Sunday, July 8, 2012

Opening Day!

It’s Opening Day at VSA! Before we went to Vanderbilt, we stopped by the Pancake Pantry. The line was enormous just to go to a restaurant cafe like this place. I guess I could see why people would wait so long in the 100 degree weather outside; the food was fantastic. I had some sweet potato pancakes ,and they were very filling. I'm glad we had the opportunity to go there.

Since February, I knew that I was going to come to this place, and now that I’m here, it’s weird. Everyone here is friendly, but hopefully the “get to know your proctor group most of the time” won’t be like this the next three weeks. I doubt it, because tomorrow we won’t need to sit with our proctor group all the time when we eat and such, and we'll be able to interact with anyone on any floor many times. I just want to meet more people—it’ll probably be better tomorrow. We mostly pnly had an introduction to everything and a few ice-breakers. I did laundry today, and everyone looked at me weird, because it’s only the first day. I felt pretty awkward at the time, but I'm glad I did laundry because I won't have to do it for at least a week or two.

A little night scene on campus
I hardly said a few sentences to my cohort since we came to Hank Ingram House. It's making me sad, because the entire week we had blogging parties in a nice hotel room. Now, we're all seperated and in different dorms--not to mention floors for boys and girls. Hopefully I'll see more of them. VSA really has a set schedule, and we'll see how precise they are everyday (I'm pretty sure they are). It's already curfew for us, and we have to be really quiet. I guess no "girl tak with Chris" at 2 AM anymore--oh well.

Tomorrow will be better. I think everyone's just tired. Hopefully my proctor group is more pumped up and spirited like they were at first. Until then, lights out!

My proctor, Trevor

We Have Finally Arrived

We have arrived!

Right now I am sitting in my dorm room in Vanderbilt University across from my roommate. We are both quiet and working on something on our laptops. We sit in a peaceful silence, with the only disturbance coming from the roaring thunder from outside. Every now and then, a blue flash of light will light up the night sky, but it disappears in an instant. We pay it no mind, as we have already grown accustomed to it. 

 I started off my first day in Nashville by heeding the advise of all the Vandy alumni. At the dinner in San Francisco ( which felt like a century ago), all the alumni I spoke to told me to visit the Pancake Pantry with my cohort. We walked in the high, humid heat and stood in line for about twenty minutes. We were all grumbling and complaining about having to stand in line in the heat, but once we ate those pancakes we completely forgot our complaints; they were the most delicious treats I have ever had the privilege of eating. I ordered the Chocolate Chip Pancakes, and every bite tasted like a little piece of heaven. 

                                      My Chocolate Chip Pancakes.         

After we ate breakfast, we retrieved our luggage and made our way to Vanderbilt. Once there, we checked in, received our room key, and dragged our luggage to our room. " I feel like a proud father," Mr. Mannix joked as he helped us carry some of our bags to our rooms.

We had just made it to the dorm building when it began to rain. It was a scorching hot 96 degrees a second ago, and now it was raining! Chris, Yessenia, Hannah, and I all looked at each other with mouths gaped and eyebrows raised. We hurried into the building and I said goodbye to my cohort as we parted ways ( I am on a different floor than my cohort).

I walked along the long, simple hallway to room 305. A piece of paper with my name on it was taped on the door, and next to it was a similar one that had the name Anna written on it. I noticed that the door was ajar, so I took a peek inside. I only saw the right portion of the room, which looked empty. I thought that my roommate had not arrived yet, but as I pushed the door open further and entered the room I noticed a big, empty suitcase lying on the floor.
 " Hi!" said a blond girl appearing from behind the door. I jumped slightly from the unexpected greeting. Once I realized that this person was my roommate, I smiled and introduced myself. We chatted a bit as I unpacked, and I discovered that she is from South Carolina and love country music.

After I had finished unpacking, my roommate and I met our proctor and the rest of our floor mates for a meeting. We all introduced ourselves and played a game of " would you rather" to break the ice. At six o'clock our proctor led us to the dining area where we had dinner. It was a large room, with long wooden tables lined across the room. We sat and chatted some more with our proctor group as we ate our dinner, then we attended a little assembly where we were introduced to the rules of VSA and the other proctors. 

We ended our night with a brief tour of the campus. When we returned to our dorms, Jazmin gave us our schedules and reminded us of some of the rules then dismissed us to our rooms. As I sit here on my bed and type this blog, I can't help but wonder what my first day of class will be like tomorrow. I wonder if I will be able to find my class, or if I will be able to do the work the is required for my course. I wonder what my teacher is like, and if I will make any more new friends. I feel as though it is my first day of high school all over again. However, this is much better than high school. 

S-House: The Glue That Holds VSA Together

We have finally arrived at Vanderbilt! So far, it has been extremely amazing meeting all these people and officially moving into the dorm I will be staying at for the next three weeks. However, the weather has not been very kind.
As we were on our way to Pancake Pantry, a breakfast place recommended by Vanderbilt alumnus and locals alike, we were already feeling the extreme heat to come. I don’t know if the temperature was too high today, but it sure felt like it was 100 degrees on our way to this acclaimed restaurant.
Pancake Pantry was a small, cozy place with friendly waitresses and absolutely delicious food. I ordered the Swiss Chocolate Chip Pancakes and let me tell you; they tasted like heaven. The chocolate was gooey and sweet while the pancakes were nice and fluffy. They were almost the best pancakes I have ever had.
After our breakfast, we went back to the hotel, packed our entire luggage, and went on our way to Vanderbilt. Checking in was a snap, so we had plenty of time to unpack our things in the dorms and get ready for our first group meeting.
The dorm, before I unpacked.

I found out that I was in this group called S-House which is one team out of three. There is also a V-House and A-house as well. These houses then get broken down into proctor groups which usually consist of a small group of 14 and a leader. Our proctor group leader is Tessa Hoefle, a college student, track runner, and band lover. She is such a sweet, understanding, and joyful person and I am really glad I got her as my proctor group leader. My group as a whole is really great too. Everyone is so different, coming from all sorts of areas like New York and LA. They are also very friendly, and I got to meet many people. For example, there is Anna, a very social girl from Peruvian descent, Sara, a calm tennis player of Irish and Korean descent, and Meera, my easy-going roommate from Kentucky. I really love big, diverse groups like these and I am excited to learn more about them and hopefully become good friends with all of them!
My awsome proctor group!

After our meeting, all of VSA got together to learn about the basic rules on campus. They are very simple things to follow, and it shouldn’t be a problem for me to follow them. However, I do wish we had a little more freedom. I like my freedom, but I know we will all be very busy with activities and school to be too worried about that anyway. The coordinators of VSA also forewarned us about the challenges we may face ahead. The classes will be tough, but there will always be someone there if you ever need help – which I am grateful for.
Dorm food!
Once our meeting was over, we had a couple hours of free time before we met with our proctor group once more. This last meeting was to really get a look at what everyone wants out of each other. Nearly all of us said the same thing: to be respected, to be trusted, to be accepted, and to be friendly with one another. I am glad all of us genuinely want to get to know each other better and I really hope we do bond over the next couple of weeks.
Tomorrow I get to start my first pharmacology class with my first real professor. Wish me luck!

Joining The Vanderbilt Community

Welcome to Vanderbilt Summer Academy! Today was officially the day we begun our college life experience! We had a wonderful brunch at the famous Pancake Pantry. Many alumnus at our past Vanderbilt dinner recommended this place, so we made sure we tried it out. Although the walk was tiresome and not very pleasant and we had to wait in line in the hot humid weather, it was definitely worth it. The pancakes were very delicious and I was completely satisfied.

We then headed back to our beautiful hotel to pick up our heavy luggage, and drove down the street to the Hank Ingram House at Vanderbilt University. The whole registration process was very organized, and I was really happy that we got an awesome canteen with a straw. Everything went smoothly, and after lugging up my luggage up a couple flights of stairs I finally arrived at my dorm. I met my proctor, Tessa, and she was very nice. Luckily, I am in the same proctor group as Yessenia, so she’s just right down the hall. I unpacked, fixed my bed, and of course took down every detail of the room. Already having experienced dorm life at two other universities, I can say Vanderbilt has the nicest dorms so far. They are just the right size, very clean, modern looking, with plenty of closet space, and of course equipped with the much needed air conditioning in this blazing heat. I moved into my dorm with much time to spare, and my roommate didn’t arrive yet, so I began meeting other girls in nearby rooms.

 We had a little meeting at our proctor’s room, and got to know each other a little bit. It was interesting to see how ethnically diverse our group was, the variety of things we did, and the things we had in common. I was excited to learn that my proctor was in marching band, and even later learned she was in it for eight years. The 14 girls in my group are all very friendly and different in their own way. It’s amazing to engage with other cultures, because you will truly learn a lot.

Since it was raining outside, we took a little tour inside the Hank Ingram House. As I walked around, I began to see many other groups of people, and I realized how many people there are to get to know in the span of three weeks. I know I will definitely make many friendships and learn new things.

We ate a nice dinner at the dining commons, and continued to bond with our proctor group. I especially enjoyed the carrot cake; it was quite delicious. With many people from the city of Nashville, I am now getting used to their Southern accents.

We all then headed to the Opening Ceremonies. It was located in a beautiful room on campus, and all the people in charge of this program were very pumped up and excited. We made a pact with our directors: Visibility, Availability, and Responsibility. These three words describe our role here at VSA. As our leaders are always physically there for us, we must always be visible towards them. Being available, means being helpful to each other and having each other’s back. Lastly, responsibility is making sure we know that what we are putting in VSA is what we are going to get out. I am excited to take full advantage of the people here, the campus, and the curriculum, to not only benefit my own well being, but also to benefit others around me.

The Opening Ceremony was very lively and fun with different skits of each of the houses at VSA. There are three houses: the V-House Vipers, the S-House Survivors, and the A-House Avengers. I am part of the S-House, and our proctor is really pushing us to show S-House spirit. Throughout this program, there will be little competitions between each house, and although we didn’t cheer the loudest today, hopefully us, underdogs, will rise to the top. I think I will lose my voice by the end of this week.

We continued to bond with each other, and not only get to know each other more, but also the campus. One of the proctors is a student here at Vanderbilt, so she gave a more in depth tour of the campus. I began to notice the many bugs, so bug spray was definitely an important thing to pack.

We ended our first night here at Vanderbilt with a little serious meeting with our proctor group.  Although we’re going to have a blast here, it’s important to remember that we must continue to respect each other, especially in the dorms, and learn to trust each other. It has been a busy day, and I didn’t have too much time to get to know my roommate. However, she is a very kind and sincere young lady whom I hope will create a long lasting friendship with past VSA.

There is so much planned for us in the next three weeks, and I hope the current thunderstorms don’t ruin any plans! I am so blessed and thankful to be here around an amazing group of intelligent people, and I hope I continue grow as an individual and get to know myself more as a become a part of this Vanderbilt community!