Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Reflections on a Great Three Weeks

My time with the ILC has been really enjoyable and has left me with a lot of experience that I would never have been able to get otherwise. 

I’ll start by discussing the city because New York is such a vibrant place. The area in which I live is hardly rural but it’s not intensely urban either, thus it was an interesting change to spend three weeks in central Manhattan. Whereever I was there were always people; this created an atmosphere that felt very different from what I was used to. When we went to Times Square even at one o’clock in the morning it was filled with people, light, and sound. This and the great number of things to do all contributed to a very lively feeling throughout the city. The amount of freedom we were granted combined with the ease of use and convenience of public transportation meant that the amount of opportunities we were presented with could be overwhelming at times. In retrospect I feel that although I really enjoyed the city life, I did not take advantage of all that was offered so I’d definitely consider returning to Columbia for college.

The city was not the only thing that I enjoyed about Columbia; the course itself was enriching in many ways. One of the most immediately impressive things about the university to me, were the resources, both human and material. The labs themselves were numerous and well equipped, and some of the more complex devices carried price tags of over a million dollars. This setup seems appropriate given that many of the people working there were the leading experts in their respective fields. While this environment was slightly intimidating, it was also very inspirational to think about the opportunities that await students. The course itself was quite informative, although the subject matter was slightly scattered at times, but its true value lay in its focus on giving an impression of what real lab work might be like. Our professor stressed the importance of proper laboratory protocols and procedures which really allowed us to get a feeling for how things would be conducted in a research lab. The seminars we received opened my eyes to how deep chemistry really can be, as professors described some of the emerging areas in which they worked. For example, spin chemistry studies the way in which the orientation of electron’s spins can dramatically affect the properties of an atom and lead to radically different subspecies of the same molecule -- something, which I was not even aware of. As a result of the course I feel much more enthusiastic about both chemistry and college research in general.

Aside from chemistry, I feel that the course also taught me valuable lessons on self discipline and human interaction. As the posting times on my blogs show, I was generally getting between three to five hours of sleep nightly. This really wasn’t a sufficient quantity of rest and the cumulative effects of it were rather unpleasant. I have no one to blame for this but myself so I feel that I really learned the need for self discipline and proper time management. I felt that I also gained a lot due to the diversity and talent of my peers. Students came from all across the country and the world; I only met a small fraction of all the attendees of the program and among them were students from China, Russia, France, India, Korea, Dubai, Australia, and Puerto Rico (although the last one isn’t technically international). Being around students of such diverse backgrounds really opened my mind and the fact that they were all so intelligent and motivated was humbling. I hope that I’ve positively represented WCCUSD to the rest of the world.

I’d finally like to thank the ILC and everyone involved in it for everything that it has done. Aside for the Columbia course the ILC provided opportunities from expensive dinners to meetings with college admissions officers. These opportunities really topped off what was already a great experience. My special thanks to Don Gosney, Ms. Kronenberg, and Mr. Ramsey for being so heavily involved in incurring the program’s success; Ms. Ishmael for being a great chaperone; and all of the sponsors who’ve donated so generously to the program. It was an honor to be part of this experience.

1 comment:

  1. Michael,

    The way you describe New York City it’s as though it’s the city that never sleeps. Oh, wait—I think someone may have once referred to NYC using that exact phrase.

    I’m glad that you appreciated the freedom you were allowed but along with freedom comes responsibility. That means that you have to weight the advantages of wandering through Times Square at one in the morning with being able to rise early in the morning to attend class. Personally, I’ll take the former over the latter but there are consequences to such irresponsible behavior.

    Later in your blog you even alluded to this so I feel better knowing that you learned at least a little something other than just the chemistry in your class