Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hahvahd Yahd

There's nothing quite like following a four hour sleep night with a five hour one (Here's hoping I can go for six tonight - I need as much as I can get before Yale). Thankfully, we started off our morning (6:30 AM, mind you) with a Starbucks run. I started off my slightly disgruntled, happy morning with a vanilla mocha and some very berry Starbucks coffee cake.

After getting lost thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we eventually found our way to Amtrak (also thanks to the eventual wonders of Silicon Valley).  As we walked through the streets of Providence, we noticed a surprising lack of the homeless compared to home, let alone people. Morning me is a lot more grumpy and snarky than afternoon me, so I continued to pound my Rhode Island population of five joke. We climbed aboard Amtrak and found about fifteen people on our train - the conductor told us that we made rush hour. And the Rhode Island population jokes just keep on writing themselves.

Fortunately for the East Coast, we soon arrived in Cambridge, MA; a city with too many people to tease its size. The vast amount of people on the subway was ridiculous (Toto, we ahtn't in Rhode Island anymah)! We signed up for the Hahvahd tour and we were on our way.
[Charming] bombs away!

Our tour guide, Taylor, was a rising sophomore at Harvard who had grown up in Cambridge. Needless to say, she was pretty familiar with the place. We started off in Harvard Yard (or as the Bostonians and I like to say, Hahvahd Yahd) and went throughout most of the main campus, learning about Harvard's rich history. It's the oldest Ivy League university, founded in 1636 by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and has many different historic buildings. 

Taylor mentioned that all of the buildings were modeled after the current popular style, so the architecture itself stands as a visual history of the university. 

The tour was filled with stories, such as the burning of Harvard Hall, the Memorial House exclusion, the lies about John Harvard, and the reason why no films are shot at Harvard (which is technically not true, The Social Network filmed one of the opening scenes illegally onsite). Taylor made a number of beautifully cringe-worthy puns throughout the tour as she told these stories; they added elements of awkward humor throughout the tour with wonderfully maladroit silences. From a slightly better but still terrible fellow pun connoisseur, I asked the rest of the tour participants in my head this question: Why so serious? We ended close to The Lampoon office, the second-oldest student-run newspaper in the country, a publication that has had many authors that would later become established writers on many popular TV shows. The most famous is Conan O'Brien, who's a legend at Harvard for pulling off the theft of The Crimson's (another student-run Harvard paper) president's chair and getting the Cambridge police officers to arrest the Harvard police officers who were trying to arrest him! With similar, but not nearly as much, craziness, we engaged in a famous Hahvahd tradition - the primal scream. Every winter, students run around stark naked in the snow and scream. Luckily for the ILC's dignity, all of us on the tour did our primal scream with clothes on.

We commented over lunch that none of us had gotten the experience we had hoped. All of us had assumed that we were to get an academics/admissions tour, but the tour we had gotten was definitely a lot more touristy. While I enjoyed the history, I would've enjoyed a different focus on the tour. Harvard really didn't appeal to me, and it never did. I couldn't see myself on that campus for four years.  My negative stereotypes of the "Harvard snob" were also further reinforced when it was mentioned that Harvard has "special terms" that they use to describe certain things. Majors are "concentrations" and graduations are "commencement exercises." While I'm not interested in the university, I understand its prestige and its rich history, shown everywhere through its people and its buildings (lots and lots of brick).

We also had somewhat of a debate as we enjoyed our bi bim bap. Liam had mentioned meeting a rising sophomore at Harvard in the store who planned to go into the Marines after graduating. The discussion soon turned into a debate, as we discussed value, belief, service, and career. The thought-provoking disputation certainly added more flavor to the cooking Korean ribeye and galbi.

After our Korean BBQ, we headed over to the Longfellow House/Washington's Headquarters, which was a short ten minute walk from Harvard Square (Hahvahd Squair). The house was full of history and we had a fabulous tour guide, a literature enthusiast of the transcendentalist age. Gen. George Washington (yeah, that Washington) lived in the house for nine months and ran the Continental Army there, encompassing in the end of the Siege of Boston. A General Peleg Wadsworth would serve him in the house. His grandson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, would later happen to move into the house in 1837, when the current owner, Elizabeth Craigie, was in debt and needed a new source of income. After Craigie passed on, Longfellow's newlywed's father, Nathan Appleton, purchased the house for Fanny and him as a wedding gift. Sadly, a man named Charles Sumner (the man severely beaten by Preston Brooks in the Bleeding Kansas incident) was his best friend. As a staunch pro-abolitionist, Sumner did not get along with his neighbor, a textile magnate who depended on slavery for his business, whose name was...Nathan Appleton. As a result, when Appleton died, five million dollars went to every one of his children, except for Fanny.
The Longfellow living room.
Longfellow told his father at age seventeen that he planned to work in literature. This sounded insane at the time, since America had no formal literary style, and most Americans read books written by European authors. However, as the American literary renaissance kicked off, with works being written such as The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne), Moby Dick (Herman Melville, the namesake of me and Liam's suite), Uncle Tom's Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe), and Walden (Henry David Thoreau), Longfellow "retired" from teaching at Harvard and started writing poetry full time. In the process, he became the most famous American poet of all time. Not bad for the first professional poet - he went from making $1500 (approx. $18,000 when adjusted for inflation) at Harvard teaching four languages to the equivalent of $89,000 writing poetry. Not bad at all. Our tour guide told us that when he died at the age of 75, he was worth nine million dollars. His bust at Westminster Abbey remains the only American to have the honor to be "bust-ed" at the British poets' corner. 

Longfellow mentioned George Washington only once in his poetry in a poem entitled To A Child, written in 1845. 

Once, ah, once, within these walls,
One whom memory oft recalls,
The Father of his Country, dwelt.
And yonder meadows broad and damp
The fires of the besieging camp
Encircled with a burning belt.

Longfellow's study, where he wrote nearly all his poetry
Longfellow was extremely proud of the fact that he lived in a house that had seen people such as John Adams and John Hancock walk through the door. He was a gentle, kind man who loved reading in all different genres and languages. Our guide mentioned that he isn't studied as much as often as other poets are because of his lack of problems. As a leader, Longfellow is an inspiration in terms of working hard and being successful without losing sight of the things that truly matter. The contrast between both tours - from one focusing on architecture and the other focusing on people - illustrated the divide leaders often have. Some focus on material things in their attempts to make things better, while others take the time to focus on people. I find that incredibly refreshing, even though Longfellow lived two centuries ago.

Thankfully, several locals took the time to focus on us. My aunt's friends, Nancy and Steph, gave us dinner suggestions, while other locals asked about the Ivy League Connection and helped us find our way. I talked with Eric and Liam about why we thought people on the East Coast were so much more friendly and trusting than on our side of the country, helping us out and leaving Coach bags alone on the train for a moment. Was it a particular mindset? Were they just genuinely good people? Were differences because of race or class? These were real, true human conversations. 

We ended our day in Cambridge with dinner at the famous Legal Seafoods. I indulged myself on filet, lobster, baked potato, and rice pilaf; before heading back on the Amtrak to the quiet, slightly busier streets of Providence. The buildings may stand as physical representations of the state, but it's the people (the very small number of people) who have direct representation. That's the beauty of democracy - from an idealistic and optimistic standpoint, democracy allows leaders to use their humanity for the good of humanity. At least it's supposed to - but that's another question-filled conversation for another day.

Follow us on our college tour throughout this week! Send me feedback by commenting below and emailing And for a more intimate look at my Yale experience, follow me on Instagram @joshthebosh to see a more visual Ivy League Connection.

A Learning Experience

A sculpture from the hotel lobby that I liked
Today was an early morning. We woke up at 6 AM, but compared to yesterday it felt like a full night's rest. Damian's alarm gently woke me, and as I opened my eyes I saw the room was already brightly lit. It was a beautiful day! After quick showers Damian and I headed down to the lobby to meet the rest of the group. We went to a local Starbucks for breakfast and headed off to the Amtrak station. Unfortunately, we got lost on the way due to a technology malfunction and had to take a later train than earlier planned. That was a minor setback however; we still made it to Harvard with time to spare.

The train ride was very pleasant. We spent the time getting to know each other better, mostly by talking about our favorite songs, movies, and TVs shows. The East Coast countryside (at least the part we saw) was much more green than California, which I personally really like. The East Coast in summer is fantastic, but that is the only way I have seen it. I would like to have a chance to visit in the thick of winter before I commit to four years at a school. As a Californian I have never experienced a whole winter of snow and freezing weather, and I worry about going to college in a place where the winters are extreme.

Harvard's Science Building. It is supposed to look like an old Polaroid
camera, since the Polaroid family donated the building.
We arrived in Boston and took the Red Line (subway) to Harvard Square. At Harvard we took the Hahvahd Tour. This is the phonetic spelling of how the local Bostonians pronounce Harvard. It was a great tour... for a tourist. As a potential applicant, however, I did not feel like the tour was that helpful. Our tour guide was energetic and funny, and she was very knowledgeable about Harvard's history, but her goal was not to sell Harvard to us as a school. We got very little information about what makes Harvard unique or special as a university (I had to look up if "a university" as opposed to "an university" was correct) and other things that I would want to know before applying, like what clubs the school has and what the surrounding area has to offer for a college students. That being said, I thought the campus was beautiful even though we only saw a small section of it on our tour. Harvard is definitely on my list of schools to apply to; it's reputation speaks for itself. However, on the chance that I do get accepted, I would want to do more research on what makes it special to make sure it is the right school for me.

The Longfellow House
After the tour we ate lunch at a local Korean restaurant. I thought the food was good, but I have only had Korean a few times before so I do not have a lot to base that on. We then headed to the Longfellow National Historic Site to take a tour. Our tour guide was a young man named Rob who was extremely knowledgeable about the house and it's inhabitants. He made the tour a really fun and informative experience. The house itself was fascinating; it contained thousands of artifacts and was preserved almost exactly how it was over a hundred years ago. Our guide made the tour about more than the house however. He made it about the people who lived in it. He explained the connections between the houses inhabitants. One being that the grandfather of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow stayed in the house with George Washington during the Revolutionary War. He also told us a little about the American Literary Renaissance and how Longfellow was America's first professional poet.

Josh, who has become our unofficial culinary navigator, helped us find a restaurant called Legal Sea Foodswhere we could supposedly get some excellent seafood. It did not disappoint. I had the steak and lobster dish along with Josh and Damian. During that meal I learned something very important about myself; I do not like whole lobster. I love lobster meat, but something about seeing the entire animal laid out before me and having to take it's guts out before I ate it really ruined my appetite. Aside from that aspect I really enjoyed the meal, even the lobster. Well the meat, not the presentation.

My little friend
After we ate it was time to return to our hotel in Rhode Island. Unfortunately we had an hour of time before our train left, enough to be annoying, but not enough to do anything significant. We used the time efficiently, however, and got a lot done on our blogs. This continued on the train ride home; by the time I was back at the hotel I was almost done which was quite a relief as I am tired and looking forward to a relaxing night.

Tomorrow morning we take our tour of Brown University, which I am really excited to see. A lot of my friends did the summer program there and I look forward to seeing the place they told me so much about. Then in the afternoon we leave for New Haven and start the final part of our journey.

Harvard Visit

I had a dream last night. It was interrupted by my alarm clock, but I remember some of it. I was in Yale, in the middle of a lecture. I was near the middle of this amphitheater style classroom and the professor was talking about one of the books we read, I just can’t remember which one now. The classroom is too hot to take notes but I’m engaged in what the professor is saying. I then get up in the middle of class and run out because I am just too warm. Then, the alarm goes off. I wanted to finish that dream, but I needed to get up. 

The alarm went off at 5:00 AM and I got five hours of sleep last night. One more than the night before, so at least I’m doing better than yesterday. A quick shower, I comb my hair, brush my teeth and at 5:45 I wake Josh and just chill on my laptop. I look at a couple of the restaurants in the Cambridge area, check the weather, and then just look over some of our required reading. I then remember that I told you all in my blog last night that I will be visiting Brown University. That was a faux pas on my part because we are in fact going to visit Harvard University. I apologize and will make sure this won’t happen again. 

After that Josh gets out of the shower, changes, and we are set to go. He and I decide to bring our back packs just in case we need anything. I decide to take the “Eric Wilson Experience” by walking down the stairs while Josh took the elevator. I call it the “Eric Wilson Experience” because last night Eric ran right up the stairs to get to this room, and I figure I would like to experience that. The view of the city outside of the stairwell windows was very nice and I wish that the view from our hotel room was that nice. Anyway, my friends and I met up in the lobby, and at 6:35 we are gone.

We pick up some breakfast, and head over to the Amtrak station in a bit of a confused state. We go the wrong direction a few times before this nice woman shows us the way to go to get to the station. When we arrive, we have missed our train. It’s okay though because that gives my friends and me some time to catch up on our reading. One thing we could not get over though was that the train station in Providence was more or less deserted. We saw no more than thirty five people at that train station, and after Tracey talked with the ticket salesman, he said that this was the rush hour. Providence really is a bit of a ghost town. We then boarded our train and got to see more of the beautiful New England countryside. In less than ten minutes we had left Rhode Island. What a small state.

Then at our second or third stop on our way to Cambridge, this woman in a seat not too far from ours gets a phone call. She then proceeds to leave her large Coach brand purse on her seat to get someone from the platform. Now I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t just leave a very expensive bag on a train just to save my seat. She is gone for about eight minutes and just moves her bag like it’s no big deal that she left it. Let me tell you, if someone left their bag unattended while on BART, which is the subway station of the San Francisco Bay Area, it would have been taken without a second thought. I wonder why people feel so secure on these trains.

My comrades and I talked for most of the way there, and on the train Tracey was talking to a man who wanted to know where we were from after we had said “like” a few times in our conversation. After hearing that we were from around San Francisco, he said that that explained our uncommon slang. We then got off the train and took a subway ride to Harvard. We were about an hour early for our tour of the campus, so we just hung around and went walking, saw some nice architecture, and then hung out at a Starbucks for a while. Then the tour began.

Some pictures of Harvard Square.

We were led by the highly intelligent and beautiful Taylor. Taylor is a rising sophomore at Harvard and was full of energy during the tour. She knew quite a bit about Harvard’s history, alumni, and the architecture. She told us all about Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook's co-founder, Conan O’Brian, Matt Damon, and President George Washington. She told us how Washington stationed his troops at Harvard during the Revolutionary War. She talked about how the original library was made in honor of Mr. Harvard, who donated his entire library to the university but was burned down late one evening in the late 18th century. Only one book remains from that collection, and the way it survived was that a student had been reading this book from the library and was so enthralled with it that he brought it to his dorm, even though it was against school rules. When the student presented it to the President of the university as the only book that survived, the book was taken and the student suspended from classes for taking the book out of the library. This President sounds like a jerk and I would never want him as a President of our school.
The reconstructed Harvard library.
We even got to see a statue of Mr. Harvard which is known as the statue of three lies. The first of the three lies is that on the plaque it says that Mr. Harvard was the founder. He wasn’t  He simply donated his money and library to the university after his death. The second lie is that the college was founded in 1638. It wasn’t. It was in fact founded in 1636 and the reason it says 1638 was because that was when Mr. Harvard died and left his estate to them. The final lie is that the statue is in the likeness of Mr. Harvard. It isn’t.  It is believed to be in the likeness of one of the Presidents or of a distant relative. Any portraits of Mr. Harvard were burned down in the fire, so no one knows what he looks like.
We then looked at some of the beautiful architecture, including a freshman eating area where the colors look similar to those of the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.

We wrapped up our tour by doing what the Harvardians call the Primal Scream, where you start growling and then build up to an all-out scream. It was quite fun, but then Taylor told us that if we get accepted to Harvard that we would have to do this Primal Scream in the nude in the middle of the night in winter. I guess it could be fun if you keep your eyes closed.

I then spoke with Taylor a little bit about the application process, what kind of people Harvard is looking for, and some of the majors, including foreign languages and government. She was quite informative and I thank her for her time. 

My cohort and I then headed out to find some grub. We found this Korean restaurant which served some excellent barbecue and a mixed vegetable with rice. Now that I know what Korean food tastes like, I will definitely want some more in the future.  We then headed over to the Longfellow-Washington house, which George Washington used as his headquarters during the Revolutionary War and specifically was critical during the Siege of Boston. Also, Henry-Wadsworth Longfellow lived here for most of his adult life.
The Longfellow house.
We got there at about one thirty, but the next tour didn’t start until two o’clock. Our tour guide, Rob, is a smart, quirky guy who has a knack for storytelling. The entire tour of the interior of the Longfellow-Washington house was only fifty minutes, but it felt much longer because of all the information he packed in. I don’t mean to say that it dragged on and on in one long, hypnotic, and monotone sentence; just the opposite. His energy was through the roof, and that’s what really kept me interested. As we went from room to room and he told us the stories of mostly Longfellow and how he lived, what he did, when he wrote, and so much background on a world famous poet I knew nothing about. 

Before I tell you about Longfellow though, I would like to touch briefly on Washington’s effect on the history of the house. As I said before, the house was Washington’s headquarters during the Siege of Boston, which isn’t that far from Cambridge where the house is located. The Siege was when, early in the war, the Americans decided to set up a land blockade around Boston, which was under English control. Washington would spend nine months planning on how to win Boston from the English. In a bold move, he sent Henry Wadsworth-Longfellow’s great grandfather, who was under Washington’s command, to steal sixty tons of cannons from the English and position them within striking distance of Boston and the English fleet in Boston Harbor. Washington then sent a message that told the English to evacuate the city or have their fleet destroyed in the harbor. The English retreated and the Americans liberated Boston. But, what the English didn’t know at the time was that when Washington positioned the cannons to fire, he knew that he didn’t have enough ammunition to fire to sink the ships in the harbor and would probably lose. It was a bluff that paid off so much.
A bust of George Washington.
Then, Rob went into depth about Longfellow’s life. The life this man led was amazing. From the time he was a young man he knew that he would make a great literary impression on the world. One example of his greatness was that when he was young, he taught four different languages at Harvard University. He was also trying to write as well and create a truly American style of literature that would be read all over the world. Yet when he talked to an Englishman that American literature will flourish, the Englishman mocked him. He asked, “Where in the four corners of the world do they read American literature?”  Longfellow would rise to this challenge and become the most well-known American poet in the world. You may wonder how this is possible. There have been many poets after him that were just as, if not more, famous. Well, he became so well known that a bust was created of him in Westminster Abbey, England. The place where the literary greats are extolled for their great feats had up to that point only had famous English authors, poets, and playwrights. Longfellow broke that tradition.
Picture of his family room.
Rob then told us more stories of how he quit his job in 1854 and at first sold his poetry for five, ten, and very rarely fifteen dollars, in today’s money, just barely putting bread on the table. But as he got older and more well known, his craft more refined and perfected, his poems began to be sold for much, much more. He became so famous that he one day sold a poem for the equivalent of fifty eight thousand dollars. By the time he died he had the net worth of over five million dollars in funds and house property.

Longfellow was also so famous that in his later years that he was inundated with the fan mail he received. But he replied to every single letter. This man, whose father told him to get a real job when Longfellow told him he wanted to be a writer, was now the equivalent of a rock star with all the mail he received. In his later years, though, his health betrayed him and he was no longer able to send letters. Instead, he sent a form letter apologizing that he could not personally reply because he was in ill health and let them have a copy of his signature. He was a one of a kind poet.

Lord knows that I could go on and on with the information that Rob gave us on Longfellow. But I know that there may not be a lot of history buffs reading this, so I’ll stop here. If you would like to know more about this incredible house, please click here. I would highly recommend it just to hear Rob speak volumes on the life of Longfellow so eloquently. It was the highlight of the day.

After that unforgettable tour, we had an early dinner at this place called Legal Sea Foods. Each of us got lobster in some form or another, except for Tracey, and the lobster was so good. I got one claw, which was a bit of a let-down, but I shouldn’t have expected much in my cioppino. They gave me so many scallops and mussels, so that made up for it. Oh, and the shrimp were cooked to perfection. Every bite was flavor packed with this salty, tomato, and shrimp combination that was to die for. The clams, however, were a bit too salty for my palate.

Then we headed on over to the train station to catch our ride from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island. We were about an hour early, so we all talked and read a little, started this blog, and then boarded the train. This train wasn’t as nice as the one we got on going to Cambridge, but it was all right. A bit more reading, and then we came back to the hotel.

Man, what a day. A tour at one of the most prestigious universities in the world and finding out what kind of people they want for Yale has really opened up my eyes. Who knows, maybe I will apply. The best part of the day was the Longfellow-Washington house. The story was great, the architecture was outstanding, and the art was breath taking. Bust after beautiful bust of people like Aristotle, Sophocles, and Washington and painting of such people like Congressman Sumner and Nathanial Hawthorne. This has been a great day to be on the East Coast and I have high expectations for tomorrow. Let’s hope they meet them.


My alarm woke Eric and I up at 6:00 AM. After getting ready, we all met at the lobby at 6:30 AM. We left our hotel and found a Starbucks where we had our morning coffee and breakfast. Liam's order took longer than expected and we ended up missing our train. But all was good because the next train came fairly quickly. In the train station, it was practically barren, there were about 15 people including us. According to Tracey, this was considered their busy time. One observation I didn't point out yesterday was the lack of homeless people in Providence. Unlike San Francisco, the city I'm used to, Providence has barely any homeless people. My cohort and chaperone agreed with my observation. We wondered if there ever were any and if so where did they all go.

After some waiting, our train came and we hopped on the train. Again, barely anyone was there. As the train got to closer to Boston, Massachusetts, more people hopped on, this was the most people I've seen in an enclosed area in 12 hours. During our train ride, a woman ran downstairs to ask the train to stop so she could get her friend on board. What was so shocking was that during her panic, she decided to leave her Coach bag right there on her bench. I've never seen someone do this before and what was even more shocking was that no one tried to take it. In the Bay Area this is practically unheard of. Instead people might try to snatch the purse right out of your hands. We had absolutely no idea that this area was so morally upright.

After some conversation about our favorite TV shows and what not, we got to our destination. We got off and boarded the subway, taking the Red Line. After a few minutes the train stopped at Harvard, or as the Bostonians would say, "Hahvahd." I was really excited because Harvard is absolutely amazing. It has housed some of the biggest names ever! From Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, to Natalie Portman. Our guide told us all this. Our guide named Taylor, with a T-shirt that said "Hahvahd," took the Yale group and a few others around the Harvard campus. We went to the Harvard Yard and we saw the famous Harvard statue. I went up to the statue and touched it's foot. Rumor has it that if you touch the foot it will bring you good luck. The statue's foot has been touched and rubbed so much that it has turned gold.
One of the most photographed statues, the statue of John Harvard and his golden toes.
Our tour overall was fun, but it wasn't exactly what we were expecting. We were expecting an admissions tour, where we could go inside some of the building, but we never stepped foot in a Harvard building at all. She talked about the famous rivalry between Harvard and Yale, the famous people that went to Harvard, and the rich history of Harvard itself. She talked about how the original library was burnt down, who lived where, the growth of Harvard etc. The three facts I really enjoyed were the three lies that are inscribed on the famous Harvard statue. One of them being that the man on the statue was not sculpted to look like John Harvard. In fact, no one knows what John Harvard looks like because any record of him was burnt down in the library fire.

After our tour, we stopped for lunch, we walked down the block and ate at Bon Chon. The Korean cuisine was okay. The meat was good, the bibimbap was nice, and the fried rice was delicious, but we didn't want to eat too much because we planned to have some seafood, particularly lobster.
The steak that we had at the Korean BBQ, that we actually had to barbecue.
After lunch, we planned to take a tour of the Longfellow house. This is the house of the famous poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the only American writer who has a bust in Westminster Abbey. This house was a lot of fun. I couldn't believe all the history this house contained. George Washington and his wife stayed in his house during the siege of Boston. Many famous people like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Charles Sumner visited this house. I don't know why, but the power of poetry, be it spoken or written, has always given me goosebumps and it didn't change when the tour guide recited some poetry to the group. I was very calmed and interested in this house. Almost everything in there is from the time the Longfellows stayed. They were about 200 hundred years old. I couldn't believe how beautiful the furniture is and how big the house is. the house had nice busts, paintings, clocks, and books. 
A bust from the Longfellow house.
The study of Henry Longfellow where he wrote standing up.
The lovely dining room of the Longfellows.
After our tour, my cohort and I decided that we wanted seafood. I was excited because Cambridge is right outside if Boston and Boston supposedly has excellent lobster. We decided on a place called Legal Seafood. We had to take the subway there, but we had some problems with the map. A kind lady helped us with the map. Again, another shocker because in the Bay Area people normally wouldn't willingly come to you and help a confused tourist with the BART map without being asked. Another reason this act of kindness shocked me was because I expected people on the East Coast to be a much more cold because that is the reputation that many New Yorkers are rumored to have. This restaurant was not a disappointment. Legal Seafood is said to have the best seafood in Boston and I was delighted. Josh, Eric, and I had the lobster and filet, Liam had the scallion, and Ms. Tracey had the seafood casserole. I was very pleased with my choice. The steak was good, the butter gave it a nice salty flavor and it was cooked how I wanted it, but the thing that blew me away had to be the lobster. It was absolutely delicious. It was fresh, it was soft, and it was whole lobster. I was kind of hesitant because I don't like to crack all the bones or work too hard to get my food into my mouth, but the meat came out without much work. I didn't have to use the shell cracker at all.
My lobster and filet at Legal Seafood.
After our early dinner, we started walking back to the station to board the Amtrak. After the train ride back home. We planned to wake up at 8:30 AM tomorrow and prepare for our tour for Brown. I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Welcome to Providence, Rhode Island

2:00 AM, Pacific Standard Time, my radio clock goes off. It startles me not because it is an alarm going off, but because of the fact that the radio announcer is speaking Spanish. I could have sworn that I set it for another station, but I suppose that it must have gotten stuck there. 

I jump out of bed, full of energy because I know that today is no ordinary day. True, I don’t usually get up at two o’clock in the morning but that is not what makes today special. Today I know that I am going to go the East Coast for a once in a lifetime opportunity. I know that phrase is used a lot, but I cannot think of any other way to describe the experience that I am going to have in the New England area. I think to myself, “For the first three days I’ll be touring world renowned universities and then my cohort and I will actually be studying in a world famous university!” I rushed to the shower, got ready, and before I knew it, it was two thirty. Got my hair ready, checked my luggage to make sure I had all that I needed, and then at three my parents, sister and I left. I said goodbye to my grandmother who had been working very hard these past three days hemming some shirts that were a bit too big for me. We drive and my sister and I talk a bit about video games, her boy band, and how later today her concert will start. I hope she has a good time.

We arrive at three twenty, the first ones there, besides Don and Tracey. I’m happy that we have some time to kill. Don checks my bags, I sign a form, and I move my luggage to the shuttle pickup area to throw it in the back. We shoot the breeze until all the boys arrive. The bags are weighed, Don gives us a pep talk and a few warnings, and then we take some pictures. They came out pretty nice, even though I’m sure each one of us was pretty sleepy. Then the shuttle arrives, and I know that it is time to depart. I say “See you later” to my mom, dad, and sister. I don’t like to say goodbye. It implies that I won’t see them again. But I will, and so I boarded the shuttle. So my adventure begins.

On the way to the airport, though, the driver asks Tracey, “Where are we going.” I don’t know about you, but I kind of like to know that our driver is taking us where we want to go. Tracey tells him, and then he is quiet for the rest of the drive. I look out the window, seeing the West Coast pass me by and ready to embrace the East. The drive doesn’t feel that long, and we get there at about five.

We join this long line to check in our bags, with all sorts of characters around us. There was this man behind us with this wild hair and mopey face, but I just thought it was too funny. After check in, there is another big line at security. We wait patiently get through, and at six we head over to our gate. We literally just sit down when we are called to the line. We board Southwest for Chicago, Illinois and then we will transfer to a flight for Providence, Rhode Island. We leave at about six thirty, and man do I love it when a plane takes off. The G-forces you feel as you are thrust into the sky is just surreal. That we can literally be across the country in one day is amazing.

The Indian man that I sat next to was nice enough, and mostly slept for the flight. We also talked briefly about my Kindle Fire, but nothing more. He mostly just wanted to keep to himself and read his four or five newspapers that he had brought. To each their own I suppose. Then we landed at Midway airport in the windy city. We got a bite to eat, a drink, and then boarded our next flight. Damian and I sat near the back next to this Navy veteran who had served from 1958 to the late 1970’s. He is a wise man, yet very outspoken; he was fun to talk to. His name was Boyd.

Damian and I talked with him about politics, wars, China, submarines, and Boyd’s family. He told me a lot about the various 60 Minutes episodes that he watches and where he learns quite a bit about the world, definitely more than the news. He talked about how his submarine was sent to spy on the USSR during the Cold War in 1958 after Sputnik had been launched to keep the US informed. He was also on duty in a submarine when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He was in a submarine that could fire ICBM’s with up to five thermonuclear warheads. If they received the orders, they would attack the USSR and potentially kill hundreds of thousands. The day after the assassination they were put to battle stations, and Boyd was ready for World War III, should it come. Thankfully it was just a drill.

He was the engineering chief on the submarine and was in charge of keeping the nuclear engine running. We then shifted over to talks about drone warfare, pulling out of Afghanistan, and how wars aren’t going to be fought the same way as when he was serving. I liked hearing what he had to say on drone warfare because that is one of my seminar classes and to hear someone who was in the armed forces talk about it gives me another pair of eyes to look through. It was fantastic to hear this man’s stories about Beijing and Hong Kong, how he met many different Chinese women, and how five US dollars at the time could get you a lot in China. I wish I could have kept talking to him. But alas, all good things must come to an end. We landed in Providence, which I was excited about, said “until next time” to Boyd, and we went our separate ways.

We then grabbed our luggage, and headed outside. The air was humid, but not as bad as I had imagined. I like it to be more humid than it was, but my comrades were happy just the way it was. The air was sweet smelling and reminded me of visiting the Oak Alley plantation just outside of New Orleans.
A shot of the Providence area. I love all the trees around here.
We got a cab and checked in to the hotel, killed an hour checking out our rooms, and then went for dinner.
Off to dinner!
We found this place called CAV, which in Italian means antique and small food, or at least that is what the first page of the menu said. We talked, ate, and had a good ol’ time. I had poulet aux poires, which is French for chicken with pears. The chicken was so flavorful, grilled not to be too dry and it had a hint of rosemary. The pears were soaked in red wine that gave it a nice pear-wine fusion of taste. Finally, it had sautéed Asian chive dumplings which are so unique. The exterior was crunchy and covered in a thin, sweet film that added so well to the chives. It was magnifique as the French would say.

For desert, I had crème brulee which just melted in your mouth. It wasn’t too sweet and just had a creamy texture where I loved every bite.
But overall, I got to get to know my fellow travelers a little bit better. We walked home, and Damian had been saying that the streets in Providence were so empty.
Where is everybody?
I figured it was because all of the college students had gone away for the summer, but even at night they were still pretty lifeless. We got back to hotel at about nine o’clock Eastern Standard Time. I would like to note that for the remainder of my trip until I return I will be giving time in Easter Standard.

All in all, not a bad first day. The planes were loud, but the company was good. The lines were long, but the wait was worth it. The time it took to get our dinner ready was longer than we expected, but that allowed us to savor it all the more. Tomorrow, we will go on a Brown University tour. I can’t wait, but getting up tomorrow will be tough. With the help of my friends though, I’m sure we’ll push through. Good night and see you tomorrow.
The town at night.


There's nothing quite like waking up at 2:45 AM to leave for a nineteen day Ivy League Connection adventure to Yale/the East Coast. I expected to follow up that first sentence with something snarky like, "It's a perfect kind of hell - the wind chill burying your body in a blanket of cold and ice-o-lation." However, I got up relatively easily, well, for sleeping 4 1/2 hours, and grabbed some quick bites of homemade banana bread before leaving the house. I took extra care to check my room one more time - I wouldn't be seeing it for a while.

After we all arrived and filled out our paperwork, we took our departure group photo (so graciously provided by Don to you a couple posts below this one) and headed off. Our airport shuttle driver rolled in at 4:25 - five minutes late - and proceeded to ask us where he was taking us. After Tracey graciously mentioned to him that since he was an airport shuttle driver, he might want to take us to SFO (San Francisco International). We all thought that sounded like a great idea. I said my last goodbyes to my dad (who'd stayed up all night) and Don (short-sleeved Hawaiian shirt and shorts waving in the soft breeze), and we headed off, one of the only vehicles insane enough to be driving in the middle of the night, a low wind dabbing the shuttle and the hum of whatever makes noise at that hour.

After informing the shuttle driver what airline we needed to be dropped off at ("Geez, how much is the ILC paying for this?" were one of the many thoughts running through my head), we waited in line to drop off our luggage - a half hour line. "Why are so many people here at five in the morning?" I asked everyone. No one had a good enough response. 

And so began our aerial odyssey. We had all been told to meet new people and have new experiences on the plane rides there, so I was interested in what interesting and exciting people I would meet. On the first flight to Chicago, I sat next to an Asian man who promptly stashed his carry-on below the seat and closed his eyes. So much for conversation. While he dozed, I indulged myself in on-demand episodes of my favorite TV show, Parks and Recreation, and reviewed through some Yale readings. If you learn nothing else from my bloggings (though I hope you do), please make it a point, if you watch TV, to catch Parks and Rec. It's the comedy version of The West Wing and a brilliant political satire (which makes it sound boring, but it's actually the funniest show on TV). In one episode I watched, the main character, Leslie Knope, sets up a rival girl scout troop to the existing boy scout troop, but chaos ensues when the boys want to join the girl scout troop because it looks like more fun. The commentary on "separate but equal" doctrines and Millennial attitudes actually gave me lots of food for thought for an upcoming lecture on Frederick Douglass and seminar on social capital. So it goes. 

I ended up having a short conversation with the man after he woke up as the plane headed to the gate. I started talking to him about the Ivy League Connection, but he asked me if I knew an Andrew Goo. He was a big tennis fan, he said, and he wondered if Goo went to my school. I conceded that Goo actually went to the school two blocks away - in the Albany district. The unfortunate turnaround of my ILC pitch to the amazing Albany was sadly humorous, but I went with it. Don't worry, Albany, you have a special place in my heart; you just didn't in that conversation.

We had just enough time to grab a bite to eat and then get in line just in time to board our connecting flight to Providence. I sat next to a tired-looking mom who threw her carry-on under the seat and shut her eyes. I later found out that Damian and Liam had gotten to talk to a Navy veteran who worked in a nuclear submarine and went under the North Pole to spy on the Russians. Of course they sat next to him. For more on this fascinating man, check out their blog posts! 

We walked through the beautiful, but small, Providence airport and got our bags (of course, at the end of the carousel), proceeding to the exit. I expected to be blasted with hot East Coast humidity. Luckily for me, we came out to an 82 degree sunny day. The humidity wasn't as bad as I expected, and it would be wonderful if it stayed like that for the next eighteen days. The shuttle from the hotel never showed up (What was up with transportation today?), so we took a taxi to Hotel Providence. 

Tracey asked us to choose between the 5th floor and the 6th floor room. Liam and I decided on the 5th, and headed up to...the Herman Melville suite! We walked in to a luscious living room, followed by two comfy looking beds and two televisions. I could get used to this. I unpacked and started looking up the Providence dining options that I had gotten earlier in the day. (Muchos gracias to my dad, David Ko, and my aunt, Donna Ko, for taking time out of their day to get those to me!) It turns out that Liam and I were the only ones to get a suite - the odds were ever in our favor, I joked. 

After little debate, we decided on, well, we couldn't decide, so Tracey and I used the electronic concierge assistant in the lobby to pick Cav, a short fifteen minute walk away. As we walked there, thanks to Google Maps, we noticed how eerie the streets were. There were hardly any people walking
"When was the last time you did something
for the first time?"
around anywhere. I joked that "the population of Rhode Island must be, what, twenty?" We eventually made it to the restaurant and walked in to - one table occupied. "Where is everyone?" I thought to myself.  Well, regardless of patronage on a Tuesday night, the food was sublime, especially after eating that soggy mess of a lunch - a "Chicago-style hot dog." Was the soggy element inspired by the Chicago rain? Anyways, we decided to start off this more delectable meal with two appetizers: pistachio crusted crabcake with Sriracha aioli and taro root chip, as well as the butter poached Maine lobster with crispy noodles, shallots and sauteed Shittake mushrooms in a lobster sherry fumet. The crabcake was light and went well with the aioli, while the lobster was poached with great flavor.

As we went through the bread and butter while waiting for the main courses, we reflected on the day's travelventures and proceeded to head into random conversation-land (which, if you read yesterday's post, is in the same vicinity as Nowhereland). My entrees were pan seared scallops and shrimp, finished with lobster butter and balsamic reduction, served over lemon zest risotto with julienned snowpeas. I'm an East Coast fan because I'm also a seafood fan, so it was a treat to dig into fresh seafood! The risotto was a little rich for me, but it still went well with the scallops and snowpeas. We closed off the evening with dessert - and I went with the blackberry merlot sorbet. To say it was short and sweet should say enough. 

We walked out of the restaurant, all of us content with our first official meal together. We walked down the alley and through the quiet streets of Providence, ready to blog - and realizing that my joke about the population of Rhode Island being only twenty five might not be too far off.

Follow us on our college tour throughout this week! Send me feedback by commenting below and emailing And for a more intimate look at my Yale experience, follow me on Instagram @joshthebosh to see a more visual Ivy League Connection.