Strangely, I Miss Cornell’s Library This Summer

Two months ago, I would have given anything to go as far away from Cornell’s libraries as possible. The library is the best representative of the work stress that Cornell students face every semester. But now that I really am as far away from Cornell as possible (on Earth), I realize that it is easy to take Cornell libraries for granted when there’s one within every two hundred meters. I have yet to come across a book (in English) that is not available at the Cornell. In the past year, I have found everything from obscure academic texts, recent New York Times best sellers to historical records of Tamil Nadu, an Indian state. In fact, I even found a first edition copy of a play I’m in love with, in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.

However, that’s hardly surprising considering that in February, Cornell Library announced the arrival of its 8 millionth physical volume. Every time I try to imagine eight million books spatially, I am stumped. So I try to think about it one library rack at a time, in Olin Library.

That's one row of bookshelves.

That’s one row of bookshelves.

And that many rows per floor.

And that many rows per floor. (Now you know what a horizontal abyss looks like.)

 

That many floors + 3 underground floors of book stacks at Olin Library

That was the largest of nearly 20 library divisions/buildings at Cornell.

Although there are usually a couple copies of the same book (different editions perhaps), sometimes they may all be checked out. In that case, I use the BorrowDirect service which allows library users to request books from other Ivy League universities’ and MIT’s libraries.

As I’m back in Delhi for the summer, Cornell’s library system is one of the things I really miss. Now if I come across an interesting book, I can’t just search for it on the online catalog, find its call number and get the book from the stacks. Not just books, I could also find historical maps,  audio and video collections and research papers with ease at Cornell. If I couldn’t find it myself, the librarians were always incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.

So if you happen to visit Cornell, be sure to checkout the libraries. It’s paradise for those who seek books, information, a place to nap or simply a selfie at the “Harry Potter” library.

Andrew Dickson White Library at Uris Library, or simple “Harry Potter” library.

Visit the Cornell University Library website to explore the full catalog and services offered by the library.

Myth#1: Course Enroll is Stressful

Around this time last year, I was busy exploring Cornell’s nearly never ending course catalog and copying course numbers so I could quickly select them on Student Center during course enroll.. A year and nine courses later, I still find myself whiling time away on the course catalog but I’m wiser about course enroll. Perhaps the wisdom I’ve gained could help a few incoming freshmen, who will soon be choosing their first courses at Cornell.

The only day a majority of Cornell students are willing to wake up early, in the middle of a tiring semester, is the day course enroll begins. It’s true that several popular courses and core courses for technical majors get filled within the first few minutes of course enroll. You could miss out on that cool elective course you want to take by a few seconds, in the gap between adding the course and confirming your selections.
But last semester, when I forgot about course enroll and woke up late, I still managed to get all the courses I wanted. Here’s how:

1) For required, core courses, the cap of enrollment  is often increased after a few hours. So when I woke up, there was ample space in both the core CS courses I wanted

2) Most introductory social science courses tend to be large lecture styled, so spaces in these classes go into several hundreds anyway. So it was not hard to add those courses, even after a couple of hours.

3) For a few courses, you can also write to the department asking for an increase in the caps, it’s not set in stone (I believe).

Although I got all the courses I thought I wanted to take, after course enroll I changed my mind. I now want to replace Intro to Microeconomics with Networks. I’m still not entirely sure which one to take. But that’s completely acceptable, given the Add/Drop period. There will be an Add/Drop period in August which extends to the first couple weeks of classes when I can still edit my course selection for Fall 2014. So why is Add/Drop awesome?

1) In August, I can sample both courses and decide which one to take. I could then drop Microecon and add Networks, add both courses, or not make changes at all.

2) This also means that during add/drop, you can get any course/timings which were previously full because there will definitely be a lot of changes.

So course enroll is only as stressful as you make it. You can log onto Student Center two hours or two days late and still get all the courses you want. Happy first course enroll!

Cornell Welcomes Class of ’18 with a Weather Showcase

It’s time for Cornell Days and just as prefrosh and their parents were visiting Ithaca, the unending winter magically gave way to Spring. In fact, this weekend, the temperature rose upto 27 C/ 80F.

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On the way from Whitby to Central Campus

Suddenly, all the men were wearing shorts and the women brought all the summer dresses out. People were running ,biking, hiking and there was bliss. Just when you’re walking from one class to another, you come across beautiful sights like these (picture below) and feel compelled to take a photo.

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Across Uris Hall

Just when you start embracing spring, things go back to normal. When you look up at the sky, you know the storm is coming. Umbrella sales at the Cornell Store rise exponentially, but within 10 minutes of buying an umbrella, people realize it’s of no help. No umbrella can stand the Ithaca wind.

On my way from Central Campus to Whitby

On my way from Central Campus to Whitby

It doesn’t end there. Within a day of 27 C/80F weather, a blizzard decides to surprise you in the middle of the day. From Cornell students, this elicits responses like the one below on Overheard at Cornell (on Facebook).

“I couldn’t recognize anyone today. Everyone looks so different when they’re miserable”
-Girl in Olin while looking out the window

Because here’s what she was probably looking at.

Mid Spring Blizzard

Then when I walked back home today in the evening, I was in a winter wonderland in the middle of April, in the northern hemisphere.

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

As Cornell students, we fully respond used to this quick, all encompassing show case of Ithaca weather. We grumble about it everyday and post screenshots of weather reports on Facebook all the time. We write blog posts and satirical news articles about it. We never get tired of complaining about the weather.

Dear Class of 2018,

Ithaca, Cornell and Cornellians have tried their best to give you a complete preview of the weather in Ithaca in the past three days. Hope you enjoyed it and please feel free to constantly share weather updates on social media. Welcome to Cornell!

Explorations of Food in Ithaca

I was talking to a friend from Zimbabwe about food. We both agreed that exploring new places, meeting people who come from different backgrounds and trying foreign food are all essential aspects of studying abroad. She recalled a story which gets the point across effectively.

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country, so seafood is very rare in the country. When some students from Zimbabwe were going to a coastal region in Mozambique, an advisor said to them, “The last time we organized this trip, one student went to Mozambique and ordered beef dishes at every meal there. Don’t be that student. You can find as much beef as you want in Zimbabwe, so try something different there.”

How does this relate to my spring break food experience? I have pretty much been ordering food on the basis of how the name sounds, at restaurants with unfamiliar cuisines. So here are my top three non-Indian food experiences in Ithaca (not in order):

Sahara
I went to Sahara for early dinner and I was the only customer there. The restaurant was warm in its design, decor and ambiance. Reading the quote –  ”The best memories are made when gathered around the table” above the door in Sahara made me happy  because I really value great food and company.

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Spanakopita and Salad

I ordered a Spanakopita plate although I had never heard of it before. I received a huge plate with a fresh looking salad, lots of hummus and pita bread and of course, spanakopita! The girl who served at my table didn’t think I could finish the entire plate. And then she was impressed by the time I was done. All credits go to the amazing food.

Pizza Aroma
I must confess that I am not a fan of pizza. Atleast not Domino’s or Papa John’s or the dining hall kind of pizza. So when I first had pizza at Pizza Aroma, I was pleasantly surprised. Although it is more expensive than the first category of pizza, the price is worth the taste.

This place also serves El Salvadorean food, which is much cheaper than its pizza. Having tried a couple of dishes from their El Salvadorean menu, I don’t think it’s as good as their pizza. But I guess you only what you pay for.

Moosewood

I was raving about this place even before going there. They’re vegetarian and source their products locally. How could that not be great? When I finally went for lunch there one Saturday afternoon, my fondness for Moosewood was enhanced.

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The entree whose name I don’t remember

House salad and veggie juice.

House salad and veggie juice.

I don’t even remember the name of the entree I ordered, but it was like a filo pastry with spinach, mushroom and fancy cheese in it. I also ordered a vegetable juice, which was flavoured with spices. Entrees come with a house salad and I choose a ‘creamy spinach basil’ dressing for mine. All of it tasted wonderful. Being a vegetarian and loving my veggies has never been more rewarding.On my way out, I flipped through one of Moosewood’s popular cookbooks. It felt more like a story book than a cookbook, in the best way possible. I’m getting a copy sometime soon!

In terms of price, a fulfilling lunch for one is possible under $15 here. Dinner is slightly more expensive, but I believe the portions are also likely to be larger.

As much as I love trying new food, nothing makes me happier than a full Indian meal. Here are my insights on the three Indian restaurants in Ithaca, each of which I’ve visited quite a few times now. Fun fact: they all offer a $10 (including taxes) all you can eat lunch buffet, every day of the week. That actually works out to be cheaper than a Cornell dining meal plan!

New Delhi Diamonds

This restaurant is in the commons and is my personal favourites. The restaurant itself is minimalistic in design and the food is delicious. The flavor is as authentic as I could have expected and the price is very reasonable. On my list, this is the best of the three Indian restaurants in Ithaca.

Dinner at Diamonds. I always over eat there.

Mehak and Sangam

Both of these restaurants are located in collegetown, very close to each other. Although the food at Sangam is priced slightly lower than that at Mehak, I think they are more or less similar in quality. Their lunch buffets are also very similar.