Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Decadent French Cuisine, Not My Everyday Routine

Yesterday night was probably the most full I have ever stuffed myself with food. And it was all worth it.

Last night the Columbia cohort attended an amazing dinner in San Francisco that celebrated the program, its sponsors, Columbia alumni, and of course, the ILCers. The night started at an early five o'clock, where most of the dinner attendees met at the local train station. By five-thirty we were on the train and on our way to the city. During the train ride Lisa, Michelle, Justin, and I were talking to Peter (who was in the ILC program a few years back) about college and the whole application process and experience. He attended Dartmouth College, and really enjoyed his experience there. He said that initially, he didn't feel like he belonged at the school, but after a couple months, he began enjoying himself there. I've been hearing lots of college graduates' stories about the first time they stepped onto the campus of whatever college they attended, and how they immediately realized that they belonged at that college, so hearing Peter's story was refreshing. Finding my own niche in college, or even in life, is going to take some time. 

After getting of the train, we walked a couple blocks to a more populated area where it would be easier to flag down a taxi (which wasn't as bad as I thought it would be). I felt like I was in a video game with the way my taxi driver was driving, with the racecar accelerations and swerving. I just felt lucky I wasn't a poor pedestrian at that time. 

We arrived at the restaurant (thankfully all of us in one piece) and met the group of sponsors and alumni we would dine with that night. In his emails, Don was very clear that he wanted us to mingle with people we didn't usually talk to, so I dove right in! I immediately introduced myself to the first person I saw, which was a young alumnus named Illana. She was so nice and easy to talk to, I was glad we struck up conversation! 

Everyone was ushered into a private room of the restaurant that we would be eating in. It was a cute and cozy room lavishly decorated with art and colorful walls. Everyone had assigned seating, which further encouraged the interaction between the students and parents, alumni, and sponsors. I sat near my mom, Lisa, her dad, Michelle, her dad, Illana, Ms. Thrift, and a man named Mitchell, who was an alumnus. I felt nervous before the dinner because I thought that all the people at this dinner would be very formal and proper. But after meeting Illana and sitting down at my seat with all the wonderful people I was surrounded by, my anxiousness quickly faded away. Mitchell is a '09 graduate of Columbia who currently works at Google. Everyone grilled him on what working at Google was really like and if it was as great as everyone has made it out to be (he said it was by the way). 
My place setting at the table.
Michelle and I! 
I couldn't share my experience of the night without raving about the amazing food we ate. From the intricately constructed "palette cleansers" to the lobster risotto to the oozing molten lava cake for dessert, I was in heaven with each bite. It was a hard to pace myself with all the delicious food they served, but I was determined to taste everything, so I only took a few bites of each course. Needless to say, by the end of the meal, I felt like a turkey at Thanksgiving: I was stuffed.

My delicious dessert that was so pretty I didn't want to
eat it (but of course I did).

My lobster risotto entree.

The taxi ride back to the train station would have been more enjoyable if a) I wasn't as full as I was b) the roads were less bumpy and c) the taxi driver didn't feel the need to accelerate and slam on his brakes every block or two. Luckily the ride was only ten blocks or so, so it was over quickly. At this point it was around ten thirty, and it had been a very long day for me. I was ready to go home and sleep! The night was winding down the train ride back and so was my energy level, but I'm sure I can speak for a lot of other people coming home from that dinner too. 

One last thought to conclude this post is that I am very happy I attended this dinner. The food was just an added bonus to make the night even better, but really throwing myself out there and interacting with new people was the highlight of the night. I loved learning about how their experiences were at school, and even how their everyday lives are to this day: where they work, what its like working at their jobs, and how connected they are with their schoolmates from Columbia. I'm happy I met some wonderful people last evening, and hope to stay in touch with them (especially to get some pointers on how to survive in the Big Apple!)

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