Saturday, July 28, 2012

Noveau Havre

Time is fluid -- people always misconstrue it as a linear machination, a device that has a beginning and an end, and a straight, consistent line between the two. While there are beginnings and endings, while there are straight lines, these are never consistent. Never.

What I mean is that time doesn't make any sense. And I feel this far too much right now.

Today is Friday. I departed from El Cerrito High School 100 hours ago. In those 100 hours, I have made friends, found revelations, reveled in unfamiliarity and leveled in exhaustion. This first week is close to coming to a close. And I am very grateful that I this is how my trip started out. 

Today, we reached the final destination for our trip, New Haven, Connecticut, after a train ride that seemed to take eternity. On the way to our hotel, the Omni New Haven, I observed the surrounding city. The area actually reminded me a lot of home, particularly San Pablo, Richmond, and Berkeley. It was surprisingly familiar but brand new, too.

Dropping off our bags, we set off for Yale. The university was not far away from our hotel, and was a short walk away. We found a large mass of people waiting outside the admissions office. Latching onto a random group, we attended an information session (which was, incidentally, one given by the departing Northern California admissions officer, Alexander Richardson). He covered some of the basics on Yale -- including financial aid (which is partially paid for by the work a student does), the credits system at Yale (one class per credit) and the general character of the student body (friendly and curious).
One of the few buildings on Science Hill.

The streets of New Haven, inside the campus.

This pizza is delicious.
As soon as the information session was over, we made our way back to the admissions office for the engineering tour. A graduate named Taneja showed us around the sciences and engineering buildings, educating us about the many programs engineering students can take at Yale. These was in a system of tiers -- a degree, a dual degree, and a dual degree with accreditation. After the tour, Taneja was nice enough to show us personally to the bookstore and suggest a local pizza parlor. We had mashed potato, bacon, and onion pizza -- an absolutely amazing experience.

My last college-tour meal.
I napped a bit when we returned to the hotel, before a nice, casual dinner (who would've thought?) at the Union League Cafe, where we met up with Yohanna and a few other students and alumni. One of them in particular, Aaron Shipp, was a wonderful speaker with a strong personality and also very funny. As someone who had worked in undergraduate admissions at Yale before, he advised us on the most important part of applying. In regards to the personal statement, he made one major suggestion: be totally honest and be moving. Admissions officers want to be moved and impressed in a short space -- a personal statement written to embody the person who wrote it would not be beaten.

Perhaps it was his delivery of it, but his advice really rung true. I began to devise what I needed to work on soon. 

Aaron left us with one last piece of advice -- "Do not waste this opportunity."

We couldn't have ended this week on a more important note.

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