Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Bring Your Parents to Work Day

Last night was the night that we had to bring our parents into work and have Don talk at them like he had to us back in March. Good times. Only this time it was for about 2 hours rather than 5. We met up at Pinole Middle School at 5:45 PM to get down to business. It started with Madeleine Kronenberg giving a few words about how excited she and the rest of the school board was for us, which was a bit of a reassurance and inspiration to go out and do the best we can out back east. She then proceeded to tell us that she would try to come out to at least one of the departures, but no promises. Don and she both got a big laugh out of that, so that's always a good sign, right? Right.
Listening to the chaperones speak. :)
Don then gave us a quick little run-down of why we were there, what we we going to do, and then turned the chaperones on us to let them speak. I think all of the chaperones did a very good job in selling the fact that they were trustworthy to all of our parents, which is awesome considering that this program has an obvious and heavy reliance in being able to trust the people we have been left to.

The Vandy Cohort, Parents, and Edward
Then we had to break off and talk about where we were going, what we were going to be doing, and the whole nine. According to Edward Hernandez (one of last year's Vandies), Vanderbilt is different because we have a lot of structure in our program, which my dad described as being similar to boot camp or prison. Then, we found out we would be leaving for Nashville at about 10:30 AM. Our whole group practically screamed in relief. We get to sleep in, praise! Evan did make it out the luckiest in the cohort, as well. Because he's the only boy, he gets his own hotel room. Oh well, that just means he doesn't get to paint nails and tell secrets with us at 2 AM. (Just kidding.)

When moving on to what we were going to visit back there, we knew we couldn't visit everything, but we have a very good list of things that we're going to do. Mostly eating good food and checking out a lot of the sites in and around the general vicinity of the universities we're going to visit.

After we handled that business, Don called us back over to give our parents a run-down on what to pack and what he had to lend us for packing and going back east. I managed to snag the big purple luggage bag, much to my friend Robson's dismay. Great times.

Vanderbilt is so close and I can't wait.

Trip Details at the Orientation

Last night I, along with all the other ILCers and their parents, attended an orientation at Pinole Middle School. My mom went with me and once we arrived we made our way into the cafeteria and sat down, awaiting the beginning of the orientation. Madeline Kronenberg started off the orientation, she said a few kinds words and offered some advice to us all about the adventures that await us. Soon enough she was finished talking and it was Don's turn to say some words.

Don had the chaperones come up and introduce themselves, one by one they explained who they were, what cohort they were part of, and the experiences they have had concerning kids and working in the district. All of them are highly qualified and I was surprised by how many of them had chaperoned trips with students to other states or even other countries before. I definitely feel comfortable being in Ms. Hansen's hands for the summer, and I think we'll have a great time.
Me and Evan durring the presentation, accompanied by our mothers 
Once the chaperones finished presenting, Don said a few more words and then we broke out into smaller groups containing the different cohorts. This was nice because we got our very rough itineraries and we got to discuss what we will be doing during our free time in Philadelphia and Tennessee. I was excited to see that our flight to Tennessee doesn't leave until 8 AM which means we don't have to be at El Cerrito at 3 AM like I had previously thought. Also, we'll be flying Southwest so we'll get to check two bags each! While I know, that doesn't seem like it warrants an exclamation mark, it's 50 more pounds of baggage I can pack (how exciting!).
Edward giving us some tips and tricks about Vanderbilt 

In these smaller groups we had the opportunity to talk to an ILC alum, Edward Hernandez from Richmond High, who attended Vanderbilt last summer, he answered a lot of questions we had about the program itself and the city as a whole. He happened to have taken Adaptive Engineering last year which is the same class I'm enrolled in, so it was nice to hear about how much he enjoyed the projects and the class itself. Hearing about the class makes me so much more excited for this summer, I feel like we'll be leaving any day now. 

After we finished up in our groups Don talked a bit about loaner items. While I knew that he offered a wide variety of items, seeing them in person was a whole new experience. It only solidified how excited I feel about the program, it's such a great opportunity and on top of that Don supplies us with everything we could possibly need. 

The whole orientation was really interesting and helpful, I was given a large amount of more specified information concerning the trip and any questions I had were answered. I'm excited for the summer, I can't wait until we're on our way to Tennessee. 

The Clarification Orientation

This Monday night, all of the ILC cohorts, chaperones and parents included, gathered with Don at Pinole Middle School to give everyone a run-down on what to expect in the coming couple of months, and to give the cohorts, parents, and chaperones a chance to talk to each other about the programs we would be going to.

Madeleine Kronenberg had a few words to say to us before we began, though. I thought it was great of her to come, as I'm sure she's usually quite busy. She told us all about how the board was proud to back the ILC, and that she would even try to make a departure or two, if they weren't too early, of course. She and Don had a laugh about that one, it seems like they've joked about it in the past. That just goes to show you how connected with the board the program is, so thank you, Ms. Kronenberg, for coming out. 
Everyone listening as the chaperones introduced themselves.
Next up, Don talked at us for a little while, but it wasn't too long. He had all of the chaperones come up and introduce themselves for our parents, and tell a little about their experience. This was important, as I'm sure all of the parents want to know who their child is going to be spending a month back East with. Once all of the chaperones had spoken, the cohorts split up into groups so their specific information could be told. We got a handy sheet with the itinerary on it, but so far it's a "really rough draft" as highlighted (literally) in all caps, in big text, at the top of the paper. We'll be leaving the sixth of July and getting back the 30th. What I'm really glad about is our start time, our flight leaves at about 10:30 AM, which means we don't have to get up at 3 AM! As you can imagine, I was really happy about this because I like to get my sleep. Don also got us a great hotel location, so we're right across the street from the Vanderbilt campus, and just down the block from Centennial Park, which our cohort was all interested in seeing. Supposedly there's also a great barbecue place near the park as well, and it's Nashville! There has to be good BBQ places.
The Vanderbilt cohort reviewing information.
We also reviewed other places to see, both in Nashville and Philadelphia. Again, our hotel is right across the street from UPenn (where we'll be visiting after the Vanderbilt program ends) and in a great location to sightsee. Don really knows what he's doing. We were able to narrow down our list of 20 things we want to see a little bit, but we'll have to go through and see what we can actually visit. Unfortunately, we can't visit everything we want to, as we don't have an infinite amount of time or money. I'm not complaining though, this trip will be awesome no matter what we see, as long as it isn't too much of the inside of a hotel room.  
Edward talking to us about Vanderbilt.
Back to the orientation, however. We talked a little while longer, and had an alumni of the Vanderbilt program, Edward Hernandez talk to us and answer our questions. He was super helpful, and I'm glad he came. After everyone had finished, we came back together for Don to go over the packing list a little bit so the parents would know what to expect. Don was also asked a couple of questions, and everyone's curiosities had been cured. After he had finished, after about a half hour, he let everyone go either look at loaner items (mostly luggage items) or go home. My family already has a bag we think will work for me, so my mom and I opted for the second option. By the end, I could tell it was an evening well spent. I know a bunch more about our trip, and my mom does too. Vanderbilt is just around the corner now!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Everything Parents Need to Know

Today everyone that is part of the Ivy League Connection congregated at Pinole Middle School for an orientation that is primarily meant for the parents. By 5:45 almost everyone was there and Madeline Kronenberg shared a couple words with us about how proud the School Board is of the ILC and reminded us how important our blogs are. If any admissions officers are reading this, I'm a great kid please accept me into your school.

We got started and Don gave us the usual rundown of things. All of the chaperones introduced themselves and basically explained to our parents why they should entrust them with us. We then broke up into our respective cohorts to go over the very rough draft of our itinerary with our chaperone and parents. Don's instructions were quick and soon enough my cohort was finding out that we will be flying with Southwest Airlines. We were very excited because that's the very lucky airline that allows for 2 check-in bags, what a dream.

Ms. Hansen talked about a few key things with us, such as when we'd be checked into Vanderbilt and when our site visits for Vanderbilt and Penn would be. At first, we were a little alarmed because the schedule said to meet at ECHS at 3:30 AM but departure time wasn't until 8:30 AM. Don came over and quickly cleared up the roughness of the itinerary.

Edward, who attended VSA last year, came over and spoke to us about his experience at VSA last year and several things to keep in mind. The biggest thing Edward said to keep in mind is that there will be a culture shock, and I figure it will differ from what I experienced at Cornell. Since Vanderbilt is in the South, there are people with very different political views there. He also told us that VSA is very strict but mostly it is to keep the students safe. It was a relief to hear though that there was a group that went for runs in the morning and to the gym during the 2-hour free time. Additionally, it was sweet to hear how it felt for his class to give the modified toys to kids with special needs at the very end. 

After Edward answered several of our questions he had to go, but then we got into more detail about places we definitely want to visit while in Nashville and Philadelphia. We found out we'll have a car in Nashville, which opens up the opportunities to go sightseeing. There are some places walking distance from the hotel, so those are ones we'll definitely go to. For Philadelphia, we'll probably have to cram more into our schedule, but the historic sites seem like almost a definite as well. 

Although we only came to a semi-consensus, we were ready to regroup with everyone else at the orientation. That's when Don started talking about more things such as loaner items. Again, this is one of the hugest benefits of being part of the ILC. Don does everything possible to make sure everyone is in good shape to travel. He has luggage to lend among many other things such as laptops, cameras, portable fans, USBs, and anything else we might need. The list of things to take back East or South is always long but it's better to be prepared than not. 

There were very few questions after Don was done, and by then we all had an idea of how we're supposed to act while we're away at these prestigious schools. Like always, I'm very excited to be leaving in about a month but a little worried too. 

Vanderbilt and Nashville - a Great Combination

After my last blog post, I did some more looking around online. This time I looked at Vanderbilt and Nashville together, not just Nashville. (If you can't tell, I'm getting quite excited for the trip this summer.) What I found was that Vanderbilt is connected to the city of Nashville in a great way. Vanderbilt's campus only lies about a mile away from Nashville's downtown area, but as I was talking to Eppa Rixey, at the fundraising dinner, he made it sound like Vanderbilt also had a bit of its own college town around it as well. This combination makes it seem like Vanderbilt is in a great location, but doesn't totally feel like it's hemmed in by the rest of the city. I can't wait to be there!

Another part about Vanderbilt that I think is really cool is how the entire campus is a national arboretum. I found the link on Vanderbilt's website about this is "vanderbilt.edu/trees/" - which is really funny to me. After looking around on vanderbilt.edu/trees, I found lots of cool facts and lots of cool trees. There are about 190 species of trees on the campus! And the campus has been referred to as an arboretum since before 1900. Basically Vanderbilt’s campus is almost like a park, and I can't wait to go there to see it all. The pictures I've been looking at show beautiful brick buildings surrounded by tons of trees and other plant life. One problem with all these trees, however, is the number of squirrels they attract. It's said that the squirrels outnumber the students, which would mean over 13,000 squirrels live on campus! That's a lot of squirrels!

Vanderbilt's life flight helicopter
The next thing I found was that Vanderbilt is the only Level 1 trauma center in the middle of Tennessee, and has the only cancer center that conducts research for children and adults. This means, according to the American Trauma Society, "A Level I Trauma Center is capable of providing total care for every aspect of injury – from prevention through rehabilitation." Vanderbilt offers healthcare and comprehensive care too. I thought this was a really cool part of the school, because the college is really caring for the city it takes residence in. 

All said, I'm sure there are a ton of other great things about Vanderbilt and Nashville together, but that's all I have for now. I can't wait to explore Vanderbilt, Nashville, and the relationship between the two when I'm actually there!

The University of Pennsylvania- Some Facts

The original UPenn banner, in the flesh.
This week I’ve been doing research about the history of the University of Pennsylvania and I have found out one cool fact about the history of this school. In 1740, a preaching hall was planned to be erected. It was going to be the biggest building at the time, as well as the place for the education of poorer students. However, there were no funds until January 1751 when Franklin saw his chance to jump and construct the building for cheap. A few years later, during the American Revolution, this school, known as the College of Philadelphia, was seized. Pennsylvania transformed the college into the University of the State of Pennsylvania, which made it the first state school AND America’s first university. I did not know UPenn was the first university of America and was shocked to see this.

Just because this is the first university of America, I absolutely have to see this university now. I cannot wait to visit.

I also learned some general facts about UPenn that are quite interesting and you all might want to hear as well. First off, UPenn has about 90 majors and minors, including (but not limited to): African Studies, Biology, Computer Science, Economics, Nursing, and Fine Arts. Quite an assortment to choose from! 

It doesn't have any religious affiliations. Besides that fact, however, it is in an urban setting and it follows a semester-based calendar. 

It's a private, coed university that costs about sixty-nine thousand dollars a semester. However, there are many forms of financial aid including student loans, scholarships, grants, and work study. To top it off, in 2015 it received at least 10.1 billion in endowments. This school doesn't mess around. All the more reason to be excited to see it this summer!

A beautiful school for an option to a beautiful picture.

More About Vanderbilt

It seems like we’ll be leaving for Vanderbilt any day now, while I know our departure isn't until July, I can't wait until we’re there. But, until we’re actually on our way to Tennessee, there’s plenty of things for me to learn about Vanderbilt. That's exactly what I've been doing in what little free time I have(finals are wonderful). Anyways, I thought I’d share some of the interesting things I've learned so far. 

First, Vanderbilt was founded in 1873(I guess you could say it’s old) and started after a gift was given to create a university. That gift that founded Vanderbilt University was about $1 million dollars, and it was given by Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. He donated this money in order to, "contribute to strengthening the ties which should exist between all sections of our common country.” This mission would be accomplished through the university that is now named after him. 
Vanderbilt University, featuring a statue of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt 
The campus site was chosen by Methodist Bishop Holland N. McTyeire, part of his vision included the trees that Vanderbilt is now famous for, many of which he planted himself. The original 75 acres that were Vanderbilt University were packed full with trees, because of these trees, the campus is now known as a national arboretum. The Campus and its buildings have evolved over the years, it now spans 330 acres(and has over 6000 trees) and has 179 buildings. 
An image of the campus showcasing the abundance of trees
Vanderbilt over the years has changed, but has definitely fulfilled it’s goal of contributing to the ties between all sections of the country. Vanderbilt University has, today, around 6,500 undergraduates and 5,300 graduate and professional students. It operates as a research based liberal arts school and has students from states throughout the country, along with about 7.6% of the students body being composed of international students.

Nashville, Tennessee 
Vanderbilt, as you probably know, is located in Nashville, Tennessee. Also, interestingly enough, Nashville has been named as America’s friendliest city for 3 years in a row. Students seem to enjoy their lives at Vanderbilt and are involved in the community, both on campus and in the city of Nashville. Just a quick google search gave me results about students getting involved in various matters throughout the city. Students are very vocal about the location of the campus, they love the proximity of the city in combination with the beautiful state of Tennessee. I’m sure that during my time at Vanderbilt I, too, will grow to love the campus and the city that surrounds it. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Brief History Lesson: UPenn

Most people reading the blogs do not have the time to go on the University of Pennsylvania's website for a full history of the school. Luckily, here's a short but concise blog post on the history. Pennsylvania is very rich in the history of this country itself, making it all the more impressive to visit.
The University of Pennsylvania was founded in Philadelphia in 1740 by an evangelist, George Whitefield, who wanted to build a charity school. It became America’s first university.
Ben on the  Bench sculpture at Penn
The new building was never really finished and was left untouched up until 1749, when Benjamin Franklin published a very famous essay about education in Philadelphia. This essay led to opening the doors of the building of what then was the Academy and Charitable School in the Province of Pennsylvania.
At first, the focus of this school was different from the others. Franklin wanted the students to learn about business, government, and public service. At the time, these were radical ideas so many disapproved.
In 1757, the first class at Penn graduated. Eight years later, the first medical school was also established there.

About 150 years the later, the way students were being educated changed with the times. Instead of being a teaching institution, it became more of a research institution. Because the student population had grown, the institution relocated its campus to West Philadelphia.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Jeggings on Solano

What Zachary's looks like from outside (not my photo)
I arrived at Zachary's Chicago Pizza, literally my favorite pizza place, on Solano Ave. to find Cammie waiting for everyone else outside. Not even 5 minutes after, we were joined by Ms. Hansen and Maddie. We decided to head inside and grab a table until Evan arrived. It was probably our first time having a really long conversation with each other, so as it always is it was a little awkward at first.

Soon enough, Evan walked into Zachary's as well and joined in on the conversation. We didn't really know what to order just yet, but we figured out we're all open to just about everything since no one is vegan or vegetarian. Because the ILC is wonderful and pays for these meet and greet dinners, we treated ourselves to some salad before the pizza. Ms. Hansen ordered a half order of Garden Salad and Evan agreed to split a full Caesar Salad with me.

By unanimous decision, we got the Spinach and Mushroom deep dish pizza, with chicken added and the basil tomato sauce instead of the regular one. The wait for the pie was filled with interesting conversation ranging from Studio Ghibli films to classic cars. Everyone shared some kind of story, which was really nice.

My delicious slice of pizza
The pizza arrived and I was very pleased as always; I don't think it's possible to go wrong with one of Zachary's deep dish pizzas. The playlist they had on was mostly 80's and 70's music, making the atmosphere so much better. The art that's on display throughout the small restaurant is always amazing to look at as well. The waitress was also really nice to take a picture for us, as seen on the other posts, after Evan so casually asked.

After being incredibly satisfied by the pizza, we decided to stop by Greetings. It's a really cute hole in the wall kind of greeting card store, among other things. We amused ourselves by looking at socks with all kinds of designs and adorable cat greeting cards. Ms. Hansen bought 2 paper doll books as a gift for two little girls, which was totally incredible. I didn't know they still sold paper dolls. 

We then walked up to Indian Rock, since Maddie had never been there and the view is beautiful from up there. This was also Maddie's first time at Zachary's so we're really doing some life changing here. At Indian Rock we realized we should've saved the pizza to bring up there. There were several people who brought Cheese Board Pizza up or some burritos. We were up there for a while, taking totally model type photos and talking about the fashion trends that have come up.

Had to squat a little closer to actually look like I was part of the group
As one might be able to tell from our blogs, a hot topic at Indian Rock was portmanteaus. Apparently, denim skirts are in, which Maddie called Jirts. Then we thought about jeggings, joots, and jorts. It was certainly an insightful time up at Indian Rock accompanied by an amazing view of both the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate. We wanted to stay until sunset, but it was getting a little too late for us

I'm really looking forward to departure day with these 4 and the adventurous time we'll have in Nashville and Philadelphia.. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Anime, Dogs, and Janties- A Night on the Town

Tonight was the Vanderbilt cohort's casual dinner and I ended up dressing up a bit for the event. I was feeling sort of cute today, so why not? I did however take the liberty of wearing my Vans with my dress, so there's that. I also got a haircut recently, so doing my hair was a quick comb and out the door, more or less. Yay for loose rules of what to wear!

Food is good. This pizza was great.
Anyways, so Miss. Hansen picked me up from my place and then we went to this place called Zachary's, which I have never been to before. Cammie had already been there and Joceline showed before we went in. Evan was the late child to the party, but he still arrived on time. When we started ordering, we all were pretty agreeable and were able to come to an agreement- spinach, chicken, and mushroom pizza. Oh my goodness, it was so good. Honestly I didn't expect it to be that good with all the sauce on it, since I have never had deep dish pizza before, but if I had the stomach for it I would have gone back for seconds.

During our meal, we talked about various things. Music, anime, movies-you name it, we probably talked about it. We all have a common interest in old cars and Studio Ghibli movies, so that was pretty great.

After the meal, we hit the street and walked to a gift shop that I have never been to before called Greetings.There were a lot of cool socks I might have considered buying if they weren't literally eight dollars a pair. I did end up buying this little metal coin with an angel on it and it's in my God box right now. 

Right after I bought the coin the store was going to close, so we went out and began going to this place called Indian Rock. I had never been there before, as usual it seemed tonight, and I was excited to see the ginormous boulder and climb it. The view of the bay was amazing. I really wish I had an actual camera instead of my cruddy phone camera to show you guys!
Way in the background is the Golden Gate Bridge. The quality of this camera gives the photo this really eerie look that I sort of like. :)
An old grim reminder of human history.
One of the things that was actually cool there was that there was an old air raid siren like right next to the rock. El Cerrito High was apparently the site of a military base during the time, so the siren was obligatory. It was all rusty and then the photo came out a little grainy, which sort of adds to this creepy vibe that I really like. It's sort of haunting, and it's really grim honestly. 

But moving on. We talked a lot on that rock. Subject testing came up- something I was really glad to hear about considering that I might take them one day when I get to be old like Cammie and Joceline. Then we sort of moved on to expectations for the summer and made many jokes along the way. 

The funniest thing happened when a lot of women coming up onto the rock were wearing denim skirts- which I immediately called "jirts." We then got into thinking of things made of denim and making portmanteaus out of them. This is why everyone has added a denim-flavored portmanteau into their title tonight. See if you can spot them all! The hardest one was for jean jacket- would it be "jeanet", or just "jacket?" Who knows!

Then the best thing to top of a perfect night happened- I made a furry friend! His name was Artie and he was a really great dog!

I made a friend! His name is Artie!

He came up with his owners and I clicked at him a bit. He then proceeded to run to me, jump on me and slobber all over my face. I think I stole him from his owners for a bit, too. He laid next to me for a couple of minutes before running back to his owners. It was really great.

So, the night was really great, and I can't wait to see everyone again at orientation! 

Artie and I, courtesy of Evan.

Jorts. And a Lovely Dinner With the Cohort

I started my day with my alarm going off at 6:00, which is much to early for my liking. My school day consisted of three tests(not fun), but at least I had a dinner to look forward to. I'll be honest when I say that the only way I got through test number three was the promise of pizza in my near future. So, as soon as school ended I headed over to Zachary's to meet with the cohort for dinner at 4:30, but somehow in our email thread the meeting time had changed from 4:30 to 5:00, a time change I wasn't aware of. Anyways, within a half hour Ms. Hansen, Maddie, and Joceline arrived and we made our way into the restaurant.

My Pizza-Yum!
We got table and started picking through the menu, Joceline is pretty familiar with the restaurant but the rest of us hadn't been to Zachary's in a while,if ever, so we took our time going through the menu and perusing our options. After a bit of discussion about what kinds of toppings we each like, I learned that all of us are meat eaters and don't have any allergies, Evan arrived. With our servers help, we decide what kinds of pizza to get and what salads we would start with. Maddie, Evan, Joceline, and I all split a massive Caesar salad, and within what seemed like no time at all the pizza was at our table. While I'm not entirely sure what all was on the pizza, I know it included spinach, mushrooms, chicken, and more, and it was delicious. We each ate one piece with the exception of Evan who had two, I would had had another but I felt like I would explode if I ate any more. During our meal, our conversation drifted to and from countless subjects. We talked about different music genres, movies, cartoons, cars, and so much more. I was surprised by how much we have in common, and it was nice getting to know everyone a bit more.
The cohort after eating a lot of pizza
After we were done eating we got the check, it came with five lollipops, one for each of us! I immediately grabbed a red one, I'm a sucker for red lollipops(haha sucker-get it?). We finished our lollipops and then headed to one of my favorite childhood stores, Greetings. It's a small shop that sells greeting cards and random other things, like stuffed animals, magnets, coffee table books, and(my favorite) socks. I spent a while looking through their sock collection, but in the end didn't fall in love with any enough to warrant buying them. Ms. Hansen bought some super cool paper doll decorating books for her nieces, I'll admit I was pretty jealous of the mermaid ones that came with customizable tails.

Evan enjoying the view
We finished up at the store and then headed up to Indian Rock, which is a really big boulder that you can climb to see an awesome view of the bay. We climbed the stairs to the top of the rock and took a bunch of pictures, only a few people were there when we arrived. As it got later, and closer to sunset, more people came. We sat and talked, it was interesting to see what everyone was doing up on the rock, some people brought their dinners, others had their dogs with them, and some came to take pictures. This is were the title of my blog comes in, of the dozens of people which were there with us, a large portion of them were wearing jean skirts. I hadn't realized those were in style again, though I definitely support it, but the surplus of these skirts came into conversation. This lead to us discussing other types of clothing that can be made out of jeans, such at jorts(jean-shorts). It was a really fun and silly conversation, so I thought it was worthy of mentioning.
The view from Indian Rock
Pretty soon the fog was starting to roll in so we walked back down to Solano where we had started the evening. We walked to my car, were we said our goodbyes. Ms. Hansen gave us a quick reminder about the blogs and mentioned that we would be seeing her for orientation on Monday. Then Ms. Hansen, Maddie, and Joceline left for their car and Evan and I got into my car so I could drive him home. It was a really fun night, I definitely enjoyed the food, getting to know everyone more, and the beautiful view from Indian Rock.

Joots - An Evening of Fun

This Friday night, the Vanderbilt cohort got together at Zachary's Pizza on Solano for an informal dinner to get to know each other better. Once I had gotten to the restaurant, at around 5 PM, I found that everyone had already found a table and were sitting down inside. After I sat down with them, I joined the conversation, which would last throughout the evening. Everyone in our cohort is able to connect with each other in some way, and it's going to be great when we all go to Nashville this summer. For example, Ms. Hansen and I spent a few minutes just talking about the U2 concert it turns out both of us had gone to just a few weeks earlier. The best thing is, we both like Mumford and Sons (the opening band) a ton. Our conversation roamed around a bit as well though. At one point, we were talking about anime, and another point about vintage clothes, and many other varied topics along the course of the evening.
At our table, taking a quick pause to get a photo
While we were talking, however, we first ordered some food, starting out with salads and ending up with a large deep-dish pizza, filled with chicken, mushrooms, and spinach. We had a surprisingly easy time of ordering the pizza, it seems like we all have similar pizza tastes! We all ate at least one slice (and I ate two, man was that pizza good) and kept talking throughout. The picture of us at our table was taken by the server, who was kind enough to take a picture of us for the blog before going on her break. Once we had finished and the server, one covering for our first one, had left us a tray of lollipops to choose from, we decided not to end the evening there. We went down the street a couple of shops and went into the store Greetings. For those of you who haven't gone to Greetings, it's this small, hole in the wall type store. It's kind of like a hidden gift shop, and it sells some really cool (and funny) items. Some, however, aren't quite for kids. There are fridge magnets, socks, greeting cards, and various other little things. Greetings was close to closing by that time, unfortunately, so we couldn't stay long. Ms. Hansen did pick up a couple of paper doll books though, and we all agreed they would make great gifts for the little girls she was giving them to. I hadn't actually heard of paper dolls before, but it sounded like everyone else had played with them growing up. Another thing I seemed to have missed is about hair and nails, being the only guy. During the dinner there was some talk about hair, nails, and clothes, so I did what I could with what limited experience I have in that area. After we had finished in the store, we walked back out into the street, thinking about what else we could do. We talked a little about what was close enough to Solano Avenue to walk to. We decided on going to Indian Rock next, since Maddie had never been and the view is spectacular from there.
The rest of my cohort, ascending Indian Rock to see the view
For those of you who haven't had a cohort take you up there, Indian Rock is this big rock that you can climb up to get a great view of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Bay Bridge, as well as downtown Oakland and other sights around the bay. We walked up the paths from Solano and we stayed there for an hour, still talking amongst ourselves. I found it funny when more people started arriving and they brought their dogs. Maddie was really happy to pet the dog that was closest to us, a younger looking dog that had a lot of energy. Other groups of people included people who had pizza from what we thought was Cheeseboard, and a guy who was talking to one of the dog owners about their dog. He took out his phone and everything, researching the type of dog that they had. I believe he said it was a Westie, but the owners didn't know for sure because the dog had been rescued. Eventually though, it was time for us to start heading back. We went back to Solano, where everyone was parked, and bid our farewells then. Before we had gone however, we decided what our next blog pic was to be! We decided to re-create the Abbey Road photo with the Beatles, but it would be us at Vanderbilt. I had this idea when we were crossing the crosswalk at the top of Solano, and we were all spread out in a line. Yet another reason to look forward to going to Vanderbilt! I'm chock full of them, and super happy I get to go with my cohort. We had a lot of fun tonight. Up next, we have the orientation Monday, so I'll see them all there!
The Vanderbilt cohort atop Indian Rock!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Adventure Into the Great Unknown

In about a month we are set to go back east to do this program and explore what is more or less the Great Unknown if we are being perfectly honest. There are some things I would really like to see while I am back east, and I would like to share them!

Look at how happy this Asian elephant is at the Elephant Sanctuary!
The first thing I would like to see in Tennessee is this place in Hohenwald called the Elephant Sanctuary. I found out about this place back in February while reading the back of a molasses jar and I decided that some day I have to see it for myself. Since we're going to be back there, why not see it when we go to Tennessee?

Speaking of animals, there is a zoo in Nashville at Grassmere! I would really like to see what kind of animals are there and maybe learn something about the wildlife in Nashville, other than the squirrels that invade Vanderbilt.

There is this building called the Parthenon in Tennessee which is a rebuild of the Greek temple with the same name. There's a huge golden statue inside that would be completely awe-inspiring to see and take pictures of!
Here is a picture of the statue in the Parthenon

Another place I would like to see is the Country Music Hall of Fame. I'm a bit of a music nut and country music is just very appealing to me, so I feel like I would enjoy learning about country music by going there and seeing the history of this genre.

We're also supposed to be going to Pennsylvania, and I think the Reading Terminal Market would be a great place to see! It reminds me a bit of the Berkeley Bowl, which I've been to many times. Someone who has been there told me I just had to try something called a water ice, which he said was basically a slushie but a lot better. And did I mention there is pie there?

Just get a load of all of that pie!!
Another place that would be wonderful to see in Pennsylvania is Hersheypark. I don't really like amusement parks because those places sort of weird me out, but it would be cool just to stand outside and take pictures. It seems like the kind of place where something haunting happened long ago and now bright colors cover it up.

And then there's the Eastern State Penitentiary. I have a morbid interest in the dark, twisted side of humanity, the paranormal, and history. What better way to fulfill that interest by visiting a creepy old prison, am I right? And as far as prisons go, this architecture is pretty breathtaking.

If you go inside you'll probably see a ghost, but who knows?

This has been the top picks of what I would like to see when we go back east, even if at the very least we stand outside and take pictures of the locations.