Saturday, July 28, 2012

The End of the Beginning

This feels more of an epilogue in comparison to the blog I wrote last night. Maybe it's because the finality sunk in a bit earlier than I thought it would. Maybe it's because last night ended so well. Or maybe I'm just being melodramatic.

Whatever the case, today marks the end of our first week on the East Coast and the end of our college touring. It has been a fascinating ride the past six days -- I have never felt more like a tourist, a native, and been reminded about college more in my life. Without question, this has been a wonderful start to our program.

Today, our last college tour was an impromptu one. We visited Wesleyan University, a liberal arts college in Middletown (which is actually in the middle of Connecticut). The Vassar students and alumni that dined with us on Thursday told us that Wesleyan was a lot like Vassar, and the night after, our companions at the Yale dinner also suggested that we would like the campus. Honestly, I did not have high expectations.

I was again, happily wrong. Wesleyan was beautiful. The campus was nice and wide open, with quintessential New England-style brick buildings scattered around a huge deep green lawn. It felt calm there, almost as if I was at peace.

We joined up with a large group for a tour of the campus, which was, for such a small school, quite expansive. Many of the departments and buildings were spread out between various quads in the area, many of them being half a mile apart from each other, and sometimes, even streets and blocks apart. The amenities of the school seemed nice enough -- a large well-equipped gym, an entertainment center, laundry rooms, kitchens, large bedrooms to name a few. It had a nice, homey feel to it, which was great.

After the tour was over, we spoke with the two tour guides to clarify a few things. Despite the fact that needs-blind-based admission was discontinued, aid would still be available to most people who applied and are accepted by Wesleyan. They also have a 3-2 and 4-2 engineering partnership at Wesleyan with Columbia University and Caltech -- a very rare and competitive program.

In Middletown, we had lunch at a local restaurant that the Women in Leadership cohort ate at previously. There, we discussed the state of the ILC at each school, focusing particularly on Hercules. I was candid with my responses to Mr. Ramsey's questions, highlighting that apathy was the integral cause to the lack of interest with the ILC. Despite the long discussion and the many arguments given, we failed to reach a final solution, besides, obviously, doing everything we can.

When I returned, I napped a bit before heading out with my cohort one last time. Ms. Kronenberg accompanied Mr. Litvin and the group to the Yale Cabaret, one of the many college-run venues around campus. The location was very secluded, it felt as if we found a college treasure.

We sat and watched the play "The K of D" while snacking on strawberry-rhubarb pie and drank tea from specially-made mugs from the cabaret. It was an excellent way of relaxing before the beginning of the program.

Reflecting on the past week, I am very glad to have live through it. My cohort and I have grown very close, as if we are all brothers and sisters in a very funny, if dysfunctional, family. But I wouldn't have it any other way, The last few days have been wonderful, and I can honestly say that I couldn't think of better people to have spent this week with.

But we must soon split apart, as the Grand Strategies program is about to dawn on us. True, we may not be able to spend as much time as we used to together, but at the very least, we have made memories to keep with us as we move on, and friends to fall back on when we need them.

I remember positing to Mr. Litvin, "This is the beginning of the end. Or the end of the beginning." Depending on the way you look at it, one may be more true than the other. For me, it's the latter. Just because it means that this was just Chapter One.

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