Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Still Amazed: Day 2

Waking up this morning was very similar to the previous morning. I had less than four hours of sleep. It was still difficult (although not as difficult) to fall asleep. I woke up immediately when the alarm on my cell phone rang. Although perhaps there were many differences waking up this morning compared to yesterday. One being I have a hotel room all to myself, and another being obvious; I'm on the east coast! In terms of comparing these first two days, I'd say they were very similar, still being pretty smooth, with everything working out the way it should be.
The Undergraduate Admissions Office
The "Crew", before our meeting with Mr. Carpenter 
The "Team" had the opportunity after breakfast to have a little meeting with the Northern California Admissions Officer, Mr. Samuel Carpenter, before our Duke Tour. I was a bit nervous to meet him because I wanted to give a good impression to him. But that feeling of nervousness immediately washed away once he entered the room. He was so energetic and welcoming. Very charismatic would be the best phrase to describe him. 

Mr. Carpenter was very informative—and in the quickest ways possible. He gave me strong confidence that the personal statement and teacher/counselor recommendations is what really is looked at, and Duke takes a student's personality and their story into account a lot, and I don't think many people know how important they are. I've come to realize this, when he said that everyone's going to have good grades, many extracurriculars, good standardized test scores, but what truly sets them apart is what they are like. 

He mentioned that Duke doesn't want students to come and be smart; Duke wants students to fully immerse themselves into the culture and life of this university. 

Everyone is unique, with students coming from all 50 states and other countries as well. He mentioned something very philosophical; diversity isn't what race one is but what kind of person they are, how they act, and how they think. This is what makes Duke diverse and what gives everyone a different experience here.

And they sure do a good job at picking the unique 1,700 of the 31,000 applicants. I really didn't expect so many people to visit Duke, and the tour guide said today's turn-out was rather small, which made me realize just how popular and ideal this school is to many people. Some came from as far away as Canada, Hong Kong, and Hawaii. I guess my competition won't be very easy.
Grandma and Mom—I’m praying, and I'm at church—okay? (Duke Chapel) 
To further elaborate on the diversity of students, Duke has a special program called Duke Engage, a community service program that is totally paid for by the school. Pretty much, you can leave the country to engage with a different country's culture and people--to do community service. See, what I really like is that Duke doesn't require community service, but the students do it anyway--out of the goodness of their hearts. This, again, just shows how involved students are, but not only that, it shows that the students are in these programs not because they have to, but because they want to (you get no college credit for these programs). If I go to Duke, I can truly make a difference in this world, because I do, and of course, not because I have to, but because I want to.

I don't want to say this, but I don't think I'll change my opinion about this school. Duke is one of the best schools, if not the best, I've ever laid my eyes on. Well, not only is it visually sensational—making you feel as if you live in a castle deep in the woods—but the people and the academics are excellent. If I had one word to describe Duke it would be this: FREEDOM (or perhaps very, very, very liberal, but that's more than one word). I learned yesterday that there is only one required course, a writing course, but today I learned that undergraduates, if desired, can take a class with graduates. Duke also ENCOURAGES combining different studies. I think this is perfect for me, because I really don't know what I want to do, because I want to do more than one thing in life, so I think it's great the school wants you to do this. Liberal Arts just became more liberal.

The main thing that I want in any school is "good" people, and there are definitely "good" people at Duke. Yes, the academics at some school may be great, but if that school doesn't have the people that you enjoy, that school is what I believe is a waste of a person's four (or more) years. Now I said "people" for a reason; I didn't say students. I said "people" because I mean EVERYONE on the campus you must enjoy being with, otherwise your money and your time in life is a waste. The faculty is very spirited, just like Duke's students. The students are on very good terms with the Duke President, and even give him a nickname, which I don't remember, but he likes it. You are able to have many advisors from each department, and the student/faculty ratio is 8:1, very small. And there's also no excuse not to know your professor, because you are able to schedule a meal with a faculty member one on one in this program called FLUNCH. It's just amazing how engaged and spirited the faculty is.

To further talk about the "good" "people" at Duke, it's very nice that the East Campus is where all the freshmen are required to live. From the very beginning, you'll know your class, and be very close to them by the time the school year is up. In the information session, we were able to see a short video about the East Campus and how there is a big welcoming event for the freshmen. Everyone is very sociable, and so this tells me that Duke is a place where you can make friends very fast and very easily. This is because the faculty knows how important it is to have sociable and engaging students, because the faculty themselves are sociable and engaging. An example of the kind of faculty members at Duke would be a professor (I forgot his name) that plays trombone for the pep band during basketball games, and he pumps up the students even more than they already are. Anyway, at the end of this event, the freshmen all gather for a panoramic picture that is in the shape of the year they will graduate. Pretty cool—and memorable—isn't it?
On the U.S. Airways plane to D.C. 
Well I can go on and on about Duke, but even then I wouldn't be able to fully talk about this unique university. All I can say is that I'm very, very likely to apply here. We unfortunately didn't have the time to see everything. Instead, we said our goodbyes to this magical college, and left a little after noon and took the 3:15 PM flight to the nation's capital, Washington D.C.! By now, the Team and I and are pretty used to air travel (being our third time taking off from a plane in two days), and this flight was very short—just a little over an hour. The plane, I have to mention, was much smaller than the Southwest one when we arrived to Durham on. I'm guessing it's because of how close the two cities are together that there's no real need to fly unless you're like us and need to go places fast.
Back of the White House 
Once at D.C., we waited for our SUV (well we didn't know what vehicle it was going to be, but yes) to drive us to the Holiday Inn in Georgetown. As we drove through Georgetown, I observed the wonderful independently owned businesses and interesting connecting, colonial looking, houses.

But enough about Georgetown. I'm sure there will be plenty of things to talk about this town, but for now, let's leave it at that.

I'm so glad we're staying at this hotel for four nights, so I can unpack a bit in MY (and only my) room—although it's much more fun and less lonely to blog with the girls, which I'm doing right now. We went for a little swim (because we wanted to for ages) before we prepared ourselves to dress formal for our dinner at Our Founding Farmers.
Our Founding Farmers is a restaurant like no other. They like to recycle everything; all of their foods are organic and fresh. And you can really see, but especially taste the freshness in their food. The only heads-up I'd give, however, for future ILCers is this restaurant should be semi-formal, not formal. Well, that's okay, because one can never be over-dressed, right? In terms of our dining experience, we all had a blast, and the desserts definitely gave us a second wind. Overall, I highly recommend this restaurant for anybody, and I'd love to come again.
Lemon Meunière Diver Scallops 
I came to the realization, again, how grateful I am for this program. I would've never thought to even come to North Carolina, if it weren't for the Ivy League Connection, or find a dining place called Our Founding Farmers. I would've never experienced or encountered these things with the ILC. Anyway, tomorrow is our "off" day, where we get to explore D.C. for the 4th of July. Keep following us!

1 comment:

  1. Chris,

    Sounds like you’ve bought in to Duke hook line and sinker. Well, good for you. We emphasize the need to find that ‘perfect fit’ of a university and it seems as though Duke fits you to a T.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the school.

    On another note, I can’t help but notice a pattern in your blogs where you seem quite pleased to have a room all to yourself. And from the photos you’ve included of some of the rooms, it seems pretty swank.

    Keep up the good work, Chris. We’re enjoying reading about the adventures of the Vandy Cohort.