Friday, July 1, 2011

Being Lopsided is OK

I woke up at 6:30 this morning to a pleasant surprise: the alarm worked! One hour and forty-five minutes later I discovered something that was not so pleasant: the snooze button didn’t! Unfortunately Brian and I had overslept. This was ironic considering we had actually woken up when we had originally planned to… However, we were only a little bit late to breakfast and were not actually delaying our departure from the hotel. We left the hotel and hailed a cab around 8:45 and headed for Georgetown University.

The university was a lot closer than expected and we arrived an hour before we were supposed to meet Bruce Chamberlain, the Northern California Admissions Representative for Georgetown. We decided to take a quick stroll after finding the General Admissions Building, which was where we would be meeting Bruce (Mr. Chamberlain was kind enough to allow us to call him by his first name). I realized that I had forgotten a notebook so we walked to the student store, all the while taking in Georgetown’s beautiful campus. We were able to see the campus more extensively on our tour a couple of hours later. We walked back the General Admissions Building and it was about 9:55, five minutes before we were scheduled to meet with Bruce, so we decided to check in early. Thankfully he was willing to speak with us early!

Our meeting with Bruce was excellent. We didn’t get to ask very many questions, but he was so thorough that we didn’t even have to ask any! Bruce began by asking what we were academically interested in. Engineering and physics was the general consensus between the three of us so he told us what Georgetown had to offer in those fields. He told us that the university does not have an engineering college, but does offer excellent opportunities in physics and other math-applied sciences. He also told us about a way to compensate for the lack of an engineering college at Georgetown. There is a path that students can take called the 3-2 Plan. Anyone who decides to do this will spend three years at Georgetown and then two at Columbia University, in New York City. This would give students better access to resources and the opportunity to study at two of the best universities in America. This sounds like a pretty enticing deal and made me pay a little more attention to Georgetown as a possibility for school. However, Georgetown is still primarily a school for business and politics and that is still something that I have to take into consideration as well. Bruce also told us about Georgetown’s generous financial aid packages. The university will meet one-hundred percent of a family’s demonstrated financial need! He told us that a small portion of that will be composed of loans and work-study programs, but the majority is grant money (aka FREE). We concluded our discussion with different aspects of the admissions process. He told us that there are three main focuses when it comes to the application: a student’s coursework in high school, our letters of recommendation, and our application essays. Bruce was generous enough to talk with us for longer than the half an hour that we had agreed upon (as well as let us into and excuse our tardiness to the information session). Meeting with Bruce was certainly one of the highlights of my day.
The information session also had some excellent nuggets of information that piqued my interest. First was that Georgetown is home to one of the top five policy debate teams in the country. I hope to continue debating in college so this is definitely a plus for Georgetown. Georgetown also has a very good student-faculty ratio of 10:1 and ninety-nine percent of classes are taught by faculty, as opposed to TA’s. Fifty percent of Georgetown students get the opportunity to study abroad. Since I hope to study in Japan (THE leading country in green energy technology), this was an excellent factor. I also liked something that both Bruce and the information session covered. In both sessions it was mentioned that the school is not necessarily going to prefer a well-rounded student over someone who is maybe not as diverse. I enjoyed hearing this because I am not a part of many extracurricular activities, but I am deeply involved in the ones that I participate in. We also learned about the school’s mascot, Jack the bulldog, the primary academic strengths of Georgetown (business, politics, and medicine), and several things about how the undergraduates attending Georgetown live. Our first couple of hours spent at Georgetown were well spent and we were given a plethora of helpful information.

Our guided tour was very nice. Our student tour guide, Glenn, was very knowledgeable and masterfully led us around Georgetown’s gorgeous campus. The majority of the campus buildings were made of brick or stone and were very easy on the eyes. The buildings that weren’t had more modern architecture and were all very interesting to look at. However, more appealing than the architecture was the university’s lawns and quad areas. The campus is compact in a lot of areas and has a lot of paved roads and paths, but Georgetown also has excellent wide, open spaces. There are lush, green fields for sports and even areas with miniature forests. Wildlife is abundant and it makes the school feel much farther from Washington, D.C. than it actually is (only about a five to ten minute walk). This concluded our time at Georgetown and I was extremely satisfied with everything I had learned (and also the nice Georgetown hoodie I purchased).
After Georgetown we walked through downtown Washington, D.C. to find some lunch. We eventually stumbled upon a nice restaurant called Clyde’s. We enjoyed a nice lunch and we discussed our favorite parts of Georgetown. I feel like we all walked away more impressed than when we had gone in. And, since I know our readers love food details, we shared some sliders for appetizers and I enjoyed some excellent Tortellini Bolognese (pictures below!)
Following lunch, we decided to visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Unfortunately they do not allow pictures inside the museum because I would have loved to take away some visual memories of all the history we soaked in. I did not really know too much about the Holocaust other than what I had learned in World History two years ago, but even that was not very much information. Today’s experience changed that. I was inundated with details of the lives of the Jewish people prior to and during the Holocaust. I never thought that I could be so moved by a museum. I knew before of the horrible things that were done to the Jewish population, but this put it into full perspective for me. We learned about German propaganda, the internment camps, and so many other terrible events that led up to the Holocaust. Every detail and exhibit was so captivating that it made me see things differently and realize how fortunate our lives are compared to others who have had so much pain and suffering throughout theirs. After we left, our cab ride was mostly quiet because we were still processing all that we had just seen.
We decided that the mood needed to be lightened after the Holocaust Museum so we did some sightseeing in Washington, D.C. We enjoyed an open top bus tour around the capitol and got to see some of the many sights that the city has to offer. Unfortunately the bus did not stop in the most convenient of locations for snapping photos so I was only able to walk away with a few good shots. The pictures below are the best I took.
In the middle of our tour we realized that we would not be able to make our original reservations at the 1789 Restaurant because our tour would take too long. We had to cancel, but we were still able to enjoy a nice, casual meal at a restaurant called Mr. Smith’s Saloon. It was a nice little pub with a dining patio in the back (this is where we were seated). Although this was not a gourmet restaurant, the food was still excellent! I enjoyed two tender and juicy pork chops as my entrĂ©e and finished off with a decadent, rich double Godiva chocolate cake. I have to say that Washington, D.C. has a ton of excellent dining options.
This concluded our evening and we returned to the hotel after dinner. It has been a long, but fun day and we are anxious to see Penn tomorrow. In order to fully appreciate our first view of the campus at which we will be spending a whole month, we’re going to need all the energy we can muster. So with that, I am signing off.

1 comment:

  1. Alex,

    Not bad for your first full day in town. With all that you did today, not a one of you wrote about how tired you were at the end. That tells me a lot about how exciting it all was.

    You all seemed to be quite impressed not only with Georgetown as a school but with the people you spoke with there that were so helpful in so many ways. This tells me that they're either pretty good scam artists or there's something special about Georgetown above and beyond a good basketball program. Sounds like you may want to investigate the school even further.

    Nice photos of the monuments and such even if you thought the access wasn't optimal.

    And I loved looking at the cake but what's with the skyscraper hamburger?

    From time to time the Smithsonian has a traveling road show so they can take a small part of their exhibits to the people. I recall that the Holocaust Museum does this as well but I'd love to see them do it more often and stay for longer periods of time. More people need to see this. We have an entire generation of people--like yourself--who know so little about it because they're just not exposed to it. We need to keep putting it in front of people so they'll never forget.