Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Floral T-shirts!

For the first time in years, I had my outfit planned in advance for something. And the only reason it was planned was because Hercules has a tradition of wearing floral t-shirts to match Don every Orientation. So deciding between my one floral t-shirt didn't make it too hard finding an outfit for the day. 

My family and I got there pretty early, so we just examined the framed picture from the School Board meeting and then my mom and I caught up on a little gossip since we don't get much time anymore to just sit and talk about random things. After a while, I got distracted and I ended up sitting with Bianche and Cecilia. 
Our best family pictures are always from Don

Soon enough the Orientation began rolling with Madeline Kronenberg starting it, telling us that our blogs show up when admissions officers Google us. On that note, I just Googled myself and found my Vanderbilt blogs on the second page, while my YouTube account was the second result. (You should subscribe to my channel too). The images on the other hand, were full of pictures from last year's blogs, thumbnails from my YouTube videos, and henna. 

We then broke up into groups with our cohorts where we signed forms and went over the schedule. We get to fly in Southwest, which means I get to bring more clothes! Thank you Don. We then narrowed down the places we should visit at Chicago, because sadly we can't do all of them in the short time we have. (Although that is a nice challenge that I think would be fun to try to overtake.)

Forms and schedules
Ryan came a little bit after, and he gave us advice on what places we should visit. He told us about the activities held by the program. Apparently you could either pick to go with your RAs and have a planned out day during the weekends, or just hang out on your own with others. Sadly, he had to spend a lot of his time working so he couldn't do all those activities. I could see that finding a balance between work and and fun was hard, especially for a class as busy as American Law and Litigation. I know there will be a big workload, but after never having many chances to be outside on my own, I want to to make the most out of everything. 

Then, Don began talking again, mostly directed at the parents to fill them in about what was happening. I admit my mind may have started drifting to some very far places as I had already heard him say all these things before. When the Orientation ended, I grabbed two suitcases that I wanted to claim and took pictures with them. During that time, Bianche left sadly, and we couldn't take our Hercules picture with Don. 

Before I left though, Ryan reminded me of how lucky I was to be able to have this opportunity twice. And I agree. I am truly lucky, and ever so grateful that I was able to be a part of this life-changing program twice. So once again, thank you to Don, all the sponsors, panelists, and everyone who makes this happen. Thank you for making our lives better and giving us opportunities we didn't think were possible. 
Bianche also had a floral t-shirt. Let's pretend these
two pictures are connected.
Floral T-shirts!

Tutorial - But for Parents

Yesterday evening was the orientation for all the ILCers and the parents at Pinole Middle School. Pinole Middle is about only a five-minute drive away from my house, so I had a pretty easy time getting there, and the traffic didn't affect me at all, fortunately. The orientation is basically a reenactment of the tutorial us ILCers had a few months back, but this time, it's all about the parents. Don had to make sure that at the very least, our parents will know at least where we are going off this summer, but I think I can say with confidence that everyone's much more knowledgeable about the trips. 

First, Madeleine Kronenberg kicked off the start of the event with an introduction speech, mainly talking about our blogs and how important it is to write quality blogs while we're back east, because they will be one of the first things college admission officers see when they look us up on the Internet. Before she left, she said she might come to see one of the cohorts off, but only if it's at a reasonable time in the morning, which is totally understandable (I don't trust people who like to wake up early). Then, she was gone, and Don briefly explained our agenda for the evening, Each chaperone from the four cohorts went up and talked a little about themselves and their experiences, so that our parents could become more familiar with them and be willing to entrust us to our chaperones. 
After that, it was time for the break-out session, which, as the name suggest, was when we broke off into our cohort groups for further information about our specific trips. Ms. Sciacca handed us our parent permission slip forms to sign, because as Don said, the ILC was a still considered a "school field trip," and that meant parent signatures are needed. Our parents quickly signed the two yellow papers; I don't think anyone actually read the papers they were signing. Once that was taken care of, we moved on to go over the very rough itinerary Don has provided us with. Ms. Sciacca wrote down any questions people had, but they were mostly just questions about the location of the drop-off and where to pick us back up from our trips. We confirmed that Raqueeb will be getting his own room, as the privilege of being the only guy in the cohort. 

Fun time chatting
We had a bit of down time afterwards, because the former ILCer that was supposed to be there to talk to us wasn't there yet. Jahnvi answered some questions with her experience from Vanderbilt last year, but eventually, Ryan showed up. Apparently, he was at another part of the school since last year's orientation wasn't in the auditorium. Ryan gave us some really insightful information. He went over our to-do list with us, commenting on what is doable and what might be harder to go, what is expensive and not really worth it, and suggested one or two more places we might be interested to visit. Ryan also informed us about activities he did while at UChicago last summer. He told us that each day, there were activities that were part of UChicago summer program that you could sign up for, and everyone would go to the mall, see a movie, etc. as a group. He said that it wasn't really hard for him to balance his course work with free time, and his fellow cohort didn't seem to have trouble with that either, so that is a relief. Obviously, we have work and papers we will be expected to do, but I was scared it might be overwhelming, so it was nice to have a little reassurance.

The break-out session passed by sooner than I expected, and then it was back to Don again. He talked about loaner items and went over each item in details. It was a bit repetitive for me, but it was good because although I had told my mother about these things before, she was getting this information in person, which is always better. After that, the orientation was over. My mom and I looked over the items briefly, before we departed. Overall, it was a very nice evening, even though I didn't get to talk and interact with my cohort and fellow ILCers as much as I would have wanted to. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

An Evening of Information

Last night was the orientation for all of the ILC participants. It was at Pinole Middle School, which is usually a 10-15 minute drive from my house, but it turns out that during rush hour on weekdays the drive looks more like half an hour. Because of this, I would have been late if I hadn’t double-checked the directions on my phone before I was planning to leave. As it turns out, I got there in time, but I was kind of stressed from the unexpected length of the drive.

Madeline Kronenberg was the person who started off the orientation.  She spoke to us about the opportunity that we’ve all earned in our respective ILC programs, and how we should treat the whole experience as an adventure. She then told us how blogging well could be helpful in our application process; apparently, our Blogger profiles are supposed to be among the first results when we look up our names, which makes it really easy for admissions officers to read our blogs and develop impressions of us based on them. My dad told me to Google my name as she was saying this, and sadly, my Blogger profile was near the end of the second page of results, apparently less relevant than a pumpkin patch I participated in when I was 11. Overall, her talk was really enthusiastic and motivating, which was good for raising my morale before facing the hour or so of information I was about to go through.

After Mrs. Kronenberg concluded her speech, Don stepped to the front of the room and started speaking. He congratulated us for making it to past the selection process and stressed the importance of responding to emails and communicating with our parents. He then talked about how we were likely to experience interactions with kids from more affluent backgrounds and the importance of representing ourselves and the district well. After this short introduction, the chaperones introduced themselves, then we split up into our cohorts and went to different parts of the room to be addressed by our respective chaperones.
The chaperones introducing themselves.
The UChicago group gathered around Ms. Sciacca at one of the tables in the front row. We were supposed to go over the attractions that we definitely wanted to visit as a group, but we had already discussed what we wanted to do on Saturday over pizza and Ryan, who was supposed to give us insight on the city and his experience living in it as an ILCer, was waiting outside of the gym because of a miscommunication, so we didn’t spend much time on that. Instead, Ms. Sciacca took us through the rough draft of the itinerary and answered some questions we had about that. After that, we signed some forms and then kind of sat around. Eventually, we started asking Jahnvi questions about her experience at Vanderbilt last year, because she was the closest thing we had to a UChicago ILC alum. After around half an hour, Ryan finally came to answer our questions. He gave us some suggestions on where to go, such as the Shedd Aquarium, which I hadn’t previously known about, and broke down how he balanced his coursework, blogging, and free time. Based on what he said, it sounds like it’s not that hard to find others to go places with, which is a good thing because I like hanging out with a variety of people.
Filling out forms during the cohort info session.
After the cohort information session, we reconvened as a group, where Don started telling us about the various types of loaner items that were available and what they were used for. A lot of the stuff had already been covered in the tutorial we had way back in April, so I was kind of half-listening until he held up the toiletry bag and started talking about it. Even though it was hot pink and technically for the girls, it had all sorts of empty bottles and containers inside that looked really useful for travelling, and I was instantly enamored. After he wrapped up his presentation, I went over to go look at the bag and wondered if he would let me borrow it. Unfortunately, my wishes were shot down almost immediately; Don caught me eyeing the female bag and told me to choose one from the boy pile. I relented, and chose a handsome brown bag that seems functional enough, but still doesn’t have all of the travel-sized bottles and liquid containers.

I went home after taking the toiletry bag. This meeting was my dad’s first time experiencing Don speak for an extended period of time, and he was amazed by Don’s ability to back up almost every one of his points with some sort of anecdote. We didn’t have much free time during the orientation, and almost everyone left pretty quickly, so I didn’t get to talk to that many people. We did, however, go over the prospective attractions again, and seeing them all written out on paper showed me just how many things there are to do this summer in Chicago. From this orientation, I got a toiletry bag and was also reminded of some of the activities we’ll be doing in our free time this summer, so I’d say it was a decent experience overall.

Hark! The Parents are Now Clued In!

When Don first mentioned that we were having an Orientation, I was a bit confused. ''Isn't that going to be similar to the Tutorial?'' Which as Don mentioned in the email was true, but this time parents would be there. They would finally be clued in on what all of us kids knew about, but hadn't spilled the beans on. It would also give parents the chance to get to know the chaperones more so they would feel more comfortable, having their teenage children spend three weeks across the country.
Everyone's ready to learn
My mom and I ended up getting there right at 5:45, to see that most of my fellow ILCers were already there. Don had an array of suit cases and various loaner items set out for us and our parents to see. We started out by waiting for everyone to get there and some basic formalities. Madeline Kronenberg spoke quickly about how excited she and the entire school board were for us to be attending our programs. She and Don laughed about the prospect of her showing up early to see us off on Departure Day—which I'm guessing means that it won't happen.

Don gave us a speech on what we'd go over, followed by the chaperones introducing themselves, and how they're going to take great care of us. We already knew all that of courseMs. Sciacca is great. 

We them splintered off into groups to discuss any concerns or questions parents had, and to narrow down the list of places we wanted to go. At our meet and greet we had already worked on narrowing down the places we wanted to see, so it didn't take much time to get that done. We did find out that we're flying Southwest, which means if it comes to it, we can take two bags on the plane. It also turns out we're meeting at El Cerrito High early in the morning, at 5 AM. Though I'll be eager to get to Chicago I doubt I'll be eager to wake up early that morning.

Figuring out our proposed sight-seeing list
Ryan showed up and we were able to ask him questions, about places to go, what the dorms were like, and how activities were organized. Apparently there are often organized activities over the summer session and you can sign  up to participate in  different ones for a more structured pattern to follow. I'm intrigued to see what that is like and whether I'll choose to participate in many of those or opt to 'choose my own adventure.'

When we once again gathered as a group to discuss blogs and loaner items, Don instructed us on how to correctly format our blogs. It's getting closer to departure, so our blogging has to be organized correctly by now. He spoke of the various items we would require while at our programs, and how many of these items that we could get from him. It wasn't long before we began packing up and mentally readying ourselves for the next time we would meet. Departure day.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Birth of a New Mom

There were absolutely no parking spots, so after a while, my dad decided he would trust me and dropped me off at the corner of the street so I could walk to Jupiter. I got out of the car, confident that this time I would not get lost. Pshht...I'm definitely not directionally challenged.

After a little, I lost my patience. I was positive I was going in the right direction, but I just couldn't see Jupiter. I asked a random guy next to me, but he didn't know. Right when my confidence dwindled, I saw Cecilia's mom. I ran up to her and gave her the happiest hug of my life, and asked her if I was going the right way— which I was. I cherished that accomplishment, because there's very few times where I'm headed in the right direction.

Once there, we went upstairs, and the first thing I heard was the waitress saying there was a 45
If you look closely, there's only one slice left
minute wait for pizza. That was a little depressing but on the bright side, more time for us to bond. The conversation involved some very different things, from learning Ms.Sciacca had a fraternal twin, to deciding to call her mom, and our theory that Raqeeb is always late because his hair.

We ended up ordering two vegetarian pizzas since Mom, Raqeeb, and I were vegetarian; plus, Lindsay didn't really like meat. My mission now will be to turn Cecilia into a vegetarian in the three weeks I'm with her. She will get to explore the world of vegetables and grains that are healthy and harmless.

I don't remember the exact name of the pizzas, except that they were so good we got right to eating, and didn't even think twice about taking pictures. I do remember, though, that one had a pesto base and the other the traditional tomato sauce. 

The Dancing Boy
We continued talking and even unanimously decided on some places we definitely wanted to visit in Chicago. I noticed from the balcony that there were some nice colorful lights below and I wanted to explore it, so I asked if we could go. 

It was an extension of the restaurant with many people eating in the open, and a band playing at the far end. In front of the band there a toddler dancing as if no one was watching, and he had the cutest and brightest smile. I currently can't get over how adorable he looks and I still want to just pick him up and give him a hug. 

We then headed back in front of Jupiter to get picked up. After a couple minutes of talking, my dad arrived and I headed home. On the ride back, I realized how much I really could no longer wait until it was time for departure. There are just too many adventures that lay ahead. 
Behind the restaurant. Squad. 


Did you know that Northwestern University has a 30 hour dance marathon? Neither did I, but it has raised over $16 million since 1975 when it was founded. Is there another reason needed to fall in love with this school? I’m already sold honestly.

30 hour dance marathon
Northwestern University today has become a school many dream of going to. And they do so for a good reason. It currently ranks #12 in the nation, #5 in business, is the #10 law school and #17 medical school— and has a 30 hour dance marathon.  

It spends about $650 million a year in research, and that’s money a student can use to explore a field they may not be able to in another school. In fact, one of their recent articles was on a museum director conducting research to transform the museum into a home for all forms of art and knowledge. I thought it showed clearly how all the research, and their money, was being directly implemented to benefit students. Some of their research centers include the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, the Center for Forced Migration Studies, and Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, just to name a few. (They have 90 in total).

A play at NU. Looks VERY grand.
NU also seems to be very engaged into arts, with many plays and concerts being held in the next few weeks. In fact (another fun fact to make your day brighter), their swim club turned into a musical production club. In the 1940s, the swim club needed to raise funds so they put up a play. After that, the club has expanded and become the nation’s largest student-run musical.

One of the things that caught my attention was an event called VentureCat. It is an annual competition where students can pitch their start-ups and earn money. There are three grand winners who can earn $30K, $15K, and $10K for their companies. It seemed to be very competitive and intensive, with the winning team being a data analytics company that uses flying robots to automatically count inventory in warehouses. 

Northwestern also has another campus in Qatar. In it’s “About” section, it prides in the fact that its location in the Middle East creates a fusion of culture and other progressive ideas that make students prepared to work anywhere in the world. I think that’s completely true because the students there could have the best, and know the worst, of both worlds. 

Meanwhile, back in Evanston’s NU, there exists a Happiness Club :) They will give out hugs and hot chocolates occasionally to keep the campus happy in its stressful times. The campus’s beautiful unity could even be seen in the Rock, a huge rock on campus that could be painted over to spread a message... or propose someone.
What more do you need if there's hugs and hot chocolate?

These activities just prove that NU could be home to anyone. You could spend your time researching, then partying to relieve stress, and finally relaxing with a concert or play. It offers everything any student would want— while still providing a good education (and a 30 hour dance marathon).

Pizza Party at Berkeley

Yesterday night was our UChicago cohort dinner with our lovely chaperone, Ms. Sciacca, at Jupiter. We agreed to meet up at the restaurant at 8 pm, but I arrived at Berkeley a little earlier. My parents drove me there, so even though we found Jupiter pretty easily, we drove around a bit first, trying to see where we can park, since they had decided they were going to hang out and shop around Berkeley while they waited for me. Unfortunately, at that point, I got slightly carsick as my parent drove through streets after streets, trying to look for parking spaces. However, it was just really busy at Berkeley at that time of the day, so, in the end, without any available space, my dad had to just drop me off, and my mom walked me to Jupiter.
On the lower floor of Jupiter
There, I saw Ms. Sciacca was already waiting in the little doorway in front of the entrance. The two of us went inside and asked for a table for five. Since there were only the two of us, we were told we would need one more person to show up before they could give the table to us. It was understandable, so we were about to continue waiting outside, but right then, our third person, Jahvi, showed up, and we were led to our table upstairs. Once we were seated, Ms. Sciacca asked about our finals, which took place on Thursday and Friday of this week for me. Jahvi told us that she did not have many tests as her finals since she has AP classes, so most of her finals were projects. Lindsay arrived soon after, and we talked more as we waited for Raqueeb. We found out that Ms. Sciacca has a twin, which is pretty cool, and for a while, our conversation took a weird turn where we all shared our experiences with people that are twins.

We took a while placing our order, and we had a few awkward interaction with our waitress, but the four of us made it through the daunting task that is ordering, and soon enough, Raqueeb arrived, telling us that he took the wrong train and so he was late. The conversation flowed, and it was amazing that we can all talk with each other so easily and comfortably. The food was really good, too (I'll admit non-meat pizzas were surprisingly good, but don't you guys start thinking you've turned me into a vegetarian!), and I think I can say for all of us that we had a great time.
Bonding time!
After we finished eating, we talked for a little longer, but it was getting late, so we prepared to leave. Before we left, however, we had to take pictures, and luckily, our photographer Raqueeb is never without his camera, so we are saved from explaining to Don why we don't have a single picture from our dinner. We went downstairs, and Ms. Sciacca took a group picture of us on the stairs, with pretty lights in the background. There was a band performing, and the whole restaurant was extremely lively, bustling with energy. I almost didn't want to go just yet. The dinner passed by so quickly; I wished we had more time with each other, but I'll get to everyone again very soon at orientation, so until then! 


Who Went Where? - UChicago Edition

Eckhardt Research Center
Today, the University of Chicago is well known as a university of high research activity. The university runs approximately 150 research centers on campus and is also associated with a number of other research institutions off campus. Many UChicago scholars have been pioneers in research in fields spanning from physics to sociology to medicine and the arts, advancing our understanding of all that is around us with breakthroughs that have made a lasting impact on the world.

Parker Solar Probe, named after Eguene Parker
This is demonstrated by the news that just recently, on May 31, NASA renamed its first mission to go to the sun, which will be launched in 2018, from the Solar Probe Plus to the Parker Solar Probe, honoring Professor Eugene Parker, a physicist at the University of Chicago. Parker is the first living person NASA has named a space mission after. UChicago has always had a long history of strong background in astronomy and physics: launched in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was named after UChicago alumnus Edwin Hubble, and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory was named after Arthur Holly Compton, a UChicago professor – just to name a few.

Jame Watson, co-discoverer of DNA structure
However, physics and astronomy are not the only fields UChicago has a strong background in. UChicago has many other notable and reputable alumni and faculty in the almost every field as well. James Watson, another alumnus, is best known as one of the three people who discovered the double-helix structure of DNA, revolutionizing everything in biology and the study of genetics. Similarly, in the business field, there is Satya Nadella, current CEO of Microsoft. Going a bit farther back, there is also psychologist John Watson, who established the psychological school of behaviorism.

In government and politics, throughout UChicago’s history, five of University of Chicago’s alumni have become presidents or prime ministers of governments. President Barack Obama, while not an alumnus, has served on the faculty teaching the University of Chicago Law School prior to his presidency.
Former President Barack Obama speaking at the UChicago Law School

Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver
For some alumni that are more recent, the UChicago alumnus most widely known right now is probably Bernie Sanders, the widely favored Democratic candidate in last year’s presidential campaign. Sanders had graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in 1964. In addition, those who are into young adult literature might also recognize the name of Chicago alumnus Lauren Oliver, the author of hit novels including the Delirium trilogy and the Before I Fall, which became a major motion picture this year. (As I doing my research, she was the first name I recognized, since her Delirium trilogy is one of my favorite series, because of its amazing and beautiful prose.)

From the time it was established in 1890 to present-day, the University of Chicago has built itself a long, prestigious history of notable alumni and faculty - physicists, biologist, politicians, writers, and much more - who have all, in their own way, impacted the world with their many talents. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Time for Casual Conversation....and for Raqeeb to be late

Last night we had our cohort meet up at Jupiter in Downtown Berkeley. I had never been to Jupiter and didn't really know what to expect. My mom told that they have good pizza, and that it's a very college student thing to be at Jupiter late, which is all I really needed to know. Our meet up was scheduled for 8, and of course before I even got inside, we got news that Raqeeb was going to be late. For the most part, we've agreed that the person who shows up last is usually Raqeeb -Jahnvi even has a theory that it's because of his hair, and that she could get ready faster. It's likely we'll be putting that to the test while in Chicago.

Our waitress was a little nervous and didn't really know how to help us when we asked for recommendations, but it worked out, and we ordered two delicious vegetarian pizzas. Cecilia and I will probably end up as vegetarians by the end of this, because Raqeeb, Jahnvi, and Ms. Sciacca are ALL vegetarians. 

Dinner chatter
We relayed some must dos while in Chicago to Ms. Sciacca, and told her what we were excited about. We talked about finals that were coming up or already happened, and about college apps and personal insight questions. Both Jahnvi and I took SAT Subject tests in the morning so we talked about how we felt we did, and how we wanted to do on them. Ms. Sciacca told us she had a fraternal twin, which is really cool, and told us about her students. The conversation was light and fun; I had a great time.

When we were done with most of our delicious meal, we realized that we hadn't taken any pictures, thankfully, Raqeeb always has his camera, so we wouldn't have to worry about having only grainy cell phone pictures. After a few quick pics over our dinner conversation, we finished our meal and started alerting parents that soon enough we'd be ready to head home. Jahnvi wanted pictures near the pretty string lights that they had up at Jupiter and the rest of us agreed, so we ended up seeing what was going on in the patio area. We took some photos on the steps in front of the patio level, and then went to see what the fuss was about. It turned out to be some live music, and there was even a little boy all dancing around in front of the band, which was completely adorable.

Post dinner pics

We parted ways out front, but had some good Chicago squad bonding time.

Late to the Party, but Just in Time for Pizza

Catching golden hour in the city--
the cause of my tardiness.
Last night, I got to see the rest of the UChicago cohort again, this time in a more casual setting. We had dinner at a restaurant in Berkeley called Jupiter. I was taking pictures in San Francisco and had decided to take BART to Berkeley. However, I accidentally boarded a Dublin/Pleasanton train, so I had to get off at the West Oakland station and wait for a Pittsburg/Bay Pt. train to come, which delayed my arrival to Berkeley by around 20 minutes (we had agreed to meet at 8 PM).

When I got to the restaurant, it was a little after 8:20 PM. I had walked by it several times in previous trips to Berkeley, so it wasn’t that hard to find. Despite my tardiness, everything was going smoothly, until I tried to actually get inside the restaurant. As I was stepping over the threshold, a bouncer stopped me and told me that the restaurant only allowed individuals above the age of 18 after 8 PM. I don’t even have a driver’s license, so there was no way of trying to trick my way in. I asked if I could contact a member of my party to retrieve me, and the bouncer obliged. At this point, I stepped away from the doorway and texted Ms. Sciacca. After around 5 minutes, she still hadn’t responded, and both the bouncer and I were still standing kind of awkwardly near the entrance as people entered and exited the restaurant. I guess he either felt bad for me or wanted to get away from me, so eventually he relented and told me I could go inside as long as I didn’t order any alcohol, which I wasn’t planning on doing anyway.
I went upstairs, which was where Ms. Sciacca had said earlier the group was sitting. I said hi to everyone, and the food arrived probably no later than 3 or 4 minutes after I sat down. They had ordered 2 pizzas (before I came); I didn’t get to see the menu, so I don’t know their official titles, but one of the pizzas had a pesto base and the other one had a more traditional tomato sauce base. Both pies were thin crust and delicious, but I typically enjoy tomato sauce-based pizzas more because they usually have a lighter, fresher taste than heavier varieties like pesto or white pies. I only remembered to take photos for the blog after the pizzas were pretty much finished up, which is regretful because they were very visually pleasing.
The scene at the table, post-food.
After we ate, we went to the large outdoor area downstairs and took a group photo. There was live music, and in front of the band there was this little kid dancing. He was pretty cute, and the band playing loved his enthusiasm. We watched him for a while, then left the restaurant.
Cohort picture, taken in the outdoors area behind the restaurant.
After we exited the restaurant, we chatted for awhile in front of it as we waited for parents to come. I was going to take BART home, but didn’t want to leave before everyone else, so I stayed for a while. Lindsay and Jahnvi were picked up fairly promptly, which left Cecilia, Ms. Sciacca, and I. We talked about the benefits and drawbacks of khan academy and then a little about the stressful nature of the ACT’s time limits. After around 10 minutes, Cecilia’s parents came, and the three of us parted ways.

Even though I was a little late, the dinner as a whole was fun. I got to talk to the rest of my cohort, which is always a good experience, and I feel like the four of us grew a lot closer to Ms. Sciacca. July is approaching, and it’s going to be great.

So, About Northwestern

One of the schools our cohort is hoping to visit is Northwestern. Honestly, I hadn't heard anything about Northwestern until this year when ILCers at my school mentioned they had visited Northwestern and really wanted to attend school there. This of course made me thoroughly excited to find out that we would have a site visit there! And here I go sharing some of what I know about this University.

Northwestern is home to three campuses(Evanston, Chicago, and Doha, Qatar), and serves 21,000 total students. It all began in late May 1850 when nine men came together to plan a university to serve the Northwest. Though they had little money to work with, through creativity and hard work, the fantasy became a reality.

The campus was established 12 miles north of Chicago and the land around it was developed named Evanston after one the founders, John Evans. After the first building was completed in 1855, classes began with 2 faculty members and 10 students.

Chicago skyline from the Evanston campus
Since its inception, a dozen colleges of Northwestern University have been created, starting first with the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences(1851). It educates all of Northwestern's undergrads and has 4,300 undergraduate students. The most recent addition to the Northwestern University family is Northwestern University in Qatar(2008).

Now that we've gotten through some history and general information about Northwestern, let's get into something more fun -like some key spots on campus that I want to see.

Weber Arch
I'm a sucker for interesting, fun, or sweet college traditions, and Weber Arch fulfills that criteria. It was named after Northwestern's 14th president serves as the entrance to campus. This arch also serves as a ceremonious entrance for freshman in the fall, with the marching band leading them under the arch with upperclassmen cheering them on. When the seniors graduate in the spring, they march out through the arch to begin their next chapter.

The Rock
The Rock
This is another tradition and is particularly quirky. It first became a tradition to paint the rock in the 1940s as a prank, but has since become a form of self expression and club and activity advertisement. Nearly every night, different groups guard the rock to paint messages or symbols on it in the dark of night. 

Deering Library
Deering Library was modeled after King's College Chapel -the architectural inspiration for Hogwarts, so when we say in our blogs after visiting that it looked just like Hogwarts, at least there will be some truth to that statement. 

Deering Library aka Hogwarts

Shakespeare Garden
Shakespeare Garden
This garden is apparently a great oasis right in the middle of campus. It's over 100 years old and has a few dozen different flowers and shrubs that were mentioned in Shakespeare's works.

Through finding this information about Northwestern University, I'm even more excited about the prospect of touring the University on a site visit, and I hope I really enjoy the college and consider applying.

UChicago: A School Rooted in History

J.D Rockefeller.
UChicago wasn’t always the university we see it as today. There was initially a school of the same name that was affiliated with the Baptist church in Chicago, but this school went bankrupt in 1886, and the name was changed to “Old University of Chicago” so it wouldn’t be confused with the new university J.D Rockefeller planned to invest in. Rockefeller pledged $600,000 toward the founding of today’s UChicago in 1889, provided that $400,000 more could be found elsewhere. The money was raised, and in 1890, the University was officially founded by Rockefeller and the American Baptist Education Society on a donation of land by Marshall Field.
The Old UChicago, after it went bankrupt.
The University of Chicago’s first president was William Rainey Harper, who established a high academic level early on. The faculty that worked with him had come from colleges all over the country, with the shared mindset of wanting to foster an environment of academic success. This early attitude among the faculty is evident in today’s UChicago and has shown itself through the successes of the UChicago alumni.
William Rainey Harper,
the University's first president.

UChicago aimed for a diverse atmosphere from its onset, despite the involvement of the American Baptist Education Society in its birth. William Rainey Harper wanted the University to maintain gender equality and religious freedom among its students. Not all schools were as accepting of different races at the time, so the University gained a lot of minority and foreign applicants.

In addition to a mindset of academic excellence and diversity, Harper encouraged inquiry among the students. He wanted them to ask difficult questions and challenge what was accepted as the standard by professors. This policy of inquiry has persisted to the present and the research that spawned off of this attitude has resulted in close to 90 Nobel Prizes and almost 50 MacArthur “genius grants” earned by scholars, professors, and researchers related to the University.

Robert Hutchins,
the University's fifth president.
If Harper is held as the force that laid out the foundations for the ideals of the school, then the fifth president, Robert Hutchins, can be recognized as the person who first introduced the type of class experience that can be found in the University today. He implemented a curriculum that involved a focus on interdisciplinary education, study of original documents, and discussion-based classes. These traits form the backbone of today’s UChicago academic approach.  

You can trace back several of UChicago’s defining features to its formative years. The diversity of the student body, the encouragement of inquiry and challenge, the discussion-based classes, and the commitment to academic success are all rooted in decisions made early in the school’s history that went against the norm at the time. When looking at its development, it’s clear that the University of Chicago is a school that excels not despite its tendency to go against the grain, but because of it.