Arts Quad Findings

Last year, I made a post about how at any given time, something interesting is happening on Ho Plaza. Especially during early fall, or when the weather is relatively warm, the same can be said about the Arts Quad. People are usually sitting on the grass between breaks, meeting up with friends or clubs at the A.D. White statue, playing frisbee, or hosting events as large as concerts or the upcoming class council’s outdoor movie night.

Today I just wanted to share a couple pictures of a new installation on the arts quad, “A Needle Woman: Galaxy Was a Memory, Earth is a Souvenir” by Kimsooja and commissioned by the Cornell Council for the Arts. It’s certainly hard to miss, stretching far up towards the sky, and one of the most intriguing pieces I’ve seen on the arts quad, with its hypnotizing semi-translucent panes.



In the background of the second photo, by the way, is Olin Library, which is certainly not a new installation, but a very familiar sight!


Off-Campus Living

This year, I find myself living in Collegetown, a departure from the beautiful dorm hallways and delicious dining halls of Becker on West Campus, or the convenience and community that is the group of freshmen dorms on North Campus.

Upon second glance, writing that “I find myself” in Collegetown isn’t the best word choice, because it doesn’t convey how actively I searched and scrambled in order to live in Collegetown this year. Every year, houses and apartments in Collegetown become fully leased quicker and quicker. Proof of this is that people have already started showing their apartments to prospective students for next year, as early as the first week of school. It’s not fair, but the mad stampede that is the off-campus housing search seems to intensify with each year, creating a time crunch that makes it difficult for students to make fully informed and satisfying decisions. I might write about this issue in another post, but for now, I’d like to write about something a little simpler: a brief list about ways that off-campus living has proved to be convenient, inconvenient, challenging, rewarding, fun, and frustrating so far this year.

1) Friendship: I’m happy to be able to live with some of my best friends. It’s so much easier to coordinate study sessions, dinners, or leisure activities when you’re all living in the same house. 2 AM study sessions become much more fun and tolerable when you have your friends beside you!

2) Facilities: If you are frustrated trying to cool yourself off with a frozen bag of corn on a Saturday night, then you might have been me, last week, when it was upwards of 85 degrees in Ithaca. My house, like many others in Collegetown, does not have air conditioning. This proves to be a challenge during the first two weeks of school, but luckily Ithaca is quick to cool off and merge into autumn. Also, this depends on where you live — another reason why thorough searching is important.

3) Cooking: I’ve met so many people who complain about how much they miss the dining halls. But, I can’t say I completely agree. Although the dining halls are really wonderful, there’s also something rewarding about cooking on your own and finding ways to make edible, enjoyable food in a time crunch. Also, not having to share a kitchen with an entire floor of people is great, too.

4) Convenience: Most of C-town might not be as close to campus as the residence halls, but C-town is bustling and convenient for many other reasons! Especially as an upperclassmen, most of my friends now live in C-town, and they are just a few brisk steps away if I want to meet with them. Other main attractions include CTB (Collegetown Bagels), especially during the coveted Bagel Tuesdays.

In general, despite the often less than ideal and difficult situations that living off-campus has put me through, I’d recommend most upperclassmen to at least consider it for their final years at Cornell.


Club Fest

Every year, Cornell hosts an annual Club Fest in Barton Hall, which is not only a bustling and busy event for undergrads and upperclassmen alike to find or advertise student organizations, but also a reminder of the plentiful and diverse communities on campus.

I was there for the entire three hours of the event, and it was interesting to see clubs of different sizes, stages, and specialties gather and interact in one large gymnasium. Club Fest is especially crowded and large not only because it’s the most convenient way for students to learn about club opportunities, but also because so many people on campus participate in extracurriculars and thus, have a will and motivation to expand their groups’ outreach. This was especially apparent to me since I was at Club Fest in order to promote my own group, the Cornell Vietnamese Association.

Each club found different ways to attract members. Many clubs had food or candy as incentives. Others had members dress up in special garb or costumes to attract attention. There were also several live performances by dance, song, and demonstration teams. Just the fact that I am having trouble giving a broad summary of all that went on at Club Fest should be an indicator of how diverse and expansive the clubs of Cornell can be.

From a quick skim of the ClubFest line-up, I can see that the event was attended by clubs ranging from the Cornell Democrats, to the Cornell Dance Dance Revolution Club, or Sustainability Hub, to the the Squirrel Club.

Cornell truly is a place open to and thriving with different ideas, movements, and passions, and being at Club Fest for the third time, as a junior, made me feel both grateful and nostalgic for the time I’ve spent here. Perhaps that is why I made sure to do something very iconically Cornellian: sneak a photo with the familiar, but always and exceptionally enthusiastic, Big Red Bear!


Spring Things

20140421_121531 20140420_174724   Slowly but surely, the dismal, wintry shades of brown are fading away, turning into greens and fresh blossoms on flowering trees. On any given sunny day in Ithaca, one is guaranteed to see someone, or many people, taking advantage of the weather and taking a few moments to relax outside. Perhaps the long wait to spring’s arrival in Ithaca makes spring a more savored and appreciated phenomenon than it is in other places.

A few fun things to do on campus in Spring:

1) Borrow a bike from BigRedBikes, conveniently located in Uris and Mann libraries and Appel. Feel the breeze and adrenaline from a downhill ride, bask in the warm embrace of the sun’s rays on a calm stroll around campus, or explore the less traveled corners of Cornell. I did this a few weekends ago with my friends, and it was one of the most refreshing, relaxing, liberating experiences I’ve had this semester. Yes, it was that enjoyable.

2) Visit the Cornell Plantations. Not only are the plantations unique and likely underrated or not talked about as much as they should be, they are the perfect spot for weekend outdoor exploration/picnics. They are a very walkable distance from central campus and it’s really not a bad idea to make a stop at the Dairy Bar before or after the trip.

3) Go to the Farmer’s Market. I wrote about a visit I made there in a previous post, and I stand by the fact that I could not say one bad thing about the Ithaca Farmer’s Market.

4) As pictured above, take a few moments to rest on the slope. In the winter, the slope represents a dreaded, dangerous, exhausting walk to class. In the spring, the slope is still an exhausting road to tread, but is at least worth the walk for the view and the grassy soft spots, perfect for viewing a sparkling and distant Cayuga lake in the morning, reading or napping on a sunny afternoon, unwinding and sunset watching in the evening, and star gazing at night.

5) Go stargazing! This doesn’t just have to be on the slope. One of my favorite parts about Ithaca is the view of the night sky. On a cloudless night, one can see countless stars. I’ve been meaning to make a trip to the Fuertes Observatory on North campus by the end of the semester, and I hope I get the chance to do it.

There is plenty to do and enjoy in Ithaca at this time of the year, plenty to give one a warm, happy taste of summer in between spring projects, prelims, papers, and upcoming finals.

Any Person, Any Study

20140409_192751I am currently pursuing an English Major and Business Minor. Most of my academic interests lie within the humanities and I haven’t taken a science class since the spring semester of Freshman year. Although I respect those who pour their passions into the STEM fields and I enjoy midnight studying in Duffield, and PSB, two new science buildings on campus, I really haven’t touched anything relating to the sciences in a long time.

All of this was true until this Wednesday, when I had the pleasure of attending an open lecture called “Engaging Diamonds in the Quantum Age”. I went with my friend, who is an engineer, expecting to feel out of place, expecting to strain to understand the content, and perhaps even feeling bored. But instead, what I found were a lot of intriguing themes and parallels to content that I’m familiar with as a student of the humanities. Prof. David Awschalom, the lecturer, spoke about fascinating topics such as the contrast between order and disorder in nature, and how to “use disorder and imperfection as a basis to do something different.” Order and disorder, harmony and imbalance, are all things that I’ve become familiar with exploring in several of my humanities lectures and discussions, and it was very intriguing to hear it being discussed in the context of science. Prof. Awschalom made everything understandable, not overly complex but not oversimplified, and I didn’t feel a stark disadvantage at being a minority, a non-science student, at his lecture.

This experience really reinforced the concept of Cornell’s motto, “Any person, any study”, to me. Especially after this attending this lecture, I will certainly be open to attending more of the many available lectures and events about topics not grounded in the humanities. I can confidently say that the learning environment all over campus is open, welcoming, and engaging. There are so many parallels between academic fields that I am hopeful to explore further throughout my Cornell career, and Cornell truly seems like the perfect place in which to do that.