Sunday, July 17, 2011

UPenn on Ice

Sundays have become my favorite days of the week here at Penn for the sole reason that they are the one day I occasionally get to sleep in past 9 o'clock. Today was no exception. Those of us who were going ice skating got to stay in till 10 at which time we are at a little cafe that sold some delicious croissants. At 11 we met in the quad and loaded up on the school buses that took us to the rink. After a short drive (very short compared to yesterday) we arrived, got our skates on and hit the ice.

We had managed to convince the two European guys on Brian and Alex's floor who had never skated before to join us on the trip, so we tried to teach them. Two of the RC's who came with us played ice slating sports so they helped instruct them as well. They mostly stuck to the walls in the beginning but by the end of the day they could skate fairly decently and even joined in the congo lines we made, only causing one major pile up (that fortunately injured no one). They also avoided any collisions with the multitude of small children that are always present at the edges of the rink.

Since the rink in Oakland shut down, I haven't been able to skate very often at all so I am really glad it was one of the activities they offered for our day off. We had a lot of fun messing around on the ice and teaching the two newbies was also quite entertaining. The ice also gave us a nice break from the sweltering heat. It was the first time I actually started shivering since I left the Bay Area.

Once we got back, we got some lunch at a Mexican restaurant on campus where we sat and watched the Woman's World Cup as we ate. We left when it went into overtime to check out some shops on campus. I bought a CD for a dollar at a nifty bookstore we found. We spent a lot of time checking the place out actually. It was quite cool. It even had store cat that let me pet it.On our walk back home, we passed by the restaurant we had eaten at and stopped to watch the penalty kicks through the window. We walked away disappointed when the American team lost.

When we got back it was almost 6, so I had just enough time to do some lab surveys, lay around and enjoy some prime Sunday free time before heading down to the dining hall before it closed, playing some Frisbee in the quad, taking care of the laundry that's started to pile up, and watch a movie in the lounge before getting to bed to get some rest for another eventful week.


Today was a day of rest and relaxation. Alex and I were all too excited to set our alarm clock for 9:15 when we woke up and got ready for breakfast. Before breakfast, I had the pleasure of doing one of my least favorite chores-laundry-. After I got my laundry started, I caught up with my friends and because the dining hall was closed we headed to a bakery on campus. At the bakery I got a bagel and a delicious chocolate croissant to enjoy for breakfast. After breakfast we headed back to the dorms where we waited for our bus to arrive. When the bus arrived, we signed in and got on board for the short ride to the ice skating rink. While some of the ride was through the city, we got to see a bit of the countryside as we drove to Southern New Jersey. We arrived at the ice skating rink several minutes early so we had time to get our skates on before the rink was open.

The minute the ice rink was opened I hopped into the rink and wobbled around for a bit. Soon enough, I remembered how to skate decently and I started doing some laps with my friends. One of our counselors used to be on a speed skating team, so I asked him for some pointers on my skating form. He was very helpful and spent about half an hour coaching me to become faster and more comfortable with the extra speed. There’s not a whole ton to say about going skating, but I had a very fun time and it was a fun way to get some exercise.

Once our two hours of skating was up, we got back on the bus and headed back. We convinced our counselors to take us again next weekend because we had such a great time. Once we were back we decided to go out to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. The Women’s World Cup was playing on several screens, so we watched the last 20 minutes of the game. While I’m not an avid women’s soccer fan, I was still disappointed to see the U.S. lose. That said, I have several friends from Japan who were very excited for the victory because it was something for Japan to unify about after the terrible earthquakes and resulting tsunamis ravaged Japan. Once the game was done, we decided to check out the used bookstore next door. I can spend hours in bookstores, but we only had a few minutes so I impulsively bought a book to learn Spanish. I’ll see if I have the follow through to actually do anything with it, but I’m becoming very interested in learning other languages and living in California, learning Spanish would be quite pragmatic. In school I’ve studied for four years trying to learn Japanese which I today found out is commonly recognized as the most difficult language for an English speaker to learn along with Cantonese. While I fully intend to continue studying Japanese, I would like to try and learn a language that shares more roots with English such as Spanish or Italian.

After my impulse buy, we walked back to the dorms where I have finally been able to get some rest. I’ve hung out with my friends for a few hours playing games and such and now I’ve had a bit of quiet time. One thing that I’ve had to get used to here is always having a roommate. While I appreciate and get along with Alex very well, I go out of my way to find a bit of time each day to relax and be alone with my thoughts. I’m ready for another week of hard studying and tons of fun with my Philadelphian family.

Ice Skating in Ninety Degree Weather

Today was an excellent day. Although we didn’t have much planned, we were all very excited about today because we would get to go ice skating. We started today by going to a restaurant/bakery called Au Bon Pain. Most of us got different food and we were all very satisfied by our various baked goods. I got a bagel and croissant, both of which were baked to perfection. We did not have much time to eat though because we had to be back at the quad by 11:00 so we could meet our group to head to the ice rink. We met with our peers in the quad and boarded the bus on time. We were New Jersey bound.

The drive was surprisingly short, which was pleasant after yesterday’s two and a half hour drives between D.C. and Philly. We only had to drive for about fifty minutes, give or take, to get to the rink. Normally, the rink is not open before 12:30, but we were about half an hour early and they let us in anyway. We all got our skates and hit the ice fairly quickly. I had only been ice skating once before, and that was three years ago, so I expected it to take a while to get back into the swing of things. However, after going skating around the edge of the rink for only about ten minutes I was doing well. This was Onur’s and Abheek’s first ice skating outing, so we showed them the ropes and they picked it up rather quickly. The RC’s that accompanied us to the rink were both very experienced skaters and were very impressive. One of them (his name escapes me at the moment) used to do speed skating in college, and it showed today through the elegance with which he skated. We skated for about two and a half hours, but the time seemed to fly by. Skating was my favorite part of the day because I was able to do something I would not normally be able to do at home with great friends. I even decided to be daring and pull out my camera while on the ice to snap some pictures of my friends skating so I could get some pictures for the blog.

We decided to visit the hockey shop before got violent.

Abheek and Julia seem to be speeding based on the blur.

Alison and Fred skate towards the edge for a break.

Brian gracefully glides past...

We got back to Philly at about 4:00 and went to get a late lunch at Qdoba, a Mexican restaurant similar to Chipotle. Most of my friends were transfixed on the TV in the corner of the restaurant because the FIFA Women’s World Cup was playing and they were all anxious to see who would win, Japan or the US. We walked around campus for a while after that, visiting a CVS and a small bookstore, before returning to the dorms.

Upon our return to the dorms, we realized that it was getting late. Despite having a late lunch, we decided to grab dinner only a few hours later because we wanted to make sure we weren’t hungry later that evening. We made a quick trip to the commons and ate dinner. When we got back we decided to toss around Richard’s aerobee (which is a Frisbee with a hole in the middle for better aerodynamics). I plan to ask Bill about why an aerobee flies so much better than a regular Frisbee tomorrow in class. Throwing the aerobee made me reminiscent of my time at Cornell because Andrew Woo and I were fond of this activity ourselves. After about an hour of throwing and chasing the disk, we decided to retire for the evening. The remainder of our time was spent in the dorms hanging out and talking. We even showed each other our home towns and schools via Google Maps. Eventually, we all separated again and our day came to a close.

Today was an enjoyable day. It feels like the weekend flew by. It is funny to think that we have to go to class tomorrow when it feels like the weekend just began. I am perfectly ok with this though, because tomorrow we get to organize our data from Friday’s lab in the Logger Pro data recording software. We also get to continue our experimentation with Newton’s Law of Cooling. I’ve never looked forward to any class as much as I have with the Experimental Physics Academy. I love it because I’m surrounded by peers that share my academic interests and curiosity, and because I am getting the chance to research science that I would never get the chance to do otherwise in high school. On that note, I have to get ready for class tomorrow. I’m signing off for now.