Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Our Visit To Bulldog Territory

The Brown-I Cohort and Ms. Dara Norwood
I was particularly surprised on how my view of Yale changed after a physical visit to the campus - making me content that was able to go on such visits with the ILC. I am surprised about this mainly about my concerns on the conservative nature of Yale as well as its focus on prestige and competitive strategy among the student body but I saw a different side after meeting more alums after visiting as well as savouring the general vibe at the school. It was particular helpful to have a complimentary and private Q and A session with one of the admissions officers dealing with applicants from California (official title as the Senior Assistant Director) , Ms. Dara Norwood, where for even a 10-15 session we are able to ask very vital and probing questions! It was a very insightful idea for Alana to have us practice our questions at breakfast on campus. The questions asked by students covered a large span of top
ics from the great interdisciplinary philosophy that Yale cherishes to even a question which asked about what Yale looks for and the very famous question of "Why I Chose Yale." This was a lighthearted reference to the YouTube video produced by Yale students themselves about why a particular informational session leader chose Yale by bursting into song as well as gallantly waltzing around campus showcasing elements of Yale life. If you haven't seen the video, the link is here: The video was extremely helpful given its humourous nature as it helped me to formulate questions and to reinforce as well as to reconstruct particular inferences and conclusions on how I may be aligned, not so fond of, or somewhere in the middle about this Ivy League institution. For me, inquiries about certain specifics of the application process helped considerably as it helped me to have a better sense of what happens in the undergraduate admissions office.

Gorgeous, isn't it? The countryside of RI and CT is just so pristine!
The train ride at first was especially pleasant where we had the opportunity to be able to admire some of the gorgeous and quaint scenery of Rhode Island and Connecticut, with many woodsy areas with a frequent amount of inlets jetting out into the Atlantic Ocean. I also got a slice of the Acela Express where the proportion of first and business class cars to coach cars was much higher than expected; a quintessential view of witnessing commuters eating breakfast, using an enormous amount of electronic devices, communicating with others to schedule or confirm appointments or important business deals, as well as appearing competitively intense. The wi-fi was not functioning in an effective manner making some work that needed to be done for blogging as well as other educational and extracurricular matters to be quite difficult. The train conductors had an interesting way of announcing stops and checking boarding passes in a rather blunt but efficient manner. Unfortunately, this trend of efficiency did not ensue as our train back to Providence from New Haven was expected to be delayed for ten minutes but when the train rolled into Providence Station, the train was late by approximately 20 minutes from the scheduled time. At least it  is much more precise than California's San Joaquin and Capitol Corridor routes.

Onto the actual specific portions about Yale, the first impression that I got was that of a campus which is easily accessible as streets cut though the campus in a block pattern. Yet, the campus had a considerable amount of areas, especially within residential colleges, which offer a great amount of privacy. Our tour guide, Jordan, was especially helpful when leading a mostly inquisitive and determined group of students and even pushy parents to a larger extent around the campus. Since I had an incredible amount of useful information as well as subjective views from the presenters during the information session in SSS Hall, I felt that the whole experience has been very balanced - even with the tour's heavy focus on history and trivia relevant to the different landmarks on campus. The most compelling sites were the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Connecticut Hall, and the beautiful metal alloy statues of Theodore Wright Woolsey, the longest serving president of the university in the mid-19th century as well as Nathan Hale, praised by Yalies as a strong patriot and sacrifice via combat for the American militias combating the Redcoats. It was interesting to find out that the de facto motto of "For God for Country and for Yale!" originated from his spirit and persistence to fight for the independence of America despite committing an act of treason against Westminster. The architecture was diverse where Gothic, Victorian, contemporary/ post-modernist, and the classic New England brick buildings with triangular roofs over windows sticking out over a long roof of the building as a while was prevalent. After hearing his fun rhetoric on the strong amount of passion that Yalies have for a balanced and enriched life by developing and cherishing strong passions for not only themselves but the Yale and global community as a whole (as well as bashing Harvard and Princeton, it is really hilarious), I spoke with him shortly about life through more frank approaches as well as specific questions about his knowledge of Genevieve Simmons. He exclaimed that he competed against her in the Freshmen Olympics  ( one of many contests and thrilling games among the 12 residential colleges). This really proves how the liberal arts' culture of intimacy within the student population speaks out; a place and many others would admire for being challenging yet supportive in the social and overall sense of undergraduate life.

The informational session provided a great insight to many aspects of the Yale experience through a wide range in the types of questions being asked (wished the parent to student question ratio was lower) as well as a detailed and a surprisingly not vague description on the criteria of how the resources of research coincides with the notion of a small to medium- sized institution holds to the quality of the teaching of professors who are eager to meet students who reach out to them ( or may even reach out to students via administrative encouragement) as well as the low faculty to student ratio is quite common at many private colleges nationide but what especially set Yale apart was a very balanced curriculum of mandatory classes needed for graduation as well as the laissez-faire atmosphere for taking classes outside of the core curriculum. I truly enjoyed the idea of the shopping period as I tried something very similar at Berkeley with much persistence. It worked out pretty well for the Summer Sessions program last summer but I was truly astounded to find the sheer amount of courses which are offered and how classes are very specific yet broad and theoretical enough to support a well-rounded education. The notion of how students are very eager to start new clubs and organizations despite the ingenuity behind the existing clubs on campus (which receive a great amount of funding) shows how Yalies have a can-do spirit by thinking outside the box as well as bringing a strong sense of social ties into the picture. I am particularly interested in social science and natural science/ engineering research and to hear the notion of how freshmen can easily obtain internships for research under renounced and dedicated professors shows how the undergraduates are being dealt with on a high priority and how the hierarchy of Bulldogs is less severe than a lot of public universities which tend to heavily use TA's and graduate students to teach the larger classes so that professors can be more immersed in research. That has its upsides but I believe that excelling and improving on both research and liberal arts is likely to produce a student with a more profound love and understanding of the subject matter as well as its interconnections with different disciplines or even non-academic scopes by providing a fresh new prospective weather it be problem-solving or that of debates on discourse. It was also interesting to see how there were so many questions on general extracurricular activities at Yale but I wished to see more specific questions showcasing the passions of students rather than a general question of for example, "What is theater like at Yale?" I also enjoyed how many students are involved with activities like intramural sports and how it aids complacency and social cohesion among Yale students despite the strong rivalry between residential colleges. That sounds fun but a bit overplayed but again, such an experience lasts a lifetime and hopefully for the better of memories!

The scrumptious Southern French dish, Boullabaisse! Wish to try it in Marseilles in the future! 
The lunch at the Union League Cafe was also spectacular where there was a good amount of lively conversation about not only life at Yale but also the lives of our cohort members (I even remarked on how the term " cohort" was a bit pretentious and that we should be referred to in a corny way, The Gang of Five. Xuan Nguyen, a rising junior in Mechanical Engineering, asked the question and rolled her eyes after my answer which added to the vitality of the conversation. As much as I like to not mention food on an often unnecessary, exorbitant scale, the French-inspired cuisine from a tantalizing dark chocolate desert to Bouillabaisse as well as great duck liver and cheese platters with refreshing pairings made the experience absolutely mind-blowing and thankful for such meals. I do slightly feel bad for the amount of money which goes into this which can possibly go to other matters but it does provide an invaluable experience for those passing through the ILC. I accidentally tried to order an alcoholic desert as I didn't know that one of the words in the description refers to a certain type of alcohol! Good thing that the server stopped me and I got shamed but teased about my naive nature on elegant French cuisine. Austin Long, a rising senior majoring in Chemistry and Political Science, is a proud and outspoken student who was passionate about giving back to his alma mater: Pinole Valley High School as well as WCCUSD. I was thrilled I was able to meet as I was able to ask questions which were similar to my potential interests and I was relieved to find that it was quite manageable, even though the transition may be a bit rough in the beginning as he experienced between high school in college. The STEM-oriented nature of the students provoked interest in asking specific questions of the specific elements of classes as well as learning about the nature of life and experiences at Yale. The contrasting character of all the students was especially helpful so that a multi-faceted look into the Yale experience was possible and since Yale prides itself into interdisciplinary and interwoven topics, hobbies, and experiences as well; it gave the five of us the ability to understand and learn about the school in the same light which helped us understand the school and what it entails - similar to immersion in a foreign language. The luncheon was lengthy (which is great) and learning to stand up and be less flustered, especially when being asked to rephrase questions in a coherent, swift manner led to me to improve as a person and I feel that a win-win situation for the Yalies, Alana, the students, and the lovely servers showed the true nature of Yale. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to almost reconsider my status on applying to this school as well as discovering New Haven (although I wished we had more time!) 

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