Sunday, July 18, 2010

Reflection: A New York Experience

I cannot begin to describe how grateful I am for the opportunity I've had the past three weeks. Without the Ivy League Connection, and subsequently our generous sponsors, I never would have been able to come to New York City to study at one of the top universities in the world, Columbia, in one of the best experiences of my life.

Looking back, I can proudly say that I thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot in my  American Presidential Powers class. I have to say that the class wasn't without hard work and a lot of time. Our reading assignments each night were brutal and the in-class discussions not only tested our knowledge on the material but our ability to apply them to different situations. Moreover, the rigor of researching and writing our papers was probably the largest hurdle. I chose a topic (President Reagan and his speeches) that I certainly knew nothing about. I had to start my research from the bottom up. After researching, making an outline and writing the rough draft, it was all meticulous revising from there. I had never written a paper that long, especially with such high expectations coming from Dr. Z, everyone back home, members of the ILC and most significantly myself. In the time allotted I think I did a great job and I know that I can do even better when I enter college.

Another key component of the experience was simply New York. The city was everything I imagined and so much more. It's so vast and full of culture. Walking Times Square or even the hallways of Columbia, I could hear a plethora of languages spoken all the time. The immersion into culture was probably my favorite part. Looking around, there were restaurants of all different foods from different cultures. Opportunities were endless. Given the freedom at night and on the weekends allowed me to explore and dive into the city. It's so beautiful and complex, I can barely stand it.

One of the main things I can take from this experience is that other people are helpful. I can't do everything on my own, as much as I'd like to think I can. When we were assigned a lot of reading the same weekend we had college tours scheduled, the girls and I decided to split them up, saving so much time. I will definitely use this option more often in my future schooling.

Another lesson is that I shape my own future. With advice from Dr. Z and her guest speakers I learned that whichever school I wind up attending, my career and my life depend on what I do with what's handed to me. Dr. Z. kept pushing going to a school far away that no family member has attended and to study abroad in a place we've never been. Both have really meant something to me. Even though right now I have no idea what I want, I know that whatever decision I make will be a good one for me, that I can use to grow as an individual.

Again, gratitude cannot say enough for how thankful I am to have had this experience. I can't wait to share my experiences with others and encourage them to have an open mind when it comes to their future. Alas, my future is in my hands.

1 comment:

  1. Michelle,

    Your point about making the best with what’s handed to you is a good one but let’s not forget that you can take the initiative and grab for more than just what’s being offered.

    I frequently tell people that “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”. The point being that you can’t afford to sit back and wait for the world to come to you. Sometimes you need to reach out and conquer your own little piece of the world all on your own.

    You concluded your blog in just the right way, Michelle, because your future is all in your own hands.