Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top-Notch Treats

Today in St. Louis we learned all about Washington University. I awoke this morning at about six thirty after little sleep, but was too excited to have much trouble getting out of bed. We met Mr. Chan-Law at eight fifteen in the hotel lobby for breakfast, which was laid out buffet-style in an open area on the second floor, with tables in a separate room. I ate a cheese blitz, scrambled eggs, and oatmeal with a mixture of coconut, pecans, walnuts, dried fruit, and brown sugar.

Since our hotel is on the Washington University campus, we had only to walk for a few minutes to get to the meeting place for the information session. We were each given a course catalog, a meal plan card for eight dollars, a map, a pen, a lightweight green tote bag bearing the university’s name, a coupon for souvenirs at the bookstore, and other miscellaneous information on colorful paper. We sat for a few minutes, finding the strangest and most interesting classes in the course catalog, until we were brought to another room for the information session. Several other students and their parents were there to hear an admissions officer talk about academic life, travel abroad, career resources, and extracurricular activities. Periodically she would ask Ethan, a rising sophomore and student representative, to talk about his experiences. I was excited to hear that students at Washington have access to many different advisers, small class sizes, excellent career counseling, a large study abroad program, and the activities of St. Louis. Furthermore, the financial aid is special in that if a student receives a merit-based scholarship after applying to one University school but ultimately decides to major within another University school, the student will not lose his or her financial aid.

After an hour of information and a rush to the bathroom, we had a tour of the campus that lasted almost an hour and a half. We saw a lecture hall, the dining area, a mock dorm room, a classroom, and more. Most of the campus buildings were built and used for the 1904 World’s Fair as well as the Olympics that year, so the architecture was stunning. After the tour, we ate dorm food for lunch, using our meal cards. Washington University’s food is ranked first nationally, but I must confess that my spring rolls and potstickers were not as good as I had expected.

After lunch, we stopped in the campus bookstore. There I decided upon my souvenir policy: at each university visited, buy a remembrance that is small, cheap, and useful. Today a bought a mug. Once at Cornell I can buy logo-spattered clothing for me and presents for family and friends.

After the bookstore we discussed options for the rest of the afternoon: walking a while to the zoo or resting at the hotel. I, realizing that my feet were sore and that we’d be walking all day for the next two days, decided against the zoo. After much discussion, Katelyn and I were left to our own devices in the hotel and everyone else went off to continue their adventure.

Since I was very footsore but otherwise not tired, and having access to the gym room on the fifth floor, I decided to work out. Katelyn and I spent a little under an hour there and fit in cardio, strength, and stretching, and found it very refreshing. With a few hours left before we had to leave for dinner, I showered, sat at the edge of the bathtub for a few minutes with my feet in cold water, checked my email, started this blog post, and got ready for dinner. I also tried to start getting my scattered belongings in order, since we need to be ready to leave for the airport by 5:50 tomorrow morning.

We took two taxis to dinner. The restaurant, Tony’s, is a very elegant Italian place where the waiters pull out and push in your chair for you, call you ma’am, describe the food with minute detail and wear suits nicer than those of some diners. At the restaurant we met Danielle Anderson, and admissions officer and alumna of Washington University, and two students: Ellie, a junior, and Akhil, a senior. This summer they’re interning in the admissions office. Our party of ten was seated at a large round table with a white tablecloth, barely illuminated by a single hanging lamp. I sat with Mr. Chan-Law on my left and Ellie on my right. She is from Berkeley, and I learned that last summer she was working at Cal’s Blue Camp for kids while I was working at Cal’s gymnastics camp. Ellie is minoring in writing, and was enthusiastic when describing the classes she had taken in that field. In fact, the only negative comment about her college experience was that she didn’t understand the material in her calculus class.Although I did not hear much of Akhil’s conversation, he seemed lively and engaged with Sue and Carla. 

zuchini flowers
Danielle was seated between Jun and Katelyn, two seats away from me. She told us that while originally she had planned a career in elementary education, she was so in love with Washington University that she came back to work in Admissions, originally as an intern. Danielle told us a lot about what the University looks for: for example, it does not consider GPA, but rather looks at the transcript as a whole, and requires that one of the two letters of recommendation come from a counselor, who provides contextual information about the high school. Throughout the meal she told many amusing anecdotes about growing up, picking a major, traveling, her childhood cat, and hating shopping even more than I do. She impressed me as a woman with a successful career trajectory who could probably give a professional presentation as easily as talk with a group of dressed-up high-schoolers.

salmon and veggies

Dinner was cheerful and the conversation flowed easily, whether it was about college or the slow death of facebook. Our new acquaintances were friendly and talkative, and the food was interesting, if sometimes confusing. I started with zuchinni flowers, which looked like three fried bow ties, but with a rather salty cheese-and-vegetable goo in the middle, resting on greens. I next had salmon with various grilled vegetables. This was delicious: the sauce for the salmon was almost sweet, and so the overall effect was one of delicacy. For desert I had ice cream pie, which involves a graham cracker crust, vanilla ice cream, meringue, and chocolate, caramel, and strawberry sauce. It was undoubtedly the nicest dessert I have ever eaten, and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to take a better picture. Finally, there were elevated trays with what appeared to be lemon shortbread and chocolates filled with mint cream.

ice cream pie
Properly stuffed, our party of ten took photos in the long, mirror-lined entrance hallway of the restaurant. Our acquaintances left, and we took two taxis back to the hotel, where we found that it was already almost eleven.

Overall, today was a fantastic day,one that I’ll remember all my life. However, I’m getting almost too tired to appreciate it. 


  1. Hi Natalie. Valerie is helping me figure out how to comment. It is not straight forward but I think we go it to work. Mom

  2. Hi Natalie...have tried a couple of times to post and have't been successful. I guess this is not as user friendly as Facebook (which, btw, is NOT dying with us old foggies!). This is

  3. oops! This is Paula and not Angela in case you haven't figured out. Have no idea how to change to my Google Profile.