Saturday, June 21, 2014

[Insert Gorges/Gorgeous Pun Here]

Today was meant for establishing ourselves in the Cornell campus. Accordingly, I was out of bed by eight to meet Sue and Jun at 8:20 to find check-in, which started at nine. This was no mean feat, since last night I went to bed at three after unpacking and blogging. Unfortunately, the early wake-up was completely unnecessary: we decided to meet at 8:45 instead, and then we found that since we'd arrived last night, check-in consisted of picking up some booklets and papers, and grabbing a Cornell drawstring backpack and lanyard. Since we had a few hours to kill before lunch, Jun and I took a tiny walk around our building, and saw two tiny rabbits. We were also finally able to appreciate the beauty of Cornell's campus in the daylight.

Upon returning to our rooms, we got texts from the other members of our cohort saying they were below. After I showed off my dorm, we six, plus a new acquaintance from Katelyn, Kevin, and Carla's building went off in search of food. We'd been up for several hours without food (lunch was our first scheduled meal) and were getting hungry. Upon finding a convenience store called Bear Necessities on the ground level of the dining hall's building, I bought a thick Naked juice with lots of vitamin C. Then, having nothing better to do, we all went and sat in the TV/lounge room by the convenience store. There we met Ashley, an American military child who'd lived in Germany on base most of her life. Eventually we all marched up to the dining hall, where we sat for a bit and reviewed our new packets of information before picking up some food.

The dining hall is arranged into different buffet stations, such as Mongolian grill, Italian, a grill, a salad bar, desserts, fruit, etc., and tables for eating. For each meal we have our Cornell ID swiped before we enter the room. Today I ate a bit of fried rice, some french fries, and an apple, with coffee to drink because I hadn't had any earlier. Both the rice and the fries were rather starchy, and I think I'll be eating more healthily in the future. Throughout the meal we collected students at our table, and by the end we'd introduced ourselves at least five times over. One boy, Jacob, had been on our plane to Ithaca. Aside from our group, which was positively buzzing with conversation, almost no one else was eating lunch in the dining hall. There were perhaps three pairs of a parent and student scattered throughout the dining hall.

A bit after eleven, Mr. Chan-Law came to take us on our long-awaited trip to Target. He'd exchanged the clumsy passenger fan from last night for a smoother and more modern car, so the ride was luxurious in comparison. At Target we shopped for over half an hour. I bought most everything I'll need in the next three weeks, from shampoo and sunscreen to a cheap bag of chocolate-covered nuts and berries for late-night blogging snacks. In the interest of economy, Jun and I split a bottle of body wash, as well as two-packs of sunscreen and air freshener (our dorm rooms really do smell unbearable). I tried to buy everything in such quantities that I'll run out in three weeks.

After our Target run Mr. Chan-Law dropped us off back on campus. Katelyn and Jun needed to buy their reading assignments and I wanted to see the bookstore, so we three met up again with our worthy chaperone as soon as we had put down out Target bags in our rooms. The walk to the bookstore was longer than I expected: not ideal, but certainly doable. Inside was a pleasing array of Cornell gear, as well as books and a cafe. Katelyn and Jun got their readings and picked up a binder and index cards, and I bought two little pens: one pink and one blue, so that my class notes will jog my memory better.

Once we'd finished with our purchases, it was time to find Bailey Hall, where the one-hour convocation for students and parents would take place. Mr. Chan-Law had gone for lunch, so we were on our own. Katelyn took over the map, and we found the location with plenty of time to spare. Our group of three was seated in the back section, where we waited for those who had not gone to the bookstore to join us. In due course they did, although the seats had filled to such an extent that Kevin could not sit with us.

In convocation we heard advice to students and parents, and a listing of the academic and safety resources offered by Summer College. We watched a sobering video clip about a young man who died swimming in a gorge, then had a more lighthearted speech from an old and venerated professor, who imparted wisdom while telling a hilarious story about William Howard Taft. Finally, we were released into the courtyard in front of Bailey Hall, where staff held signs for each different program. On my way out I was excited to see Professor Kramnick in the passageway, speaking to a parent. He soon appeared outside and joined the Freedom and Justice group. Soon we were led into a lecture hall, where we sat and he took center stage to describe the course. I was so awed by him that when he asked whether anyone ("the parents; I wouldn't expect the students to know this") knew who Francis Perkins (the first female Secretary of Labor, during the presidency of FDR) was, I was too frightened to raise my hand in case I had the answer wrong.

Today Professor Kramnick struck me as a teacher who likes to work with underclassmen, who's had his work in print about twenty times but can still laugh at himself, and who is a total master of his trade. I also found him charming and perhaps even human: he told us that he doesn't like to drive with trucks on the freeway, and that since his granddaughter will be a freshman at Cornell this year, he will have to decide whether to avoid her or run into her on purpose.

After an hour in the Freedom and Justice breakdown, we had about an hour before dinner. I took a quick trip to see Carla's room and then came back to my own, where I found that my roommate had finally arrived. After I had made Chloe's acquaintance, I sat down to write my room description for Don. At about five Chloe and I set out with Jun and her roommate for the dining hall, where we found the Cornell cohort and its new friends and roommates already getting food. I decided to have a banana and a salad composed of lettuce, olives, kidney beans, and garbanzo beans,with Italian dressing. It was not bad at all.

After dinner, there was an hour to kill before the ice cream social, so I checked my email and otherwise got ready. The social was in the courtyard of my building. There was a long line of students awaiting a turn at the long table of RCAs serving ice cream. I met quite a few new people, including a girl who will be in my Freedom and Justice class and three kids from Italy. They said that while American Italian food can taste good, it is nothing like real Italian food.

After about an hour at the social, I was compelled to return to my room in order to keep working on my room description. However, I reading door signs I realized that although the floor meeting had been advertised for 9:30, it was actually starting at 9. I therefore went down a couple of minutes later and found that only a few people would come before 9:30. Thus, I busied myself by reading the building rules. Once the twenty-seven girls of the fourth floor had gathered, the two RCAs responsible for us had us play a game and share a dream of ours, but the primary focus of the meeting was to go over the rules and take a tour of the building. We got out before eleven with instructions to come to Night Check between 11:50 and 12:05.

Although I'm exhausted and somewhat apprehensive about starting class on Monday, today has been exhilarating nonetheless. From the gorgeous campus to the multicolored plastic plates and mugs in the dining hall, Cornell is just what I think a near-perfect university should look like. I'm so excited to learn more about this magical place.


  1. Sounds like fun! Can't wait to hear more!

    - Meg

  2. Good thing you are used to working on little sleep! If you run into the girl you met from Germany, who grew up in a military family, ask her if she went to school in Garmish-Partenkirchen. If she did, ask her if she knows teacher Erica Hansen. I believe you met Erica last summer when she came to visit Tina & I at our house. She is tall with short blond hair and I lived with her in Germany in the 1980s. Erica came back to the states to get a teaching credential and has been a teacher in Garmish with the US military ever since. Erica teaches elementary school.

    Can't wait to hear more about Cornell! Eat some of that Mongolian BBQ for me. My favorite! Love, Mom