Somewhat detailed information is included, feel free to skip through. If you would like to be removed from the list for future updates, please let me know :)
Let us begin :)
Getting to the CIA
The trip to CIA began on Sunday, February 11th when Olga and I boarded our first Amtrak train from Union Station, DC heading to Penn Station, NY. 3.5 fabulous hours later we arrived to Penn Station and met up with Jenny for a quick lunch. Refreshed and refueled we then boarded the second train to Poughkeepsie, NY. Even in the winter time, the ride was quite beautiful and calming.
Once on campus, we immediately went to my residence hall and were greeted by my new roommate Ani. Our room has the typical dorm set up with two beds, two desks, some drawers and very small closets. I am thankful though that it's only a double occupance and that we do have our own bathroom. Overall, the room exceeded my expectations, and now that I am mostly unpacked and have my personal momentos displayed, it doesn't feel so institutional :) Most importantly, I like my roommate, and so far we get along very well.
Back to day 1 though, I gave Olga a tour of the beautiful campus, the library and the restaurants located on campus. After a quick dinner at the student cafeteria, I send my dear sis on a cab ride back to Poughkeepsie station.
I am SO thankful that Olga came with me and helped me to move:) That's what sisters are for.
First 2 Days of Orientation aka Blurry Days
The first two days as a new student, I had orientation! And what "fun" that was :)
Your basic guidelines in terms of being a student, your classes, school policies/expectation, etc. On top of that we had team building activities, shared lunch and dinner (the school does have pretty fabulous food! - as one would expect).
We also got measured for uniforms (we get chef jackets embroidered with our names), got our textbooks and knife/tool sets. Very exciting! (It'l be 6 weeks before we get to use our knifes - the first set of classes are strictly academic and is outside of the kitchens).
My schedule has only 3 classes - Gastronomy, Product Knowledge and Culinary Math (regularly, students also have to take Food Safety and Writing, but I transferred credits for the two classes and don't have to take them).
First Day of Classes... or so we thought
I was really looking forward to starting classes on Wednesday, but alas, the weather had different plans for us. For the first time in many, many years, the school got cancelled due to a snowstorm. :) We had over a foot of snow on the ground. Everything was white and beautiful and very, very cold.
The classes resumed on the following day. It's too early to tell about the professors and the classes (except that math will be a bore) - will update on that later :)
More on Food...
The first few weeks, the new students are encouraged to eat "on stage" in the main dining room hall where they are served by other students. Regardless of whether you are eating lunch or dinner, each meal includes an appetizer, main course and dessert. Some of the dishes we had so far have included mushroom risotto, duck pate, canapes, poached salmon, beef - lots and lots of beef, creme brulee, tapioca pudding, fruit tarts and chocolate mousse. There's always plenty of freshly baked bread on the table. Here's an interesting fact - on average, a new student at the CIA gains 10-30 pounds a year!!!
As part of tuition, students receive two meals a day during the week. No food on weekends. Some dorms have shared kitchen with limited hours of operation.
New students enter CIA every three weeks.
My class has 88 students, almost equally divided in terms of gender and in terms of traditional/nontraditional students. Half of the students will receive Culinary Arts and half will receive Baking and Pastry specialization. Most live on campus at residence halls. I have started the process of "getting to know your fellow students" and it's going well! We are a very interesting and diverse bunch of people. There's an opera singer in the group - I'm still trying to figure out who that is.
There are plenty of students organizations/clubs on campus that do tastings, panel discussions, sport activities, social activities, etc. This week the school will host a panel discussion with members of the culinary writing world and then there's also going to be a "potato event" - where the science club will demonstrate what to do with potatoes :)
On Saturday, Ani and I walked to our local grocery shop - about 25 minutes from campus. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of produce - the store is called Shop & Stop :)
Carrying the groceries back wasn't as much fun, but we made it back.
Saturday evening my car was finally delivered from Dallas! What a relief.
On Sunday I joined the international club and we took a train to New York City to celebrate Chinese New Year with a traditional dim sum brunch. Later we walked around China Town and Little Italy and then went to Chelsea's Market. I'm in love!!! Imagine a mall where instead of Gap and Banana Republic, you have bakeries, Italian groceries, delis, kitchen supply stores, flower shops, gelato stores, etc. That's Chelsea Market. We spent a few hours walking around. Will definitely have to come back.
In the evening, I met up with Jenny at Union Square and spent some time at the NYU business school. Later that night we had wonderful Indian food at Baluci's and concluded the evening watching Desperate Housewives in Jenny's beautiful loft (where I spent the night). Thank you - my NY hostess :)
Monday morning after breakfast with Jenny at a local bagel shop, I headed uptown to meet up with Cheryl and Riley! How is it that I move from Dallas just to have my Dallas friends follow me to New York? :) We had a wonderful lunch at Le Pain Quotidien Belgian Bakery and walked through Central Park - how amazing! The park is completely covered in snow and has a very serene quiet feeling. Beautiful! Stopped by and looked around at Zabar on the Upper West Side (New York's gourmet epicurean emporium). We then strolled down Madison Ave on the East Side where I had a refresher course in high fashion names :) So shiny! Lovely seeing you - it was almost weird how "not weird" it felt hanging out with you in NY. I'm glad I got caught up on my play time with Riley :) Will see you in the city soon.
This brings us to the end of my first week here. I caught a Metro North train back to Poughkeepsie and got back on campus at 8pm.
I really wanted to send this to you tonight and let you all know that I'm doing well and am excited to be here. Miss you and hope you are doing well.