The First Day…of the Spring Semester

It feels great to click the the “New Post” tab again and start typing. First, I’d like to apologize for my hiatus; I suppose things got quite hectic during Finals season, then during the Winter break, when I greeted the holidays as well as a lasting case of bronchitis.

Moving onto a happier and possibly more interesting note, I’d like to talk about the happy time of year that is the beginning of each semester. Now that I’m a second semester Junior and quite comfortable with the way that classes and Cornell works for undergrads, it’s much easier to navigate the path to graduation and general undergrad life than it was as an underclassman! I thought it might be helpful for some to see a brief timeline of my first day of the Spring semester. It outlines a fairly typical day, for me at least, except for the fact that it might have been a more relaxed day than the usual day in the middle or end of the semester, and that less time was devoted to assignments and work. Here’s my attempt to do something Benjamin Franklin might have done — with less precision, but no less fun.

8:00 AM: Wake up. Stepping (or rolling) out of bed after a long winter break may be difficult and even strenuous, but it’s certainly not so bad with the excitement of new classes and a fresh start. I toast a bagel for breakfast, and get ready for my first class.

9:45AM: I step out the door to chilly but not unbearable 15-20 degree weather, and make my way to the first class of the day: The History of the Universe. This class not only has an ambitious and unique title/course description, but also, it fulfills one of the Arts and Sciences College’s Physical and Biological Sciences requirements.

10:05AM: After confirming with some peers that the unlabeled room in front of us in the Space Sciences Building is indeed room 105, I walk in and sit for an intriguing first lecture. As with all classes on the first day of the semester, the professor made introductions of herself and the course, as well as outlined what the course would entail and explore as we delve further into it. Many people refer to the first day of classes as “Syllabus Day,” but most professors actually dive right into material and make the strong impression that they are both eager to teach as much as they can, and learn as much as they can from the course.

11:00AM: The class ends, and I head over to the library to get started on my first assignment, as well as do some book shopping. I recommend that students buy their books after the first day of class, because I’ve had several experiences where I’ve purchased books far in advance, then ended up dropping the class after only the first day or week, thus gathering a collection of unopened books. Dropping classes and course shopping a week or two into the semester is completely normal. Since the deadlines for adding and dropping classes at Cornell are far into the semester, there’s plenty of freedom for students to make sure that each class is a perfect fit for them.

12:20PM: By this time, I am sitting in my second class of the day, Intermediate Verse Writing. It’s absolutely wonderful, and I couldn’t be more excited to see how this class shapes me and my writing, as well as others.

1:15PM: The class ends, and knowing that I have to make the long trek from Goldwin Smith Hall, in the Arts Quad, to Myron Taylor Hall, in the Law School, I speed walk the entire way. Moderately breathless (if that’s possible), I weave in and out of several corridors before I find the correct classroom. I take a second glance, because the classroom is empty. Then, I notice a sign on the door that says the class will not meet at regular hours until the second week of school.

1:30PM: Following that abrupt change in plans, I head home to my apartment in Collegetown, which is a short walk from the Law School, eat a quick lunch, and eventually turn on my laptop to look for fitness classes through Cornell’s Fitness Class Membership. Interested, I begin walking to North Campus, Helen Newman Gym, in order to apply for the membership and pay my dues. I had never done this before, but it seemed easy enough, and I know that this could lead to more opportunities for me to exercise this semester.

3:30PM: By this time, I have activated my membership and I once again head back to my apartment. On the way there, I stop by Kraftee’s book store to pick up a textbook.

4:00 – 6:00PM: During this time, I do more organizing, such as looking at my current class schedule, looking at what classes I may potentially add or drop, and catching up with the e-board of the Cornell Vietnamese Association. Meetings and extracurriculars don’t necessarily end during winter break, and certainly do not hesitate to continue working at full speed once the semester begins.

6:30PM: I make my own dinner and eat it. I haven’t felt like I’ve needed a meal plan since moving off of campus, and I don’t have one. Cooking can often be more enjoyable and flexible.

7:00PM: I walk to Noyes Fitness Center on West Campus to begin my first fitness class, Barre class. I’m excited about this, because it’s been a few months since I’ve done anything related to Ballet. But, unfortunately, I come too late and the class has filled up before I can enter. Apparently, it’s a very popular class with a strict limit. I’ve learned my lesson to arrive much earlier next time. As for other fitness classes, I look forward to trying out different styles of Yoga and Zumba in the future!

7:15PM: I walk to Duffield, which is primarily an engineering building, but also a prime study space for my friends and I (most of whom are not engineers). It’s convenient to study there because not only is it fairly close to Collegetown and open 24 hours/7 days a week, but also it has fully equipped computer labs and printers, and plenty of open study areas, including much coveted (and often competitively attained) alcoves complete with tables, chairs, and dry erase boards.

10:00PM: I end the night early and walk back to my apartment. Ithaca feels like a safe community to me, and I believe that can be backed by numbers, so I haven’t had any issues walking home late at night. There are also resources like the bus (highly recommended) or the blue-light safety escort system, though, and sometimes even safety shuttles (during finals weeks) to reassure anyone wary of walking alone at night.

12:00AM: After a shower, some brief housing and internship searching, and a nightly read of the news/Tumblr, I’m ready to publish this blog post, sleep, and begin my second day of the semester. I have a vague idea of what it will look like, but just as with any day, what comes next might surprise me…and then I might even write about it, here.


Slope Studio

Cornell is like a friendly, quaint, small neighborhood in the sense that sometimes, all it takes is a knock on the door and a smile to get to know someone or something new. This is exactly what happened last Saturday, when I made my way downstairs in Willard Straight Hall and decided to enter Slope Studio for the first time.

Slope Studio is a new addition to the Cornell community that gives students a space to create art and learn new skills. Located in the basement of Willard Straight Hall, off of a narrow hallway, it feels like an island. It is closed off from the busy hustling of the outside world and tucked away in its own colorful, cozy corner. When I stepped inside of the space with a friend of mine, I was greeted by some kind artists and a student/teacher pair working on a colored pencil drawing. My friend and I were immediately welcomed to use any of the materials or spaces provided, with the only requirement being that we signed our names onto a sheet. We were then shown the the Slope Studio closet, which was stacked high with a wide array of materials, including easels, canvas, acrylics, sketchbooks, cameras, watercolors, and pastels. After looking around, we decided to grab a sketchbook and join the duo we saw at the table to for some colored pencil drawing.

Seated on tall chairs at the wooden drawing table, my friend and I spent about an hour and half drawing. It was a peaceful, freeing experience. I got the impression that if we wanted advice from the teacher or artists there, we were welcome to ask questions. But, if we just wanted to draw alone or enjoy a private creative space, we were also welcome to do so. I felt completely comfortable, and that can be credited to both the space and the people there. It was also refreshing to be able to use high quality art materials in any form or way that we wished. The sink behind us held a cup filled with soaking brushes and a white palette with colorful, watery paint still flowing through its crevices. This tempted me to touch upon some painting, as well, but I knew that I could not stay there all day, no matter how much I wanted to.

I left the studio with a drawing of a flower, and my friend left with a drawing of various facial parts. We both agreed to return to the studio in the future, and felt very grateful for the members of the Cornell community that made this space possible. In the next few weeks, I’ll be attending some of the classes that the studio offers. I’ve already got my eye set upon a hand knitting class offered next week! It’s opportunities like these that make me feel like “Any Person, Any Study” extends far beyond its literal meaning, beyond the classroom, and beyond bureaucratic borders at Cornell. For that, I am also very thankful.


A Moment

A glimpse of the crisp and perfectly cool fall, before the occasional snow/hail/rain becomes frequent and Ithaca descends into its lasting winter. One of the most frequently heard advice I hear on campus is to enjoy the fall weather while it lasts. Some years, it lingers, and some, it disappears as abruptly as it appears. I certainly had that in mind as I took a moment to breathe and snap a few photos in this peaceful nook between the Campus store and the Statler. Regardless of the weather, Cornell is never lacking in beautiful spaces suited for taking a moment to rest, temporarily forgetting about hectic life movements, and appreciating the spacious and natural campus.fall ithaca fall ithaca1

Lost in the Law School

This Wednesday, while making a familiar stride towards Collegetown and inevitably passing in front of the Law School after a long day of classes, my friend mentioned to me that she was hoping to plan a day to study in Cornell’s Law School library. After realizing that she had never been inside the law school, despite passing it daily, without a second thought, we both made an abrupt right turn into the building. At first, we whimsically made it a goal between us to make it to the highest tower of the building, without maps or guidance of any sort. Since it’s a vastly huge building with as many narrow, subtle passages, and seemingly endless stairs and doorways as open spaces, this proved to be very difficult. Fifteen minutes into our exploration, we learned that the tower is off-limits to the public. Regardless of not reaching our original plan, we continued quietly roaming without a plan or aim, making sure not to bother anyone, but internally sharing our own moments of excitement as we found different aspects and corners of the school.

The school is very interesting in that like much of Cornell, it is a blend of old and new, historic and innovative. One turn might reveal an early 20th century elevator and grand chandeliers hanging from high ceilings and the next a warmly lit, modern cafe-style study center. From a quick glance upon the outside, the school certainly looks as old as it is, but its recent renovations and sections of modern design show otherwise.

Apart from the beauty of the school and its famous library, it was also interesting to discover other parts of it such as the room that once was the One World Cafe, the religious communities and centers of prayer, the Alternatives Library, the Anabel Taylor auditorium, and the One World Room.

Below are just a few pictures from my enlivening experience!ls1 ls2 ls3 ls4 ls5 ls7



Every year, homecoming weekend is full of bustling, big events, nostalgic alumni, and a jolly air of celebration for our school and community. This year was Cornell’s sesquicentennial, or 150th birthday, so homecoming weekend was hugely heightened in spirit and spunk.

Without exaggerating, I must say that the fireworks and laser light show on Friday night was really a spectacular. I had never seen the bleachers so fully packed in my three years here. People enthusiastically chanted “ONE-FIVE-O” from the stands and stage, including several school dance and music teams, the mayor of Ithaca, and both Cornell’s present and future presidents. Seeing our Cornell presidents and our community in such an informal and fun but prideful setting was a treat, even if at times a bit cheesy. I felt a mix of gratitude, joy, nostalgia, and pride as I stood upon the stands and watched the fantastically organized firework light up Schoellkopf Field and the faces of the crowd. I realize this description sounds quite gleeful and ideal, but I do feel that the event deserves the weight of these words. Those few moments of the show were not only memorable, but also emotional. They reminded me of how thankful I am to spend my four years here with bright showers of brilliant lights, surrounded by my humble and caring friends, and thinking of my family back home and the great opportunities and people I’ve met while here.

These pictures can hardly depict how wonderful the show was, but might give a quick idea of my view from the bottom bleachers.


The next day, Saturday, Cornell also provided many great events, such as tailgating, which included a ferris wheel and free games and giveaways, the football game, and a concert featuring Icona Pop and Grace Potter. The picture below is a blurry attempt at capturing the huge crowd and energy at the concert, which was a great way to end a busy and fulfilling weekend.10735687_10152483275984702_269013399_n