Thursday, April 12, 2012

Be You at BU

Sometimes, things don’t go as planned.

I experienced this this morning. Our plan was to leave the hotel by 7:15, arrive in Boston by 8 (since it supposedly only takes a half an hour to get there), find a place for breakfast, and be at BU by 9:30. However, one major factor that did not fit into this agenda was the dreaded morning traffic. With the steady pace relative to that of a snail, we made it to BU at the gracious time of 9:15. So my mom and I tried to stifle the growling noises of our stomachs as we joined the other admitted students at the reception.

We got a folder with a BU pamphlet, map, and itinerary, as well as our own “guest pass” BU ID card that says Class of 2016. I was wondering how much these all cost to make since we get to keep the lanyard and ID, but just decided to be grateful for this cool complimentary gift.

The group traveled to a room under one of the housing complexes and we sat in for a chilled back Q&A info session with an admissions counselor and two sophomores at BU from two very different fields of study. The session was not specific according to major like at Syracuse and so we received less information on our subjects in comparison, but we did learn a lot about the cool things on campus, student life, food, dorms, and other generic college things at BU. The students were very friendly and informative. I asked them to give a positive and negative to living in the city. Their positives were both the city life and opportunities to discover and explore. Their negatives were city noise and mass crowds during major baseball game days. Many of the information we heard I knew already, but the personal stories added a nice touch.

We took a tour across the campus. A few minutes in, the tour and the greater Boston area was bombarded with heavy hail. This relentless storm did not stop the tour, and we ended up with quite a lot of ice on our clothes and hairdos. The hail then turned into a downpour and those of us lucky to have umbrellas tried to stay dry.

Basically, BU is on one huge street: Commonwealth Avenue. Most of the schools consist of a bunch of big buildings along one side of the street, with a couple schools across the way. Behind the street or across the street are various housing communities, most of which are in high rises. Also along this busy street is the “T”, Boston’s major form of public transportation; a shuttle specifically for BU students; a huge fitness center; an arena; a field; and tons of food places. The campus is not spread out randomly around the city like some colleges in San Francisco, back home. Instead, the campus is one large rectangle along a busy street, with the actual city city of Boston within walking and public transportation distance.

After the tour, we ate at the dining commons in West Campus, which is really just further down Commonwealth Ave. The dining common is buffet style which I was too happy about, and was then reminded by mom about the “freshman fifteen”.
So now for the perks of the school:
  1. It’s a large campus, close enough to the city life, but not spread out in the city.
  2. There is plenty of housing.
  3. There are ton of majors, classes, programs, and schools to try out.
  4. They have super cool clubs and intramural sports like broomball.
  5. Their school pride is through the roof.
  6. It’s easy to get around the city.
  7. The food is good.
  8. There are so many opportunities being that close to a bustling city.
  9. My program is very strong.
  10. There are constantly many events going on around campus.

I have to admit, I do really love this school. There were things that I didn’t find too positive, but they were few.
  1. Less help from peer advisers, counselors, etc.
  2. No true main green (though they count their “beach” as one)

Though this list is small, it is extremely important. The major factor I was basing my decision on was location of school. And Syracuse basically sits down with you and maps out your entire education, ensuring your timely graduation. It’s not the same at BU.

I do love both schools. It will take more research and more talks with students to decide on a school. I have until May 1st, but to be honest, that’s not a lot of time.

After the tour we bought a t-shirt for me and a pennant for my mom’s school. We then drove to the airport and flew on a very shaky flight from Boston to Salt Lake City, Utah, where I am currently stranded and blogging due to a delayed flight from bad storms in San Francisco. When will I ever get home?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Day of... Driving

Today was rather uneventful. We drove from Niagara Falls, NY to Boston, MA, which is about an eight hour drive. I read and slept while my mom fiddled with the fuzzy radio stations.

When we arrived in Boston, we headed straight for another one of my mom’s side trips: The Salem Witch Museum. Every trip we take needs to have an informative, important, or historical aspect to it. Thus, the museum.

The place does not allow photos inside the actual exhibit, but I took photos outside and around the museum. I actually learned a lot about the witch trials. I learned that no one was burned at the stake for practicing witchcraft; those were heretics. I learned that the girls involved in spreading the falsehoods and blame learned the stories of spirits and witchcraft from a Black Barbadian slave living with one of the girls. The girls then “transformed” and were thought to be possessed with the devil. They then blamed people around Salem, MA of being involved in witchcraft, resulting in the imprisonment and hanging of innocent people. I knew that part, but I did not know that a few the girls then admitted they were just messing around and asked for forgiveness.


The museum was informative. Time to get ready for BU and my flight back to California tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Niagara Falls!

When my mom saw the map of Syracuse, she also saw the proximity of the university to Niagara Falls. She refused to skip over this national attraction, and immediately planned a side trip. After a three hour drive at 7 AM (and a quick nap for an hour at a rest stop), we arrived in the city of Niagara Falls, NY.
We arrived too early for check-in out our hotel. So we slipped into our rain boots, scarves, gloves, and of course, one of my many favorite hats. The weather here is nice, but there was some bitter winds, so we have to bundle up.

We skipped the tour. Why pay to be stuck behind a group of people with a tour guide that you can barely hear half the time, when you could take an adventure of the parks yourself? We wandered around the parks and falls, venturing to the observation deck, Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Goat Island.

Here’s some info on Niagara Falls thanks to Wikipedia. The Niagara Falls, located on the Niagara River draining Lake Eerie into Lake Ontario, is the collective name for the Horseshoe Falls and the adjacent American Falls along with the comparatively small Bridal Veil Falls, which combined form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world and has a vertical drop of more than 165 feet (50 m). Horseshoe Falls is the most powerful waterfall (vertical height along with flow rate) in North America. Niagara Falls forms the international border between the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of New York.

This place was pretty gorgeous, and is a nice park to just hang out in.

We found a local pizza joint and had pizza for dinner and New York cheesecake for dessert.

Tomorrow we head to Boston, Massachusetts!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Orange Orange Orange

College visit of the day: SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY.

We drove to the South Side of campus and took a free shuttle to the main campus. After a video montage and welcoming by the dean of admissions, we split up by college and program for an informational session. It was great that it wasn’t just an enormous overview. In this manner, we learned about our specific school, programs, classes, and future atmosphere in smaller groups. I introduced myself and where I came from, followed by gasps in the audience and murmurs of "Ooo she's from California". In my group, there ended up being two other people from California, including a girl from El Cerrito! Bay Area buds.

The university itself has a ton of perks as well. There are tons of dorms on campus, and housing is guaranteed for all four years, and the first two years are mandatory. There are many different dorm room styles, and even dorm floor themes. There is free bus transportation all around campus and buses that can cheaply take you to downtown Syracuse, Pennsylvania, New York, and Boston. The ID cards double as a debit card that can be used at bookstores, cafes, and other eateries around campus. Another cool thing is the laundry system, which can send you texts when your laundry is done!! My mom complained that she did not have that luxury when she went to college. Aha.I was accepted to the School of Education in the Inclusive Elementary and Special Education program. This is a dual degree program, where I would be certified in both elementary education and special education! Awesome. Syracuse was one of the first universities to include special education into their program. I learned a lot about my program, including the perks and cool aspects of both the college and the university as a whole. First of all, I learned (and this is probably the most important thing I could’ve learned) that I could not only major in this education program, and that I would have to, in theory, triple major, by getting a B.A. in a major at the College of Arts and Sciences. I think I’ll choose Sociology. That was my second choice for my other colleges I applied too. I learned that I would almost be guaranteed graduation in four years. This program has a lot of hands-on learning, meaning that I would be in an elementary school by my second semester. Free transportation would even be included for people in the school of education! This education program sounds like so much fun.

The buildings have basically two styles: brick and ancient 1800s. There is actually a legit castle on campus that has a bell tower, known to play not just the usual ding-dong, but also songs ranging from Beethoven to Lady Gaga.

The tour set up a huge lunch station inside the famous Syracuse dome where all the major games are held. This place is massive. I got to meet the mascot, Otto the Orange, and eat lunch on the turf. Booths of various school clubs and organizations lined the arena. Erin and I checked out the Marching Band table before heading on a tour. The band sounds like fun, but requires a ton of dedication and time. I’m still not sure I want to continue marching band. However, I will definitely consider Symphonic, Concert, or Pep Band.

All accepted students on the tour today received 33 percent off of all products in the school’s bookstore. We bought a Syracuse crewneck sweatshirt, socks, pennant, and postcard for a very reasonable price.

Overall, I really like Syracuse. The campus is gorgeous and the buildings and environment is beautiful. I love my educational program, and am excited to start working. The amount of assistance that Syracuse gives its students is immense, and I will definitely take part in the tutoring services. Students also receive a peer counselor, that help you fit in socially and comfortably on campus. The academic counselors plan out your 4 years early on, to make sure that you don't get behind on credits. The school spirit is out of this world, and I know I’ll love the basketball and football games. The only two ticks for me would be that there really isn’t a major downtown nearby and the dorms are a little old. However, anything I need is within a bus ride away and the dorms are understandable for being 30 something years old. Plus, I won’t be spending that much time in them anyways. This school is definitely a good fit for me.

After the tour, we were exhausted and rather hungry. When my mom and I used to travel to the East Coast, we would always go to Friendly’s Restaurant. We convinced the Millers to with us, and had a large dinner at this American diner. Friendly’s is famous for its ice cream, so even though we were super full, we managed to scarf down their delicious cold dessert.

I later ventured over to the Carousel Center which is supposedly the sixth largest mall in the United States, although a lot of it was under reconstruction.

To be honest, we get lost a lot even with our GPS and occasional written out directions. Our hotel is off of a roundabout, and we never seem to get off on the right exit. Oh well. Tomorrow we leave for Niagara Falls!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012


I still will never understand how I can be less tired at 2:30 in the morning, than when I wake up for school hours later any other day. We woke up and carpooled with the Millers to SFO, arriving at the airport around 4 AM.

Security and check-in was a breeze, especially since all we had was carry-on luggage. Since airport prices are sky-high, we snacked on strawberries and blueberry muffins from home. Sadly, Erin and Mrs. Miller flew a different airline, so we could not hang out together. However, I did manage to snag a picture with Iron Chef Cat Cora from the Food Network, so all was not lost.
We were in the back of the plane, but it didn’t really matter since we slept the entire way. Although the Adventure of Tin-Tin was playing on the monitors, I knew that sleep was a little more important.

On that flight, I discovered that my camera had broken! The lens is jammed and refuses to turn on for me. RIP Camera. Thankfully my mom brought her camera, although I do not know how to use this fancy-schmancy contraption (neither does she). Oh well. Point and shoot.

Our flight from Chicago was on a teeny tiny jet, only three seats wide. It was so small, many people’s carry-on luggage was deemed too big and had to be stored on the bottom of the plane. This shaky flight was full of dips that did not bode too well for my stomach. So I slept.

We ran into the Millers at the car rental and split up shortly after to our separate hotels. Getting used to the new car was a little shaky for my mom, especially in a new setting. After an unintentional tour of the city we finally reached our hotel.

My mom had asked the car rental employees about a good place to eat in Syracuse. They suggested Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, which is a famous restaurant, blues venue, and biker bar chain, featured on the TV show Man v. Food. The food was absolutely delicious.

The rain finally began, and the plan to walk around campus turned into a plan to drive around the campus. The campus is BEAUTIFUL! The old buildings, the main green, the brick style and everything else just looked amazing, even at nighttime. I am excited for the tour tomorrow.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The East Coast Awaits

My Spring Break started off with an amazing weekend. The first amazing thing was the fact that I am blessed to be granted an entire week off from the hectic final quarter of school. After tests, projects, and essays galore in preparation for my many AP tests… the class work was then deemed “homework” for the week off. Despite the expected work for vacation, I am thankful for the time off from waking up at 5 AM.

Secondly, my Friday night ended with a wonderful school event: Junior Prom. My boyfriend and I had a fantastic time dancing the night away with friends, and finished the night off with a midnight milkshake, banana split, and fries at the local Mels Diner. Unhealthy food seems even tastier late in the night.

I am back to writing on my old blog because, thanks to the ILC, I am flying to the East Coast to visit Syracuse University in New York and Boston University in Massachusetts. These two colleges are tied at the top of my college list. I had been accepted to UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, University of Connecticut, Vanderbilt, Boston U, and Syracuse U. The latter three are the schools I am considering the most.

After dedicating hours to researching these schools, I learned that both Syracuse and Boston had similar aspects of a college atmosphere that I was looking for. However, research from a computer screen can only get you so far. I decided that the only way to make the right decision was to visit these colleges. I need to get a feel for the campus. I need to be able to feel comfortable in the setting that I will be calling my home for the next few years.

My friend Erin and I, and both of our mothers, will be flying into Syracuse. We will be visiting the college together, taking part in a tour held specifically for accepted students. After this college trip, we will be splitting up. She will head to Ithaca College, and my mother and I will be heading to Boston.

I am excited to embark on this trip. In a few days, I will finally choose what university I will be attending.

Look out for more posts, including information about the colleges, adventures around town, and more info about the East Coast.

I am prepared for the cold and rainy weather ahead of me. My hat collection will definitely be put in use.