Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A Trip to the Ivy League

Time for a trip! I spent this past Labor Day weekend in New Haven, Connecticut, which is the home of Yale University. But my main reason to be there wasn't academic at all- I was there to see Katherine!
Katherine is, for those of you who have never made her acquaintance, my best friend from high school. She's in her fourth year of history right now, but unfortunately led as busy a life as me this summer so I hadn't seen her since January. A long weekend was just perfect for a visit... Oh, and while I didn't realize it until Katherine told me, we apparently met exactly ten Labor Day Weekends ago at a pool party where neither of us really wanted to get into the water. Hooray for anniversaries!
When we weren't spending time hanging out with a bunch of very kind students, we spent a lot of time taking a grand tour of Yale University and its environs. Yale has to be one of the loveliest universities I have been to- founded in 1706, the entire thing is modeled after a British university, from the lovely Gothic style of the buildings (the library is above) down to the fact that the students stay in residential colleges rather than dorms. They even pour acid on the stones to make them look older.
The view from the reference room of the library, or more specifically from the table where I worked on my cosmology homework Sunday afternoon. (Yale students were still doing orientation and just started classes today, so while Katherine was busy meeting first years I worked on homework a bit.) It was mildly amusing to work here because a lot of tourists/visitors come in the doorway, snap a photo, and leave. And while the above clearly indicates that I'm not exempt from this, I must be on several dozen photos by now looking for all the world like a serious Yale student... or something.
The furthest away part from where the students live is Science Hill, which is also home of the Yale Physics Department! Yay! The building itself is probably a little bit smaller than CWRU Physics's Rockefeller Building (though Yale has a huge building devoted to astronomy to make up for it), but alas I never got inside to poke around. They still use actual keys on the doors as opposed to card swipes and it was a Sunday, and two grad students refused to let us in despite our asking very nicely. Hmph. Guess I'll need to pay them a proper visit on my own steam sometime.
This is the view from East Rock, which is a hill a half-hour walk from campus that overlooks New Haven and the university. If you have a clear day like we did, you can see all the way to Long Island. As the picture sort of shows, Yale is basically New Haven- according to Katherine they're the number one employer in the city, with number two being the university hospital. Either way it's a cute little city- they have good pizza too if you're a fan of thin pizza!

So all in all, it was a great weekend for sure and I had a lot of fun. I will confess, however, that it never felt like I was completely in the "real world" for a large chunk of it. I suppose this is because while Yale students are all intelligent and lovely people, they didn't seem to view the world the same way college students I usually hang out with do. Virtually everyone went abroad to an exotic country this summer, often to volunteer in an orphanage or conserve wildlife or something, and while this is quite commendable I have never heard of a CWRU student doing such a thing for the simple reason that CWRU students need their summer pay. Further, there were a few instances where the degrees of separation between me and Famous and/or Influential People reduced to scantily tiny numbers in what were otherwise normal situations, and if you never do double-takes when these things happen you've probably been away from the normal realm of things for a long time.

(Special thanks to Katherine for being my ever-splendiferous hostess!)