Monday, July 12, 2010

Four Train Trips

From the desk of Terri Ishmael

Yesterday we went south from NYC and today northeast - I think. Amtrak is great but getting there on the weekends proved difficult both days. I guess construction on the subway is saved for the weekends, so it took forever on both days to get to Penn Station and the train. I went uptown from 72nd St. to 116th St. to pick up the ILC students. When we were gathered together we still had an hour to make it to Penn Station. However, we had to go uptown to 137th St., get a transfer, cross the street, and finally board a downtown subway train.

We thought all was well, but the train went very slowly through the sections under construction and it took a long time to make it to our destination. I suppose the subway is fine if you are not on a strict schedule and it's not Saturday or Sunday. I promise not to brag anymore about the convenience.

UPenn was wonderful once we were inside for the hour long info session. That gave us all a chance to dry off from the really heavy rainstorm.

We had originally planned to walk the six or so blocks to the university, but opted to take a cab instead. This was a very good decision.

Anyway we still had to walk to the info session and managed to get soaked.

After this very informative presentation where Michael asked a very good question concerning AP classes, we headed outside in the pouring rain. (The question was did UPenn count APs and the answer was only if they were 5s, but they could put the student into the next level of a course).

Anyway, we did see the Wharton School of Business - very impressive, the quad - an area surrounded by dorms, the School of Engineering - from the outside, and a large statue of Ben Franklin. We found out the mascot is a Quaker and is present at all sporting events. I'd like to see the costume.

We detached ourselves from the tour to meet up with the Penn students at the bookstore. They were extremely generous with their time and took us for great food - cheesesteaks and gelato. They were all very interesting and very open about why they chose Penn. They were a Bio major, a Bio-Chem major, a Digital Media grad with a job, and another science major. All other than the grad were interested in research and academia as future careers. The three in science all started as Pre-Med. They were from all over the world and, as I said, very interesting to talk to. I thought this was the best part of the visit.

Today was Yale and it too was a beautiful campus, but not quite as large a city. New Haven is around 125,000 in population. When we got to Yale we discovered that the Visitor's Center was closed so we did a self-guided tour. No rain, but very warm. We saw most of the campus and ended up at the Peabody Museum on the campus. We enjoyed this respite from the heat and we all got a kick out of the leaf-cutting ants display - all 10,000 of them.

The museum was small, but well thought out. The two girls who worked there were both Yale grad students - one in Music and one in Philosophy of Religion. Both chose Yale because getting their Masters is almost free because of the generous amount of money that comes from Yale. We also met another grad student - Forestry - who had gone to Brown as an undergrad. He, too, was there because of the money, or lack of money that he had to pay. They all said half of Yale is grad students.

The Yale students called us a cab and we went to the station only to wait for the train. It came about a half hour late and in a short 90 minutes we were back in New York.

Back to work for the PP students who all brought their books along to read. The final 20-page paper is due at the end of the week and they get their rough drafts -- 12-15 pages -- back tomorrow.

Michael and Jamie are finally getting a little homework also and had some reading to do to prepare for a lab. The two just mentioned going to Coney Island for a field trip tomorrow to the Aquarium there. I don't think they'll get time to ride the Cyclone, an 80+year old roller coaster. I'll see them tomorrow at 5:00 o'clock.

Those who attended "Phantom" really liked it. That was my third show and I hope to make it to "Promises, Promises" this week. Lots to do in this city. I think all my charges have been to at least one museum and have plans to go to at least one more before the week ends. They have certainly taken advantage of a lot the RAs have offered them, but there are almost too many choices and too much outside work to do.

More at a later date.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Terri,

    What have you gotten our poor kids in to? You keep taking them on long train rides just to get wet!

    From what they've written they all have positive things to say both about Penn and Yale with thoughts about the fit for each of them. That's the good thing about these site visits--they get a much better feel for the schools than they ever could from just a web site. I'll be the web sites don't show a single photo of the schools in the rain or snow.

    I hear that just about everywhere you turn around at UPenn you're running into a statue of Ben Franklin. I guess that because of the rain the kids didn't want to whip out their cameras (except for the great shot of Michelle showing her displeasure with the rain. Too bad no one had a camera out to snap a shot of Winston dunking both feet in that knee deep puddle.