A siren, a trolley bell, the shrill and quick double whistle of a hotel employee calling a taxi, the intrusive honking of the car horns of California drivers all over the city, the soft hum of rooftop air conditioners, the low buzz of crowded sidewalks, the blaring trumpet and soft violins of starving artists on the streets – cacophony induced by the action of one of America’s most iconic cities drifts through the single paned glass windows of my 29th floor hotel room in San Francisco.
The number of sirens that one can hear in a short amount of time in such a large city is astonishing to a suburb dweller like me. Almost as astonishing as the fact that the hotel elevator can make it from the 1st to the 29th floor in less time than the elevator in AC-1 can make it from the 1st to the 3rd floor, and that my ears pop every time I descend from my room to the lobby.
I’ve never stayed in a downtown hotel before, and the sounds of the city are not the only new things I got to experience on my Northern California Embry-Riddle Recruiting trip. Admissions ventures out to cities all over the country to hold Admissions Information Meetings for prospective students to have a chance to meet their admissions counselors and have any of their questions answered. As a high school student, you might have attended a similar meeting in a hotel conference room near your home town.I did when I was in high school. Admissions invited me along on this trip to act as a featured student who could interface with prospective students on what college life at Riddle is really like. I jumped at the chance to explore places I’d never been before and to share my enthusiasm and passion for aerospace with prospective students.
At noon on Thursday, October 1st I started my drive to the airport with the steering wheel in one hand and a Large Starbucks Mocha in the other to fight the effects of a late night of finishing homework that would be due while I was on the trip. You can tell that I’m not a coffee connoisseur when I order a Large coffee…coffee people call them Ventis.
Whenever I travel, people always comment on my luggage.My mom says that you should be wary of people who say “never” and “always,” because they are probably grossly exaggerating their story and are not a very trustworthy source of information.In this case though, the word “always” works, and is not an exaggeration.I wonder if people reach their destinations and tell their friends, family, or coworkers about the goofy, tall girl in the airport with the hot pink and blue polka dotted suitcase with a blue ribbon and bow on it.Fellow travelers always seem interested in asking me about it; TSA agents have been known to joke that they “need to watch out for this one.”
I arrived at SFO at six pm, caught an airport shuttle to my hotel, and walked through the doors of my hotel at seven thirty.It was rush hour.In San Francisco. I didn’t care though.I was so excited about my first trip to the city where you should “be sure to wear some flowers in your hair,” that I was fairly relaxed and enjoying the beautiful scenery, like the “Doughnut Shop and Bar” that I passed on the drive in.
I was shocked when I reached the hotel.We were staying in the same hotel where the Admissions Information Session would be held, and I have to say that it was the nicest hotel that I had ever stayed in during my sheltered life.My family members are typically Best Westerners or Motel 6ers.My room in this hotel was fully loaded with everything from a coffee maker to a fully stocked mini bar.I’d never stayed in a hotel with a mini bar. Of course you can’t eat or drink any of it unless you want to pay an exorbitant price (I mean no candy bar or miniature bottle of alcohol is worth my first born child or my right arm), but it was still a mini bar, which was awesome.
For dinner on my first night in San Francisco I went to this chic French-Country Restaurant and enjoyed a melt in your mouth meal of Beef Bourguignon.Walking back to the hotel, I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw a bunch of yellow rubber ducks floating in a fancy mosaic tile fountain in front of another hotel.It seemed indicative of the eccentricity of the city.
On Friday morning, I awoke bright and early to eat breakfast at the hotel and then travel to start recruiting at a high school.The restaurant at the hotel, Grandviews, featured a 36th floor panoramic view of the city, Alcatraz (which the Harry Potter fan in me kept wanting to call Azkaban), and the Golden Gate Bridge.
The high school that we went to was Lowell High School in San Francisco, which had a 51% Chinese population, a 99.4% college admittance rate, and a number of students who are interested in coming to Riddle.It was most impressive.
After that we met with a group of designers from a company called Pentagram who design our admissions recruitment, informational, and acceptance materials.Their studio looked exactly how you would expect an accomplished design studio in San Francisco to look.The building that housed the studio looked like it could have been a refurbished factory of some sort to an uncultured girl like me, with long frosted glass windows and a very modern, industrial interior with no shortage of concrete, clean lines, metal hand rails on concrete staircases, and frosted glass that divided the loft-like space into different offices and work areas.It was just so cool.
We then went to lunch with a few members of the studio and discussed the brochures that we had made and other related topics.After lunch I returned to my hotel to work on homework, which was probably actually lamer than it sounds, but homework doesn’t stop for weekend trips when you study engineering.
The next day I got up bright and early again, ate breakfast and headed towards a park and museum called the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.I was told that it had one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge in the City.It was stunning.The park and museum were gorgeous and the view of the bridge was superb.
After playing tourist, we jetted back to the hotel for the main purpose of our trip: our first AIM.Apparently San Francisco’s “Love Fest” was occurring at the same time as the as our meeting, and the attendees of our meeting had to navigate around a street full of Love Fest attendees who were apparently present in varying degrees of nudity.After the AIM we were able to catch glimpses of a few participants, one in particular who was dressed in nothing but a pair of hot pink briefs that read “I’m Gay” on the back.
The AIM itself seemed to go very well. Admissions is testing out a new presentation with a free flowing form that is structured to be conversational, rather than a data dump.The format seemed to go really well and the 60+ people who showed up for the presentation appeared to be engaged and interested throughout.
After the AIM we drove to Sacramento and enjoyed dinner on the river in Old Sacramento, a really cool tourist district where all of the building looked like something out of the old west, with wooden sidewalks and the like.Exhausted from several full days, I retired to my hotel room and slept for a solid 9 hours.I awoke refreshed, ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant (which was nice but not nearly as cool as Grandviews), and got ready for the next AIM.
Our Sacramento AIM was huge with approximately 70 attendees.The presentation went just as well as the San Francisco presentation, if not maybe a little better as we had a little more practice under our belts.I felt awesome whenever one of the students or parents would raise their hands and say “Actually this question is for Kerianne.”The parents and students seemed really interested to hear about why I chose Embry-Riddle, and what my life as a student there was like.
I feel that I was able to make a significant contribution to the presentations and I hope that I have inspired some prospective students to make Embry-Riddle their first choice.It was a great experience for me. I got to see the other side of the AIMs, having attended one myself before deciding to go to Embry-Riddle.I also got to see cities that I’d never visited before, had some great conversations with both Admissions representatives and families of prospective students. Overall, I had a lot of fun.
*Note: This is an extended version of an article I wrote that was published in the October 14th issue of Horizons Newspaper. Usually the editors get frustrated when I turn in a 1500 word article, even if I feel like I have to write that much to fully document an event or experience. 🙂 In other words I’m really long winded and I wanted to share my full experience including pictures (which didn’t appear in the paper due to space limitations) with my readers.