Monday, March 30, 2009

From Nick Ortega - Hercules High School

The Ivy League Connection provides a one-of-a-kind experience. What it gives is not available from many other places, and definitely not available at their price. While there, I learned many valuable lessons, most of which had nothing to do with the subject matter I was studying. The Ivy League Connection sent me to Columbia University in the heart of New York City for three weeks last summer. I was enrolled in the Investigations in Theoretical and Experimental Physics course. What I learned there, I will use through college and my life.

Being on the east coast (in Manhattan!), I experienced a part of American culture that I never had seen before. I was able to see many sites that have served or currently serve a great part in the United States' history, including the U.N. building, the statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and more. Additionally, I saw the different lifestyles of Americans in New York. I found out that while the pace of life is much faster there, we are still united through the ideals of American society and patriotism.

While I saw this part of national culture, I also was placed in a melting pot of international culture, as the other students I met came from several foreign nations, including Egypt, Brazil, Hong Kong, Cuba, Greece, and England. Through our conversations, I learned new, outside views about the U.S. I also learned how to always get along with anyone, despite cultural differences.

Inside the classroom, I learned more than just physics. I learned how to cope in a college environment. While the workload was strenuous, I was able to keep up with the lectures given and I learned more than I had in any three weeks at high school. Knowing how to work with groups when needed and how to buckle down to get the work done, I can go to college with confidence that I will succeed.

The most important thing I learned, however, was how to be independent. This experience, like no other, has taught me to rely on myself. I learned that I am able get myself up on time for class (even if my parents can't believe me) and that I can look after my own needs. I had to make sure I knew my schedule and had to get myself where I needed to be every day. I learned to keep track of what I needed for myself, and was able to schedule my time appropriately to maximize all I could learn.

In all, this opportunity gave me the skills I needed to enter college with confidence. I will always remember the good times I had, the people I met, and the lessons I learned.

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