Sunday, July 12, 2015

Long Walks and Long Talks

I met up with Mark and Alyanna to take the subway down and then meet Ms. Thrift. Naturally, I was the last person in our little trio to arrive but we still caught Ms. Thrift just in time and left straightaway for Washington Square Park.

With just enough time to come into the possession of some food before our New York University tour, we shuffled into the clean, modern glass building where the information session was held. My first impression was a little in between a “Wow” and a *whistle*.

Although information sessions and I haven’t had a good history together in the past, I stayed surprisingly awake for most of the presentation. I was really intrigued by the campus and the aim that NYU had for its students, even seriously considering it as a college to attend to in the future. And then *dun dun dun duh (Beethoven’s 5th)* the tuition and financial aid PowerPoint slide showed up. I was disappointed to see that tuition alone, on average, cost a staggering $46K. And in addition to everything else, amounted to about $62K. Most of the students received about $26,000 in financial aid, but I still felt that $36,000 total was still a little pricier than I had anticipated. From that point on in time, I was never really able to convince myself again that NYU was the school for me. I was impressed, however, with what they had managed to do on a global scale, with two other fully-functioning campuses in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi, and a slew of study abroad options.

Our tour guide, Robert, was extremely helpful in showing us around the unconventional campus, stressing the “in and of the city” feel that NYU was able to provide as a gateless university without definitive lines on where the campus started and ended.  Among the highlights were the innovative clubs that NYU had to offer, such as the “Cookies and Coloring Club” and the “30 minute Abs Club,” in which members did an ab exercise for the first thirty seconds of the meeting and then proceeded to talk and eat pizza for the following 29 and a half minutes.

The campus itself was very spread out, with miscellaneous buildings and restaurants interspersed between each building we visited, almost as if it were another tiny (and much tamer) city within another city. Washington Square Park, resting in the center of NYU was beautiful. The sun was shining and the grand piano that someone had somehow managed to drag into the park was singing. And while the park wasn’t as large as Central Park it still felt grand and busy. I actually saw one of my friends from class during the tour amidst the crowd but we didn’t have much time to a conversation since I was still in the middle of the tour. Once the tour ended, our group had lunch at a quaint little place on the corner of Waverly Place called Ramen Takumi. The food was delicious but the spicy mayo salad dressing wasn't for the faint of heart.
Detail on an urn with the names of all who died on that day.
It took a short wait in the stifling heat before getting into the 9/11 museum to realize that I had had one glass too many (of water, mind you) and needed to use the restroom. And after a bit of technical trouble, we were finally welcomed into the sweet, crisp, and best of all, air-conditioned museum/memorial.

Descending down into the dimly-lit exhibits underneath the large fountain memorial, everything felt a lot heavier. I’m not sure if that was the original intent when designing the museum but that was just how it felt. And there wasn’t as much sobbing as I had expected, just a lot of silence and melancholy. Being able to actually see pieces of the wreckage left behind and the possessions of those who had passed away was incredible. I couldn’t help but think of an excerpt from a book I read this past year by Tim O’Brien called The Things They Carried:And in the end, of course, a true war story is never about war. It's about sunlight. It's about the special way that dawn spreads out on a river when you know you must cross the river and march into the mountains and do things you are afraid to do. It's about love and memory. It's about sorrow. It's about sisters who never write back and people who never listen.” And even though O’Brien is speaking in reference to his experience with war, I still feel like there is a certain carry-over in the reverence of his words, and something good about being able to think beyond the unfathomable sorrow.  

Little Italy.
Izabel, who had already seen the museum the previous year and had been on a tour of Princeton, joined us afterwards for dinner in Chinatown and we explored the area (as well as cute Little Italy) for a bit.

And for all the progress we had made in getting home at a decent time, Alyanna, Mark, and I stayed up for a while, talking about “deep stuff” (as Mark referred to it). We put our phones and bags into the middle of the table in front of us, forbade ourselves to touch it, and proceeded to have a real conversation. There were moments when nobody knew what to say. At the same time, I was able to open up and I was able to see them open up. I was able to see sides of them I had never seen before, despite having already seen sides I never thought I would see, kind of like onions - props to “Shrek” for the onion reference. 

Nevertheless, it was a great way to end the long day.

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