Saturday, July 7, 2012

No More Touring; Vanderbilt Here I Come!

Red Robin Restaurant!
I'm finally in Nashville, Tennessee! Many things surprised me about this place that I didn't think were going to happen. One, it's green, but not as green as I thought it would be--like Raleigh, North Carolina. There is dry-looking grass here but definitely still a lot of trees, which seems like the norm in the East Coast--and I guess in Nashville. Two, there is traffic here! We probably came on the busiest commute time though but still. And three, the "Southern Hospitality" is definitely present. Yes, I heard from the Vandy alumni and others that Nashville is a very friendly place, but I didn't expect practically every single person we would encounter to have friendly conversations with us. It's very, very nice, and I guess I'll see if this "Southern Hospitality" is as present as I think it is here. If it is, I can definitely see myself staying here for four years--or more.

I think we're (my cohort and I) getting a lot closer personally as each day passes by. I guess, like Hannah said in one of the other blog posts, that it really is a family trip. We share so many laughs and interesting situations together. We've been talking more and more about our personal lives, and although I know these girls since we're in either Forensics Speech and Debate or Band together, I'm still getting to know them so much more each and every day. We're also getting to know our chaperon, Mr. Mannix.

Our hotel room is extremely nice, and I wish we could stay at this one longer. It's very, very fancy. I, by myself, am on the 10th floor, and there's this "lounge" right across the hall. But that's okay, because for three weeks I'll be staying in a brand-new four year old dorm.
My own hotel room--a little more fancy this time
I'm excited for tomorrow, because I know all the 150 (give or take) high school students at VSA are just as excited, if not more. I can't wait to get all my stuff in the dorm and settle in for three weeks--without packing all my stuff back in within such a short time. Well time to get my social skills turned on and make new friends! I'm sure the administration at VSA have a lot prepared for us, and I'll just have to see what's in store! Time to come in with an open mind ready for some knowledge to intake.

I'll let you know what happens on Moving Day!
Nice view from the 10th floor

We're In Nashville Y'all!

The moment is nearly here; tomorrow, I will finally go to Vanderbilt and study the pharmacology class I have been looking forward to for the past couple of months. After a whole week of going around to different universities, I am totally ready to take on whatever Vanderbilt has to offer.

This morning started like any other; however, we actually got to sleep in! I swear, a couple hours of extra sleep really does wonders for you. Even so, my perky mood turned sluggish when I stepped outside. The heat was overwhelmingly intense, and I can’t believe I didn’t melt on the sidewalk on my way to brunch.
Brunch was delicious however, and when we finished, we head back to the hotel to wait for our shuttle to take us to the airport. Unfortunately, being on an airplane is not my favorite way of transportation, and I was dreading the ride. However, this time was not as bad as all the other times I went on an airplane. I still felt a little queasy, but it was not unbearable and I was able to relax my nerves throughout the hour we were on the airplane.
When we arrived in Nashville, I noticed how beautiful it looked. The city was huge and spread out everywhere which was kind of cool. The hotel we are staying at for the night – Loews Vanderbilt Hotel – is incredibly beautiful. It is so nice, that there was a wedding going on around the lobby. Too bad we are staying here for only one night though; I would have loved to stay in this hotel for just a little longer.
Our slightly messy hotel room
After putting our luggage in our rooms, we all met up in the lobby and went to Target to buy any items that did not fit in our suitcases. Shopping went by real quick so we decided to have dinner at a nearby Red Robin. I love this burger place, but their portions are just so big! I could not even finish my plate of food.
At Red Robin!
Back here at the hotel, I am thinking about this amazing past week and how much it has impacted me. We have visited several universities; ones which I have never heard of until I joined the Ivy League Connection. Without the ILC, I don’t think I would have ever considered going to a university all the way over here, much less in places like North Carolina or Tennessee. This is exactly why this program is here though; so we can learn and therefore teach others about going to universities outside of California, and what it can mean for them. Now that I am here, I know I am ready to absorb everything I am exposed to in my time here. Tomorrow at this time, I will be in my dorm in Vanderbilt experiencing the college life!

Finally In The South

Today consisted of no stress, and only a little sweat. We had a good night’s sleep last night, with full energy as we took a plane ride to our last destination in the East Coast: Nashville, Tennessee.

Our chaperone Mr.Mannix took us to Whole Foods to eat a healthy brunch.  I never knew this organic market had a buffet style eating area.  Sure, I expected a produce and a deli, but not a hot buffet and a salad bar. It was pretty interesting to see all the different types of food at a super market. Their buffet consisted of a variety of global foods and the organic food was not that bad.

We immediately headed to the airport for our flight to Nashville. Although it was our last day at Washington D.C., I didn’t feel sad or anything.  I am very blessed to be able to explore new colleges and popular landmarks. I was happy to be able to expand my knowledge on colleges I have just heard about through the ILC, and be open minded to the wonderful opportunities. I can now say I have seen the many popular monuments and museums at our nation’s capital, and even watched the fireworks there. It was a very exciting and overpowering experience, that I am sure I will never forget.

Upon arrival at the Nashville airport, I already experienced Southern hospitality.  At the rental car station, the lady who assisted us offered to help me with my luggage. She was very sincere and kind. As we drove to our hotel, I began to notice how musically inclined this city is. From many billboards to guitar replicas around every corner, you can tell how music has formed what Nashville is today. As we explored our beautiful hotel located directly across Vanderbilt University, I can say I sort of made a friend. We went into the gift shop, and right away the cashier was very nice and made us feel welcome. We all conversed about the program we are in, and he was impressed. He even informed us of the many shopping areas here in the city, and food places. People around here are really friendly and I can’t wait till we meet more.

A jukebox located right in the lobby of our hotel! Nashville is definitely a musical city!
The past hot and busy six days have zoomed right past me. Tomorrow is finally the time we’ve all been waiting for: Vanderbilt Summer Academy. In addition to the exposure of East Coast colleges, the rigorous process we went through last spring was to get us to experience a college life, and for me specifically at Vanderbilt. As I take look back at my interview, many of my answers were based around the course I wanted to take, Pharmacology, and how it will impact myself and my community. I hope to grow a firm understanding of how drugs work, and come back to my school to inform my peers about how drugs affect their bodies.

Now the time has finally come for us to live independently for the next three weeks and study at a prestigious college. It’s crazy that we have come this far, and I am very excited to begin a new journey. With new people and a new environment around me, I am excited to take full advantage of this adventure.

We ended our day with a stop at Target to get our last minute dorm necessities, then headed to Red Robin for dinner. I am not only full from my meal, but also full of new perspectives of colleges here on the East Coast.

Vanderbilt, get ready for the Pinolians, because here we come!

Just One More Day

Tomorrow, my cohort and I will move into our dorms at Vanderbilt University. I am slightly nervous, but I am definitely much more excited than anything else. This is the moment I have been waiting for; I will finally get to experience a college lifestyle while still in high school. I am really excited about my mystery writing course because I have always loved mysteries and revered the skill and intelligence of the detectives in them. I have always wanted to write a mystery story, but I lack the skills to do so. Hopefully, by the end of my time here, I will have acquired all the skills to write a thrilling mystery story that rivals this of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

I have really enjoyed my experiences so far as part of the Ivy League Connection. I think the main reason why my travels have been so enjoyable is because I know everyone in my group. The program for Vanderbilt is restricted solely to Pinole Valley High students, so everyone in my group goes to school with me. I never spoke to my cohort much before, but I knew them in some way so we were not that awkward with each other on our first day as a cohort. The four of us have learned so much more about each other and thus we have become very close; so close that we are now comfortable enough with on another to reveal our quirky little characteristics.  

I am also forever indebted to the ILC for exposing me to colleges outside of my home state, California. I would have never been given the chance to attend a campus tour of some of the most prestigious universities in the countries or learned so much about them had I not been a part of this program. I can now confidently list what I am looking for in a college. 

This trip has also allowed me to become a stronger person academically, physically, and personally. After meeting and speaking to students from Duke, UPenn, and Georgetown, I have been inspired to reach their level of success and make something out of myself. I have learned to be more considerate of other people because I have been living with two other girls for the past week.

My writing skills have also improved because of my daily blogging. To me, being a good writer has always been my number one priority because I love to do it. I am starting to learn how to be succinct, yet still get my point across with conviction and skill. 

I have learned so much while I have been on this trip, and I expect to learn much more. I consider myself so much more mature and informed than I was a week ago, I can only imagine what three more weeks here will do to me. I have always feared that I will not be ready for college when the time comes, but now I am starting to feel a little more prepared.