Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 26th, I Give You An A+

As soon as I got in bed last night I fell asleep, and what felt like two seconds later, my alarm rang. It felt like two seconds, but in reality it had been six and a half hours. So it was 6:30 AM when we were all, with the exception of Chloe, in the hotel's fitness center. Now that may seem like an ordinary thing to do in the morning right? Well do not forget that just yesterday at 2:45 AM we were at ECHS, and we had not slept since then, yet we still got up at 6:30 AM on our own! I think that is mighty impressive!

At 8:30 AM, after we had all cleaned up from all the hard work in the gym, we met with our chaperone for breakfast. The hotel offered complimentary breakfast on the second floor, and everybody seemed pretty pleased with it. We then made our way to the Admissions building to check in for our morning session. Since we are staying on campus at the Charles F. Knight Center it was only about a five minute walk. The walk felt quite nice for two reasons, one, because it was early so the sun wasn't too hot yet, and two, because we were able to see some of the campus on our own.

At 10 AM, we were guided on over to where the information session would be. The information session ws, of course, very informative. I was expecting an hour of boring information, but to my surprise it was quite enthralling. There were two speakers, and when each of them spoke it was as though they were speaking to you directly. As if you two were the only ones in the room. If they took a speech class then may I take a second to say "Great Job!" to their professor. Every topic they talked about, they made sure we had enough information to feel confident on that certain topic. Anyways, the information session ended a bit after 11, and was promptly followed by the tour. Our tour guide, Elizabeth Chenn, was astounding. By no the sun was pretty high up in the sky, so it was HOT. It was making us all feel a bit droopy, but it had no effect on our tour guide. She was so perky and bubbly, it just made you want to join in on her wonderful mood. The tour lasted about an hour, maybe a bit less. We are the first batch of ILCers to ever come to WashU, so it is up to us to report back to everybody. Well, everybody, it is absolutely magnificent. This school is beautiful. Everything from their flexibility with majors to their lawns is perfect. Haha, I think it is quite obvious that I really like this school, but who wouldn't?

A quick lunch, two interviews, and a quick stop at the hotel later, you will find us at the St. Louis Zoo. There isn't much I can say about the zoo. It was really crowded (popular place to be on a hot Tuesday afternoon plus it's free) , and very hot. At first we were a bit disappointed, because most of the animals we tried to see were hiding. Moments later we finally saw an animal, an orangutan As we continued to manuever our way around the zoo, we saw more and more animals. We ended our zoo trip by going on the Happy Feet 4D Motion Simulator ride, everybody has to go on that ride atleast once in their lifetime!

At around 6:25 PM, we made our way over to Tony's. The restaurant was kind of hard to find, we had to go through two sets of doors, and it still didn't quite look like a restaurant. Once we were seated, menus were passed out. We probably understood what four or five dishes on the menu were, but it was okay because our waiter for the night was glad to help us out. We shared our appetizer which consisted of the best scallop I have ever tasted, the best shrimp I've ever tasted, and the best pasta I have ever tasted. After we all finished praising our appetizer, our main dish was brought to us. I ordered the grilled scampi and lobster leg with a mustard sauce. To keep it short, my taste buds were having a lot of fun. We were all extremely excited when our desserts came out, so imagine how we felt when we actually ate them. If my taste buds had fun with my main dish, then they went absolutely crazy wild with my dessert. It was the best dessert I've ever ate. Tony's I give you an A+!    
Grilled Scampi and Lobster legs with a mustard sauce

My side: potatoes

Slightly warmed brown butter almond torte with a caramel praline ice cream and caramel sauce

Getting Around St. Louis

What's the best time to wake up after being awoken for more than 18 hours and going to sleep at 12AM? Well most people will probably go for an eight hours sleep, but we are not most people. Our cohort decided to wake up at 6:30AM to try out the Charles F. Knight Center fitness center. There we workout for about an hour that took away all my morning yawns and revived my stiff muscles.  By 8:30AM we were ready to start the fantastic day by kick starting it at the hotel's continental breakfast buffet.

The WashU tour started with a very informative admissions information session, which answered every question I could possibly render. Then we moved on to the actual tour of the school. The first words that came to my mind as we walk from building to building was medieval. This is simple because every building was made from bricks and had a castle like structure.  Our tour guide, Elizabeth Chen, was filled with tons of energy--most likely because of coffee, which was mentioned a bit too much--and knowledge. I felt that she was just repeating what the admission information session covered, which seemed redundant. One thing that everyone from WashU recommended was to visit the zoo because of the newborn elephant.

One Of Many Animals We Saw
By 3:00PM we were  at the zoo ready to see this baby elephant. It took awhile to actually find the elephant exhibit, but as we searched we saw many magnificient animals. We searched for nearly an hour with no sign of elephants near by. "Look daddy, it's the baby elephant," a little girl screamed. At that sound, we rushed around the corner to see if it was true. Mission complete, we saw the baby elephant.

The Elephants!!!
Dinner at Tony's was just the best. The waiter was friendly, but not to friendly. The food was the best of everything I ever had. What that means was that the shrimp I had was the best shrimp I ever had and the steak I had was the best ever had and the list keeps going on. Not only was the food perfect, but we all connected even more. We left Tony's with enough time left in the night to get to see the Gateway Arch. The fun has and now I just can't wait for tomorrow.
The Best Steak Ever

The Chocolate And Coconut Dessert

The Gateway Arch

A Day To Remeber

After a  long Monday , my cohort and I decided to wake up at six to go exercise at the hotel gym, to kick the trip off rather "right".Rather ambitious? Well after our work out, we headed to get a bite to eat and off we went to the information session, were we were greeted by Elise and Jacob. Then we learned all about the school in regards to admission requirements , financial assistance, and fun things to do in spare time .

Following the information session , there was a tour of the whole campus with explanations of all building and  things that go on in the campus. Our tour guide was actually from the bay , so she actually shared a few stories of why she choose WashU over CAL.This tour really made me more interested in WashU ,and especially after that informative session. We entered one of the dormitories and discovered that the mattresses were tempurpedic! This put me in awe , because I have been dreading one for years. After the tours all that was left for the day was two interview one for Alysa and Clara. All the time spent here at WashU has been productive in that I am liking the school more and more as I spend time here.

The rest of the day was too be spent at the zoo which is literally 10 minutes away! Also there was another amazing perk, It was free! We spent about two hours in the hot sun observing many animals we had never seen before. The favorite part of being in the zoo was the mist spray machines , which seemed to be there whenever I was in need of one, which.. was nearly every 5 minutes.

The night was young and the baddest teenagers in St. Louis were yet to be out. We were getting dressed in our best suits and dresses and heading out to Tony's. The hardest part about eating at Tony's was actually finding the place.On the way we actually had an up close view of the Gateway arch, which is the nations tallest monument at 630 ft.Secluded and with only a tiny sign , we finally made our way through two sets of doors which made it seem as if it was secluded for a reason. As usual I was unable to read most things on the menu but the things I could, had already caught my attention.The food was very good and this time I actually ventured outside of my comfort zone.
                                                               The Gateway Arch

We Love Each Other!

After a leisurely breakfast on the second floor of our hotel, we headed off to admissions for our 10 AM info session. The info session was lively and packed with information about student life, campus resources, and the application process. Elise, an alumnus of WashU and admissions officer, and Jacob, a rising senior and president of the WashU Model UN, enthusiastically spoke of their experiences at WashU.

The beautiful admin building
One of the things that WashU prides itself on is its emphasis on flexibility. By that I mean that WashU students are encouraged to take classes outside the requirements for their major, and 70% of students double major. Everyone I’ve spoken with, both today and last night, has said that it’s very easy to double major. In fact, a couple of students said that they declared a second major after their advisors told them that they had almost fulfilled the requirements on for the major without intending to. Since I have diverse interests and don’t yet know what I want to concentrate in while in college, I thought it sounded great to have that diversity of classes.

Chloe tried out the seats in the chemistry and biology lecture hall
I was also really impressed with the care that is lavished on each student to ensure that he or she has the best possible experience. Each student has access to a 4-year advisor, a major advisor, a pre-professional advisor, and a career center advisor. Together, this team ensures that each student gets the classes they need, has opportunities to get valuable internships, and offer assistance compiling resumes. As a student from the WCCUSD, where funding for counselors is minimal and one-on-one meetings with counselors are hard to come by, it was amazing to hear that each person has at least 4 advisors who are readily available to help with anything needed.

After our info session, we toured campus under the guidance of Elizabeth Chen, a rising sophomore from San Francisco, California. She was able to give us great advice about adjusting from the Bay Area culture to that of St. Louis. The main impression that I’ve been getting over that past two days here is that while everyone at WashU is academically focused, there is a strong emphasis on inclusion and support on and off campus. 

Elizabeth shows us a typical freshman dorm

The Malaysian Sun Bear paces around its enclosure
 In the afternoon, we visited the free zoo in Forest Park. Everyone recommended the zoo to us last night, and our tour guide also told us to visit, so we thought we had better check it out. I really enjoyed the visit, as we got to see several different species of bears, penguins, and baby and juvenile elephants. I always feel a little conflicted when I view zoos and aquariums because it’s sad to see animals penned up in such relatively small spaces, but I know that zoos and aquariums often play important roles in research and conservation. 

The baby Asian elephant was adorable!
Appetizers: penne, shrimp, and scallops
Tonight’s dinner at Tony’s was the most formal dining experience I’ve ever had. With only a small plaque bearing the word “Tony’s” outside the restaurant, it seemed like a well-kept St. Louis secret. Our waiters pulled out our chairs and unfolded our napkins for us, and we were given new water glasses with the dessert course. It was a great chance for our cohort to bond, and I’d like to think that we all enjoyed each other’s company throughout dinner. At the moment, we’re all blogging together at the Knight Center, so we must not be sick of each other yet! It felt appropriate that we all got closer today, as we spent our day touring a college that prides itself on the openness and friendliness of its students.

The famous Gateway Arch

 Tomorrow, we’ll fly to Chicago. With luck, we won’t have any problems at the infamous O’Hare Airport. Over and out until tomorrow. 


I awoke to the sound of an alarm clock this morning and Mariko and I rolled out of bed to check out the hotel's work out room.  After a quick work out, I showered and met the rest of the cohort at 8:30 for a nice complimentary breakfast. We had a little time to relax before our tour and info session so we hung out in the nicely air conditioned Holmes Lounge. 

 During our info session, I learned even more about WashU that made it sound like an appealing college option.  Students can take classes from any one of the five different schools.  Often students end up accidentally completing a second major by taking classes they are interested in.  I was very happy to hear of the strong support system offered to the students here.  Students receive assistance from a four year advisor, a pre-professional advisor, a career advisor, two residential advisors, a freshman advisor, and sometimes the professors themselves.  I think anyone could thrive here with a support system like that.  Students have the opportunity to study abroad, sometimes in more than one country, and some classes travel to different countries as well.  I am very interested in doing research as a college student, so I was happy to learn that 60% of students participate in research on and off campus.

After the info session, we went on a campus tour and got to see more of the university's beautiful grounds.  I loved that the dorms are spacious and have one bathroom for only four people.  Many of the businesses on campus are owned by students and the campus food, which we sampled for lunch, is very good.  The more we walked around, the more I could see myself fitting in here as a student.  There were even baby birds nesting in the architecture.

I then got the chance for a personal interview with a member of the WashU faculty.  Going in, I didn't know what to expect from the interview, but it was great to discuss the school on a more personal level.  
Chloe prepares for her future in WashU's biggest classroom

We had a couple hours of downtime in the afternoon so we decided to go to the Zoo in Forest Park.  Although it sometimes makes me sad to see wild animals cooped up in cages, I was happy to see that this Zoo does a lot of substantial work in conservation.  We saw a variety of animals, including the baby elephant that we had heard about at dinner last night.
For dinner we went to Tony's, a fancy Italian restaurant. Even though the formal ambiance was initially intimidating, it was great to unwind as a cohort without the pressure of having dinner guests. We had a great time laughing and learning more about each other. The food was delicious, I ordered the trio of veal (I'm pretty sure my Dad will be proud about that one) and I had ice-cream pie for dessert.  On our way to the car, we stopped by the St. Louis arch.  I never realized how tall it was; we all stood there for a bit wondering how they got it so high.

Tomorrow we leave for Chicago.  I hope I enjoy the schools there as much as I enjoyed WashU!

Day 2 Of Many

Before heading to breakfast at the hotel.
After ending the previous night with a blogging party, all but one of the Penn ILCers woke up at 6:30 AM to head to the fitness center. After working out for about 45 minutes in the gym we headed back to our rooms to get dressed and prepare for the day. We all met in front of the elevators on the fourth floor at approximately 8:30 AM. We then headed down to the second floor to enjoy the Continental style breakfast provided by our wonderful hotel. After enjoying a hearty and satisfying meal we headed to the actual campus.  After exploring the campus on our own and pausing for a few photos, we went into the presentation room.

Pausing for a photo before heading to the information session.
 The hour long presentation given by admissions representative, Elise and student, Jacob was very insightful and informative. We then headed on a campus tour given by Elizabeth Chen, a student. We chose her as our tour guide because she was a Cali person just like all of us. She was also very helpful and informative. On the tour we got to see classrooms and labs as well as more fun and interesting things such as dining options and living quarters. The tour ended around 12:30 and we decided to grab lunch before Clara and I had to leave for our interviews. After I ordered my lunch I hurried off to Holmes Lounge to be on time for my interview. The interview went great! I wasn't nervous at all and that aided in my success. It was just a general conversation about me and my interests. At the end of the interview, the interviewer told me that he saw how ready and excited I was for college and wishes there was a way I could just skip senior year and start taking classes at WashU this summer. I had no idea who my interviewer was until he handed me a business card and I read "Associate Vice Chancellor" under his name. I am very pleased with the outcome of my interview, to say the least.

Once we finished all business on campus we headed to the St. Louis Zoo located in Forest Park which is a few acres larger than Central park in New York. We were all really excited to see the baby elephant we had heard so much about.  Before we left the zoo we also went on a 4-D simulator ride of Disney's "Happy Feet". It was a great way to cool off.
The Asian Elephant exhibit at the St. Louis Zoo.

We dined at a very nice restaurant once again this evening. Tony's is an Italian restaurant located a few blocks away from the arch. We started off with penne pasta, scallops, and shrimp for appetizers. By the taste of the appetizers, I knew the main course was going to be delicious. For dinner I had beef and spinach stuffed ravioli with Tony's salad side. The salad had tomatoes, and salami, and was tossed in a vinaigrette dressing. For dessert I had a caramel ice cream pie which was a graham cracker crust topped with vanilla bean ice cream, meringue, and lots of caramel sauce.

Today was a great day. To end it, we took a stroll in the area where the arch is located. Ian pointed out to us that right across the river was actually an entire different state(Illinois). After attending the campus tour, information session, and having an interview with one of the chancellors I am looking into applying to Washington University. The campus has a lot of greenery that I love. The brick buildings and cobble stone walkways are such a change from California but it's nothing I couldn't get used to.

Seeing the Gateway Arch was definitely a great way to end our last full day in Missouri.
Tomorrow we leave for Chicago where we'll do a few more dinners and tours before heading to UPen for the rest of our stay.