Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Time to Reflect!

I remember the interview day like it was yesterday. The moment when my name was called, I remember how shocked I was. I thought that since I was the first to interview I would not be chosen and the others would be. When my name was called, I was so surprised yet so happy! I had heard from past ILCers how much fun and how interesting this program was. They kept going on and on about how much this program affected their life and I knew I wanted to be a part of it right then. 

We have survived all of the dinners, the meetings, the tutorial, and now the course. It seems so odd to think that it has all ended. I feel like just yesterday I was on my way to the dinner where I was seated next to people I did not know at all. I remember how nervous I used to get with the idea of being with strangers and talking to people I did not know. Now, it's not so bad. It's very difficult to put into words how much this trip has affected me, but I will try. 

The first part of our trip was the college tours. The past three years in high school I had been thinking about college, but I was not giving much importance to the colleges in the East Coast. I thought they were full of people who would be snobbish and think they were better than others. How wrong was I? All the tours opened my eyes to the truth that most of the kids on those schools are just like me. Perhaps they had gone to better schools or had more classes open to them, but they are not better than me. These tours showed me that I actually like campuses that are urban but not too urban. I also want to be part of a medium or large campus, more than a very small campus. I never would have thought of these things before. I honestly did not even know that I had to consider things like this. I thought that I would just apply to the UC's and that's it. Now I feel like I have a wider variety and that I am more knowledgeable of the college process. All of the info sessions and tours have truly helped me so much. I have brought back so much knowledge that I will be glad to share with my peers when we all apply to colleges.

The college that I absolutely fell in love with is Yale. I did not have very high expectations because like I said before, I thought it was a school full of preppy people. However, our meetings with the current students showed me that they are so much more than that. The students are well rounded and are extremely intelligent. I know that Yale will be one of the colleges I apply to in the fall.

The dinners in New York city with the alums and current students were amazing. I think that those honestly have made me more confident and I think these interactions taught me a lot about college. I think the college tours and information sessions are nice but having the interactions with current or past students is something else. This adds a human touch to the colleges and shows that actual people attend these colleges. It gives a face to them. Also, these people did not just talk about the college they attended or are attending but about the process overall. I think I learned a lot from them and I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to dine with them. Most of them have also given us their contact information and told us we could ask them any possibly questions we have. I loved eating and talking with them.
The program at Columbia has changed my life in a way that is honestly very difficult to describe. I remember the first day we had to move into our dorms and how nervous I was because no one from the cohort was in my building and I knew no one on my floor. I thought that I would be a loner and my weeks would go by slow. Now I know how wrong I was.  I began to talk to everyone on my floor, in my dorm building, and in my class.  They gave me confidence and made me less self conscious. I was able to strike up conversations with strangers in the elevator or on my way to class. I never would have done that if I was still in the Bay Area. There were people from all over, from Russia, Turkey, Hong Kong, and more, that I became friends with. I learned about the different curriculum and different standards all over the world. 

The course at Columbia has made me a better person as well. We had to speak in front of each other, answer questions when called upon, have discussions, and do a research paper. I was not prepared for any of these things but I managed to do them all. I am a much better public speaker now because I am not as nervous. Before I did not want to even stand in front of a crowd but now I think I can speak in front of one. Having discussions in class where the teacher randomly calls on people is no big deal anymore. My professor was so intelligent but he made all of us feel so welcome in the class. I had never written a research paper of this caliber before so it was a challenge. I am so proud that I was able to write it and I think it has made me a bit more prepared for college. I know that in college I will have to write research papers like this so this was a step in the right direction. Also, my professor taught us how to do footnotes correctly using Chicago style citation and he gave us writing guidelines that most professors would like us to follow. All that my professor has taught me, I know will help me in the future. 

The hardest part of this trip was leaving the dorm. My dorm had become my home and my family was there. These people did not ever let me feel homesick; my hall mates became like my sisters, they were my home. It was so hard to say goodbye to all of these amazing and bright people but they have truly changed my life for good. They have made more mature, easier to talk, and more knowledgeable about the world. I am happy with the memories I have made, and I hope to see them in the future. 

This entire experience is a once in a lifetime kind of thing. Not many people have the opportunity to be a part of it, but I am so thankful that I was. I think when we read these reflections, we just say sure and that sounds nice but I doubt it will affect me as much. That's how I was. I honestly did not think that this was going to affect me as much as it did. I thought that I would gain more knowledge but that is it. No, that is not it. I have matured all around, not just knowledge wise. New York was great to me and I loved every second I had there. 

I would like to thank everyone for allowing me to go on this trip. I hope I was able to convey how much this trip meant to  me. I would like to thank Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, Don, Mrs. L, and all of our sponsors. You all have worked so hard on this program and I hope I was able to make all of you proud. Mrs. L, a special thank you for being a wonderful chaperone. I  am sorry if we ever bothered you or worried you when we forgot to text. I am so glad that you were our chaperone. Thank you to everyone else for taking time out of your  busy schedules to make sure that this program worked as smoothly as it did. I am so honored and glad that I was a part of this program. I know that I have gained so much knowledge and experience through this experience that I will be sharing in my community. 

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