This being the first year of the ‘February Break’, a long weekend with Monday and Tuesday off, Cornellians have been very vocal about this addition to the academic calendar.
Although I love breaks, it’s so early in the semester right now that I feel it disrupts the ‘flow’ of the semester. A week after add/drop, just as I’m getting used to my schedule and workload, it’s February break.
But I probably should not be complaining. Over the weekend, I visited friends I hadn’t seen in nearly two years. On Friday afternoon, I boarded a bus to NYC and then another from NYC to Yale, New Haven.I left at 2:00 P.M. and reached at 11:oo P.M. Since I was so excited to see them, the long bus ride did not bother me.
I had a great time with my friends on Saturday and also enjoyed seeing the Yale campus. While we watched the Yale – Princeton basketball game that evening, I was so overwhelmed by school spirit (although I don’t even attend Yale) that I decided that I had to attend more sporting events at Cornell. There’s just something about sports that brings people closer.
On Sunday morning, I left Yale at 11:00AM. Right now, it’s 9:ooPM and I’m still on a bus to Ithaca. I did not realize before just how ‘in the middle of nowhere’ we are. I’m writing this blogpost in a mood of fatigue and frustration. I spent 36 hours at Yale and 18 hours on buses this weekend.
Given the number of students at Cornell and the number of visitors (ranging from guest speakers and professors to prospective students and parents/friends) Cornell has everyday, I wonder why Ithaca is not better connected world around it. Air travel from Ithaca is ridiculously expensive, not all students own cars, there’s no train service from Ithaca, leaving us with only the option of buses. Now I see why Cornell’s location is a disadvantage in some ways.
On the other hand, it also reminds of the concept of ‘spatial equilibrium’ that keeps coming up in my writing seminar about urban economics. Cornell’s remote location is offset by its beautiful campus and tranquil surroundings. In how many other schools do students see atleast three gorges or waterfalls on their way from their dorm to class?
On Thursday night, there was fresh snow in Ithaca and some of my housemates decided to go cross country skiing at midnight. They had a great time and it was all on campus! The amount of open space we have and the range of outdoor activities is so vast that four years at Cornell is not enough time to explore it for most of us.
Moreover, Ithaca not being a huge city helps keep the student life at Cornell more integrated. It encourages us to be more involved on campus, in clubs and events.
Cornell’s location has its disadvantages, but the location is an integral part of our many memorable experiences at Cornell. Although I’m not going to stop complaining about the combined 18 hour bus ride anytime soon (I could have been back at home in India in 18 hours), I am glad about the benefits that come with Cornell’s beautiful, remote campus.
P.S.: This also proves that we’re the most Hogwarts like school. Hogwarts was so far away from everything else. They had to endure a long train ride to get there too. And our collegetown/commons area is comparable to Hogsmeade in Harry Potter.