Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pre-Yale Adventures, Colleges, & Orientation

Hello readers! I finally have some time to blog.

Yesterday at 3:15 AM, I left my house, never to see it again for two weeks. A little past 4:00 AM, Jessica, Matt, Yohanna and I bade our parents farewell. We watched their faces glow with pride and happiness as our chauffeur pulled out of El Cerrito High School and drove us toward the Oakland Airport.

I hadn't slept the night before, and when our flight departed, I decided to sleep. However, an hour into the flight, I woke up with my stomach cramping--it was terrible. For the remaining two or three hours I sat in my seat, waiting for the cramping to stop, but it didn't. I felt angry that I was placed in the middle seat rather than the window seat. The woman next to me didn't even glance outside. I wanted to observe the beauty of air flight, but unfortunately could not.

After arriving in Chicago, we stopped for pizza and hopped back on to the plane.

After 2-4 hours, we finally arrived in Hartford, Connecticut. I felt so accomplished when I arrived, although class had not even begun and we were not even in New Haven (let alone Yale). I know how proud my parents are of me and I appreciate them for providing me with their undivided attention and support.

Yet again, a chauffeur picked us up. He held a sign with our names on it. I've never seen that done in reality before--it was so exciting! Living in such excitement, I forgot to take a picture. Darn. We were all worn out during the hour-long drive to New Haven, but we noticed an interestingly large amount of school buses around. Three times we passed locations in which 50+ yellow school buses were parked. I suppose East Coast culture involves more bus-driving than carpooling in terms of transportation to school, but who knows. All of this reading has caused me to analyze every thing I find the least bit abnormal!

Finally, we arrived at the renowned Yale University. We received our keys, name tags, and room numbers, quickly changed into "smart, casual" clothing, and met Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, and Mrs. Larson for dinner. On our walk there, I observed Yale's surroundings. I was in awe. I saw many unfriendly faces. Later I discovered that New Haven is not very safe--something I'm deeply taking into consideration after being mugged for the first time.

After dinner, at about 10:30 PM, Jessica, Matt, Yohanna and I all went to explore the area, hoping to encounter an open store that would provide us with living essentials--a fan in particular. My legs began to give out on me. They really hurt. When I ran it felt like needles were running through the backside of my legs. This continued for the remainder of our "adventure" and still continues at this moment (if I run, at least). If the problem persists, I plan on seeing the doctor or nurse. Anyway, we experienced New Haven's erratic weather. One second, it was humid and warm. The next, there was thunder, lightning, and rain pouring everywhere. While our clothes were soaked within minutes and I had to limp my way back to my dorm, I found the experience to be fun and thrilling. Spontaneous weather changes are more positive factors to add to Yale, although these do not counter the hazard of the area in my opinion.

Today, we left early for breakfast at the Omni (please excuse my spelling) Hotel, followed by a drive to Connecticut College. There, a female student provided us with a tour of the college.

What I found most appealing was the college's large dorms and small student-to-faculty ratio. I enjoy lots of space to myself and I also enjoy personal interaction with professors. Jessica will go more in depth with the school in her blog.

Next was Wesleyan University. This school really appealed to me, and after the tour of the campus, I'm considering applying to it this fall. Although my major is still undecided, I'm leaning toward English. Wesleyan's most popular and strongest major includes English, government, and economics. Its English--or was it journalism?--program is taught by the ex-editor-in-chief of the New York Times. Tell me that's not impressive!

Additionally, there's optional co-ed rooming and supposedly excellent food. Those were the main things that attracted me to the school. Yohanna will, like Jessica, provide more details about the school in her blog.

Following that tour was dinner at a delicious pizzeria and a drive back to Yale. There, we encountered all of the Ivy Scholars students. It was interesting to see many faces I'd previously only seen in the Facebook group page. I ate a brief ice cream dinner and took a break. Then it was time for orientation. We were introduced to several instructors, each with outstanding backgrounds. Most of them had won national debate titles! How did I feel after learning this? Let's just say that terrified and intimidated would be an understatement. I realize that I'm with the top of the top, the best of the best and I'm going to work very hard despite my inexperience. I'm so glad to have been chosen to participate in this program.

Chelsea and Drew, our two main helpers, described the importance of the program's rules. As Mr. Nick Coburn had earlier said, "No program babies!" There are also several boundaries to which we can explore. We cannot pass a series of approximately five streets because of the danger they hold. In addition, there is a strict curfew. By 10 pm, we must be within college gates. By 11 pm, we must be on our floors. By 12 am, we must be in our rooms. By 1 am, all must be quiet. Breaking any of these rules involves punishment. While I wish I could be out longer, I appreciate Yale's greater concern for scholars' security.

After orientation, we quickly shopped, again, for room essentials and succeeded: I bought a fan!

It feels nice to be in an environment with similarly diligently working students. All of them are passionate about their education and are up for a challenge as we are. I still fear what lies ahead. This program is about risk-taking and that's exactly what I will do!

Although class has yet to officially begin, we have been assigned to approximately 130 pages of reading to be finished by tomorrow. Intensity is what we asked for, and it's definitely what we're getting!


  1. Stephanie,

    What an outstanding commentary of your trip. It was so realistic I even developed some stomach cramps in sympathy with you. Fortunately, though, my legs are still fine.

    Between the Facebook profiles, what you’ve described about the instructors and lecturers and what I’ve read on the blogs, debating seems to be a very common denominator of the Ivy Scholars Program. Please keep us posted on this so we know how much of a factor it plays in the program.

    Yale isn’t by itself in being situated in areas no longer deemed safe but it gives pause to wonder why it is that the surrounding neighborhoods associated with so many excellent institutions have become distressed and less than desirable to live in. I’m sure you can easily see—especially after your recent personal adventure in the safety of your own neighborhood—why there are strict rules about where you can and cannot be.

    Also, being a night owl myself, I can appreciate your desire to have a later curfew but you’ve seen the same schedule I have so I’m wondering just how much free time you thought you might have to be ‘out and about’? You’ll have to give me an update in a few days and let me know.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Dr. Dr. Luong gets a commission on the books and papers he has you all reading. When this is all over and done we’re going to have to take a count of the number of pages you were required to read. That certainly might scare off a lot of applicants in the future. I’m a glutton for information and I’m reading just about everywhere I go but the volume of pages you’ve been asked to read scares the bejeesus out of me.

    I have a vivid imagination, Stephanie, so when I wrote about your success in getting yourself a fan I had vision of the ear-to-ear smile on your face and even a lift in your step after getting yourself that fan. Here you’ve been accepted into one of the most prestigious programs in the country, you’ve earned a full scholarship to get there, you’ve read a gazillion million pages in preparation for this program and you count as one of your major accomplishments that you got yourself a fan. Go figure!

  2. Hi Stephy!
    I'm so glad you made it to Yale safe and sound. It's so odd reading the blogs and remembering my time at Cornell. I'm really excited to read what you have to say about your stay in New Haven. Have fun and absorb your surroundings! 3 weeks in Ithaca was reasonably short, so make sure you take in everything New Haven has to offer. Good luck with class!

    (By the way, do you have a roommate?)