Thursday, July 10, 2014

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Although we are staying in Washington DC currently, today we took a day trip to Philadelphia to visit the University of Pennsylvania. We left the hotel at 6:10 to catch the Amtrak to Philadelphia. The train ride was very scenic, although most of it was spent sleeping.

The Liberty Bell
We had some time to spare between when we arrived and when we had to head to the campus to attend the tour and information session, so we went to see the liberty bell. To see the liberty bell was free, which was a great, and there was also a museum type of exhibit accompanying it. The exhibit was organized to show what the liberty bell represented to the American people at different periods in U.S. history. 

Soon, we decided to go to campus so that we would not be late for the tour. There were so many students that wanted to tour when we got there that we had to be split into four different groups. Our tour guide, Isabel, was from Panama and studying communications and marketing. Fortunately, the weather in Philadelphia today was gorgeous, warm with a light breeze so it wasn’t so hot. The campus had many large and shady trees, and brick buildings. There are four different undergraduate schools within the university; The Wharton School of Business, The School of Nursing, The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and lastly, the most popular, the School of Arts and Sciences. There is no interdisciplinary study in the way that there was at Washington University. What I mean by this is that at Washington University, students who were in the college of arts and sciences, for example, could take classes in the school of engineering if they were interested. UPenn students cannot do this because, as Kingston, a Pre-med major who I met at the student and alumni lunch later in the day explained to me, the different colleges are on such a specific track that it would not make sense to take just one or two classes in a different school. 
The Freshman Dorms at UPenn
After the tour, we had a few minutes to wander the campus before heading to the information session, which was in a huge and impressive theater with complex patterns on the ceilings and walls. One aspect of their university that was really emphasized was how connected the campus was, and how this leads to so many opportunities and internships or employment opportunities. It is, as a result of the value it puts in community and connections, unofficially called the social Ivy. 
Because our trip to Philadelphia was only a day trip, instead of having a formal dinner, we had a more casual lunch with three students and two admissions officers. The students were Kingston, Johnathon, and Carol. The two admissions officers, both alums, were Alex and Frank. As it turns out, Johnathon and Kingston were both Pre-Med, so they told me about their experiences being Pre-Med at UPenn. I found out that there were three hospitals in walking distance of the campus; The Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP), The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and one other. This gave Johnathon the opportunity to get in contact with doctors, one who is a surgeon who he has the opportunity to shadow. This is already a great experience for him, but it is even better because he was just a freshman when he first began shadowing the surgeon. 

I also was sitting near to the admissions officer Alex, who was one who read the essays, and gave us some really helpful tips, such as if an essay or question is optional, whether you do it or not will not change how they see you. Of course if you do choose to answer the optional question, your answer will be analyzed, but whether you simply answered it or not will not have an effect on your application status. 
Lunch at Davio's

For lunch I had home-made gnocchi, wild mushrooms, and white truffle oil. It was so delicious and filled me for the rest of the day.

Tomorrow, the cohort will head to Chicago to visit Northwestern University and then settle there and move in to the University of Chicago dorms.

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