057 Dining Hall Hacks

Tired of RPCC and Appel? I was too. My 14-meals/ week plan was WAY too much and although Cornell’s dining is one of the best in the country, sometimes you need a little more variety. Here’s a few ways to spice your dining experience a little bit and impress your friends on your Top Chef skills.

1. ROOT BEER FLOAT

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Scoop a single scoop of ice cream into one of those blue-ish cups and fill with root beer from the soda machine. Yes.

2. YOGURT / ICE CREAM BAR

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In case you’re more of a texture person, like me, yogurt is kind of boring and gross. Take a bowl of yogurt to the fruit bar and the cereal bar and add lots of goodies like blueberries, strawberries, granola, Rice Krispies cereal, etc. Whatever your heart desires. It’s also a good alternative for soft-serve ice cream when the crushed m&ms just aren’t doing it for you.

 3. NEVER BUY CONDIMENTS AGAIN

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Last year, my townhouse was so food-adventurous! We had a pancakes dinner once and crepes another time. Whenever we wanted to bake or cook, we would hold Operation RPCC, where we steal ingredients from the dining hall. I take my tupperware and just scoop bowls and bowls of caramel, sprinkles, fruit, etc. I know you’re not supposeddd to do it, but as long as you’re sneaky about it…

4. ICE CREAM SANDWICH

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I used to work at Coldstone so I am a PRO at these. Two cookies. One scoop of ice cream. and jealous dinner-friends.

5. PITA PIZZA

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Pita from the bread section + Spinach, mushrooms, cheese, etc. from the salad bar + 1 minute in the toaster oven / microwave = perfect.

6. ASIAN-STYLED NOODLES

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This one is a little harder. Take some plain spaghetti or if the dining hall has plain pho / rice noodles, take some of those. In a smaller bowl, combine some peanut butter, soy sauce, and a little Siracha and mix. You may want to heat it up in the microwave to make it a little thinner. Pour this over your noodles and mix to combine. If the salad bar has some crunch veg (snow peas, carrots, edamame, etc.), throw that in there too! Yum!

7. HOT CARAMEL MOCHA

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I got this idea from Brandon cos he always mixes a 50:50 ratio of hot chocolate and coffee whenever he’s tired and at Appel. That could taste a little weird, since the hot chocolate is super watery and powdery and not really what I think of when I think of hot chocolate. Instead, take a mug and pour some caramel and chocolate sauce. Then pour in the coffee and stir. Top with whipped cream (Found in the waffle bar) and make it pretty with a caramel and chocolate drizzle. You’re basically at Starbucks.

056 Whatever You’re Doing, It’s Not Good Enough.

A friend recently visited Cornell on her journey of college visits. As she was talking, I noticed certain phrases that were being used consistently throughout our conversations. Phrases like, “I doubt I’ll get in,” and “I don’t think I’m good enough for that”. I think every Cornell student would agree that those phrases aren’t too uncommon on this campus. Business Insider just published an article which highlights 19 Cornell students with huge achievements (one of them being one of my Kappa Delta sisters! Go Jenn! Article found here). Even during recruitment, when I was speaking to girls who were roughly my age, I was amazed at how accomplished my peers were, and how much they’ve done before they turn 20. There are students here who are already CEOs of their own companies or have developed iPhone apps or have discovered some sort of innovation. There are people here with over 4.0 GPAs and people who can take semesters off just to work on their own start-ups. I admire their courage and risk-taking, and use it as motivation for me to work harder toward my goals. However, I can definitely understand the constant, dulling pressure of feeling like you have to keep up with them. There are times when I’ve felt like there’s no way for me to be as good as those exceptional students, and I’m tempted just to give up.

However, when I spoke to my high school friend, I could tell that it was a tired feeling for her. She got rejected from her top choice college early decision and seemed like she lost confidence in herself. She kept adding those subtle phrases of doubt.

I’ve been there. I’ve experienced and am experiencing it now, with the stress of medical school, and I don’t think I realized that about myself until I spoke with her and saw a lot of her starting to grow in me. When I get stressed out about post-college life, my friends often try to comfort me by saying that it’s too early for me to even worry about it – that I’m being pre-mature. Of course I wouldn’t actually listen to them because it’s never really too early to start planning for your future. And like the Business Insider article points out, it’s never too early to have accomplishments. So that wasn’t it.

When I spoke to my friend, I realized that I, too, constantly doubt myself. I sometimes back out of experiences because I’m too scared I’ll fail. I do what I’m comfortable with and often, what I’m good at is what I like. Sometimes I verbally doubt myself to my friends, as if I’m trying to cushion the possibility of failure.

It’s scary that the stress has become so ingrained in us that we’ve made a habit of doubting our potentials. We’re all great and we’re here at this school, which is an accomplishment in itself. No one, especially ourselves, should tell us that we can’t do something we want to do. We shouldn’t lower our standards. Let’s make it happen.

055 It’s Finally White! Winter Break and Pre-Recruitment

I have never seen a warmer winter in Upstate NY before. And although it might be over talked about, the weather is an interesting thing! It dictates everything we do. This was my first Christmas not white and snowy, which was a bit disappointed. The holidays didn’t really feel like the holidays so I didn’t get the same excitement as the past 19 years. I was, however, very excited to be making a trip to NYC, Massanutten, and Washington DC after Christmas to go skiing! Although the snow was fake, it was still nice to see. I realized just how bad I am at skiing and how overestimating my ability led to me being stuck at the top of a steep hill.

When we arrived in DC, the weather returned back to the 45-50 degree weather I had grown used to. And then out of no where, the news declared an Arctic Freeze, just in time for recruitment next week.

This winter break has been the best yet, as I spent most of it with my friends and family. Brandon and I went on a lot of culinary adventures as we made wontons, sushi, macarons, cookies, meringues, etc. It was so great to finally relax after months of being at school. But with all good things, they must come to an end….to make room for even better things….RECRUITMENT!

I am SO excited to go back early and prepare for sorority recruitment. It’s so weird being on the other side of the process – I’ve seen how much planning goes into it and I’m amazed at the great job of Panhellenic and Kappa Delta’s council! Although waking up early SUCKS after I’ve been sleeping in until noon everyday this break, I’m excited to see my sisters and friends and potential sisters and potential friends. I’ll try to post during recruitment, but the entire thing is back to back things to do and meetings.

It’s weird. Throughout the semester, students are dying to go back home. Well, I’d like to stay home, yeah, but I’m so happy to be going back to school early. I miss Cornell!

054 First Impressions

Everyone knows not to judge a book by its cover. But every author also knows how great a cover can help them. The advertising helps a lot. That’s why nearly every semester, Cornell holds workshops to help you build your resume. But your resume is not the only thing that’s important. It’s how you present yourself that says a lot about you. Sure, you’re allowed to have bad days. But you never know who you could meet or what opportunities you have each day. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you out!

1. Invest in a watch
I know your smart phone can tell you the time in just a click. But having to reach into your pocket to check the time every so often may seem a little disrespectful (It’s probably even more disrespectful to have your phone out). Also, you probably have a ton of notifications you’re dying to open, which can be distracting as well. Having a watch shows whomever you’re with that you are responsible with time and it’s also a lot more subtle than checking your phone.

2. Dress for class
I know you don’t want to wake up earlier than you have to for class, but I’ve found it beneficial to dress for class. I don’t mean button down and khakis everyday, but just not sweats or even worse, pajamas. For those of you in high school, it’s true – college students literally roll out of bed and go to class – and in a lecture hall of 500 students, no one really cares what you’re wearing. But when I’m in my PJs, am I really in the mood to pay attention? Probably not. Also, I’ve found that I’ve ran into people that I want to impress while I’m looking my worst. I’m not saying you have to be trendy or fashionable or dress up everyday, but simply make it look like you got ready in the morning. Show that you care about your routine.

3. Think before you speak
Have you ever met those people who seem to go on and on without really contributing anything? Don’t be one of those people. Always have a point when you speak to someone and make sure you think about what you’re saying and what consequences may come. I wouldn’t avoid controversial topics if you are truly passionate about your stance on them, but try not to offend anyone that you are talking to or that may be close by. You may not know what position they stand on a certain topic, so never speak down toward something. Rather, keep it positive and speak in a manner which brings out the positive aspects of your position, and not the negative aspects of the other side. Being well-spoken is a rare skill nowadays. Bring it back!

4. Work on your handwriting
This one seems kind of odd for a topic relating to first impressions. I’ve realized that people pay attention to your handwriting and admire someone for their penmanship. It’s not the most important, but at the same time, it can help a lot. People perceive handwriting as part of your personality. You don’t necessarily have to make it look typed and perfect, but it just has to be neat. It says a lot about someone when they try to fit pages of chicken scratch into 1 page. If you know you have chicken scratch, try to space out your words. Don’t worry about fitting everything you have to write down onto one sheet. Instead, take your time and be organized. It will pay off.

5. Show passion
If you haven’t watched it already, a good feel-good movie is Rudy. The main character chased his dream, and even though he didn’t have the right physical qualifications, he showed true passion and hard work. People will understand if you don’t know a certain concept or if you don’t have a certain skill yet. That stuff can always be learned. What’s important is your work ethic and how you respond to certain situations. Those kind of things take years to get down.

053 The Years Without Them

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Since Gilmore Girls was released on Netflix, I’ve just been rotting away in bed whenever I have the chance. The ultimate mother-daughter relationship. It’s safe to say most girls want the Lorelai-Rory relationship with their parents. I’ve always been jealous of that.

I was never really that close with my parents. I never told them where I was, what I was doing, or how my days went in high school. In fact, I didn’t see them for a large majority of my teen-years. I was either busy at after-school activities or they were busy at work. I would usually have to figure out my own dinner plans, where I felt like most families sat down at a designated time everyday to spend a meal together. That being said, I thought college would be so easy without them, since I never felt like they were a large part of my high school life anyway. On move-in day, I saw most students walking around with their parents behind them. I met the families and extended families of my housemates. I saw parents crying. I was always walking alone, but never minded that my parents weren’t there.

When my classes started picking up and the work seemed overwhelming, I didn’t really know who to turn to. I decided to reach out to my mom and it actually helped me a lot. Right before my first prelim, I remember freaking out and I don’t think I really believed how understanding my parents are. I admitted that I knew nothing on the prelim and she surprisingly told me to just try my best and it would be okay if I didn’t do as well as I hoped. She told me she was proud of me for being at Cornell and that she would be proud of me as long as I tried my best. I think I really needed to hear that, because ever since, my parents and siblings and I have been in a group chat. We’ve been updating each other on our lives and problems ever since. It’s shown me that who I thought my parents were in high school is completely different than who they actually are. Yeah, they’re still pretty annoying sometimes, especially when they call me a million times in a row when I tell them I’m in a meeting. But I’ve started to notice everything they do for me. My first semester, I got a care package right before finals, which had a giant bulk-sized jar of Nutella. It was awesome. They are now always sending me the latest links of news about Ebola, and we’ve even planned our escape plan if Ebola outbreaks in the US. I even told them about my relationship with Brandon, something I probably wouldn’t have done in high school. I’ve realized how lucky I am to live so close to home. Whenever I need something, I can just ask my parents to bring it up and then they can treat me to lunch! They always remind me I can come home whenever I want, and always offer to make the drive up to Ithaca to see me.

I’m not really sure how, but parents get a lot cooler in college.

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.