Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Day of Rest and Excitment

After a long and exhausting week, today was the first official day I had off. It felt really amazing to obtain a full night of sleep and recover from a week full of activity. I had nothing planned for the morning so therefore I was able to relax for a while and do my homework. I heard my suitemates finally begin to get out of bed at around midday and I headed to the common room to find that a lot of my suitemates were tuning into the Uruguay versus Italy soccer game on ESPN. I instantly joined in to the viewing and watched what remained of the game. It was really great to have another instance where we bond as a group. As our resident advisor had previously told us, we were one of the closest groups in the entire program.

When the game concluded, after an intense round of penalty kicks, we headed to the café that is located directly next to our dormitory for lunch. We bought hot dogs and drinks and then headed back our dormitory where we finished eating. When we finished eating, we went to grab our laptops and began sharing popular music with each other. I found that, I was able to find out a lot about my suitemates based on the music they liked. Each had their own personal likings and dislikes, however there we some instances in which we all agreed upon a song choice. We did this for a while until it was once again time to watch more soccer.

The game we had all been waiting for was the dream match between Spain ( the FIFA World Cup 2012  champions) versus Brazil ( the host of the FIFA World Cup 2014). Two of my suitemates were Brazilian so they therefore supported Brazil, and on the other hand there were two that fully supported the Spanish team. I was split neutral and my biggest thought was being able to see possibly one of the greatest games in football/soccer history. As the game commenced we were all debating on whether plays were called fairly and if the were clear shot opportunities that should have been acted on. It was really an incredible moment and simply being able to enjoy watching a game of soccer with my suitemates was phenomenal in my opinion. The amount we had bonded over the past week was very evident in the way we all came together to watch the game. I felt like part of a family, one that was made up of various unique and diverse individuals.

After the conclusion of the game, and an incredible victory by Brazil, I headed back to my room to finish all my homework and set my things ready for the next morning. This took me up until curfew after which I just continued doing a bit of homework until I finally decided that I needed to sleep.

Resting Up Before the Week

I finally had a day where I could sleep in and relax. Every other day I have been going to sleep fairly late and waking up early, which is my fault I know, but today I lounged around until 10:30 AM when I woke up. I felt fully rested for the first time since I have come to Columbia and it was amazing.  I was so tired from all the walking we did yesterday and the first week that sleep came naturally to me.  A little while later I went out with my RA and our suite to have brunch at a restaurant called Artopolis and let me tell you, it was amazing! Columbia University is great and all but there food is not what they are known for. I was so happy to get a good crepe in my tummy! I think I miss the little things back home like my own bed, my bathroom, and my own food but the pros outweigh the cons here. 

I love how close my suite is with our RA.  Honestly, she is one of the nicest people I know and I feel like she really is looking out for all of us.  I thought that I would be lost here but it feels like I have grown with these people.  I already feel more confident in myself because I have made so many new friends and companions.  I never would have thought that I would be the person on the elevator introducing myself to strangers, but I am! I talk to anyone and everyone and this is amazing.  I know I am going to shock people when I go back on how much more confidence I have in myself and I know this confidence will take me to bigger and better things in the future.

Brunch was actually the highlight of the day because after that, I mostly lounged around my dorm conversing with my hall mates. I did do my laundry today, and it was in the basement of my dorm, so it was slightly creepy and very hot.  I was so surprised that you actually don't need quarters because there is a card machine on the wall that you can use instead! If I don't have any quarters next time, that's what I'm using. I was proud of myself for successfully doing my laundry even though I basically through all my clothes in one load. 

For dinner my RA and our group decided to have a pizza night! Our RA got $25 to spend on our suite so we decided to buy pizza and soda, and there was a movie coming on the TV.  After the dinner, we asked our RA to teach us how to salsa, meringue and bachata! There is a hispanic night happening tomorrow on campus so we decided why not learn how to do some dances! It was a lot of fun and I'm even more tired now! I don't think that my dorm building is the best but I think I did luck out on the best residents! We are all so different, yet we all act as one big family! 

I decided to take some alone time in my room right before I started doing this blog, and I just got to thinking that I have only been here one week and we only have less than two weeks left.  It's so surprising to here that I have been here for one week because it feels like I have been attending school at Columbia for a long time.  I know that it's going to be very hard when these three weeks come to an end because I honestly do not want to leave any of these people.  They are what are making my experience so amazing. I think that is just as important as learning from the class. Yes we should always learn academically but social growth is necessary as well. 

Funday Sunday!

Since I’ve arrived at Columbia University, I have stayed on West Coast time. I stay up late and wake up late. I know that it will be easy for me to adjust when I arrive back home.

Today was extremely full. Fortunately, I was able to sleep in to a confortable West Coast time. After eating a delicious breakfast of cold cereal, I headed out with my suite mates to the Williamsburg Flea Market. Considering the number of transfers we had to make to different subway lines, our trip ran very smoothly. After about 45 minutes we emerged from the underground in Williamsburg. Small, artsy stores and vintage booths surrounded us.

After making our way down the main street. We finally arrived at the actual Flea Market. It was in the full, blazing hot sun so I was very thankful to have had a gigantic bottle of water with me. We looked around the booths and admired the vintage clothing. It was a wonderful shopping experience. The only problem was that nearly everything was above my price range. Since it was just a flea market, I expected everything to be very cheap. Instead, the vintage attire was more expensive than expected. Fortunately, I was able to buy a nice hairband for a friend so I was satisfied.

On the way home from our shopping excursion, we stopped off at a subway stop a little earlier to catch a glimpse of the Pride Parade. There were a ton of people with rainbow clothing, or hardly any clothing. We saw a bit of the parade, but then a steady downpour encouraged us to take the subway back to campus.

We arrived back at Columbia absolutely famished. It was nearly 4:00 PM and we hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. I ordered a gigantic turkey sandwich and ate the entire thing. Right as a finished, it was time for our suite to head out to dinner together.

We ate at a fantastic Chinese restaurant. It was an amazing bonding experience for us all. I now feel much closer to many of my suite mates. I can’t wait to spend another two weeks with them! 

Movie Knight.

Today was my first real day of relaxation. I had no plans, besides an early morning breakfast with a friend from my Constitutional Law class. After eating at the same diner that George and Jerry routinely sit in throughout the television show "Seinfeld", I went back to my dorm room where I would spend most of my day. The weather was overcast so it was not good photography weather, and I decided it was time to take a day off from the hustle and bustle of New York and just hang out. The first thing I did however, was get my homework done.

Today the homework was extending our unit on free speech and the first amendment. Many of the cases I read came from around World War Two this time. They all involved deep discussions into when it is ok to take away not only and individual, but a group's freedom of speech. A few of the cases had to do with organizations that were charged with promoting anarchy and rebellion. Because these groups were becoming a threat to the government of the state, and the welfare of the population within the state, the state was allowed to pass legislation restricting the group's speech. All the cases came back around to the "clear and present danger" test, and many denounced it for being a situational test that cannot be applied when something must be done immediately. Each case was interesting and I am excited to go to class tomorrow to discuss them with Luke.

The rest of my day was spent relaxing in my room. I caught up with some friends back in the Bay Area and told EVERYONE about my encounter with Anne Hathaway. When Margaret and her friend Claire came back from thrift shopping I met them in the lounge and we studied together. The three of us decided to go off campus for dinner and ate at a delicious small Korean BBQ restaurant. The food was delicious and we loved all the complimentary vegetable dishes they gave us to start with. Feeling very full we returned to the dorms for the most exciting part of my day, movie night. We decided to watch the Dark Knight Rises, because Claire had not seen it. We all got to know each other a lot better and had some very funny laughs making fun of Batman and Bane. Today was a very uneventful day, but I was able to take a nice day off and just relax for a bit. I now feel ready to wake up and go back to class tomorrow!

SoHo Sunday

Today has been the first day that I have had to be completely independent and and make my own plans. I decided to go on a  RA thrift store shopping trip to SoHo with my friend Jackee.

The scary thrift store.
Today's trip involved a lot of walking but it was worth it. Today was full of pleasant surprises and fun. We left for the Subway at about 12:30 PM and arrived around 1:00 PM. The first thrift store that we visited was Search and Destroy. This store was kind of scary. The clothes that are being sold are definitely of the Punk Rock/Metal variety-not my style. I did not have any luck with this store. Instead I walked across the street to the Pinkberry and enjoyed a pomegranate frozen yogurt.

On the fast-paced walk to the next store we were interrupted by an interesting/pleasant surprise. We came upon the Gay Pride Parade on Fifth Avenue. This was definitely a new experience for me. Although I have always wanted to, I was never able to visit a Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco. There were a lot of people dressed in a lot of different and interesting ways. There was also a lot of music and I was able to see several interesting floats. I'm really happy for all of the people who can freely love who they wish. Love is love is love.
The Gay Pride Parade
After navigating our way away from the parade, we made our way to our final destination, Beacon's Closet. This place is much more my style. This thrift store is pretty amazing. It is full of a ton of beautiful designer clothing with great prices.  It has a much more feminine, hipster feel to it than Search and Destroy. I managed to find three cute tops.

All in all, I think today was a pretty successful outing. Even though it started to rain towards the end of the trip and the whole day was hot and sticky, I had fun. It seems like I am having a new adventure everyday. One of the adventures I plan to have is to go to a Broadway show. I cannot come to New York City and not go to a Broadway show. I just have to choose which one! There are several RA trips to see shows. I need to decide soon before there is no more space on the trips.

I like the feeling of independence; being able to go out on my own and having to rely on myself rather than anyone else. Given the independence that this program has given me, such as having to worry about what my daily meals and having to make plans for myself is a lot more work then I would have expected. My parents make it seem so effortless. I love the whole experience that the ILC and the Columbia summer program has presented to me. I now know what to expect in college and how to take care of myself. If I need something, I'll walk to the drug store and buy it. I, for the most part, get to decide where I will go and spend my free time. I am completely independent, which entails that I have to perfectly balance work and play. Although I have to do some more reading work a little harder on my time management skills, I think I have done a relatively good job at balancing my priorities. 


Several things today made my first Columbia Sunday fairly reminiscent of home. I spent the bulk of my day downtown, exploring. My day started off pretty late for a change - in fact, for once I wasn't the first one out of the room - or in a rush. For breakfast I just had a muffin from the local market - pistachio, Claire's suggestion. Not that it's very important but just saying, it was quite possibly the best muffin I have ever had - and if this were a food blog, I would definitely recommend it. 

Claire and I took off downtown at noon with a big group, led by Hannah, an RA on our hall. We took the subway to 8th ave. to start our thrift shopping expedition. The street we eventually made our way to basically shouted Berkeley. All of the stores and just the general merchandise being sold reminded me strongly of the Bay Area. Out first stop on the trip was a thrift store named "Search and Destroy." I didn't really want to stay there too long, I was getting kind of a creepy vibe. 

On the way to the next thrift store, we encountered a bit of a road block. All the way down 5th avenue, the Gay Pride Parade was taking place. For a good while we stopped to watch the parade pass - something else that reminded me of our own city back home. San Francisco is known for being extremely tolerant, and supportive of gay rights. In fact, there was a pride parade there today as well. 
The second thrift store was much nicer in my opinion, and we stayed much longer (once we finally got around the pride parade). I didn't buy anything, but that's okay because I had a good time just walking around the city. 

I also finally got around to doin my homework today (I know, I know, it's not good to save your homework for until Sunday, but hey at least I didn't wait until 11:50 to start on it). The article I read was about Lincoln's assassination. The paper discussed ideas regarding why public opinion of him changed so much after his murder. According to the author, there are two main reasons why Lincoln's assassination had a more profound impact on the public than say, Garfield's or McKinley's; 1) the nation was in a state of disrepair, and his death was immediate and unexpected. Lincoln was actually not that popular with the general public in the weeks leading up to his death. This was an interesting topic to me because it's a cause and effect situation that seems to inherently make sense - that an assassinated president would stir up national fervor - but the psychological reasoning behind it was explored and explained. I'm definitely curious about how the discussion will be tomorrow. 

A Saturday full of New Experiences

Today has been a day of surprises, respect, and growing friendships. Our first Saturday at Columbia; we did spend a majority of the day with Mrs. L but we were also very independent. 

As a cohort we all met on campus then walked to a little cafe for breakfast. At about 10 AM we headed to the Subway to meet Mrs. L at the NYU campus. It was fun and exciting to be as independent as we were, traveling through the city and finding our way.

One of my favorite parts of the day, among many, it once we met Mrs. L at the park by the NYU campus. We sat in the park for a little bit enjoying the scenery. I like this part of the day so much because Mrs. L and I discussed my previous trip to the Met; through of which we began to discuss our appreciation of art on several different levels, such as paintings versus sculptures and different artists. I enjoyed being able to connect with Mrs. L on a more intellectual level.

At NYU we sat through an info session, which was very well done and persuading (there was a ten minute video that had a lot of student and professor commentary), and then went on a tour. NYU surprised me. I really wasn't expecting much and definitely not to be impressed, especially after seeing such amazing schools like Sarah Lawrence, Vassar, Yale, and UPenn. Although I don't know how I feel about the open campus concept, I really like the school. I've begun to grow fond of the city and event though I like a more defined campus, I think I could get used to NYU.

There are several things about NYU that I didn't know before and that I find very enticing. Each class size is about 30 people which is not to big, I definitely do not enjoy large class sized. The campus has no gates so you really are living in the city. There are many, many internship (paid and not) options and students at NYU have an average of three internships while at the school. And, my favorite, NYU as the largest study abroad program of any university in the country. I plan to study abroad and with all the options of places to go and how easy NYU makes it, it is all very exciting.

After NYU Mrs. L took us to what must be the best burger restaurant ever. My burger was very very good.

We then took the Subway down to the 9/11 Memorial. This was quite a surreal and heartbreaking trip. Although the whole atmosphere surrounding the memorial was not quite as peaceful (and respectful maybe?) as I had imagined it, it was all so beautiful. The gorgeous design of the pools with a void in the center of each and all the names around each of them is a beautiful tribute to all of the innocent men and women who lost their lives. Each pool is very large and to see all of the names surrounding each is astonishing. The ones I found the most heartbreaking (though the entire situation and everything about it is sad) were the listed names that said, "...and her unborn child."
1776 feet tall, the new World Trade Center
I love how everything surrounding the pools is so symbolic and tranquil (if you take out of the the tourists). Even all of the specially planted trees are symbolic. There is the Survivor Tree which essential represents strength and persistence. This tree has been through 9/11 and a hurricane and has still lived far longer than a tree of the same species usually does. There was a beautiful bouquet of flowers at the base of the tree today. The flowers were personally brought in by the President of France this morning.
Survivor Tree
 The only thing that I found disappointing about the 9/11 Memorial was all of the people. I don't care that there was a lot of people, what got me was that many of them seemed to be there because the Memorial is simply something to see. The impression that I got was that of a tourist atmosphere rather than a beautiful place meant to respect and mourn the loss of hundreds of lives. 
Dedicated to those who fell and to those who carry on.
After the Memorial we headed back to Columbia. Once back on campus I met up with Jackee and we spent the remainder of the afternoon hanging out together. We walked down Broadway to get some Mexican food and then stopped at Duane Reade and bought a small carton of strawberry ice cream. We went back to my dorm and watched the movie One for the Money on my laptop while we ate the food and ice cream. This was all a lot of fun friend bonding time. It was also nice to stop, relax, and watch a movie.

All in all today was a pretty amazing day where I learned a lot and was given the chance to cherish the 9/11 Memorial and everything it represents.

Tomorrow Jackee and I are taking an RA shopping trip to Soho. It's going to be fun. We will get to see all the nice stores in Soho and go thrift shopping.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

To Remember and To Honor

We had another adventure today at NYU and the 9/11 memorial.  The cohort got together once again to go on our final school tour at New York University! I learned that NYU is a very unique and diverse program, and they also have a lot of emphasis on study abroad programs.  They have courses offered all over the world! The tour was very nice, even though we had minor problems in the beginning.  I actually liked this info session more than the previous ones because there was a video to talk about the campus rather than just have one person go over all the basic information.  I liked how NYU used creativity in attracting prospective students.  I wish more schools and places would use alternative forms of discussion rather than just people sitting and listening to someone talking.

Once we were done with NYU, we were off to have lunch and then the 9/11 memorial.  I honestly did not know what to expect at the 9/11 memorial because I don't remember much of what happened. It has been 12 years so I was only five when the attacks happened, and I don't remember anything from when I was five.  There were a lot of tourists taking pictures at the memorial but I still felt very attached to the memorial.  I had not personally known anyone who died in the attacks but I feel like these attacks showed the true American spirit.  Many people think all Americans do is be racist or mean to each other, but the truth is Americans are the best support system.  If something bad happens, we come together as one which I love. We also decided to stop at the 9/11 memorial gift shop where they had an animated video about someone's loss during the attacks.  One man lost both his sons in the attacks which I find to be very sad.  I wish that they had not happened since so many innocent lives were lost.

Now on to a happier note! My RA had hosted a trip to a show called Fuerza Bruta today, and it is like an off Broadway show that is so much fun! We saw the show and it was simply amazing! I think this show is the type that can not be described in words but I think everyone should and has to go check it out.  However, be prepared to get wet and dance if you do go, it is a very interactive show.  The actors and actresses interact a lot with the audience.  After the show, my hall mates and I did our usual hang out routine in our dorm.  We always get together when the day ends to talk about our days.  I am missing my actual home, but this is becoming my home too in a way. 

" We Remeber, We Rebuild, We Come Back Stronger!" - Barrack Obama

Saturday morning, a time when most students would embrace a day off and choose to sleep in and recover from a long week of intensity and work. However, for the cohort, that was not the case and instead of rest and relaxation, our day was full of activity. We departed from the Columbia early in the morning and headed to a local café for breakfast. We got a quick meal and made our way to the subway station conveniently located a few blocks away. After two weeks in New York, I would argue that we have improved our subway navigation skills to around average. We took the train all the way down to Sothern Manhattan. From there we met with Ms. L in Washington Park, the epicenter of New York University.
The beautiful Washington Park

We took a while to bask in the beauty and tranquility of the park. After a couple minutes we proceeded to the building where our informational session would take place. We signed in and then took our seats in a mild-sized gathering hall. The presenter went over the basic facts about NYU and its uniqueness compared to other major universities. As it stands, NYU has the largest study abroad program in the entire nation. It has a total of three degree-granting schools located in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai. Aside from the base schools, there are also opportunities for various programs that are located in cities across six continents and offer a very diverse and unique learning experiences. The overall environment at the school was described to be a community made up of  micro-communities. After the conclusion of the meeting we headed out on a short campus tour.
NYU's campus is very unique. Like Columbia it is surrounded by one of the biggest cities in the entire world, however the difference is that NYU chooses not to have conventional university walls and gates. This is based on the idea of fully integrating the school into the city and I must admit that this is the very first school I have ever heard of having this ideology. The entire concept of having the university not just be located in the city but also be a part of it really was mind-blowing for me.

The campus really did feel like city with numerous high rises and a more compact campus. Like New York City, everything was built upward toward the sky. We were able to visit the immense library that the school had, however, the uniqueness of this library came from the height, consisting of many floors each filled with books and resources for students. The appearance of the library really represented the type of school NYU is, compact but still very big on the inside.
The new One World Trade Center
After we finished our tour we headed over to local burger restaurant for lunch. The food was amazing, maybe even on of the best burgers I had ever eaten on the East Coast. The variety of meats and endless combinations made the restaurant very unique in my book.  Honestly, it was nice to have the entire cohort together again. When we finished our meal, we once again made our way to the subway station to continue our journey to "Ground Zero".  
We embarked from the subterranean sauna that is the subway and immediately were introduced to a spectacle unlike any other I had ever seen in my life, the completed and reconstructed One World Trade Center. The building reached so far into the sky that it seemed to touch the sky. I never was able to see the original Twin Towers, and sometimes I think to myself how amazing it must have been just being able to see them in the skyline. A spectacle I, unfortunately will never be able to witness with my own eyes. However, it does make me proud that the U.S is so resilient. Even after a moment of pure tragedy and hopelessness, the entire country rebounded and pushed forward through united under one flag. Like the quote that President Obama said when he visited the construction site of the new One World Trade Center, "We remember, We rebuild, We come back stronger!". America does not allow itself to be bested by anyone and prevails over any hardship. 
As we made our through the crowd and to the entrance to the 9/11 Memorial it became obvious how important security was around it. Cameras and countless officers patrolled all around the perimeter made sure to send the message of order. As we waited in line, I recounted in my head all the stories of the site that people had told me. According to them, the huge realizations of the catastrophic effect and the monumental toll it took on the entire nation that comes to your mind the second you first step into the memorial is enough to make you dizzy.
The pool at the foot print of the North Tower
When we finally went into the memorial area, the realizations everyone had told me about finally began to enter my mind. The knowledge that twelve years ago, on September 11, a little over 3,000 individuals lost their lives there, really made me begin to feel a bit overwhelmed. It was one of the most saddest moments in American history and being at the place where it all happened sparked a set of emotions I had never felt before. As I walked through and saw the magnificent pools that are so simplistic that they are a complete masterpiece, I came across a woman who was standing next to the placard of names and rubbing her hand across it with much sorrow. I instantly  knew this had to be the person's mother, and the thought of the horrific sorrow that many parents , husbands, and wives must have had to go through. The thought of how my own mother would feel if I were one of the names on the placard, made me absolutely want to break into tears. Much more was lost on September 11 than just the Twin Towers. There are mothers and fathers who will never see there sons or daughters again, and many of them never got the opportunity to tell each other that they loved each other. Through these thoughts that flashed through my mind, the realization of how precious life can be finally became unwinding. Sometimes we take for granted what some other don't have such as a mother, father, son or daughter. I could never imagine losing my parents or never being able see them ever again. Yet there are some children who were forced to grow up never knowing their fathers or mothers. This experience really made me appreciate everything that I had. Even when the times get tough or hopelessness over takes our souls, we must appreciate the little things that we have.
After a while of seeing the memorial, it was time to leave. We all headed back to the subway and made our way back to Columbia University. This experience taught me a lot. Not only did I learn that life is precious and is promised to absolutely no one but also that the things that we take for granted sometimes are really things that we value the most and could not imagine being apart from. I would have never imagined that something so simple as a memorial could offer me life changing views on life. I feel angry at myself for taking for granted what I've had and I feel that from this day on, my outlook on life will never be the same. This might as well be one on the most memorable days of my entire life and one that has definitely impacted me in more than one way.  

Carry On

Today was a busy day for me - despite it being the first day of the weekend and the first day without class. Bright and early, we all met outside my and Simon's dorm building to get breakfast together. We were tasked with maneuvering the subway without our chaperone for the first time today - as we were to meet Ms. L. at Washington Square Park at 10:30. Luckily for us Bay Area natives, our combination of BART knowledge and recent acquisition of NYC subway experience allowed us to figure our way across Manhattan rather smoothly. Being used to fuzzy conductor announcements, we didn't even miss the important yet vague week-end train transfer instructions. Mental note: the trains run on a different schedule on the week-ends. 

Our last college tour was today - NYU. In my opinion it was the most well-run info session/tour combination of all of the schools. They got across the main idea, with a touch of personal account from actual students. Although NYU seems like a fantastic school (to me that is; objectively NYU is a fantastic school), it didn't really stand out to me in a personally appealing way. An interesting thing about NYU is their incredible level of internationality - the school has programs abroad on 6 continents and institutions where you can earn an NYU degree centered in New York City, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai. A complaint that I have about the school (and call me picky, but it might be a deal breaker) is that there is no physical campus (at least in New York). I really want to go to a school with a real traditional college feel to it - and for me that includes a fence, grounds and a gate. 

After NYU, we went to see the newly erected 9/11 memorial. I had never been to ground zero before, and even though I was too young to remember the events of 9/11, I was still shocked at some of the aftermath that still remains. The faces of skyscrapers are still blackened - more than a decade later - from ash; and entire buildings are no longer in use. I expected the atmosphere to be more somber, however. The memorial was crowded and I was uncomfortable with the tourist-y vibe that I was sensing - people were taking vacation-esque family photos and selfies in front of the pool-turned-footprints of the World Trade Centers, and there were street venders shamelessly heckling visitors. The pools were beautiful nonetheless; the names of those who were lost that day adorned the entire perimeters of the fountains. I'm very happy to have been able to visit the memorial - though I will never truly feel how those who lost family and friends that day feel, I do feel that I at least understand better what sort of ordeal people had to and continue to deal with because of what transpired on 9/11. 

First Day Off.

Today was our first day off since class started. Sadly on weekends the dining hall is closed so Ms. L gave us some spending money for meals. We were planning on meeting Ms. L at NYU, so we bought a quick breakfast across the street from Columbia. After Margaret and I worked together to navigate the complicated New York subway system we headed to the park in the middle of the NYU campus. It was a lovely park with families and food carts, there was a big fountain in the middle and lots of people tanning. It seemed like a nice place to study or just relax if you did go to NYU.
Washington Square is a lively and lovely place to be!
The first thing that made a big impression on me about NYU was that it did not really have a defined campus. Sure, some of the buildings had small NYU flags hanging from them, but the campus as a whole was blended together with the city of New York. This is very different from all the other campuses we have visited, which all had large entrance gates and clearly defined campuses. To me this is honestly a little bit of a negative, I like having a defined space to call my home, and New York City is most certainly not a "defined space". After an hour long information session that went over all the same things every other information session goes over we went on a tour.

The tour was actually very fun. The tour guide told all sorts of funny jokes and even made references to both Arrested Development and Friends (my two favorite TV shows). What I really liked about NYU were the dorms. There are about 8 dining halls all over the campus, and one of them has the only Chick Fil A in New York. Dorms are all in high-rise buildings, and each room has its very own bathroom. This is a major plus for me. What also interested me was the Law and Society minor, a subject which deeply interests me. NYU is certainly a very different feeling campus and school from the other four places we have visited, and I think I will need to take a long time to decide if it would be a good fit for me.

After visiting NYU we took yet another subway to the 9/11 memorial. The first thing that can be seen when stepping out of the subway station are the tall new glass towers being built as the new World Trade Center. The sky reflected beautifully off the buildings and I took some incredible photographs. After a series of checkpoints we made it into the actual memorial. What struck me first was the sheer number of people that were there, all crowded around the memorial fountains. As I made my way around the memorials, I routinely saw people smiling and posing for portraits, talking loudly on their phones, and all trying to swarm the one name with a flower on it. Honestly (and sadly) the place did not feel like a real memorial, it felt more like a tourist attraction. After visiting the memorial we walked past the firehouse where almost every firefighter was killed trying to save people from the two buildings. A bronze mural on the wall memorializes them, but it is on the sidewalk so people are rushing past it, ignoring it,  and are selling water near it. Maybe because in working with the police (who take 9/11 very seriously and always wear a black bar on their badges during the month of September) I found peoples behavior in this area to be quite offensive. The sheer rudeness and disrespect that people had towards the thousands of people who died on 9/11 was certainly unexpected. While I was there I was comparing it to the feeling at the Vietnam and Korea memorials in Washington DC. At these two memorials there is very little talking, and people are taking photos respectfully. 
Despite people's rudeness, the memorial was still emotional.
People swarming the memorial.
At 5 PM we returned home to Columbia via subway and collapsed in our dorms. Today was a busy day with lots of walking and standing. I am excited to get some rest and go out for dinner tonight!

A Day to Remember

Life this past week has been busier than ever. Each day, I only have a few moments of free time and endless actives to participate in. Days filled with classwork, the meeting of new people, and the exploration New York City have made my schedule the fullest it has ever been. With this busy schedule comes the importance of managing time well. As the program progresses, the workload will increase and my social life probably won’t decrease. This means that I will have to use my time more effectively. I’m ready for the challenge and interested to see how I manage my time.

Today I woke up five minutes before my alarm went off. Interestingly enough, I set my alarm at 8:55, which would have only given me five minutes to get ready and walk across campus to meet the rest of the cohort. I’m glad I woke up “early”. With a whole entire ten minutes to get ready, I made it to our meeting place with time to spare.

After a delicious breakfast at a nearby café, we boarded the subway and headed to NYU.  Now, the exact location of NYU is hard to pinpoint. There is no campus. Our tour guide claimed that a nearby park could be considered the center point, but I prefer the idea that NYU is so seamlessly integrated into the city that there is no central area.

The information session for NYU was one of the most impressive information sessions that I have attended. Participating in ILC for two years has enabled me to see my fair share of information sessions. We first watched a very informative and artsy film about the school. I had no idea that NYU has campuses all over the world. Its study abroad program is one of the best in the world and the diversity on its campuses is almost unparalleled. There’s no question about it, NYU is a very unique place. Our tour would help to reinforce this idea. As we walked along the city streets our tour guide would point out seemingly anonymous city buildings, only to tell us that the school owned them. We entered a few of these buildings and each one was absolutely beautiful. The library was especially impressive. NYU houses 3.8 million books, which is equivalent to 26 miles of stacks.

After visiting NYU, we walked through Soho to an excellent, organic burger restaurant. I ordered the California elk burger and it was absolutely delicious. I know that if I attended NYU, this restaurant would be a favorite for me.

Our next stop was the 9/11 Memorial. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting. When we arrived at the entrance, the hoards of people combined with the impressive security system made it feel as though I was entering an airport and an amusement park at the same time. When we finally arrived inside, the masses of people made the environment less somber that I felt it could have been. Still the architecture was impressive and the vast amount of trees provided an alternative to the landscape of the rest of the city. The memorial contains a north pool and a south pool. These pools represent the footprints of the twin towers. Each pool is identical except for the thousands of names that are engraved on the sides of the pools and represent those who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001.

September 11th, 2001 is a date that will forever live in the hearts of Americans as a horrific tragedy. Growing up in the post 9/11 era has influenced me in innumerable ways. Although I was unaware of the significance of 9/11 when it occurred, I have come to recognize the impact these attacks had on not only the United States, but also the world. Each time I am reminded of the September 11 attacks, I am filled with sadness. Having the opportunity to visit the memorial today was incredible. I know that I will never forget the experience.

A Day Not Soon Forgotten

Before today, when I was looking forward earlier this week, I was going to begin my blog like this, "When you are in the midst of your day, it feels as if the day is a never ending cycle of events; until you realize that is is already Friday." I wrote that not because I'm not enjoying myself or unsatisfied with my daily events, I wrote it because the days, quite simply, feel very long. But today there is nothing to complain about. I have had the most fun today than I have had since coming to Columbia, not that Columbia isn't fun.

Today started just like the four previous to it, routine style. Jackee and I met for breakfast and then went to class. In lecture today Professor Mesznik discussed the history of loans and the use of collateral. A major part of the lecture was that, in America, today's mortgages are loans that are backed by the collateral of real estate. Before today I really didn't understand what a mortgage was and how it worked. In seminar, we mainly discussed money. Money is anything that is generally accepted as a medium of exchange. Money simply is a means of payment, a store of value, and a unit of account. The value of money is endowed by its government.
We pose in front of the ladder to success.
At 4:15 I met with Mrs. L and my cohort for the daily meeting. Today instead of talking about our days, we met the director of the summer course program. We each introduced ourselves individually and talked briefly about our class and our experiences. He is a very nice man and I think he was impressed by everything we had to say. Because, as he said, he usually only interacts with students that are about to be expelled, he seemed refreshed by being able to see the other side of the spectrum of students.

 Because its Friday, curfew is midnight rather than 11:00, and it's Friday, my friend from class, Jackee, and I decided to go on the RA trip to the Metropolitan Museum. This museum is jaw-dropping and breath-taking and amazing in every way. Before going I knew that I was in for a treat and that I would enjoy myself but I really wasn't sure what to expect. My mind was blown. Not only is this museum huge, it has all different kinds of art from all over the world, more than you would ever want to see. I greatly enjoyed myself.
At the Met, I fell in love. I walked into the Nineteenth-Century European Painting gallery and was instantly mesmerized by Pierre-Auguste Cot's painting Springtime. This painting depicts to young people on a swing in the forest. Based on their body language and facial expressions, I believe, that they are greatly in love. True young love. This painting is how Romeo and Juliet should have ended. I love the painting so much that I bought a print.
Along with Springtime I was able to see original Picasso's, Monet's, and Manet's; I was in heaven. Jackee and I also toured the featured exhibit of Punk: Chaos to Couture which was really interesting. At this exhibit you had the chance to analyze punk fashion and how it evolved over the years. It was fun to compare their crazy fashion statements to today's fashion. We were also able to visit the Roof Garden which is an open area at the top of the Met. From here you had a gorgeous view of the city. When leaving the museum we quickly walked through the Greek area. Other than the European Renaissance/Impressionist paintings, the Greek area has to be one of my favorite places. In the Disney animated movie Hercules there are these black and orange vases and pots; the real ones are in the Met. It was pretty surreal to see these things in real life. I love art museums and I rarely have the chance to go. Although I am not an artist myself, I definitely can appreciate art and the Met is the best place to do so. 
Jackee and I at the Roof Garden

At one of the transfer stops on the Subway on our way back to Columbia, we saw Anne Hathaway! She is even more beautiful in person. I think she was doing an interview for an upcoming movie. I'm not sure. Whatever she was doing, I have no idea why they chose to do it down in the hot Grand Central Subway station. 
Anne Hathaway!!
After this long day full of excitement, wonders, beauty, and surprises, I came back to my dorm to relax with my suite mates. I love New York City. I have only just begun to peel back the skin of the city and really explore and relish in the beauty and fun it has to offer. If I don't come back here for school, which I would love to do, I will definitely visit and create new unforgettable memories.