You might remember a previous post called “Summer in Review” where I broke down my goals for the summer and evaluated the extent of achievement. That was about as close as you got to actually finding out anything about me as a person. And while I will still be sharing those types of posts every few months, I’m adding something new: the what’s-going-on-in-Erin’s-life post. Now there will be three types of posts – the typical advice ones, the season review, and the life updates.
I’ve shared tidbits about myself scattered throughout past posts, but no one here has any clue what’s going on in my life past these points: 1) I’m a high school senior, and 2) I love to write. So this week I’m going to give an update about what I’ve been up to in the past week. (Don’t worry, this blog isn’t going to turn into the mundane adventures of my life. I’ll only share this type of blog post when something actually interesting happens).
Fall Break: Virginia Colleges Trip
I’ve been spending the entire first quarter of senior year applying to colleges, scholarships, and planning college visits. And this last week, over fall break, I finally embarked on my long awaited trip to Virginia to visit two colleges.
Why Virginia? It’s one of my favorite places ever and I’ve always dreamed of going to college there.
So, without further ado…
But First, D.C.
I only had two days to spare before my first college tour, so naturally one of those days was spent in one of my favorite cities: Washington D.C.
My mom and I went to the Newseum – a museum all about journalism and our First Amendment rights. It was six levels, and each level tackled a different aspect of journalism and the media, including social justice movements (1960s civil rights and Stonewall), a memorial of all the journalists who lost their lives in the field, and the transformation of the media over the years (from early printing presses to Twitter). Out of all my adventures in D.C (and there have been quite a few), this museum was one of my favorites.
They had a fragment of the Berlin Wall on one of the floors. We could actually walk around the whole thing, comparing the Capitalist West Berlin side covered in graffiti and self expression with the Communist East Berlin side, which was completely void of any art at all.
There was a 9/11 exhibit. My mom and I sat down and watched the fifteen minute video that was connected to the exhibit, which interviewed the three or four reporters that ran towards the World Trade Center as the Twin Towers were collapsing in order to get the full story. This was easily the most emotional section of the whole museum and really added a new perspective onto the event that has defined American culture ever since.
The FBI section. I don’t have a photo from this one (maybe because there was so much to look at). It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the FBI and the media have an uneasy relationship. This piece of the museum displayed newspaper clippings, videos, and interviews on significant events like the Boston Marathon bombing and the D.C. sniper attacks (with all of it’s miscommunication and misrepresentation) to really highlight the tension between the FBI and journalists.
The first college I visited was designed and founded by Thomas Jefferson. It was a beautiful campus… but probably not the school I’m going to choose.
There were some interesting aspects of the school though:
- The campus was called the “grounds” and the classes were called “first years”, “second years”, and so on (rather than Freshmen, Sophomore…).
- Unique traditions: everything from inviting the local community onto campus for trick-or-treating on Halloween to streaking on the lawn.
- Fourth years were given an opportunity to apply for “lawn rooms”, which are dorm rooms that look out towards the central field of the school. Having one is a huge honor (and I know I would’ve tried with all my might to get one).
Then came the long awaited tour of the second university.
Every passing moment I spent on campus, the more sure I felt that this was truly my dream school. I loved every single aspect of the school – the campus, the traditions, the food, the academics. I even like their school colors!
- A large proportion of their undergraduates participate in research projects that get published in scientific magazines.
- The school has instituted an honor code: no cheating, lying, or stealing. My tour guide said that she could leave her backpack and laptop unattended in the library for several hours and no one will steal it.
- The campus is absolutely gorgeous, and literally across the street from Colonial Williamsburg. There is so much history!
- They have an amazing English department.
- The school population is relatively small – and it doesn’t feel like a gigantic city I would get lost in.
- They have a fascinating school culture. Not only do they emphasize community but they have a lot of fun clubs and secret societies too. (I’ve never even heard of colleges having secret societies until visiting Virginia).
Even if I don’t end up attending this school, I have a sinking suspicion their school is going to hold my heart forever. It was truly my favorite school I’ve ever toured, and I’ve been through a lot of college tours.
I had a packed fall break, which is really atypical. Usually I spend the whole week sitting around watching TV and catching up on writing. But I will forever be thankful for this short trip – sometimes getting away from everyday life is exactly what the soul needs.