Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thinking Outside the Box

My legs have been getting a great workout these past two days.  While we already walked around all day yesterday for the 4th of July festivities, we went on a field trip today and walked even more!  It was super fun though as we visited the Eastern State Penitentiary and the Liberty Museum.  Before the day even started I was already excited because I love visiting such informative and historical sites like these two.
Throughout the day, Prof. Lamas wanted us to really focus on and hone into the feelings we had when we arrived at each destination and our emotional response to it afterwards.  In regard to the penitentiary, I saw the enormous stone walls and felt that this place was a giant pit of isolation.  When we ventured inside the prison, we learned in fact that keeping the prisoners completely separate from one another was the prime solution to "fixing them."  I don't agree with their method because I believe that it must have had serious psychological side effects on these individuals.  Even though the prisoners had the chance to learn a trade and prepare to enter back into the real world, I cannot even imagine how difficult it must have been to go from 2-8 years of solitary confinement to working a construction job with a large number of people.  Thinking about that I understood that this system had to fall apart sooner or later, which did happen in 1971 due to a number of reasons.  
Old Prisoner Cell
Looming Hallways
When we arrived at the Liberty Museum, Prof. Lamas, wanted us to pay attention to how the tour guide presented the information in order to see if there was more to the display than she may lead on, or if the setup of the museum did not explicitly state some information. We, as a group, actually talked to her a little bit about our intentions prior to the tour and she let us know that there are many omissions that she must make due to the time crunch, however much she wishes to dig deeper into some topics.  I really enjoyed my time at this museum because Prof. Lamas had us thinking about the exhibits with such an awareness that we were able to see beyond the displays and identify what else the pieces had to say.  Instead of noticing how pretty the work of art was or only paying attention to the pictures of famous faces we've all seen before, we all took that next step and recognized the work that was put into that piece of art and the photographers who took the pictures of those people on display.  I greatly appreciate that our professor gave us this opportunity because I often do not even think about the history behind the museum itself, but rather I simply take in the information presented to me.  This is a wonderful new way of internalizing new information and I will definitely carry that with me wherever I go from now on.
So far this program has turned out to be absolutely wonderful and completely engaging.  I feel like I am discovering more about myself every day and learning how to open my mind even wider.  I have had really fun conversations with my classmates and I feel very comfortable with them already.  I only hope that this continues, which I know it will, because the vibe in the group is great!  I love that I am so excited to go to class everyday because that is such a big contrast to my feeling throughout my years in high school, where I don't always look forward to my next class.  Hopefully after this class is over, which I was wish was never, I'll come back to my high school with a more optimistic mindset that I can carry on throughout the year. 
On the Way to the Museum

Let's Hit The Streets Of Philly

Today, class was going to be different from our usual morning lecture, lunch, and afternoon trip. We were going on a whole-day-long field trip. We had a long day ahead of us, and we got started right away. 

Our first stop was on the steps of what once used to be one of the first hotels that brought blacks and whites together.   Father Divine, the founder of the hotel, also held many feasts for his guests. Feasts may not seem so significant, but what was significant was that Father Divine managed to throw many feasts during The Great Depression. The feasts' main purpose was to feed those who were struggling through the hard times. He also offered a room accompanied with food to anybody who was in need of shelter, and it was all for $9 a night.

Next on our list was Eastern State Penitentiary. What I found most fascinating about the whole place, was the way its prisoners lived. They adopted the isolation system in the jail after realizing that keeping all the inmates in one big room was definitely not a very good idea. The isolation system meant that the inmates each received an individual cell, along with another additional empty one connected to the back of their main cell for a daily hour of exercising. That may not sound too harsh, but these inmates were kept in those cells, completely alone, for their whole sentence.

After a lunch stop at a nice pizza place, we went to a liberty museum. The museum was very informative. They had so many different stations, and their stained glass was incredible!
Eastern State Penitentiary
Once we were all back on campus, Mariko made sure we did our laundry. Actually, she volunteered to do everybody's laundry for them. We couldn't take advantage of her, so Chloe, my roommate, and I joined her in the laundry room. While waiting for our laundry, we decided we might as well go get some dinner. After we all ate, and all the laundry was done, Mariko and I decided it would be a perfect time for a work out. We went to go check out the gym that is available for us to use (but you have to be sixteen or older to be able to use it). They gym was five stories! It was the perfect place for workout-aholics like Mariko and myself, I felt right at home on the elliptical machine. We worked out until we could barely  move our legs, then headed back to our dorms for showers. 

It has been a fun filled day, and I have a feeling tomorrow won't be any different!

I'm Not Poking You, You Just Think I Am

My alarm clock went off at 7 AM this morning, which was entirely too early after my late night partying it up with the Penn Team at the Fourth of July festivities. However, I dragged my sorry carcass out of bed to make it to breakfast and morning lecture. Even though I was exhausted, I wanted to make sure I was totally focused for the morning’s teleconference with CERN. Thanks to my physics term paper on dark matter, I wasn’t completely lost when it came to terms such as neutrinos and bosons. The subject matter was sufficiently complex and new that I knew I’d need to concentrate extremely hard to be able to follow the conversation, but I did and I think I understood most of what the particle physicist was talking about.

Besides the teleconference, we also reviewed dynamics, or Newton’s laws. Although we spent days covering force=mass x acceleration in physics class this past year, I still managed to learn something new. Craig, one of the assistant teachers, explained to us that all forces that we see in our everyday behaviors, except gravity, stem from electromagnetic force. This means that you can never actually touch anything. WHAT!? For example, just say that I wanted to poke Clara in the shoulder. As my finger got closer to her shoulder, the electrons coating my hand would get very close to the electrons on her shirt. Electrons repel each other, so the electrons on her shirt would push down on the electrons on her skin, which would push down on her muscles, and so on, giving the sensation of contact. This puts a whole new spin on all those annoying car games I played with my little sister years ago.

After class, I took a brief nap in my room to recover some of the lost hours of sleep from last night. I then went around to Clara, Ivette, and Chloe’s room to collect laundry. Our cohort ended up having a little laundry party down in the basement, combining loads to save water.

Dinner was at Houston, as per usual, and I ordered salad. Although Clara and I are on a mission to try everything offered at the dining hall, I’m a little worried to try their Mexican food because I think I’ll be disappointed. The thing I miss most about home is the food, although dorm food is better than I was expecting. There is more fresh fruit than I hoped to find here, and by eating lots of salad I’m getting in my vegetables.

On the subject of being healthy, Ivette and I went to the gym together after dinner and worked out for an hour. I felt much more awake afterwards, probably due to the adrenaline rush, and was really glad that we decided to go. I hope to establish a routine for the next few weeks, and I definitely plan to have a strong fitness component. After all, I have to justify the large amounts of popcorn I’ll consume tomorrow when we go to the movies for mandatory movie night.

Waves For Days

After last night's late end, getting up this morning was quite the difficult task.  I did manage to drag myself out of bed and have plenty of time for breakfast before heading off to class.

Class today was one of the most unique experiences I have had the chance to take part of during my time in the ILC.  We had a teleconference with a Penn professor who has been working on the ATLAS project at CERN in Switzerland.  He explained to us the momentous discovery of the Higgs Boson and how the Large Hydron Collider (LHC) works.  His work sounded fascinating and in the end, he linked it to the search for Dark Matter, a subject I studied a lot this year.  My mind was blown by noon.  

After lunch, where I continued in my quest to try every food in the dining hall before repeating anything, we had a lecture and lab on waves.   Once again, learning old information in a new way made the whole day very exciting.  My group finished our lab around 3 and I headed back to my dorm with some other students.  I spent a little time in my dorm catching up on some work and taking a break from the heat.  Then Mariko, who has elected herself official laundry lady for the group, came by to get my clothes and we walked around to the cohort's dorms.  We all went for dinner together, except the guys decided they couldn't be seen with us and left early.  I love how much freedom this program gives me and I enjoy walking around the campus area.  
Professor Bill Berner explains waves with his nifty doodads 
After dinner, I caught up with my brother, who is working at a family camp near Yosemite, and my parents, who asked for a shout out. Hi Mom and Dad! (See I really do love you).  Even though I haven't been gone for too long, it was nice to talk to them again and hear about the goings on in the Bay Area.  I finished my day with a run, which I hate to admit was my first form of exercise since arriving at UPenn.  

Tomorrow we are taking our first field trip to the Simeone Foundation Museum to look at cars and study friction.  Then we will race bowling balls and try to find the perfect balance of acceleration and deceleration for the shortest time.  I love cars, and who doesn't love a good bowling ball race? Tomorrow should be an excellent day.  

Traveling At The Speed Of Light

Do I even need my alarm? Today was the third time in a row in which I woke up before my alarm. I believe this phenomenon happens because of two reasons: I have gotten accustomed to the time zone and the sun shines through my blindless windows. Nonetheless, I followed the usual schedule of meeting up with the others for breakfast to begin the day.

Class blew my mind away. First, we started off with a lecture about forces and acceleration. The examples where similar to the labs we did the first day of class, involving a car and a fan. Then the mind blowing began. So yesterday, the Higgs boson reports where released to the public. The research team that spent numerous hours working on the discovery estimated that the possibility of their discovery being wrong was about 1 out of 20,000. I was astonished about the confident level of the scientist. Today we had the opportunity to speak with one of the scientists that work of the Higgs boson. He is, from yours truly University of Pennsylvania, Elliot Lipeles. It felt great speaking to someone with so much passion for their career that it has led him to make history. Being there has really motivated me to work harder and to strive in the things I love.  Unfortunately, we were unable to speak with him forever.  Before going to lunch, we had a quick lecture on sound waves.
Demonstration on Light Waves and Defraction

After lunch, Professor Bill's great sense of humor enforced the understanding of waves, by threatening to throw his two chalk board erasers and tying up a rope to whip those who fall asleep. Before anybody thinks our teacher is a mad man, the eraser represented particles and the rope was waves, one has a quick action and the other can be continuous. This is just one of the many jokes that he uses to help us understand the material. 

After the lecture we went on to do a lab that involved finding the wavelength of light. I have never done this and was somewhat confused because the steps were really easy. I expected endless amounts of steps with huge equations, but it was the complete opposite. Once again we got out early.

I got back to my dorm noticing the huge bag of clothes that has been growing for the past few days. Its time to do laundry. Not only was this happening to me, but also to others. Next thing you know, the laundry room is filled with young adults doing laundry. It was so easy doing the laundry, it was literally done at the push of one button. While the clothes were in the washer, we went to go eat dinner. The dinner buffet was satisfying as always, but ended shortly because we had to put the clothes in the dryer. While the 50 minute wait for the clothes to be dried, Cameron and I decided to accept Eli Lesser’s challenge from orientation and locate all 12 Ben Franklins. Unfortunately, we were only able to find two because of the laundry that had to be finished.
One of Twelve
Tomorrow, we are scheduled to have our first field trip in Physics to the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum. Then in the evening we will have our first movie night. Rumor has it that nearly everyone chose to watch Ted. But right now I want to get some sleep after two long days.

Field Trip!

Today I woke up full of energy. Today, class was not going to be held in a classroom, but in the actual city of Philadelphia. The whole day scheduled out for us to visit a number of museums and historical sites. I went through my daily rituals, and then to the classroom, where we met before we got another chance to experience the Philadelphia subway. Instead of paper cards, the subway system uses small dime like coins. While on the subway, you could sense that notorious Philadelphia atmosphere, which is not pleasant.

The first stop we lost a few people, but when they caught up we stopped and analyzed a few things about the building structure. There were old churches and even old hotels that had been around since 1885. We discussed how this was one of the first hotels to actually integrate blacks and whites into one hotel. One of the many ways that the owner did this was through feasts. These feasts were open to basically anyone but when they came to sit, he arranged it by black, white and so on. This was very fascinating that an actual artifact of history was just there sitting in the middle of town. We than walked a few blocks towards the local jail that was also in function around the same time as the hotel.

Jail Model

Parts of the Jail were failing apart due to it not being taken care for 20 years, but now that it was there were plenty of opportunites for us to learn more about the evolution of jails. In the beginning of jails there were no individual cells; rather everyone was in the same room together without supervision. Many things occurred in these situations, such as violent fights and even the passing of criminal “advise”. The next step to the jailing system was to make individual rooms along with supervision. The doors to the jail cell seemed very small, but we all know people weren’t midgets back then. In analyzing the situation, we could tell that the creator of the prison wanted to implement a sense of going down or bowing to a greater force into their head to trigger a response which would be them not committing crimes anymore. The inmates were in a small little room with a small vertical window that only viewed the sun. The only experience with being outside, was a small square block outside of the quarters, which they had an hour to enjoy. After the jail we headed to get something to eat at a local pizza place and then we went to a museum for liberty, where we viewed past history of glass art.

Today was the first day that I decided to do laundry. I have previously had experience doing laundry so it was not so much of a big deal. The big deal was finding an open washing machine, because almost all of them were taken by clothes being washed or clothes that were finished. When David and I finally found open washers, we went to eat dinner and actually try to find the 12 Benjamin Franklins. We didn’t have much luck as we only found two of them and decided to go back and check on our laundry. “Today was a good day” and there are much more to come as I am very excited to be going to New York city this weekend.
Another Historic Site

The Complete College Experience

I woke up this morning feeling kind of sick. I'm not sure if it's allergies or a cold, but I woke up with a runny nose, headache, and yes, that's right, new bug bites. After dragging myself out of bed I headed to the quad to meet the Penn Team  and others for breakfast. At breakfast I enjoyed a Belgian waffle and a cup of orange juice. I saw that there was still plenty of time until class so I decided to use this to my advantage. I took my juice and apple with me back to my dorm and this time got ready more thoroughly. At 8:35 I walked out of Lippincott 108-b with my iPod blasting in my ears. I enjoyed people watching as I made my way down to the Rittenhouse laboratories. I was really excited for physics today because I knew we were going to be teleconferencing with a professor from Penn about the Higgs boson particle. At about 10:00 we started a teleconference with Professor Elliot Lipeles from the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Lipeles was talking to us all the way from Geneva, Switzerland where he's been working on the ATLAS experiment at CERN.

Physics class progressed as it normally did, but instead of the usual two labs, we only did one. We also broke for lunch half an hour later than before. We were released from physics at about 2:30 and we all headed back to the quad. Early dismissals may be new for some of my classmates, but seeing as I've been in a college environment for three years now, it's old news. 

We got back to campus and went our separate ways. I made my way back to Lippincott 108-b to recover from the heat. The air conditioning felt nice but caused a series of sneezes for me. The ladies of the Penn Team met up at about 5:30 for dinner. We engaged in conversation over dinner then headed back to our dorms. While a few of the ladies went to the gym, the rest of us retreated to our dorms to do laundry and prepare for tomorrow.

Now comes the fun part.

After putting laundry in the wash, I decided I would utilize the fact that most of the girls were out and get my shower in early. After I was all showered, hair washed, and everything I gathered my stuff and headed to my room. As I went through my bag looking for my keys, I noticed that they weren't there. I searched the bathroom and my bag once again and was disappointed to learn that I'd be making a trip down to the front gate with wet hair and all. I didn't have my Penn card with me so I was worried that they wouldn't let me in. Luckily, I was just asked a few personal questions and given a spare key. I rushed to my room and retrieved my copy of the key.

Today was a fabulous, hot day, just like the others. Tomorrow in physics we will be taking a trip to a historic car museum to observe acceleration, gravity, and other forces. I'm also looking forward to the trip to New York City on Saturday. Despite the series of unfortunate events, today was quite enjoyable.

Let's Celebrate The East Coast Way!

You all know what today is right? The 4th of July! Today, 236 years ago, the final version of the Declaration of Independence was adopted by The Continental Congress. Ever since then, the Declaration of Independence has been cherished as our country's symbol for liberty. So how did I start this historically significant day? Well, I didn't hear my alarm which means I overslept, and I missed eating breakfast with my cohort. I walked down the streets of Philadelphia with my bagel, while the rest of my cohort walked beside me with their breakfast already in their bellies.

Since there was no class, we were able to spend the whole day with our chaperone, Mr. Lawrence. Mr. Lawrence first took us to the annual parade held in front of none other than Independence Hall. The parade was made up of all the aspects that make America, America. There were actors dressed as famous historical figures, firefighters, soldiers, veterans, dancers, and some of the many cultures America is home to. Even though the parade had not yet finished, we were drained from the scorching sun and had to grab some lunch.
David enjoying the parade.
Abraham Lincoln.
One energizing lunch later, and we were off to our next stop. We made it to "Party on the Parkway" in a matter of minutes. The "party" was actually a ton of food vendors, activities, people, and of course, sun. We quickly found shade in a grassy area where the majority of my cohort decided it was a perfect time for a nap.  I, on the other hand, was wide awake, so I took advantage of the time to give my mom a call. 

Mariko enjoying her slice of pizza.
Soon after the call everybody woke up, and we were off for an early dinner. We were eating dinner at that time, around 4:40 PM, because there was going to be a free concert in the parkway, and there would be no time to eat afterwards. We went to Pete's Pizza, which is a small pizza place. Mariko, Clara, Alysa, and I shared a 14" combination pizza.

When we were back in the parkway, we got some bad news. The concert was free, but you had to buy tickets for the good seats. Oh, and guess what, tickets were sold out. We had to watch the concert from the curb, but it wasn't too bad of a view. The concert featured The Roots, Queen Latifah, Joe Jonas, Common, and a few more artists. The one person I was really looking forward to seeing was Joe Jonas. I will admit that I may have let out a squeal or two when he came on, but I for sure let my inner fan girl out when his brother, Nick Jonas, came out. Nick wasn't on the program that was handed out earlier in the day, so I don't think I have to tell you that the crowd, myself included, went crazy when Joe invited him on stage.
You probably won't be able to see, but Nick and Joe Jonas are on stage!
What's a 4th of July with no fireworks? Unfortunately we didn't get to see many fireworks because it was getting pretty late, and we had to head back to the Penn campus. The fireworks decided it was time they made an appearance right after we left the parkway, what perfect timing! We walked back to campus, with one Wawa stop along the way. Upon arriving we were informed that nobody was back from watching the fireworks. We took advantage of that, and each one of us dashed to the bathrooms for a much needed shower. As for tomorrow, I have class to attend in the morning, which I am very excited about, so Goodnight everybody and Happy 4th of July!