurred on September 11th, and I could even see exactly from what direction the plane would approach in the eyes of someone standing in the same spot myself, only 11 years ago.

The site of the North Tower, looking Southeast. American Airlines Flight 11 would have hit on the left side of this photo.


The site of the South Tower (above and below), looking
Northeast to East. The second plane hit frombehind where
I was standing.
The entire experience gave me goosebumps. I would kind of stare into the water for a few minutes, and see the tower rising majestically into the sky. And I would be looking up, and the plane would approach and hit the North Tower and the giant plume of black smoke would shoot out of the sides of the building above. Of course, I was not there, so I cannot truly say I know what occurred or how it would have felt, nor can I say I feel close to the same amount of pain as those who witnessed what occurred, but even 11 years later, it was all too real for me. It was an experience that I would not have traded for the world, but it still disturbed in the scariest way. And I would stare into the water of the memorial and still have trouble wrapping my head around the chaos of what actually occurred on that day.

After viewing the memorial for about an hour, we returned to Columbia at around 5. I spent my two hours showering, getting a little bit of work done, and relaxing. At 7, we got all dressed up again, and took the 1 down to 50th Street for a dinner at Oceana with two Vassar alumni. Unfortunately, I am not very interested in Vassar, mainly because of its size and location. However, the conversation was fantastic, and I will still be able to utilize a lot of what I learned in other situations. For example, when Ken Miles talked about his time working at McDonald's, he mentioned how working at McDonald's sucks, however, you can still make a lot out of the situation. He said that working at a place like that helped him develop valuable communication skills, and he basically tried to push across the message that you should take away whatever you can get, even from situations that may seem very unpleasant. We also as a group discussed the importance of having a network of people (something that is extremely strong at Vassar) to help open doors for you in the real world, in situations such as finding a job. Also, the food was phenomenal (once again).

Just a couple side notes from today: Drinking 5 bottles of water and 10 glasses of water (so, in all, roughly the equivalent to 10 bottles of water) will really make you have to go the bathroom. Also, tomorrow's blog I can already guarantee will be very boring because I get to spend the entire day in my room completing my essay! Fun......... On a positive note, though, I had a fantastic time today!

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