Other than the now ubiquitous film of sweat now coating my entire body, (it's 94 degrees here) Philadelphia has been treating us pretty well. It's now 12:29 Eastern time but I'm wide awake. A) because it's 9:30 back in Berkeley, and B), Because I just said goodbye to one of my best friends, Julia Martien, who is in the midst of a month long Physics course at Penn. The genuinely excited way in which she described photon defraction, which I related back to "normal" wave's superpositioning (we're nerds) struck me as an excellent example of the idea of learning for learning's sake, a topic which I brought up at dinner that we then discussed with the admissions rep for Swarthmore College.
Speaking of, we had an AMAZING dinner at Butcher and Singer, and upscale downtown Philly restaurant with Joaquin Hamilton, Assistant Dean of Swarthmore Admissions, as well as the Penn Physics group. When I asked him how he became involved in the college admissions field, he replied that he simply loved the experience and never wanted to leave. How he described Swarthmore was that it was a place with an "abundance of choice," he literally went into an impressive amount of detail about the sheer breadth of educational paths one might take. I loved this. As someone who has trouble deciding on what to order, much less choose a field, options are very important to me. Less with my dinner choices, but in important decisions I feel like there are always so many paths to take, and that, would if I could, I would try all of them. Like two roads in a yellow wood. However, I felt as though there are more than enough schools that offer a high degree of breadth, what really warranted I look closely at Swarthmore in the future is what Mr. Hamilton said about community. He described Swarthmore as a tightly knit group of brilliant, exceptional, off the norm students. The environment collaborative more than competitive, a place where ideas are challenged, but where real learning occurs in the process. Whether or not I find a community I prefer more at a different institution, if what Mr. Hamilton says is true, many people will find their niche at Swarthmore, as for me, the dinner as given me a good amount of metabolic and cognitive digestion to do.