Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Would You Like To Hail From Yale?

Today marked the first of our prestigious college visits, starting with Yale. I woke up promptly at 5 AM this morning and made sure to take a LONG hot shower. I knew it was only the start of a very long day and I would need every ounce of energy I could muster to be able to make it through our meticulously scheduled agenda. When I got out of the shower I could hear something rustling around in the other room and with my amazing deductive skills I reasoned that Kevin must be up rustling around for some clothes. I changed into a dress shirt, tie, and khakis and headed down to the lobby. Once I got down there I realized that I was horribly overdressed.

Everyone else seemed to be wearing casual clothes or at most semi-formal. I went all out, a mistake that I will definitely not make again. Would you like to know why? It's because it is dreadfully hot! I was only wearing two layers and yet as soon as I stepped outside I could feel my pores beginning to open; it was going to be a long day.

We left the hotel at 6:10 AM and after a short walk at a brisk pace we arrived at Providence Station. A relatively small building with a circular them to it, we arrived about half an hour before our 6:50 scheduled departure. Arnold and Kevin decided to go get a bottle of water while the rest of us tried to assuage our hunger by munching on the granola bars that Alana graciously offered us. Shortly after finishing our bars the train arrived and we boarded quietly, as the sandman seemed unwilling to relinquish his grip on us.

The view from the train in Connecticut
The train ride was slow but steady, making good time and only stopping once when we had to let another train pass. I took an aisle seat next to Kevin and together we tried to make the voyage more exciting than we both knew it actually was. We talked for awhile about just random topics until we both silently decided that we couldn't keep up this conversation for another hour-thirty and that we should both just do our own things. So just like that we pulled out our computers and soon entranced with the screens that we know all too well.

Social media seemed like it was the first thing to come to mind as we both pulled up Facebook almost simultaneously. I soon got bored of that however, so I quickly skimmed my email and then decided to engross myself in an episode of Breaking Bad, which is currently my favorite show. Yes it's true, even more than Game of Thrones. Anyways, I made it about halfway through the episode when Kevin suddenly dropped his SD card somewhere and after trying relentlessly to help him find it and failing miserably I couldn't really get back into it. It wasn't until Arnold came were we actually able to find it. 

When the train stopped we got off and exited the station, looking for something to eat. We decided that ,since we were going to Yale anyway, we should go explore around that area and see if we couldn't find something yummy. We ended up eating at Wall Street Pizza & Restaurant which was only a few blocks away from where the information session was being held in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall, or just SSS for short. I decided to have the Breakfast Wrap w/ Ham, which turned out to be quite yummy and because I replaced regular eggs with just egg whites it was also very healthy.

Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall
When we left we were still a tad early for our meeting with Dara Norwood, the Senior Assistant Dean of Admissions at Yale, but we walked over to SSS anyway and waited while she got ready as she was the one leading the information session as well. A very successful woman, she got her undergraduate degree from UPenn, her graduate degree from Harvard, and now she's working at a third Ivy League School! We had about 15 minutes prior to the information session to interview her and I feel like I can speak for the whole group when I say that we learned a lot more than we would've without such an opportunity.

The information session was around an hour and a half but most of it was actually Q&A as most people already know the statistics and specialties that the information session teaches about. Either way the session itself was very informative and many of the parents and students in attendance had very good questions which really made me thing about what I need to know and what I should look for in a college. After the session was over we got a quick picture with Ms. Underwood right before we set off for our campus tour.
Left to Right: Jing, Me, Brandon, Arnold, Ms. Norwood, Kevin
Our tour guide today was a very charismatic and talkative young man who had just finished his freshman year at Yale. Let me just say that he had nothing but great things to say about Yale, which is of course what you'll see in all campus tour guides, but this was a bit different; he seemed to have a very strong passion for what he was talking about and one could easily tell that he was dedicated as well. We walked all around campus, through a museum, around the residential colleges, ending at Old Campus where all the freshmen stay. After the final talk on Nathan Hale, America's first spy (who graduated from Yale), he sent us on our way.
Statue of Nathan Hale

We went back to SSS to wait for Austin Long, a Pinole Valley High School alum, who is a rising senior majoring in Chemical Engineering. Accompanying him were his friends Xuan Nguyen, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, and James Ting, majoring in Biomedical Engineering. James seemed to be the most popular out of the three as three out of five in our cohort are taking a DNA based Biotechnology course, which is fairly close to BME.

We went to the Union League Cafe, a french bistro of sorts, which Austin claimed was the nicest restaurant in New Haven. I had no objections of course as I started of with a drink called a Guadalupe, consisting of Pineapple Juice, Lime, and Vanilla Bean Syrup. It was delicious and I'm guessing most other people thought so as well as almost 90% of the table ordered it as well. For appetizers we asked for two orders of Steamed Mussels and two orders of Foie Gras (Duck Liver Pate). The Mussels were scrumptious and the Foie Gras was just as I imagined.

The Bouillabase
As an entree, Kevin, Arnold and I all ordered the Bouillabase, which consisted of Monkfish, Squid, Mussels, Leeks, Potatoes, and Provencal Soup (a fish broth type thing). I don't know about the other guys but I've had a lot of good Bouillabase and this was probably the best. I don't know what it was, maybe the broth or maybe the Monkfish, but either way it was wonderful. Throughout the entire meal we were constantly chatting about Yale and all the different opportunities with the Yalies (what Yale students call each other). But that was almost too hard with the overwhelming sound of chewing, slurping, and all around happy sounds that were emanating from around the table.

Even though the appetizers and entrees were all amazing I think it was the dessert that was really outstanding. I had something called a Feuillentine, which was a Chocolate Mousse on top of a Hazelnut Crust topped with a nice Caramel Chantilly. If you don't understand what any of that means I don't blame you but here's a picture to help elaborate on how amazing this dish was.
The Feuillentine
We took the Yale Shuttle back to the train station and even though the train was late by about 20 minutes it didn't feel like we had to wait very long. Once on the train we couldn't find any seats together as a group but I sat next to a man who got off the very next stop so I had the whole two seats to myself for the next hour or so. Soon after that I fell asleep because WOW was I tired. I feel like I've almost adjusted to the time difference but for some reason I'm just getting so tired so much earlier than usual. Either way the nap was very helpful which is probably helping me write this blog right now. If I want to get rid of this sleep deprivation I should probably go to sleep now though so good night! Jusqu'a a la prochaine!

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