The Cornell Plantations

As the weather here gets warmer and the sunlight and moods across campus begin to brighten, I’d like to share with you all pictures from my most recent trip across the Cornell campus to the Cornell Plantations. As you can see from the photos, winter is making its trek away from us and spring is slowly skipping towards us, so this may be one of the best times to (temporarily) move from the stiff library carrels to the outdoors.

Since the area is a bit removed from central campus, the plantations aren’t as heavily visited by students as I think they should be! Though, when I say that they are removed from campus, I mean that they are approximately a 30 minute walk from central campus, as opposed to the 10 or 15 minute walks that most people routinely experience on their way to classes.

Even if you don’t have a car on campus, the walk is worth it. The plantations feature numerous and various overlooks, ponds, wildlife, trails, and even a sculpture garden designed by Cornell architecture students. It’s the perfect place to bring your friends, bike, pet, or camera. I urge you to visit the plantations as soon as possible, if you haven’t already! Yes, there’s plenty to explore in the crevices of Collegetown and on campus, but it’ll be so refreshing to navigate the plantations and get a glimpse of Ithaca’s stunning rural landscape.

11124929_10152871219554702_1432031632_n 11139717_10152871219769702_415054073_n 11158081_10152871219904702_1042295920_n

Good Music is in the Building


I recently had the opportunity to hear Common speak on campus. It was a fairly intimate venue of what seemed to be about 1,000 or so attendees, located in a place in which I’ve attended class lectures before — Bailey Hall. In just a few words, it was a great, perhaps once in a lifetime, opportunity to be immersed in an environment of positivity and to gain some insight about what a respected rapper, philanthropist, and artist thinks about defining and pursuing success.

He opened the night by noting his roots in hip hop and performing a freestyle relevant to Cornell, mentioning local spots like College Ave, Dunbar’s, and Pixel! That was a pleasant surprise that got the crowd riled and excited. The core of his talk revolved around his three mantras: 1) Find your path 2) Believe in your path and 3) Live your path. He spoke wisely and frankly about his personal journey, and one of the quotes that most resonated with me, or rather, inspired me, was one that he quoted from Khalil Gibran “Work is love made visible.”

As a side note, I also found some joy in hearing that one of his favorite rappers is Andre 3000. Or should I say that I was delighted to hear that I have something in common with Common?

He ended the night with a spontaneous Q & A from students with varying hip hop backgrounds, curiosities, and intentions. With each answer he further grounded himself and made himself as accessible and inspiring as ever.

One of the best things about Cornell is being able to meet and learn from such a diverse population of people, and that extends to the guest speakers that visit our school. Committees like the Multicultural Concert Funding Advisory Board, Cornell Concert Commission, and Cornell University Program Board, and others work very hard to make this possible, so that students can have as engaging and unique learning opportunities as this one. Upcoming, I hope to be able to hear some stand up comedy from Retta (best known for her role as Donna Meagle in the show Parks and Recreation) on April 29th!

Photo Credit to A. Mai, ’15.

The Unofficial, Incomplete Guide

11039417_10152774226714702_966516129_nHere is a brief, incomplete list of instructive pamphlets that I think should be written and handed out to Cornellians upon stepping foot in Ithaca. Perhaps these could become an addition to the orientation guide, and may be laminated and worn around the neck on a lanyard if preferred! I’m kidding, of course, but I really have found these atypical skills (though I’m still working on honing some of them) useful in my daily activities here! :

1) How to walk safely in all weather conditions (with emphasis on navigating unpaved, sloped, icy sidewalks, long distance endurance, and emergency speed walking)

2) Tactics of finding an optimal seat/prime piece of real estate in the library, Duffield, or similar buildings during peak hours (lunch time, after-dinner hours, and all hours during prelim/finals season)

3) Free food seeking for the hungry student. No matter how much I want to, I will never be able to attend all the events on campus, not even the food events!

4) Managing the TCAT Bus system and mastering the schedule for quick/efficient escapes/getaways

5) Tips for flawless facial recognition and name recalling. You really meet so many people on this campus in such a variety of contexts that you may find this skill helpful, if you don’t already have it.

6) Time management!

7) How to stay warm outside and cool inside. You will experience the struggle that is piling up every one of grandma’s sweaters in a valiant effort to stay warm during your windy, snowy walk to class, only to discover that your lecture hall is overheated and quickly filling up with warm bodies, as well as your own sweat. This sounds facetious, but there’s truth in there.

8) How to make a quarter card and how to print a quarter card. There are so many options and almost every club needs these mini flyers at some point in its life! Also, the etiquette of quartercarding, as well as that of politely avoiding quartercarders

9) Ticket buying! The race to waking up early, standing in line for hours for Hockey tickets, or eagerly waiting at a computer for the online concert ticket platform to open its doors can be tricky. I’ve been lucky, though. Not only have I recently seen Jessica Williams speak at Cornell, but also, this Monday, I will be seeing Common in our own Bailey Hall.

10) How to maximize your patience while standing in line

11) How to get home safely after a late night of studying or otherwise

12) Finding a book in the library’s famed and hugely extensive stacks without running short of breath or into confusion

13) Managing your vast collection of GroupMe chats, catching up on emails, texts, phone interviews, and even seeing people in real life

14) Resisting the urge to take a picture of everything, everywhere

15) How to settle on a final class schedule when there are so many options and learning opportunities available. Another situation that makes it impossible to have it all! This school is wonderful, but it’s also such a tease (a tease I wouldn’t trade, though).

Note: I captured the photo above from a window in the ILR school’s library! I clearly must work on #14 of this set, as well as a number of others, if not all others.

Cornell Hockey


A few days ago, I went to my first hockey game. It was located in our very own Lynah Rink, and it was the Cornell vs. Colgate game.

Aside: I’ve been to Lynah Rink several times before this game in order to go ice skating. I recommend going ice skating in Lynah to both amateurs and experts alike, since it’s conveniently located on campus and an affordable, enjoyable activity. I strongly suggest getting in line early for Sunday night ice skating, although lining up early is likely a highly developed and frequently practiced skill for all Cornellians!

The main point that I wanted to mention here was that Lynah Rink completely transforms during Cornell Hockey games. The palpable, effervescent energy of school spirit emanates from the stands, which look like a sea of red (carnelian) and white, and sound like a roar of support and pride. Hopefully, I can let my photo and short video clip speak for this!



Snowy Ithaca

I won’t glamorize Ithacan winters. I much prefer the other seasons of Ithaca, the ones in which I don’t have to wear my body weight in layers, trek around solely in heavy but sensible footwear, and express caution with each potentially slippery step. Ithaca winters can be freezing, icy, windy, snowy, and sometimes unbearable. But except for the occasional threat of a falling icicle, the cold winters here certainly don’t come without their own charms, especially when it comes to snow.

Eagerly peering outside a class window to catch a glance of falling snow harkens back to my childhood and memories of small, crossed fingers praying for the magic voice from above to announce early school dismissals. At Cornell, snow doesn’t so directly indicate cancelled classes. Instead, it’ll more likely cause a rise of cheeky links to to emerge on students’ Facebook feeds. But perhaps it still often carries unique, emotional, nostalgic, or pleasant effects for some people, even if those feelings are temporary. I definitely feel something when I see A.D. White (the sitting figure, the statue) wearing a tall white cap and cloak of snow.

The two pictures below are shots of the Arts Quad, hastily taken during a walk to class.


The photo below is one that I thought has been more unique to my Cornell experience. One night, I was walking with a friend around Collegetown. We both immediately noticed that the snow didn’t appear like the ordinary, opaque, flat white layer on the ground, but rather, a sparkling layer of luminous dust and individual, glimmering specks. When we looked closer, each glittery speck was a uniquely shaped snowflake. It was as if the snow had been created directly from a textbook image of snowflakes, or as if each and every snowflake in the sky and on the ground had been cut out by a talented kindergartener during a pattern making activity. Absolutely breathtaking and fascinating. The ordinary snow we have become used to had been replaced by countless, seemingly limitless individual, intricately patterned snowflakes. The photo below shows just a few of these snowflakes that had caught onto my friend’s hood. Hopefully, the quality of the photo is good enough to reveal that the snowflake in the center is symmetrical, with 6 vertices. If the quality were even better, it would reveal the complex perforations and patterns within each snowflake, as well.


I thought that after three Winters here, I would have run out of new sights and insights about snow. Snow is familiar, and I know what snow looks like. I was certain of that. I was clearly, but thankfully, wrong.