Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The City's Bright as a Penny Arcade; It Blinks, It Tilts, It Rings

Yesterday was another fairly low key day. I started the day by shopping for new running shoes. I found them, at a store where you stand on a machine that determines your foot type and running shoe needs. After your foot pressure points and arch heights have been discovered (a lot of weight on the toes and high arches - in case you were interested), you try one shoes. Then you run on a treadmill for a little while in the shoes, while a camera films your feet. A clerk then watches your running in slow motion, and checks on how the shoes do; whether your ankles roll more or less than with another pain, how your form is, and where you put your weight when you land. Needless to say, I have a lot of confidence in my shoe purchase.

Later in the afternoon, there was an orientation meeting for my major. We heard from the department head, a librarian, some current students, and the graduate advisor. Apparently the library is an incredible resource, but also huge and confusing. The professors are brilliant, but eccentric and sometimes hard to get ahold of. Classes are rewarding and chock full of fascinating information, but insanely demanding and draining. When someone asked a current student how she balances her classes with work and a personal life she said, "I don't. It's not possible. Something suffers."

I think it intimidated a lot of people. And to some degree, I think it was meant to. Academic programs want to be the hardest and the toughest - judging by what Angus said about his orientation law school is devoted to it. The honors college at CofC loved to go on and on about how unreasonably demanding and difficult their Western Civ course was. But you know what? It was my favorite class in all my time at CofC. Maybe that experience prejudices me, but being told how difficult it would be and how daunted I would feel just made me more excited for classes to start. Good! Bring it! I'm here to learn and grow! How can I be impressive if it's not hard? Though I will admit, it made me think I should hold off on getting a job, even a part time one, until I know the lay of the land.

After the, "This can be wonderful, but will be the most difficult thing you ever experience" meeting, we had a sort of meet and greet with other students. I guess it could have been an opportunity to meet a lot of people, but I don't really do well in the mixer/networking environment. Loud music, lots of strangers, and a dark room send me looking for an exit - not blossoming into a social butterfly. Fortunately, another future classmate felt the exact same way, so I had a potential friend to hide out with. We got on fine, and I think I'll get to know people when classes start.

Today I set my alarm for 7:00am so I could go running in Central Park first thing. It was gorgeous! I started myself running this summer, because I'd read that running around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir should be on everyone's NYC bucket list.And the hard work paid off - I made the full loop no problem. It's only a mile and half, so not really that impressive. You'd have to know how the opposite of capable of running I was before I started. And the view was AMAZING. The skyline and the water and the sunrise - I really love Central Park! Though it is like 20-25 minutes away on the subway, so I'm going to have to find a route closer to me that I can run.

Later, I went on a walking tour being offered by the Graduate Welcome Week - through SoHo (South of Houston Street), Nolita (North of Little Italy), Little Italy, and Chinatown. It wasn't in-depth, but there were some good shopping pointers. I also learned that it is very important to pronounce Houston Street as "House-ton" in order to avoid being identified as a non New Yorker.

At the end of the tour we got dim sum, which apparently are Chinese dumplings that are extremely popular here. You sit at your table, as servers with carts piled high with various dishes come by and unload what you want. The girl sitting next to me was from Singapore, and she ordered everything for our table in Chinese (Cantonese? Mandarin? I don't know which). We drank water and hot tea, and ate the many delicious dim sum. My table ended up getting along very well - and afterwards most of us went to a cafe in Little Italy for cappuccinos and coffees. It was a really fun and interesting group - a girl from Turkey and Greece, a girl from South Korea, a guy from the Philippines, and a guy from New York. We all exchanged information, and I'm hoping I've made my first New York friends.

I spent the later part of the afternoon perusing the four bookstores I've found in walking distance of my apartment. Though none of them had a book on running like I was looking for (I've outgrown my initial program and don't want to just freehand it), they were very enjoyable to me. Now I'm kicked back in the apartment, debating dinner options and considering pulling my desk chair onto the balcony for the evening.

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