Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Washington University, St. Louis

Today we visited and took a tour of Washington University, St. Louis. The first thing I noticed, before even starting the tour, was the architecture I saw on the campus. The majority of the buildings were made out of brick, and there were plants and trees everywhere. It seemed as though the campus was going through a transition though, because a lot of construction was taking place, and buildings were being renovated. We began our tour, and as it turned out, our tour guide was from California as well. We went around the campus and into some buildings, mostly the recently built ones. One was a study hall, that was just built in 2008, which had touchscreen TVs and digital maps. We were told that many classrooms had iPads outside of the room that could be used for directions or to find out more information. I found the amount of technology they had in their buildings interesting because it seemed to contrast with the old fashioned architecture that dominated the campus. 

Many universities require that all freshman take a core curriculum of classes before they get to choose their own schedule, but our tour guide, Simona, explained that at WU, there was only one class that all freshman were required to take, a basic writing class. Learning more about how to write is absolutely crucial for students entering college, because you end up doing so much of it in college. This is true no matter what discipline you choose to study, making it such a logical choice for a core class for all freshmen students.

Another fact I picked up on because I think it is such an important factor in the college experience, is that only about 3% of classes at WU are large lecture classes with more than 300 students. The majority of the classes are seminar style classes, with lots of group discussion. I think I would find these types of classes more helpful to me because they keep you engaged and actively participating in what you are learning, and give you an opportunity to learn about a subject from the varying perspectives of your peers. 
Entrance to Brookings Hall Quad
After the tour was over, we went to a quick one hour information session. An admissions officer, Easton, who graduated just two years ago, presented. Occasionally, a current student of WU named Ellie would step in to describe her experiences or her plans for the future. She was from Berkeley, California. Unfortunately, she was busy after the information session so we couldn't talk, but we did get her contact information, so hopefully I will eventually find out more about her experience.

A Painting by Picasso
Image of a Mug Shot by Andy Warhol
Our tour and information session ended early, so we still had time to spend exploring St. Louis. A great thing about St. Louis, is there are so many free cultural attractions, including the art museum and zoo we visited. Both were quite amazing, but the art museum especially, with exhibits ranging from French impressionism to American pop art.

Later in the evening, after taking a quick break at our hotels to recharge, we went to dinner at a restaurant called Atlas. We arrived a few minutes before the admissions officer, Jenny, and the Washington University students, Courtney, Nicole, and Avery. They were all admissions office interns, and were very close with each other. Before long, we were all deep in conversation with one another. I talked to Jenny about what I did outside of school, what our school district was like, how each of our schools were different from each other and so on. She told me about what it was like for her to live in the St. Louis area, and how it would be different from living in the Bay Area. Soon our food arrived. I shared an appetizer of gnocchi with pine nuts and sun roasted tomatoes, and then got an entree of duck, quinoa, and roasted asparagus. It was all delicious and very filling. Soon, dinner was over and we spent some minutes outside the restaurant chatting and saying our last goodbyes, while we observed fireflies and listened to the cicadas. 

Tomorrow we will be having yet another early morning to catch a six o'clock flight to Washington D.C. We hope to explore the city and visit the White House. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What an exciting day.

    What you described about St. Louis sounds so foreign--FREE museums? FREE zoo? What planet are you on?