After a couple of rest days from school (albeit well-deserved) on 23 October, 15 girls arrived at Heathrow airport, said goodbye to their parents and were placed in the hands of Mr Franks and Mrs Mason. Mr Franks and Mrs Mason admirably stuck by us for an entire week as we travelled across the East coast of the US, visiting a different city (and multiple universities) every day and staying in different hotels every night.
Our first morning in Boston, after getting off a rather long seven-hour flight the night before, was extremely busy, but can only be described as a ‘rest day' when placed in the context of our trip. We woke up bright and early and headed into the city centre accompanied by our tour guide, Beth. Upon arrival in Boston, we all took a duck tour enabling us to see all the sights and hear about all of the city's history. After April's brief claim to fame ‘driving' the duck tour, we all rushed to the Prudential Centre for lunch and shopping. The evening consisted of more shopping and an untraditional dining experience at Dick's ‘Last Resort' - where Mr Franks was officially crowned ‘one of the girls' by our eccentric waitress.
The following morning we all got back on the coach, which took us to Harvard, MIT and Boston University. We all arrived at Harvard only to be greeted by tremendous sunshine and an incredible tour guide who showed us around campus. Naturally, being our first campus, we were mesmerized by the sheer size of the buildings and the facilities the university provided. The same could be said for both MIT with its incredible ‘hacks' and Boston University. Overall, it was a brilliant start to the trip! That afternoon, we all heard that our bus had been in a minor collision while we were on a university tour; however, thanks to our trusty driver, we were back on the road to Providence in no time!
The next morning we saw Brown University, known for its liberal approach; it lived up to all of our expectations and the name of ‘the happiest campus'. The next stop on our tour was Yale. As a result of Zainab's glowing reviews/borderline obsession with Yale, we entered with high hopes, and thankfully they were fulfilled. We were greeted with an amazing student-led video and a tour guide – an international student from Ghana – who was truly inspiring. In fact, he was so inspiring that I believe Yale's bookstore nearly ran out of merchandise following our visit. That same evening we rushed to New York where we spent the evening out in groups exploring the restaurants and sights of Times Square.
Another day, another city... we woke up bright and early the next morning ready to visit NYU. Unfortunately we were greeted by a large storm – said to be remnants of the hurricane in Mexico from earlier that week. NYU was the most urban campus; situated in the heart of New York, we were all thoroughly impressed with the diverse student body and internship opportunities provided. Following our tour of NYU, we visited Columbia. We grabbed an extremely quick lunch and as usual went to the Columbia information session regarding admission strategies. Famous for its campus within New York and its core curriculum, Columbia provided us with a different approach to liberal arts. That evening we arrived at our hotel and received a talk from Beth regarding US admissions strategy and went straight to sleep.
We arrived at Princeton in the morning to be greeted by a gorgeous rural campus and incredible architecture. We enjoyed our session so much we overran. Pressured for time we rushed to UPenn – eating our Philly cheese-steaks on the go. UPenn, like the other universities, was incredibly diverse and also had a wonderful student atmosphere, which was loved by all. After our tour we took the coach straight to Baltimore, checked in to our hotel, and headed straight out to a lovely Chinese restaurant.
Once again we had a lovely start to our day with a tour and information session at Johns Hopkins, known for its biomedical engineering and medical departments, and were stunned by some of the research that was taking place. After lunch in Baltimore we travelled down to Washington DC to visit Georgetown University. Georgetown was also impressive, with an amazing atmosphere: everyone quickly fell in love with the campus (and the campus bulldog). That evening we all went to dinner with an ex-Wycombe girl – Mel – who went to Duke University to study anthropology – she was really friendly and gave us an invaluable insight into US college life from a student's perspective. Following our dinner out, we all prepared some brief presentations on the trip – special mentions must go to Zainab's inspiring rendition of the Yale video and Mr Franks and Mrs Mason's outstanding re-write of the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air' rap.
The morning of the 31stwas perhaps the earliest wake up of all, as we all scrambled to piece together our Halloween costumes for the day ahead. Excited to spend Halloween in the US, we had some extraordinary costumes – peanut butter and jelly sandwich, gorillas, unicorns, skeletons, odes to Breaking Bad and more! Unfortunately, the people of George Washington University didn't seem so enthusiastic ... we were the only people dressed up! Nonetheless, we had a lovely final tour and set off to spend our final day exploring the sights of Washington DC in our costumes. As we boarded our bus for the final time to go to the airport we began to say goodbye to our amazing tour guide Beth and our incredible driver – our experience would not have been the same without them!
Overall we all had a wonderful time; the trip not only provided us with invaluable first-hand experience of the U.S. college system but also helped create some fantastic memories!
A huge thank you must go out to Mr Franks and Mrs Mason who were incredible at organising, running and guiding all of us throughout the trip's duration. I hope they enjoyed the trip as much as we did(definitely! – Mr F and Mrs M).