A Day in Providence

Rhode Island, the Ocean State, may be the smallest state in the United States but its vivacuous, beautiful, and historically rich character make up for its size. Its capital, Providence, is a city that is thriving in the arts and culinary scene. 

The easiest way for us to get to Providence (from Dallas) was to catch the Peter Pan bus at Logan Int’l Airport in Boston. We were dropped off at Kennedy Plaza after an hour drive and from there, it was about 5 minute walk to our hotel, the Hampton Inn and Suites. This hotel is centrally located with just few minutes walk to most restaurants and tourist spots. 


It is across the Woonasquatucket River where Waterplace Park is situated. Waterplace Park is a cobblestone-paved pedestrian walkways along the  waterfront known as Riverwalk. Waterplace Park and Riverwalk are host to the must see WaterFire events, Providence’s most famous event that runs from May through November. WaterFire is a series of bonfires lit on the river accompanied by music. (It’s too bad we missed it by just a week).


We had dinner at Hemenway’s located along the river. We ordered the Rhode Island style calamari which comes with cherry peppers for appetizer (it was delicious!). For our main entree, I had chilled shrimp, crab, and lobster salad  and my son had fried cod and steak fries with truffles. Providence is known for its fresh seafood. 


The next day, we visited the famous RISD Museum of Art. Lucky for me they had the Todd Oldham Fashion exhibit which totally made my day. 


The museum’s collections range from modern and contemporary to 18th and 19th century American, Asian, and Egyptian arts. 

We were blessed with beautiful weather during our visit. A couple of weeks back they had experienced freezing rain and snow. This time the temperatures were in the mid to high 60 degrees (Fahrenheit) and since Providence is best seen on foot, walking around did not pose any problem for us. 


We walked to College Street, and it was an uphill climb to visit Brown University. In my previous post, we are in Providence because my son is attending the admit week at Brown. The student registration wasn’t until 3pm so we decided to get lunch at Ten Prime Steak and Sushi. Since Rhode Island is famous for its seafood, we assumed the sushi was going to be delicious and fresh. 


We ordered the bento box. It came with mixed vegetable tempura, seaweed salad, organic Scottish salmon nigiri, and three pieces of California roll. The sushi was good but not great. What I found interesting was the roasted red pepper tempura. I noticed how they love peppers in Providence. I’ve never really had red pepper tempura before. I actually thought it was delicious. 


After lunch, my son went to Brown to start his admit week activities and I didn’t have to be at the parent welcome reception until 5pm. I decided to tour the John Brown House to kill some time. 


The Browns were wealthy merchants in Rhode Island. They were active in the slave trade and China trade. Of the four brothers, John was the most prominent. He was also instrumental in founding Brown University. 


The house was the first mansion built in Providence. George Washington was the most famous guest at the house (John Brown was apparently very fond of him). According to the tour guide, the above picture was the room used by Benjamin Franklin and George Washington where they had tea while discussing the country’s affairs.  

By 5pm, I attended the Parent Welcome Reception. After the event, I strolled the streets surrounding the university. I found a row of affordable restaurants on Thayer Street (obviously catered to college students). The choices ranged from Indian, Japanese, Korean, Italian to Mediterranean, and many more! 

Providence is such a quaint city. I wish I had more time to explore but I also wanted to visit Newport on my second day (upcoming blog). After seeing both Providence and Newport, I had no idea Rhode Island is that beautiful. In the United States, it is probably among the states that is Rhode less traveled. 

Brown University: an Ivy League dream

March 31 was Ivy Day which means all the Ivy League institutions (Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, Colombia, Cornell, UPenn, and Brown) sent out their decisions to thousands of students and only a handful of them were admitted to their dream school. My son applied to five Ivy League schools and he was waitlisted at Harvard and Columbia, was denied admission from Yale and Princeton, and was admitted to Brown. If you are unfamiliar with the Ivy League’s admission rates (same with highly selective schools such as MIT and Stanford), it will come as a big shock that these schools reject the majority (approximately 90%to 95%) of applicants. 

    

We are in Providence, Rhode Island, to attend the ADOCH (A Day on College Hill) which is more commonly known as the admit week at Brown University. ADOCH is a terrific opportunity for admitted students to experience life as a Brown University student. For three days, prospective students are offered the chance to explore academic options, talking to current students and hearing from faculty in their specific area(s) of interest. It is very likely that a significant number of these students have also been accepted to other universities and are still undecided where to go. Hence the importance of attending the admit week—to see which particular school fits them best.

 

My son was also offered admission to Stanford University and in the following week, we will be visiting their campus for their admit week. On May 1st, he has to make a final decision and choose between Brown or Stanford. 

Brown University Facts:

Located in historic Providence, Rhode Island, Brown University is the seventh oldest college in the United States. It is an Ivy League institution comprised of undergraduate and graduate studies. There are about 6400 undergraduates, 2,000 graduate students, 450 medical school students, and over 700 faculty members. Brown students have a diverse population coming from all 50 states and about 100 countries. It is also the first institution in the United States to accept students regardless of their religious affiliation. Its Engineering program was the first in the Ivy League. It also has produced many scholars (94 Fulbright, 2 Marshall, 2 Mitchell, 8 Rhodes, and 4 Truman). Brown also boasts two special programs such as the Brown/RISD Dual Degree Program (a five year program allowing students to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design) and the Program in Liberal Medical Education (an eight year continuum that allows students to combine both their undergraduate and medical school education at Brown). 
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this iconic gate opens only twice per year- to welcome students on their first year and the other for graduating seniors. The superstition is no students must pass this door twice or they will be cursed with bad luck!

Admit Week

The parents were given an event schedule for three days and were free to choose what to attend from a variety of activities listed. On the first day, there was a welcome reception for us with the Dean of the College, who in her speech, gave us top 5 reasons why we should choose Brown for our kids. It also gave us an opportunity to mingle with other parents and the most commonly asked question in all the conversations was,”Did your son/daughter make a decision on where to go yet?” The answers were mostly “No, he/she is still undecided,” and the next question would be expected:”what other schools is your son/daughter looking to go to?” And so the bragging rights begin…

 

The students had their own schedule independent from their parents and can choose from various activities listed for each day. They were even allowed to sit in in some of the ongoing classes. They start each day with breakfast and usually ends late at night. They also have an option to stay with their host student and sleep in the dorms or stay in the hotel with their parents. My son opted to stay in our hotel since he didn’t want to carry a sleeping bag on the plane. However, almost everyone chose to stay in the dorms. 

  
My son is torn between Brown and Stanford. I don’t think he can go wrong with either one but I just hope he chooses well and what school fits him best. 

Students were taking advantage of the beautiful weather and were doing school work al fresco