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.