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 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. will be missed!

Rest in Peace Mr. will be missed!

  • For ordering in food to the dorm– 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.


  • 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.

One thought on “Things I learned my first semester

  1. 無名

    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

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

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