Friday, June 20, 2014

I Love the City of Chicago and Northwestern University

A heavy breakfast.
We left the Drake Hotel a little after 9 AM this morning to the Water Tower Place shopping mall to get some morning grub because we passed by the mall so many times during our stay here so far--we just had to enter it sometime for some good reason. Just up from the flight of stairs at the entrance was a breakfast station that we all decided to eat at. I got the breakfast sandwich, hash brown and freshly squeezed orange juice and knew I was still recovering from the food from last night. I did my best to battle what generous portions of food I had on my table, but then again, I'm not exactly a breakfast food fanatic--so I didn't finish. After eating, Mr. Chan-Law realized that we still had a rather significant amount of time left to kill until we would board our train to Evanston. In response to this situation, we decided to explore the mall. I didn't really mind wherever we went in the mall, so long as we didn't sit down and do nothing. To my bewilderment, my cohort chose to go to the American Girl store. I have never heard of this company in my life and was surprised when I walked into the store. It was covered, literally all covered in dolls that varied in appearance. Apparently everyone in my cohort minus me and Mr. Chan-Law knew exactly what they were and they all had one in their youth. They talked about how durable and cute they were, how they loved it when their doll looked like them, etc. We ended up staying there for about 15 minutes and as they all scavenged the store as I just stood back with Chan-Law next to the display of more than 50 different dolls. 
Entrance to the shopping mall.

Chicago River
Immediately after that, we headed for sight-seeing in Chicago and walked a great deal of blocks to a park in the middle of the city. It was well worth it. We passed over the Chicago river which I remember from watching TV is dyed green every St. Patrick's Day and we also passed by the old Chicago library. Another interesting thing I saw was that of a giant metallic object. It was neither spherical, cylindrical or rectangular--it was an extremely reflective enormous bean with a metallic surface! When I first saw it, touched it, and took selfies with it, I asked myself , "why a bean, why build it?" With the immensity of people around it, I just took it as fascinating to look at. Other than the bean there was also a nice entrance to it. Another grand thing about the city park is that it has an orchestra practicing there a few days every week--or possibly everyday with some free concerts in between. Their music was absolutely fantastic and we just spent the rest of our free time there. The city of Chicago no doubt has attractions everywhere and we didn't even tour the entire city neither--I really wish to return someday to get to know the city better. 

City street.
Chicago Public Library
Beautiful entrance to the park.
I wonder what this is, just kidding its The Bean
The Orchestra from a better perspective.

Not too long after, we headed to the train system from an underground opening and bought tickets that were not so cheap, that were good for the rest of the day. Chicago's public train system is actually really convenient and takes you nearly anywhere quickly--I applaud the city. We took the CTA red line, and transferred at the end of it, to the purple line that would took us to the city of Evanston, where Northwestern is located.
Entrance to train station.

The type of train that we all rode in Chicago.
Evanston is a nice small city that appears to have a lot of good places to eat and a few stores to go shopping. Not to mention, its proximity to Chicago makes it an ideal commuter town, for both jobs and internships. Moving on to the university visit, we first found the visiting center and then headed to the Norris building on campus and ate there. I made the mistake of buying Alfredo pasta and not being able to finish it. After all, if I couldn't eat breakfast, I shouldn't have been able to eat the pasta.
Alfredo pasta.

The information presentation room.
We quickly scurried back to the visitor center and went straight to the information session where we made it just on time. Our presenters were Michael and Mike who explained how there are around 2,500 students accepted every year to the university. Also that there are 6 undergraduate schools with more than 60% of students studying in more than one. The Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences is the largest one there. I also came to learn that the first two quarters of courses is to figure out what one wants to study. Freshman seminars are also a vital function for new students to accommodate themselves in the university. I came to know that the school of journalism is always one of the most top ranked in the U.S. and has one major. Not only that but, the School of Education and Social Policy has 4 interdisciplinary majors. 75% of classes have fewer than 20 students and there is a 1,200 full-time faculty. Also mentioned was that any class with 40+ people requires a group discussion. The common application and Northwestern university writing supplement are due on November 1st. Regular decision is due January 1st. Most importantly, on the "Why Northwestern?" question, we are advised to go above and beyond by being personal in this essay. 

City of Evanston.
Our tour guide's name is Carey and it was her last day as a 5th year senior, as she graduates tomorrow. Nonetheless, she studied theater and it became her passion. She talked about applied learning and how more than 2 million dollars in research funding is given every year. Also over 50% of students pursue international experiences. It was also mentioned that there are 480+ student groups and the school is in the Big Ten Conference, with 19 varsity sports. One very good thing she told us is that there is a dance marathon with 1.3 million raised last year. She claimed it to be, "the fastest way to make new best friends." There are two beaches on campus and all students have free public transportation. Furthermore Northwestern, just like every other school we visited has a blue-light system. 
Our tour guide Carey to the left.
The fabled "rock" on campus that is constantly vandalized.
After the visit, we came back to the hotel and got ready for the dinner with the admissions officer Shannon Kennedy, and three current students. We didn't want to be late to the restaurant (The Capital Grille) and we weren't going to use a taxi to take us, so we walked a few blocks there and made it with time to spare. When all of our guests arrived, we all introduced ourselves and began chatting away. Ms. Kennedy sat to my left, Katie over two seats to my left, Liam was directly across the table from me, and Iheoma sat three seats to my right. 

Great clam chowder.
Ms. Kennedy is the Nor-Cal admissions officer who also administers up to Washington state. Her job on a day-to-day basis differs depending on the time of year. As for now she answers all the hundreds of emails she receives, presents some of the information sessions and prepares for the next round of college presentations. She is a graduate of both Pennsylvania State and Northwestern and wanted to do something in education. The type of education she wanted to do, was not at an elementary school in Maryland as she had tried out for two years--she felt the need to work with more of her colleagues and sought a position as an admissions officer at Northwestern and soon enough earned it. She grew up in Pennsylvania and knew what she wanted to do in high school--which was teaching because she never had the experience at home of exploring other study areas in depth. Overall she was extremely informative and ready to answer whatever question I had to ask to her. She is really passionate about her job and loves working with students in this sense. 

Katie is a rising third year student that is studying journalism and French. She is originally from Texas and absolutely enjoys learning at Northwestern. As much as I like mild weather and temperature, she actually prefers the heat from Texas. Her parents are both French-speaking and met in France, thus she has leverage in French from her background. Concerning journalism, she loves reporting and even studied abroad in France.
Lemon infused halibut with fingerling potatoes and artichoke.
Iheoma is a rising second year student at Northwestern and studies anthropology and is going to study abroad in South Africa later in the year where she will help the local people there and study them on a social level. She is also from California, except from just outside of Los Angeles. She applied to many schools and got accepted into some very prestigious ones and chose Northwestern in the end over USC because of its community. She felt the students at Northwestern have a tight-knit community, are excited to learn and truly have pride in their school. She also loves her studies very much, for as much as people question what will come about with anthropology, she still defends taking it because she likes the course.
The heaps of side dishes.
My creme brulee.
Liam is a rising second year student and sure has a lot under his plate at the moment. He is taking a courses on filming and acting. He enjoys the stage and improv, and hopes to receive a job within these two areas of the arts. He is originally from Florida and absolutely fell in love with the city of Chicago and its people. He is in many clubs including a playwright group on campus, the Dance Marathon club, and even more. One thing to note was that he almost went to USC until he figured out about what their Greek life was like, he preferred something more peaceful--he found it in Northwestern. He is very sociable and also shares my interest in Game of Thrones, I asked him who his favorite character is, he replied "Sansa", the eldest daughter of the Stark family. He is very fond of speech and debate and is clearly a community type of person that finds joy in working with others and helping out others. Lastly he seems to be very well at time management for being able to keep up with all this work. 

Overall all these students are extremely intelligent and independent individuals that have a significant amount of work ahead of them (including Ms. Kennedy). They take much pride in what they do and accomplish, and will not let them have anyone say that what they do will get them nowhere, because they know that with the educational backing of Northwestern, as long as they put their mindset to it--anything is possible.  Judging from the tour guides, the students at the dinner and of course Ms. Kennedy, Northwestern has the strongest community I've seen yet out of the three schools visited. After the dinner, I set my mind to applying to Northwestern and will work on my application in the very near future. Not to mention I will still also apply to their rival UChicago, for both are excellent schools in their own respect. When the time comes in Spring based on the results, I'll see to what happens. Tomorrow we are going to go shopping in downtown, so that should make for an interesting blog and not to mention, we are arriving in Ithaca tomorrow!
From L to R: Katie, Liam, Katelyn, Carla, Iheoma, Jun, Sue, Ms. Kennedy, Me,  and Natalie

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