Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wonderful Options

Today my cohort and I learned all about the University of Washington on a long but extremely pleasant day. We started back in St. Louis, where we awoke early and met Mr. Chan-Law in the hotel lobby at 5:50 am. The time element was particularly brutal because we’d all been up late last night blogging – I didn’t go to bed until two. However, I was proud to be completely packed up and in the lobby before anyone else. On my way downstairs I had grabbed a Raspberry Pop-Tart, and while we waited for the shuttle I ate it, just to have something in my belly.

The shuttle came in due course, and after a short ride we were deposited at the airport. There we checked our suitcases and went through security. As with our flight from SFO to Pheonix, most of us were “TSA Prechecked” and so were allowed to go through a very efficient security line, without having to wait or remove our wallet, shoes, and electronics. After security, we ate breakfast in an airport Chili’s, where we all had some variation of pancakes, bacon or sausage, eggs, and potatoes. Although I’d been up for a couple hours I hadn’t had any coffee yet, and so it was quite an effort to stay upright. Before leaving Carla and I ordered coffee to go.

It's a candy store with my name on it!
After breakfast we had little to do but wait to board. Close to our gate was a candy store called Natalie’s Candy Jar, so Jun and I went and made some little purchases. I bought some jelly beans labeled as Disney Princess jelly beans. Although they had a shimmery outer coating and were lovely shades of blue, pink, and white, they seemed otherwise no different from regular jelly beans. For instance, they were not particularly magical. I was only mildly dissapointed; in my eyes all jelly beans are worthy. 

Once we had boarded, we began to drop off to sleep. Sue, who was seated in the window seat to my right, conked out before takeoff and didn't wake up until we were descending. I wish I could've done the same, but the middle seat isn't meant for snoozing. Still, I had perhaps a half-hour nap before the crick in my neck asserted itself too loudly to be ignored. 

Once we touched down, disembarked, and collected our luggage, we departed immediately in another shuttle to the Drake, which, we soon found, was breathtaking. Luxurious carpets, dark wood walls and trim, chairs and couches with carved legs and complex upholstery, huge bouquets of flowers, walls and ceilings covered in mirrors, and couches in elevators meant that we were busy taking pictures the whole time Mr. Chan-Law was checking in. 

At breakfast, we drew numbers to see who would share rooms with whom, and I got Sue and Jun as my roommates. Our room had two queen-size beds and a fold-out couch, in which the springs can be felt. I was going to take the couch, but Sue requested it as a novelty. Because she took the couch, she gets one of our bathrooms to herself, and Jun and I share the other. 

Shortly after we checked in, we stepped out again to take a van taxi to the University of Chicago campus. There, we had a makeshift lunch in the bookstore, and then we went to learn from an admissions officer about the university. I learned that students have to take classes in core subjects and have until their third year to declare their major, that they work in a quarter system with three ten-week quarters, that the school accepts the Universal and Common Applications, that it won't reduce financial aid packages if students bring in outside scholarships, and that its supplementary essay prompts are already available online. 

After the information session we took a tour. The campus is beautiful, with huge and intricate stone buildings occasionally interrupted by bright modern structures, and lots of grass and trees. Our guide told us about the numerous opportunities for research and other extracirriculars offered to students. After the tour, we returned to the bookstore, this time searching for souvenirs. I purchased a mug with the University of Chicago seal, a postcard for my family, and another postcard for my elderly neighbors, who met and fell in love at the university after World War Two. In keeping with an earlier decision, I didn't buy any clothing. 

After waiting for another van taxi to bring us back to the hotel, we rode back through traffic, and received instructions from Mr.Chan-Law to be ready to walk to dinner at 6:20 pm. At the appointed time we went down, only to find that it was raining violently. After briefly debating walking with umbrellas, we instead drove to the restaurant in two taxis. There we met Troy Carlson, a California Admissions Officer, Matt Rosenbaum, a Senior Admissions Counselor, and Teddy and Elizabeth, two students. I was seated across from Mr. Chan-Law and to the right of Elizabeth. I learned that she is studying theater and Spanish, and that she is in fact working on a play of her own this summer. She was vivacious and open, willing to answer any questions we had and volunteer other information. For example, she said that the campus has a special type of dirt which ages the buildings faster, first employed over a century ago to make the campus look as ancient and prestigious as that of the Ivy Leagues. She also explained why she found the houses system of dwelling so appealing: students who are brand-new gain both the initiative and the ability to meet new people constantly. 

The meal itself was quite well done. Unable to face the thought of a huge piece of meat, I instead ordered a caesar salad, which was prepared on a cart right in front of me. Even the dressing was whisked into being before my eyes. I also partook in two shared side dishes: fluffy mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, which was made partially with goat cheese. Everything was delicious, although the salad was rather heavy on the dressing. I drank water. For dessert, I ordered homemade doughnut holes that were to be stuffed by me with three different fillings. Although very rich, they were delicious. 

Doughnut holes to be stuffed with apple ginger, vanilla, or caramel fillings.

Immediately after dessert we were invited to view the room in which the restaurant cures all its meat. Although I followed the group through the kitchen and downstairs, I couldn't enter the refrigerated space because the smell and sight of so much raw meat hanging from the ceiling on large hooks was not something I wanted to see immediately post-dessert. Before leaving, I got to try one of Sue's cheesecake lollipops, which was even better than the doughnut holes. We were presented swag bags by our new acquaintances in a generous and unexpected gesture. Despite my plans, I now have a University of Chicago t-shirt!

After we had taken photos and said goodbye to our new Chicago acquaintances, we walked back to the Drake. The night was rather foggy, but it was no longer raining. However, as I write this, lightning is flashing and thunder is booming. It has truly been a day of excitement. 


  1. Natalie, Food seems to figure in everyone's blogs. The pictures make me hungry. I also notice that you feature macaroni and cheese. I will be anxious to hear who had the best mac&cheez. Glad that your feet or better (or that you are learning to live with sore feet. valerie

  2. Oh, p.s. tell your leaders that I really like the new and improved blog. valerie

  3. I laughed during your blog. The candy store part had to be the most unique thing, and I really liked the picture of the dragon (mythical).