Writing on the Hill

Today’s post is just a quick plug for the Life on the Hill blogging program here at Cornell University. We’re currently looking for new student writers, and I think any student who regularly reads this blog should certainly look into it:

For those of you who don’t know, the Life on the Hill blogging program is what supports blogs like this one by giving Cornell students the resources and opportunity to write about their campus experiences online. Students must apply and be accepted into the program, but the rewards are high if you are selected. You’ll have a excellent campus job that is both well-paid and flexible. You’ll meet other student writers on campus who share your interest in writing and can help you come up with new ideas for blog posts. You’ll even talk to interesting people online, as more and more individuals read your blogs and comment on your posts.

To be honest, I recommend that you apply to the program even if you have a slight inkling that you might be interested in it. You can always ask for more information along the way and ask questions to current bloggers about the program’s perks and pitfalls, even as you wait for a response on your application. It’s better to have the option of whether to be in the program or not than to wait too long and not have the option whatsoever. So don’t talk yourself out of it; give it a chance!

I’m looking forward to seeing which students get accepted and to meeting them next semester!

Good-bye Pepsi

Today, I woke up with no motivation to attend classes, do work, or even leave my room. Every students experiences these moments. You work tirelessly on a string on difficult projects, reading assignments, and exams for several days–sometimes even weeks–and then suddenly, once you have completed them all, you crash. Your body wakes up, but your mind does not. You need 24 hours to relax and reset your brain before endeavoring to move forward on any new work.

Of course, it is better not to burn out too often as a student; otherwise, you can kiss your GPA good-bye. However, I had already committed to my mistake and could not avoid its consequences. I resolved myself to a lazy day indoors and scavenged my refrigerator for easy-to-prepare food. I lucked out for the most part, finding leftovers from last night’s meal laid out before me like a gift from the heavens. However, I soon realized that I didn’t have anything to drink. Not wanting to put on respectable pants (pajama bottoms are my essentially my uniform during sloth-like days), I ventured into Sheldon Court’s basement to purchase a drink from the vending machine.

There it was: a rusty machine with broken lights and a handful of soft drinks. I put in my seven quarters and listened for the glorious sound of Pepsi hitting the bottom receptacle. I picked up, opened the cap, and took a swig.

And I immediately hated it.

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I regretted every quarter I had put into that machine. The soda tasted awful. No, it wasn’t flat or expired. It was just a terrible drink. I realized, to a ominous soundtrack playing only in my head, that I no longer liked soda.

Sometime in these last three years, I lost my taste for soft drinks. I used to drink soda all the time before college. I drank it with meals, with snacks, and even by itself when I got the midnight munchies. I thought water tasted gross and that tea was not for me. Juice was delicious, but soda was even better. When did that all change?

Since I had nothing else to do at the time, I spent a few minutes back in my room thinking about why I didn’t like the taste of soda anymore. I realized that it must have always been just a bad habit–one I picked up from my days back home, where everyone shared the same vice. Soda isn’t healthy for the body but, like candy and other sweets, it can become addicting over time. Since I grew up drinking soda, I never had the luxury of not having a taste for it. That logic would explain why I craved soda so much more than any other drink, particularly ones without sugar (such as water and tea).

Like any bad habit, to overcome it requires that you don’t do the habit for a long time. At Cornell, I never drank soda. Soda was not nearly as readily available as other drinks, and tap water was free. Also, I mimicked what my friends drank and they (being significantly for health-conscious than I am) always drank tea. So when I went to their dorm rooms or houses, tea was what I drank. Over time, I came to prefer it over most other drinks. That must have been the turning point.

Now my taste preferences have changed. I don’t like how soda upsets my stomach, and I despise the sticky film it produces over my teeth after every sip. Its fizzle burns my throat and the flavor is oddly bitter and sweet at the same time. I never lodged those complaints at soda before, but now I couldn’t get over them. At this moment, that Pepsi I bought from the vending machine still stands in my refrigerator untouched. There it will probably stay for several days, and I will never once consider topping it off.

What this experience taught me was that Cornell has an even subtler effect on my behavior than I realize. Subconsciously, I’m absorbing the habits of the people surrounding me and changing my lifestyle preference to reflect my needs in this new environment. It sounds like a basic concept that I should have learned in some sociology or biology course beforehand, but I still feel strange about having recognized it in my own life. Sometimes, this tendency can encourage people to take on bad habits. The positive twist to this story is that Cornell’s environment is actually encouraging me to lose bad habits.  If anything else, I think this experience is a subtle testament to the value I receive through my education at Cornell. It’s easy to enumerate the various resources, career opportunities, and academic experiences I have received by being a student of this university, but it is more difficult to point out the more covert benefits of interacting with Cornell’s community. Subtle changes, like losing a taste for unhealthy activities, are benefits I should be grateful for when looking back at my academic career here.

So, good-bye, Pepsi. You will not be missed.

Kitchen Disasters

I have lived in Sheldon Court for two years and during neither year did I make sufficient use of our floor kitchen (and for good reason). Floor kitchens are usually an all-or-nothing deal; you’re either the person who uses it all the time or the rest of the people who never use it under any circumstance. The dichotomy exists because (1) some students prefer and are able to eat out instead of needing to cook and (2) sometimes the students who do cook make the kitchen unusable for everyone else. The latter is why I don’t use my floor kitchen at all, and I am not happy about it.

Please do not leave your floor kitchen a mess. The people who live on your floor know that you cook there regularly and will suspect that the mess is your doing. In addition, you completely destroy the value of the commodity for the rest of us. Can you tolerate dirty dishes in the sink, a refrigerator filled with rotten or smelly food, an overflowing trash can, and dead flies all over the kitchen sink? Well, the rest of us can‘t. So stop it! Have some dignity and clean up after yourselves, you nasties…

It’s a guaranteed way to make a poor impression on the other people living on your floor. I surely don’t think highly of the few students on my floor who make a mess out of our kitchen. As a result, I have no motivation to be friendly with them and I just walk pass them in silence.

If you’re someone like me who gets grossed out cooking in an unclean kitchen, then I have bad news for you: you’re going to need to look elsewhere for food. Luckily, Cornell has lots of eateries right at your fingertips. Invest in a mini-fridge, toaster, and other appliances for your room so you can avoid the kitchen’s sketchy appliances, and consider off-campus housing if you can’t swing the costs of eating out all the time. Or, overcome your fear and conquer the floor kitchen. Scrub it down, cook quickly, and get out of there before the next wave of chaotic floor-mate cooking kicks in. It’s the only way.