Wednesday, June 18, 2014

More Fun in St. Louis with "WashU", a zoo, museum, dinner and Vanilla

Continental Breakfast, disappointingly without milk
It was an odd site seeing casually dressed teenagers walking into a 4-star breakfast, with the majority of the populace being dressed elegantly. No wonder people stared at us with speculation. Either way, we got our breakfast which included cheese blintzes, sausage patties, scrambled egg, oatmeal, a ton of mixed fruit, an assortment of juices, but not one drop of dairy--in the form of milk. Oh well, there was some in the complimentary pantry on the fourth floor, but I just settled on one of my favorite drinks--cranberry juice. After breakfast we all headed to our rooms for a 30 or so minute break, for our 10:00 AM information session would start not too long, and we had to sign in at the other side of campus, near the eye-pleasing main entrance. Shortly after signing in and receiving a complimentary bag courtesy of Washington University we were escorted to a small presentation room on the third floor of the entrance building where the information session was held. Jenny, the main presenter and admissions officer began with introducing herself which included saying that she was the regional officer of the Nor-Cal and the South. She mentioned how class sizes are regularly 20 people, whereas the largest class is about 150 students (if I'm not mistaken), with the smallest classes being comprised on one person each.
The spectacular front entrance of Washington University

Later on she explained the five colleges that comprise the campus, with the College of Arts and Sciences being the largest, followed by the Olin Business School and the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. Her assistant in the presentation, Ethan, a current student at the university that runs cross country and track attends the Olin Business School and spoke about the various countries that his friends have studied abroad at, after Jenny asked him. He also said that when one wants to switch majors in Washington University, one simply must go to the appropriate office and "fill out some papers" and soon enough it will be arranged--incredibly no reapplying! Jenny went on to highlight some of the greater perks of the university and location by saying it has the #1 dorm food in the nation (I soon learned that myself), it has some of the best dorms in the nation, Forest Park (the local city park) being the largest, thus beating Central Park and the St. Louis Zoo being #2 best in the nation. I also learned that dorms are guaranteed and with the 300+ clubs "she counted this morning", she guarantees there's something for everyone. The only important factor missing out of the entire presentation was financial aid--which I soon learned why at the dinner. I apologize for not taking pictures at the presentation.

After the one hour info session was over, we exited the building and found a tour guide shortly after
11 AM, Grace, a current student studying architecture. We began with the front entrance where she pointed at a seal and said that any current student who steps on it will not graduate unless he/she kisses the chancellor's ring. By the way, she also mentioned how the chancellor is a practicing chemist in the school faculty that continues to do research and is well-liked across campus. We continued on to Mudd Field that is a massive expanse of a grass lawn that is utilized in the school year in everything from concerts to plays. Moving on, we went to the main and brand new Olin business building that definitely had that "new building smell" that Grace said in advance. It was an impressive building that features numerous floors and a basement amphitheater. One thing to note about Washington University is that a lot of its structures have underground levels as well because no building can surpass a certain building on campus. 

We then walked over towards the southwest corner of Mudd Field where the stadium was located not too far off. Francis stadium hosted some of the 1904 Olympics and has a castle-like building (scene in the right background of the picture to the left) that serves as a lockeroom for university athletics. We then moved on in the dense humidity--that is so common in the summertime in St. Louis, under a bridge that is constantly painted over and over again as tradition. According to Grace, she saw a few words on it that said to become a tour guide--and she said that's why she was guiding us today. Furthermore, we went to the residential side of campus next to Francis field where we entered a housing complex with a model room that according to our guide was disgusting with how it was presented. Either way, she highly emphasized how the dorms are top-notch quality and how the food is amazing. We went outside to view walk around more of the campus and it was beginning to become overtime but nonetheless it helped us get a better picture of the university. We went to a model classroom, passed the library, entered the dining halls and exited them, and even saw a demonic rabbit sitting in the middle of campus (Thinker on the Rock). 
We went to eat at the dining halls where I had a chicken sandwich and some french fries and sure enough it was delicious. Later on, after a five-minute break we went to the St. Louis museum and viewed some art of all kinds, from modern to Mediterranean. Our main intention from walking almost a mile in the horrible humidity was not to find the museum, rather the zoo. After taking refuge in AC cooled museum, we headed out once again and found the zoo. The great thing about St. Louis is that many of its attractions are actually free, like the museum and the zoo. There in the zoo we saw sea lions performing tricks, idle gorillas, some gophers, various fish and even some elephants that were being fed. 
At around 6:20 we took two cabs to Tony's Restaurant in the heart of St. Louis's downtown. There we met with two current students from Washington University and one of their admissions officers. The student that sat two seats to my left, Akhil is a rising senior studying in the fields of bioengineering and is thinking about whether he's going to take a cardiovascular course or not next year. 

I didn't realize carpaccio is raw meat until they served it
To my right, also two seats over was Danielle Anderson, the admissions officer from the class of 2010. She majored in education and is about to return to school not too long from now. Lastly, nearly directly across the table (just one to the left) was Ellie, who is a rising junior studying political science. One thing that I found interesting was that both Akhil and Ellie are from the Bay Area, specifically Fremont and Berkeley, while Danielle is from Milwaukee. Akhil has a deep passion for chemistry and despises biology (I love biology, so I was flabbergasted upon hearing this). He also has a deep passion for community, the main reason he chose to apply to Washington University on Early Decision was because of its vibrant and friendly community. 

Although he also wanted to live in a different part of the U.S. and the dorm food of what the people at
Tenderloin and foie gras
the table called "WashU" was a major pull factor. Danielle, first heard about the school from a friend and began to do research on it. One search after another she ultimately became enticed with the university. When choosing her major, she mentioned how she jumped from one to another, until settling on education and became what she is now. Ellie on the other hand despises math of any shape or form, so thus she only took the classes that she required and prefers writing more than anything. Some other things I learned from them is that WashU allows students to choose one class to have a grading system of passing/failing, instead of a letter grade. Another thing I learned was that you don't need a car to live comfortably on campus, you can just ride Metro for free as a student. Apparently there is also a very large population of Californians attending Washington University, and the people of Nor-Cal are very well respected--according to Akhil.

Vanilla Ice Cream
Moving on to the food, I basically ordered whatever seemed fancy enough and strayed away from the foods I knew well. For the appetizer I ordered carpaccio, I had no idea what it was and wasn't afraid of the unknown. When I was served it, I realized that it was simply thinly sliced raw red meat that had a very mineral-ish flavor to it. I didn't enjoy it very much, and just ate it with crisp bread to get over the flavor. Then came my itty bitty tenderloin. I didn't expect it to be this small and not surprisingly, everyone at my table laughed at the size of my dish (no offense taken). I had it done medium rare and was fine with red meat in the center at this point because of the previous dish. The foie gras, was extremely delicious and melted like butter in my mouth--first time I had it, and won't be my last neither. At this point, I hoped to order something better than what I had previously ordered and chose a Vanilla concoction of some sort. Gladly this one turned out to be the best item I ordered and I ate it quickly for I still had a lot of space left in my stomach, I could even say I ate better at lunch. Either way, the important thing is that I learned more about Washington University. Gotta get sleep now because we are off for Chicago very early in the morning tomorrow. 
From L to R: Danielle, Ellie, Me, Sue, Natalie, Jun, Carla, Katelyn, Akhil

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