Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Final Day - Harvard and MIT

Brown-I Cohort in front of Harvard's
Memorial Hall
Waking up this morning was a bit more interesting than usual. Last night Brandon and Arnold had come over to our room like usual so that we could discuss our days and get a more in depth type of writing into our blogs. The only problem was that since we got in so late last night, around midnight, we were up until around 3 AM writing our blogs. Our blogs became increasingly harder to write as we became more and more tired, and before I knew it Arnold had passed out on Kevin's bed and Kevin was asleep on the right side of my bed. I was stuck in the middle and once I finished my blog I didn't really know what to do. I didn't want to wake them up but then where was I going to sleep? I just decided to share the bed with Kevin (I've done it with my own brother hundreds of times) and let Arnold sleep as he had been tired for most of the day and really needed the sleep. As a result, we woke up around 9 AM, 50 minutes before we were due to leave, and after surveying the room for a few seconds I let out a little chuckle. This was the exact stereotypical college study session and we weren't even at Brown yet!

Today was fast-paced as we had to do two site visits in one day. We started off with Harvard. I wasn't really sure what to expect from Harvard. Some people I'd talked to said that it would come off very preppy and the kids would be pretty arrogant as they are some of the top students in the nation and they knew it. Others said that it was a beautiful campus with engaged students who really take their education more serious than other students. I think that it was closer to the latter but in no way was it fully either of these reviews. In fact, I thought that the community at Harvard was very good, which is the opposite from what I'd heard. Eric and Nu, the two tour guides that we had, were both rising sophomores and absolutely loved their freshman year. A lot of the traditions that Harvard practiced were also coincidentally practiced at Yale so we all had a funny chuckle about that. It was clear that school spirit was strong but when we mentioned the other schools that we visited they had nothing but good things to say about them.
Entrance to Harvard Yard
Arnold playing with a ball at Lowell House
After taking a quick tour around Harvard Yard and a few departments we felt that it was time to get off campus and see a little piece of Cambridge. We went to Lowell House first, which was upperclassmen housing and was very similar to Yale's Residential College system. Of course it was nice and it has all the amenities anyone would ever want but I haven't seen what a suite system looks like and I've heard both good and bad things about them. Either way I thought that the campus was beautiful and obviously their 98% retention rate of students speaks for itself about the community and contentment that they create within their school. We were all feeling quite hungry by that time and Eric had made a lunch reservation for 1:45 so we soon head off to the restaurant.

Pork Chili w/ Pickled Cabbage & Empanada
The restaurant he chose was a rustic, organic, and seasonal eatery called Henrietta's Table. The menu wasn't large but everything that they had looked absolutely delicious. Eric recommended the Chicken Breast, which is what most people got, but Arnold and I decided to get the Pork Chili with Empanadas. It was OK but maybe I'm just saying that because I've been so spoiled over the past week. Well either way that special treatment is about to end tomorrow as we move into the Brown dorms around 10 AM tomorrow and will start eating the legendary dorm food that we all hear so much about.

Arnold, Nu, Me, Kevin, Brandon, Jing, & Eric
The rest of the lunch was quite delightful however, as Eric and Nu answered all our questions and really gave us a good picture of what Harvard was like and what really makes it stand out when compared to the other Ivy League Universities. It was actually quite funny as Eric loved math but hated science and Nu loved science but hated math. They were almost polar opposites yet they got along perfectly and were really able to demonstrate the outstanding education that Harvard provides all of its students. We soon said good bye though and got the Red Line back into Boston to MIT.

Me, Kevin, Arnold, Brandon, Jing, & Megan
We met Megan Cherry today at 4 PM right outside the Kendall/MIT subway stop and shortly after introducing ourselves learned that she had just graduated and was going to graduate school in the Netherlands the following year. An important thing about Megan though was that she was part of the MAPS program at MIT (Minority Association of Premed Students). She taught us a lot about MIT and its many different programs, which was so grateful because she went completely out of her way to help us. The tour was great though and the campus was really cool, especially the dome and all the different tunnels that connect the school. The different kinds of "hacks," or pranks, were also really cool but made it feel really competitive as the students seemed to keep trying to out-do each other. Despite that though, MIT has so much to offer that they're able to satisfy all of their students, even the ones who aren't interested in Math and the Sciences.

Our Amtrak train from South Station back to Providence was due to leave at 6:40 so we left MIT around 5:40 and arrived back at the station somewhere around 6:10, giving us just enough time to get a quick start on our blogs before hopping on the train and heading back. The train ride went abnormally fast for some unknown reasons and it only took around 25 minutes to get back, not really giving us much time to work on our blogs. We decided that we would mainly work on them next time though and set off for the Melting Pot right away!

Alpine (front) & Cheddar (back)
Alana had recommended it as she had been to the one in Marin and she didn't let us down. It was a 4-course meal starting with a cheese fondue, moving on to a salad, cooking your own combination of entrees, and then ending with a nice chocolate fondue. We had two cooking pots so we could choose two different cheese fondues, two different cooking sauces (for our entrees), and two different chocolate fondues. We decided to go with the Traditional Cheddar and the Alpine, which was a combination of 2 or 3 cheeses. They were both very good but I thought that the white wine base of the Alpine came out a little bit to strong than it should have. Regardless, for my first time having cheese fondue it was very good.

Lobster Tail
Next we ate the salads where 4 of us, including myself, got the House Salad w/ Ranch, while the remaining two, Arnold and Kevin, got the Pear and Gorgonzola. They weren't anything fancy but they were still very good and I blew right through it, excited for the next course. For those of you who were like me and had never been to the Melting Pot before everything they serve is raw and you have to cook it yourself, which I found to be very exciting. I ordered the Pacific Rim, which was a combination of Honey Orange Duck Breast, Beef Tenderloin, Potstickers, & Garlic Shrimp, with a Lobster Tail that I ordered on the side. Alana got the Vegetarian Plate with a Lobster Tail on the side while the rest of the group decided on the Fondue Fusion (BBQ Pork, Dumpling, Honey Orange Duck Breast, and a Lobster Tail).

S'mores Fondue Flambee Style
This was all good but if you remember what I've said in my earlier blogs I'm all about the chocolate. It's an addiction and this time the thirst could be sated. We decided on the Dark N' Dulce, a creamy Dark Chocolate with Dulce de Leche mixed in and S'mores, which is relatively self-explanatory but was Milk Chocolate with Mashmallow Fluff and Crushed Graham Crackers. They gave us an assortment of dippers, including Brownies, Blondies, Angel Food Cake, Marshmallows, Oreo-covered Marshmallows, Graham Crackers, Rice Krispy Treats, Fresh Strawberries, and Fresh Pineapple. It was the sweetest end to a long and tiring day. Except that even as I'm blogging it isn't the end of the day. The Biltmore is actually known to be the hotel that Stephen King based his hotel off of as well as the Hotel Bates series because of it's weird and paranormal activity and history. For this reason Arnold and I have decided to scour the hotel for signs and remnants of this. If I blog tomorrow than you'll know that I've survived but until then... Jusqu'a a la prochaine fois!

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