Saturday, June 20, 2015

And Now, The Fun Begins

Now that the Cornell cohort and I have completed the madness of going on three college tours in four days, especially yesterday's hectic three city in one day marathon, we all got to do something magical: sleep in.  Once an afterthought to me, this turned into our personal savior, as we were able to capture a full eight hours for the first time in what felt like an eternity.  All joking aside, the sleep was great, but the highlight of today, by far, was our ability to get a taste of what Cornell University has to offer.  I came entered the campus last night with no expectations.  I did a little research on my class and the school itself, but I tried to shy away from looking at what the actual college looked like online, so my visit would be all the more beautiful and enhancing.  In short, I made the right decision and my day was everything I could have asked for.

With my portable fan set at its highest setting blowing in my face, I woke up refreshed, ready to take on Cornell.  On my way to the bathroom, conveniently only a couple steps from my dorm room, I took a little more time to soak in the floor and room that I was assigned.  From what I could see out of elevators, each floor had its own lounge area, where people could go to study, hang out, and collaborate.  It was pretty spacious, nice, area that I envisioned myself meeting new students on my floor.  The floor itself was very clean and had a little bit of decor that made it unique from the rest of the floors.  Other than that, the floor was basic, yet appealing to the eye.  

As I walked outside, I made sure to pay special attention to the buildings that surrounded me.  When I was a rising sophomore, I had the chance to visit Boston and during the trip, my mother and I visited Harvard.  I imagined that the Cornell, considering that most of the east coast colleges I had seen had similar architecture, was going to be the same.  That claim wasn't wrong, but it wasn't right either.  Emory, Georgetown, and Pennsylvania were one anomaly, but Cornell was in a whole different world.  Most of the buildings, with, to my knowledge, the exception of the physical science building, were constructed out of bricks.  They stood high, mightily, and seemed larger than life while being alluring, almost begging me to explore every single building on campus.  

At around 10:00, I grabbed my Cornell ID and room key, met up with my cohort, and went with Mr. Chan-Law to Target to grab supplies for our stay at Cornell.  Personally, I only grabbed no-show athletic socks because I plan to run and don't want to develop a hideous sock tan.  We went back to the campus around 11:00 and headed up to the Robert Purcell Community Center, located right next to the Mary Donlon building that I was staying at, to eat lunch.  Right off the bat, I loved what the building had to offer.  There is a little student store called "Bear Necessities" with every generic junk food, drink, and school supply that a student could need.  It also serves Starbucks, so I definitely know I might need that for an extra boost now and then with my Debate and Rhetoric program.  The building also had a room specially designed or Billiards, even though it requires payment for every 15 minutes used.  There are also a couple of TVs; today they were playing SportsCenter and CNN, so I can see myself going here if I ever want to escape back into the real world.  

The Cafeteria
Upstairs on the third floor was the cafeteria.  Stephen and I waited about 15 minutes in line before we got to the front.  Once up to the front, my Cornell ID was scanned, and I entered cafeteria food heaven.  I was no longer in Hercules.  Immediately, I saw salad bars, ice cream dispensers, Mongolian  food, pizza, pasta, chicken, burgers, deserts.  The list just goes on and on.  I wanted to try everything the cafeteria had to offer right then and there, but I knew that I had to pace myself because I would be here for three weeks.  Not only was there a plethora of food, but it was also delicious and healthy.  When I go back to having high school play-dougheqsque type meals, I just might cry.  I finished up the meal around 1:10 and headed back to my dorm to relax and read just before the 2 "Program Welcome and Dean's Convocation" at Bailey Hall.  

The Gorge
At 1:35, I started heading towards Bailey Hall and boy am I sure glad that I decided to head there early.  Remember how I said that Cornell was a really big campus?  Well, the 1:35 version of me didn't quite grasp that concept.  I knew that in order to get to Bailey Hall, I would have to pass Balch Hall, where the girls are staying, follow the road, cross a bridge, make some turns, and boom I would be there.  That was all fine and dandy until I actually crossed the bridge.  Upon crossing that bridge, I felt like I was in a different world.  I walked for about 10 minutes until I realized I had no idea where I was going.   I forgot my map, which compounded the problem.  It was by a miracle that I was able to flag down a student wearing a red Cornell synch bag and follow her to Bailey Hall.  I wasn't the only one that had difficulty finding the place, as upon arrival, Julie called me up and asked how to get there.  I tried the best I could to explain where we were, but with the way the campus was arranged, I might as well have been trying to get a gopher to leave its hole.  

The Presentation Hall
The program started at around 2:05, and we were greeted with a fabulous video on Cornell.  It wasn't like the college tours where it was a cookie cutter description of the school, but rather a video outlining the life at Cornell.  The video played Kanye West's "Runaway" instrumental  one of my favorite.  Although simple, the combination of the instrumental and the video and the narration gave me goosebumps and made me incredibly anxious to explore everything that Cornell had in store for me.  Following the video, we were greeted by Jim Schechter, director for the summer program at Cornell.  He introduced himself, then went into a little spiel about Cornell, which included campus life, rules and regulations, and what we could all expect.  Following Jim was Brandee Nicholson, who also spoke about what we could all expect from the school.  Last, but not least, was the dean of Cornell, who spoke to the packed auditorium.  He was an incredibly funny man from beginning to end.  His speech had the entire audience clapping and laughing on multiple occasion, while still providing a very well-rounded, informative discussion on his experience at Cornell and tips for students going forward with high school and college.  

Immediately after the conclusion of the program, all of the hundreds of students and parents were divided up amongst the different programs so the teachers could have an opportunity to go over the class with their students.  Helen, who will be taking the Debate and Rhetoric class with me as well, found the sign labeled "Debate" and joined the group.  While waiting to head off to the classroom, I met my teacher, Dr. Rodney Sharkey (great last name if I may chime in).  He was a lot taller than I expected, if I am being completely honest.  Our guide was standing on a platform about a foot and a half tall and he was still able to stare her in the eye, which I found amusing.  After about five minutes of waiting, we all headed over to the classroom; students sat down and Dr. Sharkey stood in the front of the class.  Dr. Sharkey introduced himself, his profession, how he ended up at Cornell, his history of work, and how he got into debate.  The fact about him that I found the most interesting was that he was Irish and hailed from Dublin, Ireland.  Coincidentally enough, I am half Irish and my parents are traveling to Dublin as I type this blog up.  He briefly described how the class would operate and what to expect, answering questions and answers along the way.  Following the info session, I introduced myself, explained that I was half-Irish, explained the Ivy League Connection program, and why I chose the class.  He was incredibly friendly and easy to talk to, which eased my anxieties and got me a little more excited for the class.  

I retreated to my class following the info session at around 3:45, which gave me a little time to, again, read and relax.  At around 6:00, I headed out to the Robert Purcell Community Center for dinner and grabbed a bite.  I put the same food on my plate as lunch, but, nevertheless, the food was still terrific. I exited the dining hall around 6:45 to go play frisbee with Stephen and Helen.  When we arrived, I met Frank and Nick, two students that were dorming in the same building as me.  Along with Thao, Helen, and Stephen, we all played volleyball until the ice cream social at 7:30.  While we played, our circle grew larger and larger as students would join the circle as we would volley the ball from person to person.  It was an incredibly fun experience that was a perfect landmark event for my first day at Cornell.  The ice cream social was an fantastic experience as well, as I got to meet countless students all while enjoying Cornell ice cream made right in Ithaca.  

Serves Up!
After the ice cream social, Stephen and I played a little bit of frisbee until around 8:30.  There was a mandatory orientation for our floor at 9:30, so we wanted a little time to freshen up after playing frisbee and volleyball.  At 9:25, I arrived at the 6th flour lounge and introduced myself to everyone that I could before the meeting started.  At this point in the day, I had heard so many names that they started to just go right through one ear and out the other.  That isn't specific to anyone person, I am, unfortunately, notorious with forgetting names, even after a person just introduces themselves to me.  The orientation was relatively simple.  We started off with an ice breaker, then we went through house rules.  At 11:45, the entire building ran through its first night check and then headed off to bed for the night.

Today was a flat-out amazing first day at Cornell and I can't wait to start classes and really get this show on the road.

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