Our last day of touring was so memorable. We started off by running into Batman in the parking lot! We were like paparazzi, taking pictures of him as he was leaving. Luckily, he was nice enough to stop and take a picture with us! Some of the hotel staff told us that he was also the Batman that's affiliated with the Make a Wish foundation. It's such a coincidence that we happened to be in the same place when we've only been here for two days. We were so excited, but at the same time, we knew we had to rush to the train station.
|The Columbia cohort and Batman|
|Ms. Thrift posing at the artsy train station|
Princeton was the last school we visited before going to Columbia. Like many of the other campuses, all of the buildings were beautiful. It looked pretty similar to Yale. I didn't feel welcome when I first went into the check-in room because the people at the desks didn't even look at us nonetheless talk to us. People just stood around in the room waiting for direction because no one really approached us and led us anywhere. The majority of the campus was empty since it was a Saturday during the summer. After a while, two tour guides appeared and we split into two groups. Jennifer, the tour guide, showed us around and wholeheartedly answered questions that people had. Something that I didn't like at Princeton was the grade inflation. Only a certain percentage of people can obtain A's while the rest of the students have to file behind. At the other Ivies, it was emphasized that the environment was really friendly and cooperative. Even at MIT, the tour guide talked about how MIT purposely had a defrosh period to eliminate competition. There's nothing wrong with a little competition, but it makes me feel even more nervous. I'd prefer to attend a college where people work together instead. I also disliked the fact that Princeton had eating clubs. To be in the clubs, you would have to interview just to eat with a group of people. I'd much rather be able to meet new people in integrated dining halls. Overall, the atmosphere just seemed really competitive and a bit pretentious.
|The Columbia cohort in front of Princeton's church|
|Inside of the church|
The tour groups were pretty big, so we didn't get a lot of time to talk to the tour guide. Since we had to go to lunch anyways, Monica invited her to come with us. She was really down to Earth and sociable. She's also from California, so she was a little more relate able than students who are originally from the East Coast. I got to ask her more about the grade inflation and other aspects of the school. Since I didn't like the school too much, I tried to focus more on general college questions. I'm probably not going to apply to Princeton, but I'm glad I got to visit because I wouldn't have known how I actually felt about it.
To end our week of touring, we switched over to sight-seeing and eating dinner with each other. Ms. Thrift reserved spaces for us to visit Independence Hall. The rangers said that all of the tours have been packed. The ranger that gave the speech was so passionate about the building. She wasn't monotone at all. It sounded like she was a lawyer that was defending someone. I couldn't believe that we were in the room where the founding fathers once stood. The visit kind of related to the Constitutional Law and Presidential Powers course too. The ranger knew all about the history and cared about preserving the building so that people could continue to enjoy it in the future.
|One of the many horse carriages in Philadelphia|
|The room where the Declaration of Independence was written|
Our last activity of the day was dinner at La Crioux. The restaurant was at a fancy hotel and it was only for the cohort. Ms. Thrift's friend joined us for a little bit and talked to us about her experience on the East Coast. She's currently writing a book and she was a graduate of NYU. The menu had so many foods that I've never heard about or tried. I learned that "sweetbreads" isn't bread. Ms. Thrift and the waiter clarified that sweetbreads is a better way of saying animal organs. I'm glad I didn't accidentally order that! I had the four course menu with mozarella, scallops, chicken, and strawberry dessert. The presentation of the food was so intricate. I loved the scallops and dessert. In between courses, the waiter would also bring us little snacks. The customer service was fantastic. They were constantly cleaning up the table for our comfort and explaining the foods to us. Their service reminded me of learning about hospitality at Cornell. This was one of the best meals I've ever had, and I hope that I'll be able to return someday!
|Frozen lychee with coconut ice cream|