Friday, July 8, 2016

(R)- Going in a Northwestern Direction...or Maybe WashU...I Have No Idea

My favorite building from downtown Chicago. World-class architecture.
Here I am the eating my ice cream and typing today's blog.  I should start with the morning, where I had to run on a treadmill. (I do not particularly like treadmills.  Some runners do not run on tracks because they feel like a hamster running on the oval.  Treadmills are like that for me.)  Afterwards, I had some hotel breakfast that somehow ended up with maple syrup everywhere except my french toast.  Now I was ready to head into the busy day.
Chicago River flowing through downtown.
We headed to the train station and got acclimated to the system we will use for the next three weeks. Similar to BART but with way more stops.  We got to downtown Chicago and walked to the station that took us to Northwestern.  Once on campus, we had to check in, and the info session started.  And that is where my mind once again became confused.

One thing I noticed right off the bat is that these sessions are all identical.  They all give me the same stats and majors which reinforce my idea that I need to find a school with people I like.  Another big thing was the Northwestern session seemed more artificial compared to WashU.  The admissions rep from Northwestern showed beautiful slides and spewed stats, but the WashU session gave us more of an experience of the students.  I just wanted to get into the tour because I knew that was where I would get a sense of the school.  

The most Hogwarts building on campus
At the start of the tour, Justin from Long Island c/o '17 led us around to all of the schools and buildings.  I like the architecture, but I wish it had more historic buildings like WashU. There was a library with stone arches and pillars and some frat houses that somehow had cathedral architecture but nothing like WashU.  The school itself reminded me of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo only with the structure of an elite private school instead of a state school.  The proximity to Lake Michigan was fun, and the weather was super nice.  I expected the same humidity as St. Louis, but there is barely any so far.  I like the college town feeling with easy access to Chicago.  And finally, I think I like the quarter system.  After much deliberation between ourselves, my cohort has persuaded me that the quarter system is strongest because of the extra courses to take, more breaks, and more opportunity to double major or major/minor.  

We left the campus and had a quick snack to save room for dinner.  This is around 4 PM, and we were going to eat at 6.  At this point, we all started to examine the two schools against each other, and I felt like WashU was better at first. Slowly, my opinions on each school became equal.  Alice put it best by saying the two schools offer the same things, but WashU had the better of the differences. Then Alana brought up an interesting point by asking if it would still be the same if our days had been switched and we visited Northwestern first. Honestly, I do not know.

The only thing I know for sure now is that I will most probably stay away from public schools. I will apply to some in order to have a safety school ready, but the omnipresent shadow of debts and overcrowded classes are pushing me toward private schools that offer small classes and generous financial aid.  My biggest hope from today is that UChicago ends up being a perfect mix of Northwestern and WashU.  I also hope I like that combination.

My delicious dinner at Bandera
We arrived back in downtown at 6 PM for dinner at Bandera, and it was fantastic. I had a juicy filet that melted in my mouth accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes and spinach.  The highlight was being able to talk to Simon and Will, who are students at UChicago. Simon came from our school district and participated in ILC when he was in high school. We asked what pushed them into choosing the university, and they had interesting points.  They liked the house system that UChicago employs, literally Harry Potter style; the core curriculum; the unity and collaboration of the students; and the generous financial aid.  The school seems fascinating to me, and I am now super excited to move into the dorm tomorrow. 
If you look closely you may notice the modest name
of the building's humble owner.
Today ended with a tour along the Chicago River that gave the history of Chicago's stellar architecture.  As I looked up at the skyscrapers in awe, I felt small and insignificant compared to the calculus behind these gravity-defying buildings.  

It was a fantastic finish to the day and set us up with some knowledge before we start to live in Chicago.  Tomorrow is move-in day, and I know it will be just as busy as today, but I have enough energy left in the tank to get through it.
Corn cob architecture is perhaps the most clever in Chicago

Tallest building in Chicago: Willis Tower

1 comment:

  1. Great title! And don't worry about not knowing which of the two schools you like better...they are both amazing institutions with genuinely nice people. If you can see yourself at both places, this is a good thing. It means you are adaptable and flexible! Have a blast this week at UChicago.