You can cry now. I am.
Let’s start from the beginning. Before UChicago. Before I knew it was a school I would want to go to. Before I knew anything about the Ivy League Connection other than mere stories from my friends, peers, classmates. I can say I knew long before Don came last fall that I was going to apply to ILC; he came the previous year and I saw the presentation, and had a couple (pretty much everyone from Hercules) friends who went to various colleges across the East Coast. In other words -- they said I positively had to, it’s a life-changing experience, and drilled it into my mind (along with my parents and sister’s encouragement) that yes, I was going to be a part of the Ivy League Connection this year.
At first, I was skeptical. I had been to the east coast before (technically, though I was seven -- that still counts, right?) and wondered what was the difference between going for ILC and going with my family. I don’t think I could ever have been more off. The difference I thought of as an alleyway between two homes was, in reality, wider than the Grand Canyon. So let’s head to that day you (you being me, why not? It’s a blog, you, my dear reader, are me) turned in your pre-essays. They were polished little stones, weighing in my stomach for the email that would tell me if had gotten an interview. A good friend of mine submitted his at the same time, and we both spent the next few days in anticipation. Chicago was my first application. It was his second, and we both hoped, but only one of us ended up disappointed. Sorry friend. ;(
Other than myself, the other Herculeans who made it to the interview were Komal and Ryan. I liked our group of applicants, because there were social people (*cough cough*, Mauricio) who made it easy to draw the crowd together and feel like one super large cohort, rather than competitors. I was fifth out of nine students (I think, it was either fifth or fourth, the number seemed so trivial to me at the time), and didn’t really care when I went, I know myself enough to realise that. Later interview = more time to practice, but I didn’t end up practicing anyway -- instead, I’m pretty sure I was talking to Ryan about Jahnvi (my fantabulous friend who had made it in to the Vanderbilt cohort) the majority of the time. I was nervous, of course, upon walking into the interview, but I knew I would be fine after they said the questions would be placed face down in front of me.
My weakness, the inability to concentrate on speakers when I’m nervous. I had practiced with Ryan and past ILCers a couple days before, and they always asked me questions where the only thing I could see was their eyes. I mean, I know they were trying to instill in me that eye contact is important, but I asked for each question to be repeated three times, even if it was something like “how are you today?”. When I get nervous, my heart pounds and speeds up considerably, but this time, I was confident about my interview. I walked out, saw Thao, and said something epic that quickly degenerated into: “I think I got this, Thao. I really really really hope I did. It feels like I did. Gaaaawwddddd I hope I did.”
And I did, or else I wouldn’t be sitting in my room, typing up this final, final blog to you, my dear reader. Just for you.
The months of ILC preparation flew by -- there was the tutorial, and dinner, and school board meeting, and the orientation. Tutorial, where I learned that memes make any blog better. Dinner, at a restaurant called Town Hall, and my first time taking Bart. School board meeting, where I said my speech of an expanding horizons and opportunities, which turned out to be very true. Orientation, where I spent a day with people who have made as much as an impact on my life as the people I spent three weeks with.
And somehow, it was the flight. Past days of driving Don crazy to get forms in with my ever-full schedule, past writing in essays for my application and sending in stories and health forms. Past teacher recommendations and finally past the end of school and past the United Kingdom, we are at the Oakland Airport, ready for take off.
And we fly, a good five hours, three or four of them filled with Eric G. Eng of Boeing, and we arrive in the humidity of Saint Louis, Missouri. We tour WashU at St. Louis, and by the end of our stay, I decided that WashU just isn’t for me. It’s too quiet, private for me, and a research based campus isn’t really what I’m looking for to create a path in business. Next stop, Northwestern. Absolutely gorgeous campus (in the summer, not sure about what the snow will do the the beach -- though by the virtue of chemical properties, the lake should mediate the temperature), and somewhat attracted by the campus life and students. On my list, but not at the top. And we hit Chicago.
Jesus Christ, Chicago.
I would live here, in all honesty. I want to see the winters too, but I would live here, go here. UChicago, Northwestern, they’re both highly appealing to me. The libraries and gym and UChicago are killer. Exercise both your brain and your bodies, guys (and girls)!
I have to say, my time not only as a student at UChicago, but an ILCer at UChicago, truly affected how my days were spent. Not only did we have the responsibility to take care of ourselves and our classwork (+ “dorm”work), we had the addition of blogging and downloading pictures to mediafire. I feel like there’s a reason our cohort has a strangely disparate number of view from the rest of the cohorts (not bashing on them or anything, so here’s my hypothesis) -- our cohort was extremely open about our financial and scholarship-esque situation and explained the tasks that came with the 0$ price tag: blogging, mainly.
Some of my friends regularly kept up with our blogs (heh, wanting to be featured ;D), contributing to our now nearly 12,000 views. Though, we cannot ignore the world map, and the fact that people are checking out our blog site, Chicago cohort’s specifically fills me with pride in that they know how much an opportunity like this is worth, living vicariously through our blogs. Don’t shy away when possibility comes a’knockin at your door, run and greet it.
The duties that come with being an ILCer don’t end here. I still have to tell every living soul I’ve ever encounter (and then some) to apply for an experience that will truly open one’s eyes. And then I’ll prepare them for it, so they won’t be running face first into the walls on the way to their interviews. And now I’ll thank Don and his hawaiian shirts for pulling the ILC together, making it possible for our cohort (and many others) to travel 2050+ miles across the nation of America and giving us something more to live for than UC Berkeley. Thanks to our sponsors (many of them architectural firms) for making our flights and tours possible, Ms. Kronenburg, the ILC as a whole from my cohort to the people who interview us and put us together, the people I've met from plane rides to my classroom in the Regenstein, and finally my cohort for being some outright amazing people.
Yours, for the last time.
Still pondering about pictures...am I supposed to put ones I've already posted? That seems a bit lame, in my opinion. :( Hold on, maybe you'll see some tomorrow. I haven't left you completely. I promise.