It's an odd time of the year where feelings are as ambiguous as the amount of printer paper I have in my room. There are literally bundles of printer paper spread across my room, just like how I felt before we departed to the airport. I was happy that I had such a life-changing experience, but I was regretful that it had to end; I didn't do everything that I planned. I made many, many, many friends, but there were still groups of people that I had not approached. Looking back, four-weeks is the perfect amount of time for a summer camp; it's not too long to the extent of becoming boring, but not too short to the extent of not experiencing anything. I'll miss my new-found - not really new anymore - friends, and the connections that I've made there. It's all a part of growing up though, eh?
Before all the shenanigans that happened at the front gate, I spent the entire night talking to my friends through Google Chat. I'm unsure of what we talked about - just usual high-school stuff - but as a sacrifice, I only slept for two hours. It hit me hard throughout the day, even on the planes. I made plans with Dyana So; we met up at Starbucks Coffee to get coffee (no way). I originally wanted to consult her about college applications and Penn itself, but the conversation transgressed to an introspective analysis of both college and myself. Just like the Dean mentioned, Dyana told me to write down five things I am looking for in a college. The two biggest factors I consider are community and opportunity. These are very broad, but for me, I am defined by my interactions and opportunities of my community. Also, she suggested that if I'm interested in becoming a researcher, I should look into universities not only as an undergraduate school, but also if the school will provide enough resources to better my chances of getting into graduate school. After conversing about Pinole Valley HS - she graduated from Pinole Valley two years ago - I was struck with nostalgia. She has been such a big influence for me both in high school and outside. She's the one who brought me into debate, interest in East Coast colleges, and extracurricular activities. I wonder how my high-school life would have changed if I didn't meet her. What is a college app? Is it an opportunity for an individual to discuss his or her merits and impress college admissions? Not necessarily, sure it may be an opportunity to show the diversity and impact that he or she can bring, but it definitely should not be about his or her accomplishments. Both Dyana and I agree that a college application is a representation of character and a definition of who an individual is. It digs deep into finding out what kind of person and how he or she has "evolved". Through my coffee conversations with Dyana, I have a clearer image of how to cohesively represent myself in a college application. On other news, I found out that I have a big similarity with her. During her years in high-school, she had doubts of getting involved with art as a career, and I had the same thought for research. There are many opportunities to do research, but the percentages of people who succeed in doing successful and profitable research is very low. I took this into consideration, and I decided to involve myself with engineering since it's much easier to find a job in engineering than research. However, after my experience with the Experimental Physics Research Academy, never has my passion for research been more fiery. I absolutely love exploring the unknown and attempt to make a breakthrough for the scientific community. Looking back, I ignorantly told my friends that I wanted to be a "chemical engineer" because it was an easy career to justify - I was "good" at chemistry and I liked problem solving. But after researching more about chemical engineering and learning of what the career entails, I realized that I don't want to be a chemical engineer. I think I brushed off my own beliefs and feelings for a simpler life, but no more of that. Coffee with Dyana has made me realize that I need to open myself more. I feel as if I hide my true intentions and thoughts - sticking to comments that make me seem idealistic - like I put chains over my head. Lifting the chains one-by-one, my mind has become much clearer and my goals have never been so solidified.
After coffee, I made my good-byes and went to depart back to California. Truthfully, I was so tired (two hours of sleep) that I slept through most of the trip. Now, I'm back at home feeling grateful for the experience that I received this summer. Can't believe that it's been a month, it felt much longer than that. I've definitely matured. I'm just glad to be at home; it's the start of another journey.