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Saturday, July 11, 2015

New York City and Its Wonders

I can't believe that one week of class had already passed. Time is going by so slowly, but at the same time, it's moving too quickly. Each day feels so long, but I'm already done with the first week. I am actually loving the campus and the community at Penn, and it's sad to think that I have to leave in two weeks. 

Today was the first Saturday since my program had begun, and I definitely spent it wisely. Summer Discovery was supposed to take all of the students to Hershey Park, but instead, our cohort went to New York City to tour Columbia University. Personally, I think we made the right choice. A trip to an amusement park can't even compare with a trip to New York. Missing out on Hershey Park wasn't much of a big deal for me because I would still end up going there eventually for my Physics class.

I woke up 20 minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off, which was surprising, considering the fact that I had slept at 12:30 AM the previous night. I officially woke up at 6:30 AM, and I was already downstairs by the gate at exactly 7 AM, which was our meeting time. Joanne, Elexis, Jun, and Mr. Hillyer were already waiting outside, and then Rudy came a few seconds after me. Unfortunately, Chiamaka woke up late, so we had to end up taking a taxi to the PHL Amtrack Station. Originally, we were supposed to walk to the station, but it was about a 20 - 30 minute walk from the quad, but we would most likely not have made it there in time.

We arrived at the station at around 7:30 AM, but Mr. Hillyer still had to buy tickets, and our train left at 7:50 AM, so we were really cutting it close. We ended up having to run to the platform just to make it in time before the train actually left. I was very sleepy when we arrived, but after that run, I was wide awake and ready for the long day ahead. 

Waiting for the train
Since the Amtrak was much more expensive, we just took a regular train to Trenton, New Jersey, then we transferred over and headed to Manhattan. During the transfer, we had some time, so we grabbed a quick breakfast at McDonald's, but even when we thought we had time, we still had to run to the train because we were about to miss it. So far, the day wasn't going as planned, but at least we actually made it there in one piece. Mr. Hillyer had said that the ride would take about 3 hrs., but it definitely did not feel like it. Perhaps it was because of my excitement that time actually went by quickly. 

At Columbia's gorgeous campus
Don't worry about anthring.
Today was my first time in New York, and I never really imagined it being so similar to San Francisco. Since this was the Big Apple, I thought that it was going to be extremely intimidating to walk through, but it actually just felt like a normal city. When we got off at Penn station, we walked to the nearest subway station, and our first stop was at Columbia University. Because of construction around the city, we were unable to make it to the tour on time, but we eventually caught up with one of the tour groups and we just tagged along. 

We toured around most of the campus, and I really enjoyed listening to what our tour guide had to say. Since he was an Engineering major, he not only talked about Columbia as a whole, but he also talked about what studying in the field of engineering was like. I never actually thought of applying to Columbia for college because I thought their focus was mostly in Liberal Arts, and I didn't know that they actually had a school for engineering, but after hearing about what our tour guide said, I'm beginning to give more thought about applying. During the tour, I learned about their special Core Curriculum, which requires all students to take the same courses, instead of giving them different classes to choose from. I had mixed feelings about this idea because I'd rather be able to choose from different classes, but it also means that the school would have more of a sense of community in doing this. Also, I really loved how beautiful the campus was, but I have no idea if I could ever live in such a big city. All in all, Columbia made a great first impression for me, and I am definitely going to look into applying there.

After Columbia, we grabbed a bite at a pizza shop nearby before heading to the subway yet again. Mr. Hillyer was showing me the map of all of the railways, and all I know is that I would definitely get lost in the city. Anyways, we got off at a stop near Central Park, and we took a nice walk through the park. It was around 2 PM when we arrived there, and I honestly did not imagine that there would be so many people. The park looked like such a massive, well-kept jungle. The grass was a beautiful shade of dark green, and everyone was simply sitting around enjoying the sun. We took a few quick photos, but since we were on a tight schedule, we continued to move forward.

Once we were out of Central Park, we went to another subway station, and we headed for the Brooklyn Bridge. On the way there, I was fascinated at how tall the sky scrapers were, and I just wanted to keep looking at them forever. Anyways, after being pushed around inside of the train, we were finally able to make it to the bridge. 

At Central Park
At the Brooklyn Bridge
The view from up there was absolutely stunning, and we ended up walking across the entire thing. Of course, while we walked around New York, Mr. Hillyer gave us all history lessons about the city and its buildings. I only knew some facts about the buildings, but I was impressed that he knew so much about the city. Anyways, we made it to Brooklyn, and we were able to look around for about 20 minutes before we had to go back to the subway again and head to Time Square. 

The subways were always so crowded, and our cohort was almost separated numerous times due to the fact that people were simply moving way too fast. We made it to our final stop by around 5 PM, and at this point, my feet were killing me! We had practically walked all day, and we still hadn't explored all of New York, which shows just how massive the city is. When we got off, my senses were immediately over run with all of the noises and sights that Time Square had to offer. The movies had definitely portrayed this place perfectly because it looked exactly how they depicted it, massive and busy. 

There wasn't really much to see after Time Square because we were all so fatigued that we couldn't even be bothered anymore. New York was an interesting place, but the heat was what caused all of my discomfort. By the end of the day, my entire body was covered in dried up sweat, and I felt very grimy. 

Time Square

We ended up taking a train at Penn Station, but while we waited, an old man had collapsed onto the floor. While we tried to call for help, no one in the offices for emergency calls had even bothered to send help. Our train arrived before we could make sure he was alright, so I'm just hoping that he will be fine. We ended up arriving back in Philly by around 9 PM. We were all exhausted and starving, so we ate at a place called the Shake Shack. I didn't have too much of an expectation for it, and I know I say this way too much, but their burgers were absolutely delicious. After dinner, we finally made it back to the dorm by around 10 PM, and I simply stayed in my dorm and just began to type.

At 12:30 AM, I am absolutely exhausted and ready to retire for the night. Thinking about today's adventure, despite a few hiccups with our plan, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Columbia had such a beautiful campus, and the streets of New York were lined with every store that you could possibly imagine. I'm still not sure if I would ever be able to live in big cities, but this experience has opened my eyes and has allowed me to see all of the possibilities for my future. 

1 comment:

  1. The old man would be okay. He had gone into diabetic shock and had collapsed. I left him in capable hands of two gentlemen who also spoke Portuguese, his native tongue and assured me they would wait until help arrived. A nice family and Chiamaka helped by giving him some water ands bit of food. Made me realize the importance of drinking water and eating food through an exhausting day. I think he will be okay.