To this day I remember speaking with Don Gosney on the phone and listening to him describe all of the wonderful programs the ILC had to offer. When I heard about the physics program, I knew I had to apply. What Don described to me sounded rigorous and intense but by no means did that stop me. Even though my last physics class had been almost two years prior, I walked into the interview confident and hoped that my knowledge would shine through. Evidently it did, or I wouldn't be writing this blog today.
The first week of our trip was one of my favorites, definitely. It was filled with lots of fancy dinners and spending time getting to know seven other unique individuals with whom I'd be spending five weeks with. Washington University and University of Chicago were on my lists of interests before this trip so it was great to get to talk to admissions officers and students from both of these schools. The websites do a good job of portraying the school but nothing beats getting to visit the school and hear first hand from people who eat, breathe, and sleep the air of the university.
I was sad and excited once July rolled around because it meant a change of pace. No more moseying around site seeing, we would be fully engorged in our studies in our various programs for the next four weeks. The first week was hard because everyone seemed to be on different levels of physics so we had to play catch up. The weeks after didn't necessarily decrease in difficulty but my level of understanding increased tremendously. At the beginning of the program if you would have asked me how to measure the speed of light, I'd be just as lost as you were. But now I can explain to you how to find the speed of light using your very own device.
Of course I didn't come so far in the field of physics by myself, a big thanks to Bill, Ryan, Craig, Brian, Penny, and everyone else who helped out sometime during the course of that class. It was such a joy to work with such an amazing teacher like Bill. I looked forward to class everyday just to see what crazy, whacky, and sometimes dangerous demo Bill would use to give his lecture that day. I must say, I also looked forward to seeing his t-shirts everyday because they almost always foreshadowed the events of that day. Seeing someone do their job with that much excitement is inspiration and motivation for me to go after what I want. No one should settle for just anything. Do what you love and love what you do, otherwise there is no point in doing it.
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't always class and hard work. The people at Summer Discovery did a great job of providing lots of fun activities for students during the week and also on the weekend. The staff at Summer Discovery was amazing as well. When the Penn Team first stepped on campus a man at the registration table asked us what we had for dinner the previous night. At first we were all confused and asked him what he meant, he repeated his question and then told us that we ate at Chilli's in the airport. That made it all clear. This man read our blogs every night before bed. It was Eli reading our blog and Ed knowing who we were without us having to introduce ourselves that made the faculty and staff at this program unique.
Though I chose to study physics this summer, that's not all I learned about. I learned a lot about myself and the world around me. I've mentioned this before, but a major theme this summer was the idea that you can do anything you set your mind to. Now that I look back, the theme to my hall in Lippincott was "the sky is the limit". The guest speakers we had in class, the lectures given by program administrators, and even the talk my RC Naya Wilson gave to us on our first night all helped to remind me that with determination I can do anything. I can see how much I've grown as a person and I couldn't be any more grateful for being able to experience such a wonderful experience.
This summer I am glad I made the choice to spend my summer studying physics at an Ivy league school rather than stay at home. Over the past five weeks I had the chance to live in a college environment and get the feel for a new city. The people I got to spend my time with were amazing individuals and I hope that our friendships will last long after our time with the ILC is over. I continually give thanks to the Ivy League Connection and all of those who made this summer possible for me.