First day of the weekend and we were off to New York! This was a mandatory event, but of course we were all excited to go. I have been to New York in the winter, but never had the chance to go during the summer until now. Today was especially fun because everyone in the entire program went together so we had a chance to hang out with some new friends and meet others.
|Ivette and I loved New York|
|Anika and Veena at Columbia|
|View from the Bus|
During the two and a half hour bus ride I sat next to a bunch of people I only sort of know so I had a ton of fun talking to them and listening to everyone's different music. Even though the ride was fairly long there was also movie playing in case we wanted to watch it, and beautiful sites to see out of the window. Unlike many of my friends, I didn't fall asleep and instead I took in the environment around me for those two hours. I repeated this entire process, in a slightly different way, during the ride home as well, since we had to get back on the bus we started with and our placement was the same there and back.
|One Section of Columbia University|
While we were in New York however, we were to stop at two locations: Columbia University and Times Square. I thought that the visit to Columbia was a little strange because we only had two hours there and there was no organized information session or tour. Maybe its just because I'm used to the regular routine of visiting schools that I felt a bit lost while we were on campus, but we ended up getting around the school area okay. I have a friend who goes to Columbia so I got to see her for a bit and learn a little bit more about the school and its vibe. It is definitely more of an urban city campus, but its very beautiful and quite large. I wish we had more time there but I still had fun visiting the Public Library, walking around the spacious area within the campus buildings, and spending time outside The Columbia University Library. Throughout my visit I was thinking about the topics we've discussed in class and wondered what underlying traits Columbia had that are not directly obvious. Although I still cannot specify what these may be, I like that I have begun to think more like this and I will do more research into the school since I don't quite feel that I have gotten a complete sense of life at Columbia.
The time I spent on Times Square was full of window shopping, actual shopping, and tons of walking. My energy was completely zapped by 6:00 PM when we met back up with the group to return to Penn. There were a large number of RCs (Residential Counselors) there (maybe all of them), but they allowed us to venture off in groups of at least four for almost 5 hours. For this portion of the trip, I walked around with my cohort and our friend Jacob. We visited the M&M store, many gift shops, Forever 21, the Disney Store, and others. The whole issue of consumption was in my face the entire time, and I couldn't help but feel that we as a country will ever stop this enormous and constant buying of goods. Times Square could not have been a better example of extreme consumerism, and its not like I wasn't playing into it too. I honestly need to spend more time thinking about what I can do about this issue and still live comfortably without all my "stuff."
Overall, this trip opened my eyes in a lot of ways and I am glad that we were able to spend our Saturday off "resting" in the way we Americans tend to do so, because honestly, it is really fun to spend money on cool, new stuff. I was pretty practical though in the items I purchased and tried to stray away from the impulse to take interesting items off the shelves and immediately decide to buy them. When I don't take the time to think about what I really need, or "need", I end up wasting my money instead of feeling satisfied with my purchases like I was today. So I guess what I want to first get people to do is simply ask themselves a couple questions when they pick up a new product. How practical is this item and how often will you utilize this in your ever day life? I think that if people started asking themselves questions like these on a daily basis, we could make just a small indent in the issue of consumption in this country. However, after visiting Times Square today it is difficult to see that reality coming to life any time soon.