052 I fell. I falled.

They say summers in Ithaca are the best, but they all actually mean autumn. It’s not too hot, not too cold, and autumn in Upstate New York helps with Ithaca’s gorgeousness. I’m still finding more and more hidden scenic routes to all my classes, where the leaves are bright red and the air is brisk. Everything is perfect in the fall. A few weeks ago was Apple Fest, one of my favorite things to do in Ithaca. Held in the Commons, hundreds of people swarm local stands for homemade fudge, apple crisps, caramel apples, etc. It’s kind of like one giant farmers market devoted to apples. I’m all for classic festival food too — fried pickles, fried oreos, blooming onion — basically everything fried (ignore the fact that I’m a nutrition major). It’s really a great get together and I love supporting all the local businesses that come out.

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Oh, and of course the baked goods. Ohhh, the baked goods. So many stands were selling apple pie and pumpkin, I had to scout all of them before returning back to one. The food was incredible!

Speaking of apples, over fall break, I decided to go home for the day. Binghamton is known for its Cider Mill, which is a local business that makes fresh cider and doughnuts! You can actually see the open-kitchen where the doughnuts are being made and you can see the process in which they make their cider. Everything is so fresh and delicious! It’s one of my favorite places in Binghamton. When I was in high school, I would go there everyday for a freshly made doughnut. They’re sooooo good – I could probably eat a bag in a sitting.

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Brandon and I bought more than a dozen doughnuts and this HUGE pumpkin. I think it weighed over 45 lbs. Which we carved into….

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…A Pikachu!! I didn’t realize how long it took! We sat in front of my TV and put The Haunted Mansion on while we cut into this thing and scooped out its seeds. We finished the entire movie before we even decided what to carve into it! So we put on Hocus Pocus (classic) and got to work. I think it looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. But ever since we carved this, I’ve been wanting to do it again, until my whole yard is full of them. I really don’t know – I think I just love fall. The crafts, the food, the feeling of pure joy. It’s crazy to think that after all this ends – after the trees are completely bare and the grounds all white with snow – that I’ll be just as excited for the holidays as I am now! I don’t really think I appreciated how beautiful it is here in the fall until this year. Last year, it seemed like so many things were going on that I didn’t even notice the leaves changing colour. But I forced myself to look up when I walked this semester and it’s been beautiful.

051 Why Volunteer?

I was so involved with the community in high school. Maybe it was just because I’m from a small town in Upstate New York, or maybe it was just because high school was boring without doing some sort of activity. I remember I first signed up to volunteer at my local hospital, where I was a pharmacist assistant. I would spend four hours on Saturday mornings, in an itchy polo, delivering medicine to different departments of the hospital. I soon started volunteering for school events – car washes, bake sales, manning the concession stands at football games – and then found myself joining volunteering organizations. I joined my chapter’s National Honor Society and clubs like Student Government, where volunteering was a valued aspect.

During my junior year, a devastating flood wiped out my community. It was the largest flood I had ever seen and school was cancelled for a couple of weeks. People lost their homes and my particular community was surrounded by water on all sides. I was stranded for about a week, with no electricity, no technology, and definitely no internet. For the first day or so, I was definitely having a hard time without internet. I couldn’t talk to any of my other friends about what was happening and I couldn’t pass the time by watching movies or television. But then I stepped outside when it stopped raining, and accessed the damage that this flood had done. Those with their homes completely destroyed were crying and those that were more fortunate had formed an assembly line to help pump out water in people’s basements. The entire community had gotten together – sharing available food and water supplies, offering to babysit kids, moving furniture. For the first time since moving to that neighborhood, I felt like I had a responsibility to help. I remember walking through feet of mud to be able to get out and as my parents went to the store to see if there was anymore water, I went to Binghamton University, where an evacuation center had been established, to volunteer. I only had two hours before my parents would come to get me, and yet those two hours made such a difference in my life. Families took up every square inch of the center and resources (that were donated by Wegmans – whaddup!) were being used up so quickly. Within those two hours, I realized just how important it was to be a part of the community. If I hadn’t stepped out of my house that day, I wouldn’t have seen the help that was needed.

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After that, I saw volunteering not as something to put on my college resume, but something I truly wanted to do. My senior year, I joined the American Cancer Society and became a committee chair to organize the Binghamton Relay for Life 2013 event. Every person on the committee had some personal reason why they were there and I felt that everything I did was affecting those who had a reason to fight.

And as many of you are aware, I went to South Africa this past summer to volunteer.

I talk about these experiences not to boast about my volunteer experiences, but to show that volunteering is available to anyone, even a high schooler. I’ve always thought of volunteering not as something to put on a resume, but necessary to get truly involved with the community and to understand people. Yes, of course volunteering is sometimes a burden, as are all commitments, but most of the time, it’s truly enjoyable.

When I got to college, I decided that volunteering would take up too much of my time and it would be too much of a hassle, as I didn’t have a car or a clue my first semester. More and more things started to pile up and I was so lost in my life. I was confused about adjusting to college and it seemed like I was constantly stressed out. I decided the reason I was so unhappy was because I was getting as involved as I did in high school. So, after seeing posters for “Into the Streets” board positions available, I decided to apply! After a short interview and application, they accepted me and I started planning Cornell’s largest day of service, which encourages college students to get engaged with the community and to remember the important of service. Last year, we had over 1200 Cornell students participate in this four-hour event. (I hope to see you all there :) ).

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I realized that even without a car or even with my busy schedule, it’s so easy to get involved, especially at Cornell. We have a department dedicated to public service (www.psc.cornell.edu), where you can join any club within it. I also recently pledged Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity. They make volunteer opportunities so accessible – I would definitely recommend it! Volunteering as a college student and at Cornell is so rewarding, and I feel as though all my efforts are making some sort of difference in a life.

Register for the Into the Streets here: tinyurl.com/ITS2014-V

050 Presenting… Slope Studio

One of my friends, Sofia Hu, founded Slope Studio last year, which is a new initiative that utilizes an abandoned room in Willard Straight to encourage Cornellians to foster their creativity. Open throughout the day, the studio offers free art supplies and workspace to anyone! They are also working with Cornell Minds Matters to run creativity programs that can help reduce stress for students. It’s such a cool place to just hang out! You go down flights of stairs of Willard Straight and enter into this room with a center island and stools in the middle. To the side, there’s a chill lounge area with really modern seats — it makes me think that it should be made into a cafe of some sort. There’s a supply room, which has shelves lined up with free brushes, pastels, oils, paints, charcoal, pencils, etc. They even have a sewing machine! They have really great pictures and information on their website, www.cornellslopestudio.com – check it out!

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I have the great opportunity to lead one of the several workshops the studio offers as well. These workshops are free and open to everyone at Cornell. There’s even a graduate student in my still-life class who is concentrated in computer science! No experience is necessary and honestly, it’s such a fun place to hang out. Come join my class every Sunday from 4:30-5:30! Each class so far has been a different medium and when it was really nice out, I even took the class outside to sketch the slope.

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It’s been great so far! I’m so excited to see where Slope Studio goes and how it will grow. Their PR team has done an excellent job – with posters and stickers all over campus – and I hope Slope Studio becomes a more popular thing!

048 The Back Issue

It’s common practice for upperclassmen to tease the freshmen on their amateur ways. Perhaps the biggest identifier of a freshmen is some kind of lanyard worn around their neck. Of course, no one actually cares whether or not people are wearing lanyards. I believe it’s just upperclassmen trying to reminisce and relive our first year. That being said, I made up a way to entertain myself on the walk to class everyday, which involves trying to guess whether people are freshmen are not. On my way to class yesterday, I actually noticed another identifier of a freshmen which I see as an actual problem (compared to all the lanyard wearing).

Backpacks

I’ve noticed the poor practice of not wearing proper back-wear. I saw a surprising number of people wearing those Nike drawstring bags, probably meant for the gym. But these kids are stuffing their computers and notebooks and binders in them. Is this some sort of high school trend? I vaguely remember not carrying a backpack to my classes in high school, but that was only because my classes were all two minutes away from each other and my locker was conveniently located in the middle of all the academic chaos. Even if backpacks were considered uncool in high school, this is college. This is Cornell. The walk to class is more than a few minutes and going up and down the hills that are campus, not wearing a proper backpack could really hurt people in the long run.

In terms of buying a backpack, consider it an investment. Like winter jackets or snow boots (sorry Forever21), backpacks are worth the money, especially compared to the possible medical bills you might be faced with later on. I had bought this really cute, polka-dotted Jansport backpack for my first semester at Cornell. There was no pocket for my laptop, there were only two compartments, and the material was super thin. If I had put any book inside, the entire bag would sag down my back. Don’t make the same mistake I made. Although the bag was cute, it was completely unreasonable, and I now feel as though I wasted so much money. My backpack now is a North Face, with two main compartments and several smaller ones. There are small belts that snap together the two main shoulder straps, and there’s even a padded pocket for my computer. The back is also extra padded, and the entire thing is water-proof. Although I’m a huge support of the multiple compartments, I am not a fan of those extra large bags that seem bigger than the wearer. The goal for a backpack in College is not to stuff everything in your desk into it, but to just carry what’s necessary to class.

Which brings me to my next point: What to pack. Sometimes a friend will ask me to hold his backpack while he puts on a jacket or sweater, and whenever I take it from him, the backpack takes me down with it. It feels like they stole an entire weight set from Helen Newman. A backpack should never feel heavy. In fact, a backpack should never exceed 10% of your total body weight. You shouldn’t notice it; it should feel natural. Try to minimize the things you bring to class. Plan out what times you can return to your room to exchange materials for class. Binders should stay in your room, carry folders instead, and then empty out the folders into their respective binders. Do you really need a five-subject notebook for a class that gives handouts? Charge your computer the night before so you don’t have to carry your charger around. If you’re really desperate, there are charger stations in some of the libraries (Uris and Mann for sure). The only things in my backpack right now are a one-subject notebook, a folder, 5 writing utensils, my wallet, an iClicker and chapstick (and my computer and headphones, if I weren’t using them right now).

Make sure you’re packing your backpack right as well. It doesn’t make sense to put a molecular model kit closest to your back and your laptop on the very outside pocket (Ouch!). Put flat things closest to your back (laptop, folders, notebooks), and smaller things away from your back. I have a compartment specific for my cables and small electronics (iPhone charger and iClicker or calculator).

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This is a weight distribution diagram of how things in a backpack should be packed. I think it’s for hiking trips, but hey, walking around campus is basically like hiking, right?

DISCLAIMER: Sometimes, I’ll carry my Longchamp tote around to class as well. But those are only the days when I only need my computer and wallet. So it never feels like too much of a strain on my shoulder or back. So…I guess that’s okay.

047 The Roommate Guide

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As orientation is approaching quickly, I thought I would write a few words about my living situation last year. I remember hearing a lot of crazy roommate stories right before college, which definitely freaked me out for my freshman year. Of course, living by yourself is a lot easier than living with a complete stranger. Even if you decided to room with someone you knew from high school, things may still get tense at times. Someone I know roomed with one of her great friends this summer, thinking that it would be the best living situation. She soon came to see a lot of flaws that her friend brought – messiness, inconsideration, loud noise, etc.

Of course there were times last year when I was annoyed at my housemates, but those annoyances never lasted long. I was lucky – all my housemates were super cool and chill, and although we had diverse interests and personalities, somehow we made it work. I realized that every pair of roommates are different – some are best friends, some don’t talk to each other unless it’s about the room, some are complete strangers. Although you don’t necessarily have to be best friends with your roommate, I’ve always been jealous of those who seem to do everything together.

My Advice:

1. Make sure you get each others contacts as soon as possible. It’s easy to get locked out, and you don’t want to annoy your RA at 2 in the morning. I remember I was at my friend’s townhouse in December, just hanging out, when we heard a knock on the door. His neighbor accidentally forget their keys and they couldn’t get in. When I asked her if she had called her roommate, she responded saying she didn’t have her phone number. What.

2. Before any awkward situations occur, it’s best to make a practical set of rules for when you have unexpected guests (ahem). This doesn’t just refer to random hook-ups or boyfriends, but it’s good to text your roommate before anyone comes over. Living in a townhouse first semester, it was easy to play hostess to a lot of people. We would have movie nights and hang out sessions, but it was always nice to have a heads up in advance.

3. Use headphones.

4. Support each other! It was so fun getting the entire house together to go to each other’s musicals, basketball games, sorority events, etc.

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5. Do your share of the chores. I guess it’s a bit different in a townhouse, since we have to clean for ourselves. But don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink for longer than a day. It literally only takes 2 minutes. If the trash is full, don’t let it over flow. Clean the hair out of the shower. I get the whole clothes-on-the-floor thing, I do. I’m guilty of it. In the morning, I go through clothes and just throw them on the floor. But at the end of the day, make sure they’re all picked up. Granted, I do prefer messiness over dirtiness.

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6. Communication is probably the most important. If something is bothering you, you should definitely bring it up. There’s a good chance that your roommate just doesn’t know it’s bothering you. Whatever you decide to do, passive aggressiveness is the worst. It’s annoying and the only thing it does is build up angst.

7. Be friends with them! Get to know what’s going on in their life and see them as someone you can go to if something’s up.

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046 Kayaking on Cayuga

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It’s already mid-August, which means everyone is hurrying to complete those million things they told themselves they would do before summer ended. For me, all those things are things you can only do in the summer. I started out with renting a kayak with Brandon and a few of our other friends for a couple of hours on Cayuga Lake. The rentals were pretty cheap: it came out to about $10/person for 2 hours. Since we rented on a weekend, we even got to dock our boats at the Ithaca Farmers Market and walk around for a bit. It was super fun and kind of a work out! After our rentals expired, we took a short road trip to East Shore Park, where we swam in the lake as the sun set. It was beautiful.

 

045 Quirky Interests Interest Me!

I really love cooking. I think everyone who knows me knows that. I’d much rather cook for myself than go out to eat and I absolutely love cozy potlucks. Not many of my friends like cooking, and it’s been the trend during the summer session at Cornell for students to finally learn the art of cooking for themselves and save some money.

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Toward the end of the spring semester, I met Dan, a senior who is off to work for Shell in the fall. Since I’ve met him, Dan has showed me a side of cooking which I never even thought of. He’s kind of like Good Eat’s Alton Brown times a million. He cooks for the chemistry of food and can probably explain every single culinary phenomena through science. Most pantries consist of canned food and dried pasta, but Dan orders chemicals from Amazon like calcium salts and sodium alginate. His kitchen is his lab, and he records all of his findings in a composition notebook, which I had stumbled across one day. He’s experimented with spherification (kind of like fake caviar – flavor burst!) and culinary foams. He’s an avid fan of baking his own breads too!

Anyway, looking past my fascination of Dan’s unique hobby, I realized how diverse Cornell is. Almost anyone could have one of these quirky talents or hobbies and it’s such a cool feeling to realize that what you learn in class is actually applicable to more than a 20-point problem on a test. Dan has also inspired me to try some of these new tricks in my own cooking adventures – so look out world!

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043 Ithaca is Gorges!

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Last weekend, I went hiking with Brandon at Tremen State Park, one of the many state parks in Ithaca. There were several trails leading up to different waterfalls and all uphill (haha). It was a gorgeous hike and it’s about 2.5 miles one-way. There’s also a really cool natural swimming hole at the park that you should check out!

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And of course, after our hike, we just had to reward ourselves with Purity Ice Cream. SO MANY DIFFERENT FLAVORS! We kept letting people in front of us in line because we couldn’t decide what we wanted. Definitely going back!

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