Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Template Tuesday

Your presentations are over! Now you can relax, right? Relax? Never. Especially not on a scholarship. I was not sent 3000 miles away from home to relax. I came here to do work, learn a lot of material, and interact with people all around the world. Ever since I arrived, I have been non-stop in trying to complete each category daily. Today I did it again.

Waking up at seven every morning took a week to adjust to, but now it feels normal. Going through my daily routine, I made my bed, got ready, and walked over to RPCC. However, today I was more focused on my quiz on hotel brands, than eating food. Even though I was busy studying, I was able to meet up with Nick and eat a banana. Along the way, we both quizzed one another back and forth. 

My neat bed after I wake up and before I sleep
As I entered class, I felt like trimester two was about to begin. Presentations had finalized and we began preparing for our next project. Over a total of three lectures, we were able to cover how to make a business letter and report template, and learn a couple key differences between hotels and other businesses. 

Making a letter and report template are very complicated. However, with much practice, I was able to get the hang of it and help out my surrounding colleagues. As always, whatever we learned in class would be assigned for homework. A letter and report template of our own due at the end of office hours did not phase our class anymore. Instead, we embraced the challenge and got right to work once office hours began. Helping is a key to success. This is what our class did when a TA was unavailable or if Mark or Reneta were not present. The way we aided one another today is the main reason why everyone got most of their work done in class. 

Unlike yesterday, we got out of class at six today. With our stomachs grumbling, Gaby, Nick, Justice, and I met up at RPCC and had delicious burgers, pizza, and even waffles. After our meal, Nick, Justice, and I decided to play frisbee and volleyball. However, our daily fun ended as soon as the rain began coming down. The sky was blue and within seconds, large pellets of rain began hitting the ground, sending everyone running inside. 

Being limited to activities, Nick and I met up with Jefferey, Bonnie, Skylar, April, and Elizabeth. Hanging out in the lounge was not a bad idea. We were able to mingle and get to know each other more. I even found out Jefferey and I sound really good when we duet together while singing. After beating Nick five times in a row in chess, singing with Jeff, and studying with everyone else, I headed back to my room to complete my template and blog. Maybe my idea of never relaxing was wrong. One can always have fun, relax, and get their work done, as long as one manages their time wisely and well. 

Home Run!

Happiness. I always contemplated the idea of happiness while laying on my bed, staring at the ceiling. Yet, I never understood the psychology of happiness.

In class today, we discussed about happiness in the terms of the product of adaptation, focalism, and the psychology "immune" system. People are able to adapt to their surroundings and new life style; for instance, we think that earning a few more thousand dollars a year would make us happy, but we are able to adapt to the situation and not to think of our annual income as the source of our happiness. Another situation where we adapt is when we take a shower or bath. We tend to take it for granted the hot water coming down the faucet, but when we spend some time outside in the wilderness we come to realize how happy hot water makes us feel. That is why it is important to refresh our daily lives with breaks that interrupts the frequency of something. Focalism is the idea that is the focus of our happiness. Whether it is not winning the lottery or getting a promotion, at that certain moment, we tend to base our happiness because of the events; but we tend to not look at other factors that influence our happiness such as, relationships, sports, or hobbies. And lastly, our psychology "immune" system does wonders that are similar to our biological immune system. The psychology immune system can reverse our unhappiness, to a certain event or outcome, into happiness. In other words, make a frown turn upside down. Did you know that the peak of happiness does not happen until the age of 70? I am currently in the decline of happiness, but when I become seventy I will be one of the happiest people alive. It's nice to know that there is more happiness in my life when I become older.

9+10= A Great Pair
In our section today, we talked about the psychology of attraction and relationships. I learned that attractiveness may play a part in our relationships with people, but proximity or the mere exposure of people contribute to a huge part as well. Since I live on the same floor as Rachel and Melissa, I am more likely to be friends with them; and since Reese and Lucy are my classmates, we tend to go to class together, eat lunch together, and do homework together. Another example of proximity is when I was with the Cornell cohort for five days, 24/7, which made us very close friends during that short amount of time because we were always with each other. For mere exposure, it is the idea that we tend to like our mirrored version of ourselves than our pictures. This is because the exposure to the mirrored selves, the more common it is for us, while others see us face-to-face. We also did an activity in class called "The Mating Game." Steve was going to give us a card, ranging from 3-10, where the number 10 was the most valuable. We are not able to look at our number, and we had to socialize with other people. If we wanted to be a pair with the certain individual, we had to shake their hand, otherwise the individual would deny the deal and continue to "shop" around. When we got up, I immediately spotted a 10. It was Megan. My first attempt was to introduce myself to her, even though she knew my name. My instinct was to go for the handshake, which meant I already made the deal without "whooing" her, but I disregarded my handshake and told her a random fact. I said that I love to make people laugh, and that I have a sense of humor, and after that I initiated the shake and she shook it. I was very happy at that moment because I scored a 10. We were the first pair to sit down, and when I saw my number, I felt pretty good. I was a 9, just one below from a 10, but it is still a good match. The pairing went on for a bit, and Megan and I decided to talk about Korean dramas. It is something that we have in common, and I'm glad to be able to find my match and a closer relationship to her. The conclusion of it all was to show that not all of us can have a stunning, attractive significant other. The fact that some people ignored the 3's was a sign to show those who had 3's how much others desired them. Luckily for me, I scored pretty well, and I think we make a good match.

The seminar today was on the topic of depression. As depressing as it sounds, I learned a lot. Today for our seminar, Casey Carr had Jeremy, a student and a participant in Cornell Minds Matter, help her. He told us about Cornell Minds Matter which is a student organization which promotes well-being by holding activities such as, yoga, zumba, arts and crafts, and free massages every month. In our discussion today we learned about positive stresses like, sports and relationships. Positive stresses make us strive for our goals, and promote healthy tensions both physical and mental. However, too many stresses can lead to an imbalance, and then a breakdown. There is the balance point of the brain which is at peak performance, a place where it is just right.

Casey, Jeremy, and I
After our discussion on the chalk board we had an activity where Jeremy read five sentences, and we either agreed or disagreed to the statements. Something that I learned about Cornell was how they keep their students well informed. Whether if it is a suicide, a rape, or any other major incident, Cornell University likes to update students on the news that happened on campus. I really like this aspect of Cornell because as a student, I want to know what is happening to me in my environment. I will be able to trust the administrators more, and I will feel safer in my environment. Another activity that we did involved us acting. We were all given different cards that helped relieved stress, and with those cards we had to find the group that had the same card as us. In my group, we decided to pretend we were playing baseball. I was the batter, and at the third pitch, I would hit the home run. After hitting the ball "very far," I ran around the room in an exciting manner. That was the best part about my day, and I got compliments for my energy. I can't wait to go see Inside Out tomorrow.
Play Hard!

Protect Numbing Fingers Foundation

I felt like I could take on the world today. I didn’t play cards with my roommates last night or watch a movie with the hall. My evening was spent in front of my laptop, matching logos with company names and vice versa. I walked into the classroom, anxiously rubbing my hands together as Mark and Reneta passed out the quiz. My past two quizzes weren’t very impressive, but I was certain that this would be the one that I could go home and hang on my fridge or frame in the living room. This would be the quiz.

Except after we handed back our papers, I wasn’t feeling like all too confident. The papers weren’t graded until later that afternoon, but I knew this wouldn’t have the digits I hope for. I couldn’t let myself get carried away with a number I didn’t know yet, so I cracked open my notebook for the upcoming lecture.

We focused on two types of templates today—letter and reports. After taking some notes on the two, we split into two groups. My group experimented with the virtual Hotel game while the other explored Microsoft Word with Mark. After lunch, our two groups switched. I gave myself a mental slap as Mark went over the effective way to write a business report. The knowledge of how to efficiently construct a table of contents page would have been useful when writing the fifteen page research paper for the prosthetic arm competition. My fingers got numb after holding down the period key for ten minutes trying to get the right spacing. This wasn’t the only thing I wish I knew, but apparently word has an entire toolkit to making writing a whole lot easier and prettier. I’m sure this is worth sharing once I get back to the West Coast. I’ll be sure to teach students about Microsoft Word in an effort to protect their fingers from numbing. In addition to saving their fingers, Hercules students will get to show off their Microsoft skills in future competitions.

After the lesson, everyone traveled back to the lecture room where our graded tests awaited. I was naturally nervous when I received my paper. Although I didn’t get the score I wanted, I was satisfied. I was making an improvement and I can’t win all of them. The fridge will just have to wait another day.

Afterwards, it was time to apply what we learned in the computer room. Everyone worked to complete the two templates in the two hour time frame, though most people only finished one. After an exhausting two hours of typing and clicking, everyone made their way to RPCC to end their day with a meal.

Dinner was great. Shanti, Natalie and I sat together and enjoyed luxuriously decorated ice cream. The cold desserts were topped with fudge, waffles and cookies. We admitted that we weren’t making the

best food choices, but our mothers weren’t there to tell us to stop after the third serving. Shanti left early for her dorm to complete her templates. I should have gone with her at the time. When we entered the building, the sky was lightly dotted with clouds, just like the previous days. When I went
Only the top survived. Rest in peace.
back to the dorms, it was pouring. Not small droplets, but enormous globs of water falling from the sky, creating pools at my feet. Wearing tennis shoes, jeans, a tank top and a windbreaker, I wasn’t prepared for this. I knew I had to get back to my dorm to finish the template, so I had to make it through the rain. 
Ithaca rain is horrible. The usual three minute walk felt like an eternity. Twenty paces away from the building and my shoes were already soaked through. The puddles on the ground didn’t do much to help. I was halfway there when my pants were wet. By the time I made it to the door, only my head and shoulders were safe because I draped my windbreaker over my head. While the grades and the templates caught me by surprise, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the weather in Ithaca.
The aftermath. I should have just left at 9' o clock.

The Business Connections

My parents have owned a business for about more than half my life. I would always been there to help my parents at their store and it was a great way for me, as a child, to be exposed to business. As I grew up, I was really interested as well as involved in my parents business. The Hotel Management course is the investment I was offered to officially study in the business field. 

Today during the lecture I learned something that I knew I could bring back to my family. Its more of an understanding of how my parents us certain methods and aspects that make their business successful. For example, similar to how hotels "haggle" their prices, which is an approach to customers that lowers the price with different products offered, my parents do them same as well. To go in depth in a guest asked to book a room at the top floors with a view but thought the price was to high, the concierge could low the price if they offer another room that didn't have the room with a view. This is call the Top Down pricing approach. I instantly saw a connections with my parent's way of selling certain objects. This approach was similar to how my parents barter with the customers with different products. 
"I made sure to take notes! Oh wait... you didn't think these
were it did you? I got more, its a whole notebook worth!"
We also learned the physical and non-physical fences in the hotel industry. The fences are used in a way to discount certain products. For example a hotel will reject a on night stay for $70, but will offer the same room for $60 dollars if they stay for an extended time. This method of discounting is what my parent use often. Deals like "buying one is $7 but buying two is $10". In addition, we learned about variable costs and what would be the most profitable when opening and closing certain rates for rooms. Variable costs are the costs that account for when the guests use electricity or water. Mrs.McCarthy reminded us that the rate of any room should not be lower than the variable cost. This is like how my parent's store doesn't sell anything lower than the wholesale price. If it is lower than these costs there will be no profit made. 

What we learned today was based on discounts and it surprised me how the basic discounting on certain items can be compared to discounting in a hotel. Although we mainly focused on these discounting aspects in the lecture, I was interested to see what else I can make a connection with from a small business to a large one. I made so many connections between my parents store and the hotel business. I want to bring them back and show my parents that even though its a Hotel Management class there is so many aspects that are alike to businesses like my parents. I'm ready to make more connections as well as what things can make my parent's store better.

Eager to Improve and Learn

Over the course of the last four days, I have been dedicating a majority of my time to my class.  With a little more than a third of the class already completed, I realize that now is the time to work incredibly hard if I want to pass the class.  Today, just like the past couple of days, I kept hammering away at my studies and at my projects, trying to secure the passing grade that I came here for.  When I woke up, the first thing on my head was finalizing my arguments for the presentation on my art piece.  I quickly wolfed down my breakfast and headed back into my dorm room.  Here, I made minor tweaks to my arguments and practiced my speech about five times over.  I didn't know how strictly this assignment was going to be graded, but I didn't want to take any chances considering that this was about 10% of the overall participation grade.  I wanted to make sure that my arguments made sense and that there was a clean line between my claims, my evidence, and my argument.  Once I felt that my argument was complete, I headed over to class and hoped that my practice paid off.

I was the third person to present in the class of about 21.  This meant that I should try to exceed expectation and raise the bar for future presentations.  When my name was called, I was a bit nervous but tried to present myself in a confident manner.  In my speech, I said that Barkley L. Hendrick's paining, "Down Home Taste" was trying to portray the African-American man as a person of dignity.  In my argument, I brought up the film genre "blaxploitation," which negatively portrayed African-American men and women.  I then mentioned that what Hendricks wanted to do in his paintings was properly portray these men and women, rather than the exaggerated figures that were on the movie screens.  I believe that my content was good, but at the same time, I think that my presentation left much to be desired.  I spoke a little too fast, shuffled my words, and had an occasional brain cramp, which left me feeling as though I had failed to make a proper presentation.  I know that I did a good job, but I also know that I could have done better and that it is up to me to improve.  

Following about five more arguments on art pieces, Dr. Sharkey shifted the attention away from the art pieces and said that the class was to have a debate using the British Parliamentary style.  For those that don't know, the British Parliamentary style of debate is when there are four teams, two on government, otherwise known as the proposition, and two on the opposition.  Each side either supports or rejects the motion, but every team is out for themselves and wants to win the debate in a 1-4 ranking system, with 1 being the highest and 4 being the lowest.  The motion of the debate was "This house believes that we should stop jailing non-violent offenders."  Since Jack, my partner, and I were the opening government, we could use the most arguments in order to steal from the secondary government, which made finding content a lot easier.  During my speech, I talked about how jailing non-violent prisoners is a waste of money, how that money can be put towards public education, and how putting non-violent prisoners in prisons and exposing them to violent people might cause them to pick up violence.  Again, in this speech, I thought it left a lot to be desired.  I stumbled a bit with my words and there was an occasional silence.  I cut myself a little slack because I'm not used to having such a little amount of time to prepare, but I still wish I could have done a little better.  By the time my tenure at Cornell is over, I want to be a much-improved debater and master of the art of rhetoric.  I do understand that in order to achieve that status, I am going to have to work hard over the duration of the next two weeks and I cannot afford to slack off.

My New Best Friends
The work didn't stop after class ended.  Right when I got back to my dorm, I began to prepare for the quiz that I have on Tuesday.  Over the past week and a half, I have been working for hours on end, taking notes on all 18 chapters of the book in preparation of this quiz and I can see that taking the time out was worth it.  Now, instead of having to re-read chapters, I can simply look at the notes that I have taken and it only takes me about ten minutes per chapter, in comparison to the maybe 35 minutes that it would have taken to re-read an entire chapter.  Although it may be a little easier to review, I'm making sure that I'm not just breezing through the notes.  When I study the notes, I want to make sure that I am carefully examining each and every word to make sure that I understand what the book is trying to teach.  It's very tedious work, but I would rather over-prepare for this quiz and the final next week than under prepare 10 times out of 10.  I like that Debate and Rhetoric is my only class because it allows me to pour all of my time and energy into it without having to worry about other classes.  Regardless, I'm going to continue to study and work hard over the course of the next couple of days and at the end of the hard work, hopefully I can walk away with an A in the course. 

Swimming on the Soccer Field

The usual early morning run occurred again this morning. I saw a dragon and a direwolf but they flew and ran away when I approached to take their photo. It was raining so I was drenched by the time I came back, but because I can't take showers in California because of the drought, I enjoy all the water that I can feel on my skin here in Ithaca.

The morning before my class was filled with homework, studying, and practicing my painting presentation. Today's ranking for Cornell dorm rooms and their noise level would be a 0 out of 10. People are testing the fire alarms in Balch Hall which means your ears are either getting blown out by the shrieking of a rabid cat on fire, or you are getting incessantly distracted by the beeping of fire alarms about to explode. It was a great morning for recording how many words someone could read in a textbook before the noise of Hell sounded forth.

After attending the funeral of my eardrums this morning, I just barely had time to grab lunch before heading to debate class. Today was the big day of presenting the argument of why the painting that you selected on Friday was the best. My speech was eloquent and poetic and a joy to say. I'm not kidding, my speech was really good and I'm quite proud of it. It was a great three minutes of speaking this morning. You all should have been there.

After about half the class did their presentations, the class split up into two groups for a debate. I was finally part of one, and Soline and I were closing government on the resolution that non-violent offenders should not be jailed. Our arguments were solid and we refuted our opponents cases pretty well. At the end of the debate, we were second out of four (although a close first, as Rodney said...) which wasn't a bad outcome for the first actual debate I've spoken in.

After class, I returned to my dorm. This might sound boring and that first sentence was, but it's about to get really funny (if you like my kind of humor). I was reading through our textbook, and the specific chapter I'm reading is covering ambiguity in language. Not a very complicated subject. Anyway, there are example sentences at the end of the chapter where it asks you to identify the term or phrase that is ambiguous, and explain the possible meanings in each one. They're hilarious. I'll give you some examples:

1. Perplexed by the disappearance of his sister, Vincent stood at the edge of the lake and thought, "Phyllis is at the bottom of  this!"

2. Woman decapitated in freak accident before attending lecture.

3. Famous culinary columnist advises cooking party guests.

4. Campus police were requested to kick the fraternity members off the roof of the library.

Now I could go on but the blog would be very long. Instead I'll leave you with the joys of the English language at work in the world.

This was the dry part of the field.
The great thing that I love about my debate class is how it's giving me the information to actually identify and explain why something doesn't work, or doesn't make sense, or why something does, logically, make sense. Instead of just "feeling" my way around in conversations, I actually know and can define logic.

Now this evening is where things really got interesting. I went to soccer at 6:00 PM, as usual, and up until 7:20 PM it was all going great. At that point, the thunderclouds had gotten close enough to hear loudly, and the organizers of the activity called it quits. However, everyone continued to play "unofficially". I was on the field and I began to hear this interesting noise, like a waterfall that was really close by. About 30 seconds later, this noise turned out to be an absolute downpour or rain, so hard that you couldn't see and it hurt to open your eyes. Like absolute buckets of water coming down. Everyone started sprinting to bring their bags under the building overhang before they got completely drenched.

Once the bags were safe, about half the remaining group (including me) went back out in the rain to continue playing. It was madness. The rain was coming down so hard you couldn't see your teammates. As the game progressed, the field turned to a lake and no matter how hard you kicked the ball it would stop and start floating down the field. People were sliding about like they were on ice. Everyone was falling and dragging everyone else down with them. It was comical. 

After everyone got exhausted from running through water that covered the tops of their shoes, we called it quits for the day. However, before I left I had to take the classic running start and belly-slide down the field. It was totally worth the dirt and grass in my hair, shirt, and shorts. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Now Presenting...

Heart beating. Chest pounding. Hands shaking. Everything that would represent being nervous, showed. However, it was early morning and I was practicing in my room. Presenting over and over again to myself, I became less nervous and better focused. Before I knew it, my alarm to leave went off. 

As I entered Statler Hall, I raced to the bathroom to fix my tie and make sure everything looked good. Soon after, I met my group and we quickly went over our slides and notes. Were we ready?  Of course! 

Presentations were given in numerically alphabetized names. For example, Group 1A was first, followed by 1B, 2A, 2B, etc. The groups with the same number, presented the same hotel. Marriott was the first hotel to be shown. Followed by Hilton, than Interstate. Just from the first six groups, I learned about their fluctuating total net income, activities outside of their hotel, and reasons on why people should invest in their company. 

After a quick 15 minute break, the class was presented Wyndham and IHG. Even though the topics were repetitive, each hotel and group presented the information very differently. The animations, transitions, and content on the Power Points also influenced our final grade. After Group 5B presented, everyone was dismissed for a hour long lunch break. 

A lunch break? Since my group and I had to present after lunch, our lunch break turned into a study session. Covering any key notes we missed and to make sure we answered everyone's questions. Lunch flew by and before we knew it, everyone was politely awaiting for Group 6A, Choice Hotels, to present. The presentations felt like they were being presented faster and faster, the closer it got to being our turn to present. 

Group photo of Hotel Management class
"Group 8A, Host Hotels and Resorts," exclaimed Mark. It was our turn. All our hard work and long days led to this point. Was I shaking? No. Was I nervous? A little. Did I show it? Never. Our presentation went as smoothly as possible. We covered all the main topics, such as stock and financial information, their history, and even their upcoming missions. Also, our group was able to strongly answer any lingering questions. The clap from our classmates officially ended our presentation. As we walked up back to our seats, we received many "Good Job!" or "Well Spoken." 

Being much more relaxed than before, I slowed down with my note taking and enjoyed the remaining Power Points, Hyatt and Starwood. A huge round of applause and cheers erupted after Mark proclaimed that all the presentations were completed. He even announced that there would be no office hours today. However, all we had to do was complete a quick self evaluation and take a group photo. A photo to commemorate all the proud faces following their excellent presentations. 

Since being let out early was new to me, Shanti, Julie, and I met up with Chan-Law and we were able to pick out something from the Cornell Store. Thank you ILC for the jacket, I love it already! After a quick walk back to my dorm, I ate dinner and played frisbee with Justice and Nick. To kill the remaining time, both Nick and I did our laundry and were able to study for our quiz tomorrow. Studying took longer than expected and we even went past nightly check-in. However, we both went back to our rooms ready to ace tomorrow's quiz. 

Starwood Hotel and Resort Worldwide for the Win!

I woke this morning at 6:30 AM with a raging pit in my stomach. I was more than positive it was due to the fact I had my presentation today. Even through all the preparation my team has done for the past few day, I was still nervous. The unbearable thought that I might mess up during the presentation kept running through my mind. Trying to shake the bad thoughts, I constantly went over the points the presentation. I got the strength to get out of my bed and get ready. I wore my nice dress clothes and my nice dress shoes to start off my day. Part of my preparations for the morning was preparing all my books and notes for class as well as meet Julie at 6:50 AM to get breakfast. 

Julie and I briefly had breakfast. We hurried because we wanted to get to class as fast as we could and early. We wanted to make sure everything for the presentation was running smoothly for our groups. When we arrived there were already other students working on final details for the presentation. I've never walked into the class with complete silence. The class was intense, there was no other word to explain it. There was no need for any brief greetings in the morning. There was no "Good Morning" or "Hello" from any of my peers because we understood that those moments were the most crucial moments. 

The atmosphere was a lot different from what I experienced from my high school, but I assumed this because the course is rigorous. My sisters and I often discuss how college what like for them. They would tell me for some courses it will be fun and others not so fun, but there will always be times when the class is intense. I never really understood the intensity of a college level course until I took this class. In addition to that I've taken classes at Contra Costa Community College and all the classes that I've taken at the community college weren't as intense as the Hotel Management Course.

When class began, all the groups sat next with one another and the list of presentations began. There were twenty groups that had to go. My group was the ninetieth on that list. We understood that near the end of the presentations everyone would be tired and antsy to leave, therefore we had to make our presentation entertaining. Of course we were going to keep the important information the same, we just needed something fun to go along with our presentation. 

During the break time between each presentation, my group and I tried finding ways to keep our audience entertained. After some time of contemplation our group finally got it. Now it was up to the audience to decide if it goes well or not. 

Each presentation was unique. We learned about different hotel companies. We learned about their corporate strategies, brands, and some of their global initiatives. I wanted to listen closely because I knew that there would be a test in the near future about the different hotels and their brands. As I was watching the other groups present, I couldn't help but think of all the things we could have improved on on our own presentation. The butterflies came again. I was so nervous I couldn't quite shake it away. I turned to Amanda and said, "Amanda, I am really nervous." She replied,"Shanti, we will be fine. Just try your best." With that in my mind I looked at my notes and tried to do what she told me to do and that was to try my best. 

It was our turn to go. My team and I went up to the front of the class and started our presentation. Since we knew that most of the students were a bit dosed off, we got their attention with our "grabber". We sang a verse from Sam Smith's song, "I'm Not the Only One", and change the lyrics to "You say you are the best, cause we haven't presented yet." I was so afraid this wasn't going to work but it did. We saw that the student's attention was more toward us and they were more awake. In addition the students as well as the professors had a little chuckle. We went on with out presentation. Since I was terrible nervous, I did mess up. I wasn't perfect but I did try my best to pick up where I was from and deliver the best presentation I could. Since our company was Starwood Hotel and Resort Worldwide, the stack market ticker for the company was NYSE: HOT. Previously Mr.McCarthy told us we could poke fun since we had such a great ticker. Therefore when my teammate, Matt, brought it up, all of us in unison said "oooooo sssssssss!" We mimicked a sizzling noise which also helped the audience be more attentive! 
Our Outstanding Class!
My A-Team, 10B!
I am proud of all of us!
Our presentation went really well overall! My team and I were really happy with our results. We also know what we need to improve on as a group.

Now Presenting... Presentations!

Today is the day. The reasearch has been done, the PowerPoints have been polished and the speeches have been perfected. Today is the day we present our hotels.

Shanti and I started our morning bright and early, leaving our dorms at 7 AM. We made it to the classroom with enough time to drill through our work, print out our slides and take a deep breath for the hundredth time. When the clock struck 8:30, the room was already dead silent. Everyone’s noses were hidden in their notes as they reviewed and repeated the lines in their head.

Mark cleared his throat loudly, earning the attention of the entire class. Everyone was anxious, their strained voices and expressions reflecting the tense atmosphere. I held my pencil in between my two fingers, swiveling the writing utensil nervously. It was a nervous tick that had not appeared in a while. In the Hercules High School classroom, I was never too worried about presenting. I knew who I was up against and I could walk in front of the class without feeling intimidated. This was different, however. I wasn’t in a high school classroom, I was at Cornell Summer College, and my classmates are top tier Hotelies with wealthy backgrounds. I didn’t think my presentation would be anywhere near their level.

As my mind stormed with thoughts of failure and worry, Mark gave us our first assignment of the day. Everyone’s eyes snapped open as he pointed to his diaphragm, informing us that we had to warm up all our speaking muscles before the presentations started. Then, he told us to repeat after him, and a loud “Ooga” echoed across the room.

Nobody said anything at first. In the midst of our stressing and worrying, out comes Mark with a cave-like remark. “OOGA,” he repeated louder, gesturing his arms in an effort to gain class participation. Slowly but surely, people joined in, one at a time. The whispers grew to a unified chant as everyone directed their energy into creating a powerful OOGA. Mark instructed us to add the second line, and this time, there was no need for building up the energy. Everyone went in and added the “CHAKA.” The chant continued rhythmically, everyone chanting the verses loudly and proudly.

And to accompany our chant, Mark sang Hooked on a Feeling.

The loud chants in the room immediately switched to blusterous laughter. After the laughter and the chanting died down, Mark assured our class that the most embarrassing thing has already happened today, so there is no need to worry about the presentation.

It worked. Of course I was still nervous for my presentation, but I could breathe now. Mark’s demonstration reminded us that this was simply a presentation. It was part of our grade, but there isn’t a need to choke when remembering a line. We watched the presentations go by and everyone took notes. Chan-Law was there early in the day at 10, thanks to this lovely little writer who gave him the wrong time, and stayed until the end. We presented right after lunch, and while I watched my peers deliver the message before me, I thought about how this wasn’t so different from a high school presentation after all. Sure, there were no goofballs interrupting the presentation and everyone in the room knew what they were doing, but it was just a presentation. The same rules apply—be confident and be clear. Finally, it was my turn. Sarah expertly transitioned the clicker to my hand. I took a deep breath and began discussing the current events of Choice Hotels International.

The rest of the class went by in a blur. A few presentations later, Stephen was introduced to the podium and Shanti’s group followed in the blink of an eye. Mark gave everyone a scare after the presentations were finished. Everyone began slumping over their desks and running their hands through their hair as Mark instructed everyone to place their bags in the front of the room. It was certainly an odd setup for the pop quiz we all expected. The only difference was we weren’t taking a quiz, we were taking a picture.
Our lovely class picture.
Everyone lined up nicely, and our cohort couldn’t help but reminisce about the times Don would line us up for a group photo. Our sharp suits, tidy hair and bright smiles were recorded into the camera to commemorate our successful presentations.

It was one good new after another. After rejecting the idea of a pop quiz and taking a picture, Mark added that there would be no office hours, which meant we could go home early! Everyone cheered and marched out of the room fashionably early.

Seeing that we had some extra time, Shanti, Stephen and I met Chan-Law in the Cornell store to pick out our sweaters. Unfortunately, the three of us are all modeled out, so the picture would just have to wait until tomorrow. In addition, the other members believed we would pick up our sweaters tomorrow, so they couldn’t make it on the last-minute notice.

Finally, what was originally planned to be a long day turned out nicely. I spend the rest of my evening studying and blogging, though at a leisurely pace. If anything, today is the day I realized that I should stop worrying about being at the top and instead, focus on creating top notch paperwork. 

My 21st Century Mind Blown

Practicing Our Peace Sign Emblems
This is the second week of school, and it is going by pretty quickly. During my class today, we continued our lecture on emotions. I learned about six "basic" emotions of psychology: anger, happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, and surprise. Five out of the six emotions are in Inside Out, a movie that we may be watching this week. But disregarding that sentence, we learned about emblems such as the peace sign, thumbs up sign, and the "okay" sign. Professor Gilovich also taught us about the difference in expression between Western cultures and Eastern cultures. In a study, Tsai et al (2007), Tsai, Louie, Chen, and Uchide did a study of smile preference. Participant had to choose which smile, an excited smile or a calm smile, showed more excitement; the result was that an average of Westerners chose the excited smile, and East Asians picked the calm smile. Why? This can be due to how Western cultures and Eastern cultures view happiness. Eastern cultures see their emotions like a roller coaster, going up and down, but it is best presented as the yin and yang symbol of harmony. Western cultures see happiness as a uphill slope. Western cultures promote uniqueness and influence, independence, while Eastern cultures promote observation and adjustment, interdependence. One idea t-hat I value about Eastern cultures is their idea of harmony, and for Western cultures is their expressive emotions. After our lecture, we went to our section where we received our test scores.

We were all a bit depressed when receiving our test scores, but what impressed me was our topic, "The Psychology of Failure...." How coincidental for this to be our subject of the day, but I learned a lot from this, such as the increment and entity theory. The increment theory of smartness is that smartness is something that we can increase overtime; on the other hand. the entity theory of smartness states that smartness can not be increased. For the entity theory, it is either you have intelligence or you don't. There are two types goals for both theories, the learning goal and the performance goal. The learning goal, which reflects the increment theory, is where we attempt to increase our competence. Those who believe in the theory will choose to do challenging tasks to learn new skills and extend mastery in a skill. The challenge is thought to better oneself. For the performance goal, which is for the entity theory, we establish adequacy of an ability. People who practice this goal tend to do easier tasks that will portray their proficiency in the skill, to avoid negativity. Some can say that the increment theory is more optimistic, and the entity theory is more pessimistic. An activity we did in class was to rate different attributes on a scale from 1-12, 1 being most valuable, and 12 being least valuable. This is the self affirmation paper that bolsters our identity and our self esteem by noting important aspects and elements of our identification. Cohen et al (2006) is where Steve got the experiment from; and the result of the experiment showed that students who did the self affirmation intervention did better in mathematics than students who didn't go (the control group). After learning about the theories of intelligence, I experienced a mind blown.

I feel more energized, more motivated to work harder for the next test; I will do this because I can do it. Moving on, I went to the Cornell bookstore to get my sweater today. I was excited, and happy with my choice, but I won't be showing the blog what I got until the picture on Wednesday. I am enjoying learning what I do in psychology. I just noticed that doing these blogs are a great review for me, and it teaches you, the readers, what I learn. Let's work hard this week!

Melissa, Rachel, and I

The Wonders of Policy Debate

Last week, the Debate and Rhetoric class, for the most part, went over the world's style of debate.  This style of debate was first introduced to the class last Thursday when the students and the debate coaches came into class.  Now, we are moving on with policy debate, an entirely different animal.  The main distinction between world's debate and policy debate is that policy debate is much, much more difficult because it involves a lot more technical terminology, as well as having to cram a lot of information into a little amount of time.  

The Brain Display
Policy debate, unlike world's debate, is broken up into two teams of two people.  The two teams are the affirmative and the negative; the affirmative is for the motion presented and the negative is against the motion presented.  Unlike world's debate, policy debate is more about what is said rather than how it is said.  Austin showed the class a YouTube of the semi-finals of collegiate policy debate. In the video, the student that was opening up her argument was speaking hundreds upon hundreds of words in only thirty seconds, which was a true application of the "doesn't matter how it is said" rule.  Policy debate is broken up into the 1st Affirmative speech followed by the 1st Negative speech, the Second Affirmative speech, the Second Negative speech, the first negative rebuttal, the first affirmative rebuttal, the second negative rebuttal, and the second affirmative rebuttal.  After each of the speeches, the opposing side gets to cross-examinate the opposing side.  Speeches are nine minutes, cross examinations are three minutes, and rebuttals are six minutes.  When we concluded going over how a policy debate operated, the class was given an example of an affirmative speech in written form.  We went over all the important aspects of how to write an affirmative, then we were given our own affirmative assignment, which is set to be due next Monday.  The motion of the affirmative is "The United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of he following in the United States: marijuana, prostitution, online gambling, the sale of human organs, and physician-assisted suicide."  After this little lecture, the class went to visit various brains in the building next to Ives Hall as a little introduction to a debate we are going to be having on the topic of "Nature versus Nurture," which I thought was a little out of the box.  

As we move along, the class is getting more difficult, little by little.  At the same time, however, the class is becoming more informative and fun because we are moving outside of the box.  It seems to me that Dr. Sharkey isn't just a teacher, but a student was well; he learns from us as we learn from him.  It is this type of two-way relationship that has allowed me to fall in love with the class.  Sure, there has been a lot of hard work involved, but that is all apart of the learning process.  I know for a fact that I wouldn't be getting this rigor or caliber of education in the junior college's of the world and I'm loving every bit of this class. 

Policy Debate (Re)Introduction

The second week of Cornell Summer College has just started. Today in class, our TA Austin introduced the why and how of Policy debate. In the summer before 9th grade, I took a debate camp where I took part in policy debate, so I wasn't completely out of the loop on the subject, but it was good to go over it for sure. Austin explained the format, as well as what each speaker tried to do.

Policy debate is different from World Schools because participants only have one debate topic for the entire year. They research and come up with hundreds of pages of information, and can alter and change their arguments from debate to debate. Because these debaters have hundreds of pages of information, and only 9 minutes in their opening speech to present it, they have a nifty speaking skill known as spreading. Spreading is a spastic, fast, reading and speaking skill where debaters just pour out all their information in between loud, ugly gasps of air. I may sound critical and judgmental of the technique, but it is a skill I don't have and I'm impressed with those who can spread well. It's not pretty sounding or looking, but it gets the job done in policy debate.

Our project that is due next Monday is to write a full affirmative policy case on the resolution that the United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of the following: marihuana (spelled like that on purpose), prostitution, online gambling, the sale of human organs, physician assisted suicide. My affirmative case is going to be for legalizing marihuana because there is a lot of information out there that I can hopefully use.

After our policy debate introduction, Rodney took us all to see an exhibit of brains preserved in the building next door. They were of smart people, as well as a murderer, and they were originally used in the early study of brains to try and figure out what made people smart, such as the size of their brain. The murderer's was the largest brain, so just because you have a big brain doesn't mean you're going to be the best person in society...
Working in a dorm room
I really like my debate class because it's one thing to think logically and identify logical arguments and formulate your own opinions, but we're actually learning diagrams and ways to break down arguments to prove whether they are logical or not. I've never really thought it was possible to prove your logic, but there are actual ways to do so. 

When class finished, Justice, Thao, and I went to the Cornell Store to buy sweatshirts to bring home. A group photo will be taken Wednesday with all the Cornell students with their swag. 

Once we all returned to the dorms, Thao and I grabbed our laptops and went to Reese's room to blog and do homework. The dorm rooms aren't that large, and there were six of us in one room so it was a bit cramped. It wasn't too bad though, and everyone likes talking to each other and hanging out. All the people I've met at Cornell so far have been friendly and intelligent in their thoughts and words. No one hears curse words shouted out across hallways, which is different from my high school experience. It's a really nice atmosphere that has me looking forward to college, where everyone wants to be there and they want to learn and have fun as well.  

Sunday, June 28, 2015

One Last Breather

It has now officially been a full week and a day since I arrived at Cornell University and to say that it has been an adventure would be an understatement.  Whether it was the plethora of new exciting characters that I have met, the seemingly never-ending campus, the countless hours of exercise or the always exciting Debate and Rhetoric class, this first week has been one heck of an adventure.  Yesterday, I was able to regroup and recharge for the first time in a long time.  Today, I got right back on a limited working schedule while creating time for friends and myself.  

I woke up around 8:30 to the delightful sound of an iPhone alarm, which snatched me straight from Dream Land and back into the real world.  The reason I was up early was because Stephen invited me and Gaby to go running around nine in the morning.  I called and texted Stephen, but he wasn't responding.  I figured that he was knocked out, otherwise, he would have responded.  I checked my Snapchat and I got a picture from Stephen, dated at 2:55 in the morning.  The picture showcased his desk and the caption: "Finally finished studying."  Yup, he was definitely going to be sleeping for a while.  I texted Gaby, who was sane enough to get some sleep, and we agreed to go running together, unfortunately minus the sleeping beauty that was Stephen.

We met up around 9:20 and proceeded to lightly jog from the campus to College Town.  We arrived relatively fast, so we decided to jog around the town for a little bit to see what was around.  While jogging, we talked about where we wanted to go to college, how we were both a little homesick, and what we missed about our homes.  After about 25 minutes of running, we stopped at College Town Bagels, devoured some grub, then walked back to our dorms.

Pho is perfect for rainy weather
I checked the time and it was around 10:30, meaning I still had the whole day to myself to do whatever was plausible.  I took this time to do a multitude of different activities;  I started off by studying a couple chapters out of my textbook, then proceeded to catch up on Netflix's new releases, specifically comedies.  I did one or the other continuously and before I realized it, the day was nearly gone.  At 6:30, Stephen and I headed back to the Vietnamese restaurant we went to the night before.  The same waiter from last night served us and asked where was our dad.  We were both a little confused, but then we realized he was referring to Mr. Chan-Law, who accompanied us last night.  Stephen and I laughed at the waiter's comment and told him that Mr. Chan-Law was actually our chaperone from the San Francisco Bay Area.  I told Mr. Chan-Law what had occurred and he said, "I don't look that old."  Following the dinner, Stephen accompanied Mr. Chan-Law and Shanti and I headed back to my room, where I worked on my art assignment and studied until I decided to retire for the night.  

Sunday is a Work Day, Too!

My day didn't really get interesting until after lunch. Prior to lunch I was diligently going over the material on the PowerPoint for the presentation on Monday. My group and I had so much information about our hotel company, I was afraid I wasn't going to get it all. But I did get through more than eighty percent of the material.

My group and I agreed to meet at 1:00 PM at Amanda's dorm rooms. Since she was a college student, she lived on a different part of the campus. Matt, Sarah, and I met at the arch in South Balch. Once we were together we began to walk there. As we were walking there, we realized we took the "scenic route" but we found our way back on track. As we were walking to her dorm, I realized there is so much of Cornell I haven't seen.
This is Matt and Amanda. They are amazing people! 

We walked near the dorms and saw that there was a recreational center right next to the dorms. In addition the new model dorm rooms we great for socializing as well as studying. In the lobby there was a common rooms and many small office-like rooms that are used for group collaboration. As we made our way to her dorm, I noticed so many posters for events that various clubs and organizations were planing. This just reflected how Cornell students even in the summer are interactive and social.

We finally got to her dorm and started to work. For most of the time we worked on the PowerPoint itself. From there we went over the content and made sure we were grabbing the correct information from the correct sources. One of the hardest thing for me was understanding the company's, Starwood, start up. It was because there wasn't much about some of the things that allowed the country to grow. For example, Starwood Hotel and Resort took advantage of a tax break, but our sources didn't go in depth what the tax break was.

When it came around 2:40 PM, we started to make our way to the Bin Lab. Today we had office hours from 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM. When we arrived, we went to work. The next three hours would be the most vital and most important hours. In the three hours we worked so intensively. We looked at every minutia detail on the PowerPoint. We knew that it didn't have to be perfect but we wanted it to be as close to perfect as possible.

During office hour, we also had to present to one of the Teacher Assistants in the class. In our mock presentation we got some really good feedback for improvements. We were definitely stressed out because we didn't know if we would finish in time but my group pulled through. My group and I didn't leave the Bin Lab until 8:00 PM. We were trying very hard to improve the  PowerPoint as much as we could.

Since Julie and I were late to leave the lab, we completely missed dinner. Thankfully Mr.Chan-Law said he would treat us to dinner for missing dinner due to the presentation. Julie and I were so happy because if he didn't offer dinner, we would have been subjected to eat the 2 week old red vines Don gave us the day we left the West Coast! Mr.Chan-Law told us to meet him at the lobby of the Statler Hotel, which was very close to where we were.

We went to the lobby and waited for Mr.Chan-Law. When we were about to leave it started to sprinkle, so Chan-Law decided to go back and grab his umbrella and jacket. When he came back downstairs we were ready to leave. We walked outside and it was full on pouring. We all laughed and went back in because there was no way we would have made that walk to College Town alive! Mr.Chan-Law briefly turns around and says "How about the Statler Restaurant?" This restaurant was the  only one open to us, therefore we went. Julie and I were so grateful for Mr.Chan-Law. If it wasn't for him, we'd still be hungry right now!
Thank You, Mr.Chan-Law! You are the real MVP!
After dinner, the rain had simmered down a bit and Mr.Chan-Law gave us his umbrella and went back to the dorms. At the dorms Julie and I meet in the common living room area and decided to blog together.

I can't wait for tomorrow! Wish me luck on my presentation!
Blogging with my Hotel Management Buddy!

"Three" Hours of Office Hours

As planned, I woke up to the beautiful ringing of my alarm clock. I quickly got ready and rushed to RPCC for breakfast. Due to wanting to work on my PowerPoint as soon as possible, I hastily ate my food.

 I met up with my group in the computer lab at 12:00 P.M. With only three hours to prepare before office hours, we got as much information and practiced as efficiently as we could. By 3:00, we were sitting practicing our scripts in Statler Hall. After group criticism, we fixed and added anything necessary. 4:00 was our scheduled practice presentation time. 

As we walked into the room, we were greeted by our TA, Oren. He happily told us where to stand and asked us to begin. Brittney was our first speaker. From the group's eyes, we thought she did an amazing job. However, Oren critiqued and positively criticized her. He opened our eyes to a lot of missing details that were needed. Next up was Alex, then me, again we received the same helpful feedback. 

The delicious beef pho 
What felt like five minutes was a complete hour. As we exited, the clock read five. Luckily, we ended right when the pizza arrived. The entire class took a 30 minute break and enjoyed the yummy pizza from Mark. Thanks Mark! However, once the pizza was gone, so was the fun. My group and I immediately began making all the changes Oren had given us. 

Even though office hours ended at 6:00, my group and I decided to stay extra long in order to get our parts perfect. By 7:00, we agreed to get split up and have dinner and meet back up in the computer labs at 9:00. The dinner break was needed. I met up with Justice and we both walked to a Vietnamese pho shop. The dinner was amazing. We even made friends with our waiter and were able to tell our story of being sent to Ithaca thanks to the Ivy League Connection. 

Afterwards, we headed back to the dorms. Before I could even settle in, I realized that it was time to meet back up with my group. We met up as planned and were able to finish and print out our slides. My night was not over. I met up with my friend Nick and we practiced our presentations to one another. We went down to nightly check-in and said our good byes. PowerPoint, check. Practicing presentation, check. Blog, check. Sleep, blank. Looks like I am headed to bed. Wish me luck for my presentation tomorrow!

A New Sunday

Once again, another day of the week has been redefined. Tuesdays were my least favorite day of the week in my Elementary years because of the dreadful piano lessons after school. In middle school, it was Saturday; the day was always packed with classes from sunrise to sunset. In high school it would be Thursdays because tests and presentations usually piled high that day. At Cornell Summer College, that day would be Sunday.

I didn't wake up as late today. My day started out at 8, a lot earlier than I expected. Thinking that I had a lot of time on my hands and being courteous of my sleeping roommate, I pulled the sheets over my head and read for an hour and a half. I got up a little before my Maddie woke up, giving me enough time to use the sink first. I knew Maddie was awake when I finished, but she didn't move out of the mattress until 10:30.

I went to breakfast at 11, a late breakfast indeed, but I had a presentation to work on. As Shanti, Daniella, and Elana ate breakfast, I couldn’t help but rudely check my phone every five seconds.

Something went wrong with our presentation.

I scrolled through the Facebook chat anxiously. Thirty minutes of dead activity can really add up. The hundred messages I scrolled through gave me a good idea of the position we were in. The odds were not in our favor.

After a plate of pasta and cup of cereal, I bolted out the door, meeting the others in the RPCC computer lab. One of our members were stuck in traffic getting back from New York City while the other two just began their presentation. I was horrified. We sat down and got to work, animating, researching and practicing the presentation all at once. Once the clock struck one, we printed out our papers and rushed across campus to the bin lab where Mark was waiting for a mock presentation.

We pieced together the PowerPoint with ten minutes to spare and then we hit the presentation room. Everyone let out a reassured sigh as we noticed Kyra the TA was the only member in the audience. It was just as we made it into the agenda that everyone’s voice hitched. Mark had entered the room.

Although everyone was expecting raging screams and frustrated, Mark was great help to our presentation. He was certainly tough, but he took us through, answering all the questions we didn’t know we had and giving us great presentation points. After he tore our presentation to shreds, the four of us hit the presentation room once more for another gruesome session in front of the computer.
I’ve never been so sick of staring at a computer screen. It reminded me of the time I binge watched Orange is the New Black, except worse. We were working nonstop, the tapping on the keyboard and mouse filling the room with its continuous melody. It was noon when we started and eight when we ended. I don’t think I could look at another PowerPoint in my life.

Except I knew I had to. The presentation wasn’t done just yet. As I prepared to leave the bin lab, Shanti called me over, notifying me about dinner plans with Chan-Law. The tiredness was drained out in that second. I could always count on my cohort to bring my spirits up.

It wasn’t like our usual dinner. Stephen ditched the invitation and the other cohort members were too
Shanti's dinner.
far from the Hotel, so Chan-Law, Shanti and I were left to dine. We waited in the lobby as Chan-Law ever so kindly tended to our bags. We got our first taste of Ithaca weather in the time he traveled from the lobby to his room. When he took our bags, some light shone through the thin clouds, but upon his return, the evening roared with rain. Seeing the intense weather, Chan-Law decided against a meal in
My dinner.
College Town and took us to a luxurious dinner right on the second floor of the Hotel. My eyeballs nearly popped out when I spotted the prices. Seeing Shanti and my exasperated expression, Chan-Law reassured us, letting us know that this was a way to repay our day of hard work. We enjoyed our dinner to the comforting chatter of our day’s events. Nothing like dining with the cohort.

Chan-Law lent us his umbrella that evening. He was returning to his room and Shanti and I still had to travel across campus to our dorms. He would be watching our presentations tomorrow anyways, giving us the opportunity to return his umbrella. The two of us sped through the rain. The walk back reminded me of the times we ran though the rain with the cohort. It’s hard to believe that so much has happened over the course of two weeks. It feels like I’ve already been here for a month.

I spent the rest of the night perfecting my presentation and working on my blog. Sundays are tough. I think I’ll stick with Saturdays after all.