Monthly Archives: December 2010

Vacationing away…

College vacation: Where waking up to the 5pm news, lounging around in a Snuggie, and watching absurd amounts of television are entirely the norm (apparently Oprah Winfrey is starting a television network?! I missed the boat on that one). It’s definitely a great break from college and all its pressures, but the magic of home does begin to wear off. 6 months after leaving in August, the town is the same, my desk chair is as creaky as it’s always been, and I still misplace the cable remote.

I just came back yesterday from a nice family trip to Delray Beach, Florida. We had headed down a week ago just to get out of the cold weather, only to find that it was still chilly in the sunshine state! It didn’t stop us though; we donned our sweatshirts and headed to the beach.

Cornell's Arts Quad in the Winter--nah, just kidding, the Florida beaches

Cornell's Arts Quad in the Winter--nah, just kidding, the Florida beaches

The vacation was interesting in a lot of ways. What was most fascinating was that, even though I had basically been away at college for a semester, when I returned the family dynamic had remained virtually unchanged. I still fought my sister for the shotgun seat in the rental car, and still was nagged at by my mom for forgetting to put my napkin on my lap at fancy restaurants.

I still have a couple of weeks to go before I head back to Ithaca, and I have to say that it’s stressing me out that I’m still relatively uncertain of the classes that I’ll be taking in a couple weeks. The size of the College of Arts and Sciences is a mixed blessing to me–as much as I love being able to take classes on practically anything and be taught by leaders in the field, it’s stressful to create a schedule. Case in point: I was browsing the Courses of Study book the other day and realized that I should pick up another class next semester. GREAT! What should I take? Everything from African Cultures and Civilizations, to Oceanography, to the History of Rock Music interests me. Not to mention that I could take classes in other colleges, like Introduction to Business Management or Visual Communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. It’s only freshman year, so I only need to be mildly considering filling distribution requirements. How the heck am I supposed to choose?!

Happy New Year!

And just like that…

…I am done.

Yep, that’s right–I finished my last exam at 9:30 pm on Wednesday (the whole idea of night exams still boggles my mind) and immediately after met my cousin and mom in front of the Statler, who were excitedly awaiting the end of my first semester.

Math 1105 Fall 2010

After exchanging the emotional hello’s and congratulatory remarks, we headed back to my dorm to pack everything up. I tossed all my clothes into bags, packed away everything else I’d need for a month at home, signed out of the dorm for the fall semester and said bye to Donlon for 2010.

Because I had packed up all my bedsheets and everything, we spent the night at the Holiday Inn Ithaca–a clean and convenient hotel not too far from campus.

Aperture-3The next day, we thought that we’d get an early start back to Connecticut and get home while it’s still light out. Did that happen? Nope! It turns out that my mom and cousin wanted to check out Wegman’s supermarket (which, if you look at the comments from this post here, got some good praise wegmans_logofrom a couple readers). What was originally supposed to be a quick grocery run to pick up stuff we wouldn’t be able to find back home turned into a 2 hour expedition through the store, grabbing anything in sight that looked delicious. I also came to the sad realization, while wandering through the aisles, that I had been in Ithaca for almost half a year and did not yet own a classic green “Ithaca is Gorges” t-shirt–so, I picked one up and will gladly wear it around my hometown.

Ithaca is Gorges Fine Jersey T-shirt-Kelly

Seriously. I've heard it's a crime if you've lived in Ithaca for an extended period of time and don't own one of these.

Anyways, we did make it back home eventually. The long car ride was a good opportunity for me to brush up on my highway-driving skills, so I drove from Albany, New York back to Connecticut. Driving, I’ve realized, is much like riding a bike–even though I haven’t done it that often lately, you never really forget how to do it.

So…right now I’m sitting in the comfort of my own home at the kitchen table, writing out this blog post and looking forward to a very relaxing (and much needed!) break. I would say something along the lines of “see you in late January,” but, hell, I love this job too much so you’ll probably hear from me before then.

Happy holidays!

An interesting story…

While I’m sitting here in the library procrastinating studying for my math exam tomorrow, let me get a mildly entertaining story off of my chest from last night:

Alright: you likely know the deal at this point in the game with exams. It’s finals week–a period of high stress and insane amounts of studying at any college, so to say that people are on their toes would be an understatement. Today, there are a lot of exams scheduled (including a couple 9 a.m. ones), so kids decided to go to bed relatively early last night.

So, Donlon was pretty quiet last night at about 3 a.m. The kids that had 9 am finals were out cold getting their zzz’s (does anyone actually use that phrase or did I make it up?), and I was just falling asleep.

Until the fire alarm went off.

Now, this is no quiet sound. Literally, you have to plug your ears or you hurt your eardrums–that loud.

Yes, that’s right–at about 3 am last night all 465 residents of Donlon had to  awake from their slumber and walk outside in freezing temperatures, when a good portion of them had final exams in a couple hours. As we all crammed into the nearby Robert Purcell Community Center, you could tell that there was tension, anger, and fatigue in the air. Looking on Facebook at about 4 am, I saw a lot of Facebook statuses resembling “AHH I CAN’T GET BACK TO SLEEP AND HAVE A FINAL IN 4 HOURS AKLDJFGH.”

What was the cause of the fire alarm? Burned popcorn.

Let this be a lesson to you all: if you crave popcorn at 3 in the morning during finals week and live in a building with almost 500 other occupants, please know what you’re doing.

Alright, story time is over. Back to studying Markov chains. Oh, and sorry for the lack of pictures in this post–I really couldn’t take any shots of people looking tired and miserable in the cold without being that obnoxious kid.

This week I learned…

…that:

  • There is a wrong way to pronounce Kroch Library. Oops.
  • When you’re taking a final exam in Barton Hall, sit in the chairs where you’re assigned. I was this close to taking an Oceanography exam instead of my economics exam (I mean, I probably would have figured it out once I saw the questions were more about sea urchins and less about GDP…)
  • Salty hot chocolate from Starbucks? Not so good. I had to run an errand this morning in Collegetown and decided to stop by Starbucks to try it–it tasted like I was swallowing sand.
  • Probably the coolest thing I learned: Okay, maybe it’s because I’m not that clued into science stuff that I didn’t know about this…but apparently there’s a huge underground particle accelerator under some fields at Cornell? I’ll be honest…I have no clue what a particle accelerator is, or why particles need to be accelerated PERIOD, but hey–it’s something cool.
CESR birds eye view

Underground particle accelerator

I’ve been sitting here in Kroch library all day putting the finishing touches on my writing seminar portfolio…then I have Monday and Tuesday to study Math. Wednesday is my last exam, and then I’m hoooooooome!

In the midst of finals…

Well, I got one final done–macroeconomics 1101, which I’m incredibly relieved about. It wasn’t necessarily the hardest material, but it stressed me out the most because it was worth a huge amount–41% of my final grade. Now, I have just two more to look forward to: math and French.

The econ professor made it very easy to study the material, as she posts all of her past exams online with the answers. It’s incredibly helpful:

intro MACRO wissink

So, what have I been up to as of late? Finals time is somewhat of an awkward period, because there is a lot of free time (nobody has classes). My last few days have involved waking up late, trudging over to Mann library, coming back around 7-8 pm and just hanging out in the dorm and unwinding.

It has been unbearably cold in Ithaca…but I guess that’s a good thing. After all, if it was sunny, 90 degrees and the birds were  chirping, I wouldn’t have much motivation to study now would I?

Alright, I’m going to get back to studying French. Actually, I’ll probably be distracting myself on Facebook…who am I kidding?!

Oh, before I let you go…I might as well tell the prospective students that I created a new page a while back at the top, which compiles all the questions I’ve answered in blog posts for your convenience. Hopefully it’ll help you guys out.

c@cGood luck to all the early decision applicants that find out at 5 pm today!! It will all work out in the end, I promise.

How am I doing?!

Now that the first semester has almost come to a close (!!!), I figure that now would be a great time to ask you, the beloved reader, for your comments on how I’m doing so far. Blogging, as I hadn’t originally realized, is a fairly difficult task because I’m basically talking my head off to each one of you, yet receive very little feedback on how I’m doing. According to my handy blogging software, I got about 100 visits to the blog yesterday  (99 of which were probably my parents), so I know my voice is somewhat getting heard throughout the blogosphere…

I received this one comment the other day:

As much as I love overarching recaps on life, it is of my experience that blogs are most successful when they are highly personalized. People like to hear about the little things that go on in your life, things that can and do happen only in your life. I guess what I’m saying is that in my opinion, I would be much more satisfied to see stuff that is more tailored to you.

Please don’t take this personally, I still enjoy your blog very much. It is very informative and enjoyable. Maybe I am just letting my personal preferences get in the way; I have also been reading another former Life on the Hill blog, and I couldn’t help but make the comparison in content http://blogs.cornell.edu/tim/.

Okay..I should probably stop now. Oh and don’t feel pressured or anything. Just voicing my opinion.

So I turn to you, my dear reader, for your feedback on how I’m doing thus far. Feel free to head over to my no-hassle contact page and tell me what you like and don’t like.

Among the things I’ve been curious to know:

  • Do the majority of you guys agree with the above comment? Meaning…should I focus more on things I’m doing on a daily basis, or things happening in my life as a whole?
  • When I answer questions submitted to me at the end of posts, do people find it useful or annoying?
  • PICTURES: Let’s face it…I use an inordinate amount of pictures in each post. Shall I cut back, or do you love my obnoxious pictures and arrows?

So, even if you have an inkling of a thought right now, let ‘er rip and let me know. I promise I won’t cry too hard if I receive critical advice. In the end, I really just want to make this blog the best it can be, but I can’t do it without your help! (Props to my high school writing teacher Miss B for the inspiration on the picture below, who would sneak it into the occasional PowerPoint…)

Let's help David out!

Let's help David out!

Things I learned my first semester

I can’t believe it, and don’t want to believe it. Now that classes have officially finished and I just have to get through finals, I’ve come to the realization that I’m almost done with my first semester of college (and I’ve been blogging for almost 6 months now–woohoo!). It hasn’t always been easy, but I know that there have been just as many ups (such as meeting new people) as there have been downs (academic stress, etc.) and all of my experiences here will make me a stronger person in the long run.

Flags hanging in the School of Hotel Administration

Flags hanging in the School of Hotel Administration

That being said, here are just a few of the things I’ve learned my first semester here at Cornell; hopefully all the students that get accepted early decision will be able to benefit off of this!

  • Use RateMyProfessors.com as a helpful tool when selecting classes/sections, but understand it has its fallacies. Case in point: I was a little uneasy about having an 8 a.m. intermediate-level French class three days a week, but on RateMyProfessors the professor who’s class I enrolled in got PHENOMENAL reviews (yes, it was totally worth bolding, capitalizing, coloring, and underlining phenomenal). So, I decided to bite the bullet and wake up early for the class.
    The savior of many a college student...but use with caution!

    The savior of many a college student...but use with caution!

    Now, a semester later, I am incredibly thrilled that I did–the reviews were spot-on, as the professor was amazing and incredibly nice. Don’t rely 100% on RateMyProfessors, though–try to find other ways to get the inside scoop on professors as reviews can be misleading.

  • You definitely live in a sort of bubble when you’re in college, and it’s easy to get disconnected from the outside world. Aside from the occasional trip to the Ithaca Mall to grab stuff for the dorm, or to Collegetown to get a bite to eat, my life the last semester was basically spent on Cornell’s campus. While living here has its advantages, a lot of times I feel disconnected from the world. Random example: My mom called the other day, and out of the blue she mentioned that Leslie Nielsen, the famous comedian who starred in The Naked Gun movies, had passed away. Obviously, I was overcome with sadness (seriously–if you haven’t seen The Naked Gun or Airplane! you’re missing out), but also realized that I probably would have never heard about his death if she hadn’t mentioned it! I don’t watch too much news here as I don’t have cable in the dorm, so my only real sources of information are news websites (MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, The Onion–take your pick).
Rest in Peace Mr. Nielsen...you will be missed!

Rest in Peace Mr. Nielsen...you will be missed!

  • For ordering in food to the dorm–Campusfood.com. For movies–Netflix online streaming. Enough said, really. Campusfood makes it really convenient to just order and pay online from local Ithaca restaurants that deliver, and for less than $10 a month with Netflix I get access to a huge library of movies available for streaming.

Preview

  • iChat/Skype makes it really easy to keep in touch with friends and family; it’s like they’ve never really left. Granted, this might not be a good thing, but I’d consider myself a Skypaholic. I probably do Skype with people too much for my own good, but it really does faciliate the whole “being away at college” thing when, with the push of a button, you can talk with the people you miss.
  • You don’t understand something? Office hours, office hours, office hours. Seriously, you’d be surprised how many people don’t take advantage of the resources here and see a Teaching Assistant or their professor during their free time. It’s a great way to increase your understanding of the material and show you’re really trying to the professor (who, in the end, will be deciding whether your 89.5 is an A- or B+).

I mean, I could go on and on about the things I’ve learned; this is just a random sampling. Let’s answer a prospective student’s question, shall we?

I will begin by saying I love your blog! It is extremely informative and helpful in portraying a broad image of Cornell. However, I was wondering what your average workload consisted of? Do you find it incredibly overwhelming or manageable so far? I am a bit worried that my high school will make me ill prepared me for the college workload, how do you feel that your high school prepared you?

Hey there, thanks for the compliment!

As far as the Cornell workload goes, it’s definitely very challenging.

Random picture, but my Intermediate French textbook

Random picture, but my Intermediate French textbook

You might be surprised, as I was originally, that there are often people studying on Friday nights and Saturdays. Personally, the majority of my workload has consisted of problem sets (graded homeworks) for my probability/statistics course, preparing for quizzes and tests for French, spending a good chunk of time writing essays for my writing seminar, and just reading the textbook for Macroeconomics. Yeah, there’s a lot of work and you’ll definitely find yourself swamped every once in a while–but, as I alluded to in an earlier post, it’s a different kind of work from high school (less repetitive) and it’s more enjoyable to do. Personally, I feel like my high school did prepare me well; as long as you developed a strong work ethic during your high school years you shouldn’t have too much of a problem adjusting to the academic workload here.

Good luck!

Oh, and thanks to senior Cullen Harwood for the shout-out on his Life on the Hill blog; I’m glad I was able to help him out! Definitely check out his blog as well, he has some great things to say.