Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hot, But Not Much Action

Saturday is a Hotelie's real day off - no class in the morning or evening; one can sleep in, and stay up late. Or, in my case, work on a group project. Thankfully, though, this only took up an hour of my wonderfully empty day; my group was well-prepared (a first for me), and it was only me and Colleen working together to decide transitions, builds, and diction.

Otherwise, there is not much left to write about today. I got to sleep in until 10:30 AM (I would have slept longer, but my roommate's friends came in and woke her up - waking me up in the process) and enjoyed a three-mile walk with my iPod. As I took the long route to the College of Human Ecology, Three Days Grace was telling me that "Life Starts Now," and looking at the view made me believe it. I took a detour down to the arts and sciences area. From the parking lot in the back, I could see all of the campus below, surrounded by tree-filled, looming hills. The 19th-century buildings complimented the scenic background; the only layout mistake was that the view was in the back, where staff can park next to dumpsters. It would have been perfect to have the buildings face outward instead. On my way back up, a wedding procession passed by, and I moved aside for them. They probably liked the view too.

Unfortunately, Savage Hall (which has the Nutrion Science department) was closed, but the walk was fun. It was really hot by the time I began my trek back, though; in the Bay Area, the fog eventually rolls in and acts as a natural air conditioning system. In Ithaca, no such thing exists, and being in my room is especially difficult due to the seeming lack of air flow. No matter what the temperature is outside, it stays a steady mid-80s in my room (the fan does not help, either). If I come to New York for college, I think I'd like to be closer to the ocean.

My walk was the highlight of my day. Tomorrow I have class from 6 PM until 9 PM, but I am meeting with my group one last time at 1 to make sure that everything is correct. For now, I am going to try sleep; even though I increased my fan's speed a few minutes ago, it only seems to have gotten hotter. Maybe the Ivy League Connection should offer students portable ice packs instead of desk fans.

Productive Day

I took advantage of today to get a lot of things done. In the morning I relaxed with Calvin, Alex, Eric, and Frank as we watched a bit of Casino Royal and Flightplan. We then did laundry and saw some people who had no clue how to do laundry. I saw a girl who put her wet clothes into her laundry bag and then put the entire bag into the dryer. While we Waite for our clothes to get clean, all the guys and Matt went outside to play a game of catch. We discover that we wouldn't be a great baseball team because we had trouble catching the ball - we couldn't string 20 consecutive catches in a row.

After our clothes got clean I went to the RPCC computer lab to work on my group's presentation. It was interesting because one of t groupmates, Kathleen, is from China and her English isn't great. I have been to China and can understand Mandarin to some extent but can barely speak Mandarin. She speaks to me in Chinese when she can't explain something in English and I try my best to answer in Chinese but it comes out at about 60% English and 40% Chinese. It's interesting because I get to brush on Chinese, get to know her, and get work done. We made considerable progress and with a little work tomorrow, we'll be ready for our practice presentation with Mark tomorrow afternoon. My job is to speak about the various brands of hotels Host has manage it properties and Host's competitive edge. With practice, I'll be ready to go on Monday.

After a pretty productive day, it's nice to just kick back and relax as I escape the heat in the only air conditioned building in Donlon Hall: the lounge.

A Relaxing Saturday

It feels amazing being able to sleep this late. For the first time since the last Sunday, I didn’t have to wake up at 6:40 AM. I woke up at 9:20 and got ready to go to the Statler building to meet with my group and finish our PowerPoint presentation. I spent about an hour there, getting all my information done, so I would know what to say during the presentation.

At around 11:30 AM, we finished most of it, and I headed down to the Dining Hall. I met up with Eric and the El Cerrito group, and ate lunch. Later, we went down to the common area with a TV, and watched the Matrix, and another movie (forgot its name). It was interesting, but then, we all had to do laundry. We had leisure time afterwards so everyone just hung out in the only air conditioned room in the building, playing games or just doing homework.

After dinner, my friend, Matt, and I went to play some pool. It was one of the first fun activities I played in Cornell. It was pretty fun, but I wasn’t that good. It took some 15 minutes or so to finish one game. After finally leaving, I met up with Eric, who was still in the computer lab with his group making some finishing touches to their PowerPoint. Since it still wasn’t so late, all three of us decided to view the campus. We visited the Science Building, which smelled like one of those newly built, glass buildings. It was completely different from what I was used to look at. There were so many old, classic-looking buildings, and then, suddenly, a modern architecture comes to view. It really pops out, and not in a good way, because modern and old-fashioned doesn’t look good together.
View outside of the Science Building

It was a fun, relaxing day today.  I’ll try to enjoy the last of my easy days tomorrow. I’ll have to rest up so I’ll be ready for that presentation on Monday.

Laundry Day +

My first Saturday in Cornell was a day of schoolwork and housecleaning. I did not leave my room until a little after 11. I spent most of the morning reorganizing my desk, dresser, and bed while listening to music. When we all finally decided to meet up, it was past breakfast time and in to the brunch domain. We had to wait even longer though for everyone to be ready, so Calvin, Eric, and I watched part of Casino Royale. We spent over an hour in the cafeteria, procrastinating before the work we knew would take the rest of the day.

 When our laundry group was finally assembled, we headed down to the basement where the washer and dryers are. While waiting for our laundry to be done, we returned to the TV lounge and watched Flightplan. After our laundry was done we transferred our clothes to the dryer and went outside to play catch with a tennis ball in the field in front of my dorm. Soon enough we overheated and went inside to start the long process of writing our essays.

After a few minutes Alex and I realized we forgot our laundry and ran downstairs to claim it. After folding it and dropping it off in our room, it was right back to essay writing. I started talking with a girl from our class, named Sam, who was also writing her essay and we became friends. At 6:30 it was time for dinner and Calvin, Alex, and I went to the dining hall to eat with Sam, Morgan (another girl from our class), and Gloria (Sam's roommate). We spent the rest of the night with them most socializing (unfortunately), but I also got a lot of work done. It was a productive Saturday full of work, but I also managed to have good time.

Making Buddies!

Today, we experienced our first weekend as "college students." I'm not going to lie, it was not that eventful, but it was fun. I ended up waking up relatively early at around 8:00 AM, and since no one else was up, I spent the morning playing World Golf Tour on my computer. I ended up going to Donlon Hall and watching Casino Royale with the two Eric's before heading up to the dining hall. Unfortunately, all of us being wait-listed for the trip to Buttermilk Falls, we decided to start our essay for the Freedom & Justice class, but was interrupted by the need to do laundry. Just a word of advice to future ILCers; when doing your laundry, do it in small loads because the clothes will not dry in the dryer. For the most part of the afternoon , we watched Flightplan starring Jodie Foster but we never finished it. Later in the daywe played catch in the fields during the hottest hour of the day.

Afterwards, Alex and I went to get our computers to start on our first draft of our final essay. Unfortunately, I was way too distracted to even start it. Since, we were procrastinating so much, Eric, Alex and I decided to head up for dinner with our new friends Samantha, Morgan (who are both in F&J), and Gloria. After we finished, we vowed to finish our essays but that never happened. I ended up only completing two paragraphs, but I finished all the required weekend reading. Once we gave up on finishing the essay, we talked the night away with our new-found friends in the Donlon Hall lounge. It ended up having a lot of fun just talking and hanging out. 

While it was an eventful day, we had a great time making new friends. Tomorrow will be a fun day since Mr. Chan-Law made some plans for us to do throughout the day. Well, motivation better kick in tonight and tomorrow for me to finish this essay.

A Failure Turned Success

Today was a much-needed leisure day.  Unfortunately we did not make the Buttermilk Falls trip because of the extensive waiting list, but we are still trying to organize a private trip with Mr. Chan-Law for another time.  I hope to have pictures for you all another time.  We spent the afternoon doing laundry, watching Jodie Foster's Flightplan, and working on our Plato essay, taking a break to walk around campus to compensate for the trip.  Matt later played the bagpipes outside Donlon Hall while the rest of us spent the day primarily indoors.  We met new friends from Hawaii and Florida today and later joined them for dinner.  I have had a great experience meeting people from different parts of the country, and also succeeded in meeting a foreign student finally: Fabian from Costa Rica.

Having an entire day to familiarize ourselves with the campus was very beneficial, seeing new areas of the school especially.  Unfortunately I left my camera in the dorm room today, which made it better that we did not make the trip to Buttermilk Falls today.  We spent the later hours in the lounge to socialize and meet new people and formed sort of a study group with new Freedom and Justice students.  Analyzing Plato's philosophy on social hierarchy and natural order as a group tends to be easier to understand...

Though this day was particularly relaxing, I felt it was very well-spent.  I read the selections from John Locke and drafted my Plato essay, doing schoolwork that I would normally save for a Sunday.  We will meet Mr. Chan-Law in the morning and hopefully spend the day as a cohort.  Tomorrow is my seventeenth birthday as well and I am excited to spend this special day with my friends on the East Coast!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Cheez-its and Research

Going into class today, I had one thought: Get that CHESS business memo turned in. Before I could get to the computer lab to turn in my memo,  however, we had a guest speaker, Stefani Robson, who is an environment physiologist. She spoke about design and how our five senses lead us as customers to make purchases. The presentation was very interesting. We looked at how hotels such as ACE Hotels can be profitable by spending money on designing and an enhancing an existing building as opposed to building from scratch. ACE does implements sense of place into their designs. This means that ACE takes advantage of the location of it's property as the characteristics of the location are found in the design. For example, the ACE hotel in Brooklyn has a wallpaper that is covered in sights that one would see around Brooklyn.

In addition to learning about hotel design, we learned several neat facts such as for men, hearing is the first sense to go and often times, the first frequency of sound that men cannot recognize is the sound of a woman's voice. When Ms. Robson said this, Mark promptly said "What?". Another interesting fact we learned was that in a study on music in a wine shop, people are more likely to purchase wine when there is classical music in the background as opposed to the Top 40 songs. Moreover, when Italian opera was played, people purchased Italian wine, when German opera was played, people bought German wines, and when French opera was played, "people bought wines that they cannot pronounce the names of". Today's guest lecture was incredibly interesting.

After the lecture, Frank and I promptly went to the computer labs where we proofread each other's memo, and then submitted our memos at the same time. It was an incredible feeling to get to walk to lunch knowing I just turned in my first major assignment and I had put my new Word skills to use! It was also a great feeling to know that I took the time to pour over data from my CHESS hotel trial to find  our how I should spend my money to make the most profit.

When we returned from lunch, my group got right back into the swing of things and started to work on our PowerPoint presentation. Host Hotels and Resorts is and interesting company. It isn't a major hotel brand or company. It is an REIT that purchases land a properties which it then has managed by upper upperscale and luxury hotels such as Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton. Host used to be a part of Marriott Corporation and as a result the vast majority of Host's properties are under the Marriott brand name. Also, unlike other hotel brands that  other groups will present about, Host doesn't have any brands. It would be more correct to say that there are brands on Host's properties. Host doesn't operate any of its properties so it doesn't have any other brands like Comfort Stay by Host. 

I find this company to be extremely fun to learn about and I can't wait to work more with my group tomorrow so we can put everything together.

On the way back from class, Frank and I took a shortcut through the science building where we saw a lady standing looking pretty sad as she stared at the vending machine, When Frank and I looked at the vending machine, we saw that the lady's snack was stuck - right above where she could grab it. Frank and I tried to help by sticking paper, our folders, and hands through the flap on the bottom to grab it to no avail. Just when the lady gave up and walked away, Frank and I thought, if we buy something that is heavy enough that is above the stuck bag of chips, then would our snack falling down get the bag of chips unstuck? We tried and sure enough, our small bag of Cheez-its came down with the bag of chips. We then spent the next ten minutes or so walking around looking and asking if anyone had seen the lady we tried to help. After awhile we found her, gave her the bag of chips, and walked away feeling pretty good about ourselves. The $1.00 we spent on a small bag of Cheez-its was well worth it.

Help From Some Cheez-Its

Finally, the last day of school of the week was here. I was able to wake up an hour later because class started at 9 AM instead of the usual 8:30 AM.

In the beginning of class, we had a guest speaker again. Her name was Stephani, and she was graduated from the Cornell’s hotel college. It was a very interesting lecture, because we learned how to examine people’s behavior. Her job was to observe behavior in order to make hotel designs. She explained that design’s goal was to please customers, and the best way to know what they want is studying them. It was funny how she explained how a mob of police always questioning her when she took pictures of random people walking in public. It was a very valuable lecture, and from now on, I will always pay attention on how a stranger stands, and the way they act. This was basically the entire class.

After a quick lunch, I met up with my group in the computer room. We technically had office hours from 11:30 AM-3:30 PM, but if we finished our business memo, we really had to come there at 1:30 PM. My group and I tried to finish as much of our PowerPoint for our presentation as possible. We all were able to finish our research by the end of office ours.

This was the first time I ever exited my classroom before 4:00 PM, besides lunch. Eric Wang and I went to college town to by some body wash. The walk back to campus was too intense though. The sun was so strong that my back turned into a faucet. My shirt was extremely wet, and longed for air conditioning. We both decided to enter the science building to cool off. What are the odds that we would help a stranger there? Well, that’s what happened.

We were going to leave on the other side because it was close to Bailey Hall, but this lady was having trouble on the vending machine. Her chips were caught on the bottom, and there was no way to get it out. After she left to find help, we felt generous, and bought Cheez-its above the chips so they would both fall through. It was a very rewarding day, and considered ourselves good Samaritans.  
Eric with the Cheez-Its

Finishing off the day, everyone met up with Mr. Chan-Law to eat. We discussed about the plans for next week. This day passed much faster than the past week. I was finally able to relax. Tomorrow is going to be the first day without class. I’ve been waiting for Saturday for a while now.

First Week Has Come and Gone

The first week of class is over and it felt like the last day of school today because our class ended at 12:00 PM. However, our workload is no less than before. Our lecture was a continuation on Plato's Republic. Professor Kramnick mainly talked about the justifications that Plato gave in regards to the natural hierarchy in his ideal society which, funny enough, contradicts the title "Plato's Republic."

During our group discussion, we mainly just clarified the meaning of the text as a whole. Afterwards, we received our topic for our final paper: What was Plato's critique of the democracy in which he lived. Once class was dismissed, we (the F&J group) had the luxury of eating a relaxed meal; school was finished for the day.

Eric, Alex, and I decided to do our laundry, but we realized that the detergentwas in Eric Wang's room, who was, unfortunately, still in class. We decided to hang out with our newfound friend, Hannon, who is from Albany, CA. We ended up watching Coach Carter and The Shawshank Redemption.

We later ate dinner with Mr. Chan-Law who gave us some brochures from his campus visits to Rochester University and Syracuse University. It's great to get more information on schools outside of the Ivy Leagues since there may be other schools outside of them that interest students. After dinner, Eric Wilson, Alex, Matt, and I took a bus to the Ithaca Mall. It seemed that all of Summer College went to the mall to enjoy their weekend. We ended up spending most of our time putting on the green inside Dick's Sporting Goods. Now we are back in the lounge watching The Matrix and everyone is in awe at how I have never seen it. 

It was amazing how much time we had to do anything we wanted. I have never experienced so much freedom in my life.

TGIF (This Greek is Fascinating)

Today class started with day two of Plato.  We talked about the natural social hierarchy in an ideal community and how everybody’s purpose in the society is to benefit the people as a whole.  The lecture progressed to Plato’s examples he gives to support his idea, mostly through theoretical metaphors, including his famous Allegory of the Cave.  We specified what qualifications define a Philosopher King (such as Plato or Socrates) and what responsibilities they have to serve the public.

In the discussion section we further explored the characteristics of the Philosopher Kings, and whether or not their motives for serving the public are for the good of the people or for their own personal benefit.  We decided that the kings gain personal satisfaction by serving the people, but argued whether that fulfillment was selfish or not.  We also decided that selfishness was not always a bad thing either, providing as an example that the self-satisfaction by doing charity work may be considered selfish by your personal gain, but is still morally a good deed.  We later discussed Plato’s ideal society in a general sense, whether this hierarchal society could function in our life today, and if it has ties to modern Communism.  We ended the class and concluded the school week by receiving our assignment for our Plato essay, asking us to elaborate on Plato’s opinion of democracy. 

We spent the afternoon and evening hours indoors, meeting Mr Chan-Law for dinner after he returned from Syracuse University.  We took our first bus ride and exploring the Ithaca Mall at night.  Tomorrow we hope to catch the bus to Buttermilk Falls for a hike and potential swim, but we are currently on the waiting list so our fingers are crossed.  The rest of the weekend may be spent reviewing Plato’s The Republic and writing our first draft of the essay, which is due Monday. 

Reflecting on the week, I cannot believe how much I have learned and how I have changed during my time at Cornell.  Being away from home has demanded me to be responsible and to manage my time.  The class has allowed me to become a better critical thinker and a more comfortable speaker.  Next week we will begin the teachings of John Locke and will have our Preliminary Examination on Wednesday.  

Exploring Plato

Today was the first Friday and our only true Friday with a normal schedule, since we have next Friday off and our final the Friday after that. In class Professor Kramnick lectured on Plato again. Today's today was more complicated than yesterday's but also more interesting. Kramnick talked about Plato's view on a hierarchy within government and how he justified this hierarchy.

In our discussion section we talked more deeply about Plato's justification for a hierarchal society. We further analyzed why he thought such a society was necessary, and his views of the differences between leaders and commoners. We also got our prompt for the primary essay of the class.  "What about democracy does Plato not agree with?" Ulas helped us by giving us some pages and passages which could be helpful in writing out essay. Class got out at 12 and we were done until Monday.

Due to the intense heat I spent the early afternoon inside: blogging, working on my essay, and watching sports and "Coach Carter." About halfway through "The Shawshank Redemption" we left to meet Mr. Chan-Law for dinner. After dinner we went to the Ithaca Mall to explore. I saw a lot of things I want to buy for myself and as souvenirs for family and friends at various stores around the mall, and I look forward to going back later. The mall was a lot of fun and a great social venue. I do not have any plans for the weekend yet, except to work on the first draft of my Plato essay.

This first week at Cornell has been great. I have already learned so much. The college environment supports learning much more than high school. It has already been a fantastic academic and social experience and I look forward to the rest of the course. I am once again reminded of everything to ILC has given to me, and it is a huge inspirition. Knowing that we are a chosen few who represent all of West Contra Costa Unified School District makes performing well in class and acting respectably out of class more than a personal choice, but instead a matter of responsibility. I look forward to the rest of the program and continuing to represent my school district.

The End of a Long First Week

Finally, Friday. This week has felt more like a month, but at least it seems to be getting easier to manage, rather than more difficult. I've met more people than I can count in just five days. I often run into people and we will have a conversation without ever using each other's names because we can't remember them! This is especially true in the narrow stairwell of the dormitory - which I have started to call "Home" instead. After all, I will be here for two more weeks.

Class was shorter today (thank goodness) - it started at 9:00 AM and went to 11:30; after lunch, we came back and worked on our presentations until 3:30 PM. We had another guest speaker who discussed the importance of hotel design and the psychology behind it. It was very engaging, and I found the analysis of human behavior as well as the descriptions of experiments most interesting. At the end of class, I did not know what to do with so much free time. I decided on an early dinner, and got a text from Eric Wang telling me that Mr. Chan-Law was coming to eat dinner with us. He gave us information about the University of Rochester and Syracuse University. My uncle sometimes lectures at Rochester, so I know a little bit about it. I've never looked at Syracuse before, but they do have a Nutrition Science program.  After dinner I picked up the laundry detergent from Eric Wang so that I could throw in a load before taking a walk.

Once the sun started to set, it was much nicer outside; before, it seemed to be in the upper 80 degrees. Unfortunately, the bugs also came out, and I felt like a food source while walking around. I brought my iPod with me, and it was nice to have a break from worrying about class. The highlight of my walk was the deer, though. I was taking the longer loop back to Donlon Hall (past all of the sorority and fraternity houses) when I looked up and saw a family of deer - a mother and two fawns - grazing right outside one of the houses. I crept up slowly, but they seemed incredibly used to humans; in fact, they appeared to be the true inhabitants of the area. The college students, looking at the amazing site in awe and reverence, were mere guests. I took a picture with my iPod, but it did not come out as clear as I would have liked it. Still, a picture would not have justified how cool it was to see them.

By then I remembered that I had to get my laundry, so I walked back to Donlon Hall to retrieve it. After the necessary calls to my family (except for my sister Chelsea, who I called earlier because it was her birthday), I returned to my room, and have been relaxing in front of the fan. Thus, with all of my chores finished, I finally am getting my blog done before 11.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Another Lesson in Culture

It was a PowerPoint day in class. Mark got all the cool details of the program - from master slides to inserting other presentations, and from how to present to the difference between builds and transitions. Unfortunately, I did not understand everything he did; he goes very fast, and doesn't wait for simultaneous note-takers. I think I got the important information though.

At lunch, I sat with some of my new friends. I did not talk much with them though, because they were all speaking in Chinese. On my way back to class, one of my group members (Alva) walked with me, questioning me about the top colleges in America. It was hard to answer some of his questions because most colleges claim that they are in the top, somewhere. So I asked him instead what his SAT scores were; let's just say he has nothing to worry about, and I should probably study harder if he applies to the same schools as me! Although he has amazing scores and grades, he told me that in China, he is below average. It is also very competitive: "Did you get an 800 on your math section," I asked.

"Of course! Every student has to get that, or else they will not be accepted by other students!"

"Wait, so if I went to China, I wouldn't be accepted because I got lower than 800 on the math section?"

"Oh, no," he replied, laughing. "You are American, so that's expected."

With that nice boost of self-esteem, I walked back to class with him. Reneta continued to coach us on our hotel company presentations (due Monday), but we took an early break when everyone noticed the smell of burning rubber coming from the vents. They are doing construction in the building, and the welding smell had permeated the ventilation system. We left the doors open, and continued with class. There was even a guest speaker at the end who gave up some tips on how to write a memo. It seemed a little repetitve, since we had already covered everything in class; but it was a nice break from the lesson.

During office hours, I managed to finish my memo for my expense strategy early for the CHESS memo (I named the hotel Ted E. Bair Inn), and finished typing up my part of Monday's presentation. Now all that's left is to put it together.

Our First Guest Speaker

The fourth day of class included going in depth with the letter template on Microsoft Word,earning about PowerPoint, and having lectures on a successful business memo. It was a very long day. Luckily though, Mr. McCarthy promised that after Monday, everything else would be easier. I hope he was serious and that he wasn't playing jokes on the class.

In the computer room, I learned about PowerPoint in detail. We learned about grouping and ungrouping images, and how to use the slideshow master. It was fun, but it was a little confusing in the end of class. It was hard to follow because Mr. McCarthy was going a little too fast. That last part was about themes and animations and graphs, so it shouldn't be too hard to figure out.

Later in class, my group went back to the classroom to go over our business memo and our hotel presentations on Monday with Mrs. McCarthy. She helped clarify the hotel presentations, while answering any questions. She would assist us by going on our company website and showing us the facts we could use. In he middle of  class however, there was a sudden burning smell. It took class time as we had to walk out of the classroom and into the hall. Mrs. McCarthy took it very seriously, and called the maintenance crew. This wait lasted for about 15 minutes, and we eventually learned it was only the smell of the welders on the lower floor.

In the last 30 minutes of class, we had a guest speaker. She was a friend of Mrs. McCarthy, and helped us students with the upcoming homework assignment. The memo due on Friday shouldn't be too bad after she explained to us how to write a right memo. It included the principles of business writing: audience focus, formatting, organization, and conciseness. We were told to know who we had to address, as well as using the active voice as much as possible. Finishing off the class, our guest speaker explained the importance of dividing the memos into logical sections, and most importantly, revising memos to focus on key points. 

In the end of class, Eric and I hurried to the dining hall to eat. We wanted to have extra time to start the business memo, partly because we had to research on our hotels for the presentation on Monday, but mainly, we just didn't want to take too long on it and then blog.We went to the Statler Hotel to try to finish our business memo and then left to office hours.

We finished our business memos in the computer class, and the only thing we had left was this blog. I finally could get a good nights rest today.

PowerPoint 101

I'm going to keep this blog brief because there is so much to learn and do. Today's schedule included learning how to be successful as a group, go over our CHESS business memo, go over our group presentation, listen to a guest lecture on how to write business memo, go more in depth about Word, and do a crash course on PowerPoint. Oh, and we have to write our business memo and be researching and making our group presentation. Talk about an easy day. All the information is incredibly interesting and useful, but it is a lot to absorb. I really can't wait to get into the computer lab to finish some work and and practice using PowerPoint, a program I've never used before.

Mark began class by acknowledging that there is a lot of work to do, but he reassured us that after four o'clock in the afternoon Monday, we'll still be busy, just not as busy as we are now. He tried to calm all 80 students by saying that this is the hardest part of our class and that of we can survive past Monday, we'll be fine.

PowerPoint is extremely difficult to learn, at least for me. I knew that id have a bar time with PowerPoint, so I tried to take really good notes about how to perform actions, but we were pressed for time and Mark was racing through the material so we could finish on time for our guest lecturer. I tried my best to switch back and forth between taking notes and  clicking around on PowerPoint but what ended up happening was I either didn't finish my notes for a section so it would be difficult to go back and have to repeat the action, or I'd end trying to copy step by step notes which left me a little behind Mark which then led to me missing a step or two.

I really need to practice using PowerPoint or it is going to take a really long time to make slides for my group presentation and so I can pass this quiz Mark kept dropping hints about.

A Plate Full of Plato

I was excited about going to class today knowing that there was going to be a guest speaker in the afternoon. So we finally started on Plato's Republic today during our lecture and discussion group. It was amazing learning about the inner meanings of Plato's work. Our TA told us a quote that said, "Plato is really easy to read, but extremely difficult to understand." I could not have said it any better. The reading was also very difficult to focus on due to the repetitive text and the jumping around of topics. However, the book as a whole was very enjoyable and insightful in explaining a utopia. It was very interesting when Professor Kramnick compared the ancient fundamentals of politics to our modern fundamentals. 

During our group discussion, we discussed about the 3 traits of human nature: intellect, courage, and appetite. We went into deeper detail about what would make our society a utopia. We referred to books such as 1984 and A Brave New World. It was very interesting when we were asked how we would prevent corruption and monopolization.  

Our guest lecturer this afternoon was Professor Ross Brann who teaches Middle Eastern studies at Cornell. He discussed the relationship between the Middle East and the uprising of the people in the Middle East due to injustices and the suppression of their freedom. He went into a deep lecture about the logistics of Egypt, Syria, and Tunisia. After the guest lecturer, we stayed after class to attend Professor Kramnick's discussion session. He talked about his ideal democracy: all political figures are selected, not elected. He told us that choosing presidents would be like a lottery. Professor Kramnick's session was extremely engaging and entertaining.

After class, we hung out at Risley Hall and watched the Euro Cup, the Wimbleton Final, and the Olympic Trials. Tomorrow, I am looking forward to having the afternoon off and going to the gym (I have to burn off all the food I eat here!).

Plato's "Republic"

After 6 days of eating at Cornell and specifically at the buffet, my eating habits are changing. The unlimited food and drink is not as appealing and I am beginning to move towards the healthier options. This morning I had a bowl of cereal, water, and a generous portion of fruit salad. Luckily soda is beginning to lose it's appeal. Ice cream, on the other hand, is just as appealing as ever. I doubt that will ever change.

Last night our assigned reading was The Republic by Plato, and was the most pages which will be assigned in one night for the whole class. Luckily for us we had the reading assignments early, so I had a serious head start on the 110 pages. After reading The Republic it was interesting to learn that Plato's ideal government was not a republic and the title was instead derived from latin for public business, res publica. Professor Kramnick's lecture started with a background of Greece's history and political system, then moved on to Plato. He talked about Plato's ideas of morals and justice.

Our discussion session was a lot of fun. We delved further in to the intricacies of Plato's ideas and explored his concept of the ideal community. Everyone had good things to add to our discussion. I really like my discussion group. We walked to lunch with our TA and got a chance to talk with him in an out-of-class context.

After lunch our second guest speaker lectured us issues of freedom and justice in the Middle East. The speaker was a Cornell professor of Middle Eastern studies named Ross Brann. He discussed the general issues of externally determined borders, and more specific issues within Egypt, Syria, and Tunisia. I hear so much about these issues in the Middle East on the news, it was interesting and enlightening to hear a true expert talk about it. After the guest lecture we had our first chance to have a discussion with Professor. We spent most of the discussion talking about Kramnick's radical idea for a direct democracy in the U.S.

In the afternoon I watched the Italy vs. Germany Eurocup game. Then the Nadal vs. Rosol tennis game. I fell asleep during the Swimming Olympic Qualifiers and woke up just in time for dinner. After dinner (and of course ice cream) I spent the rest if the night watching sports, the new show featuring Charlie Sheen, Anger Management, socializing, and reading Plato. I am excited for tomorrow. We have a short day of classes, and Calvin and I are planning on checking out the gym.

Day One of Plato

After meeting the guys for breakfast we headed to class, looking forward to exploring and analyzing the philosophy of Plato.  We started with reviewing of the reading, which the three of us had reviewed after class yesterday.  I felt well-prepared starting school today, but still organized a list of questions and concepts to go over in the discussion section.  Professor Kramnick spent most of the lecture explaining the basic theories of Plato, as we will spend tomorrow learning more about the messages and lasting influence of the text.

In the discussion section we mostly spent the time asking questions about the information Professor Kramnick shared with us today.  We further explored messages in Plato’s political concepts, especially his thoughts on an ideal community.  Basically, Plato believes that the ideal society has an essentially concrete social structure, where everyone, whether a laborer, soldier, or philosopher, is bound in their class and specializes in their task to serve the good of the community.  He also believes that the philosophers, the best of the people, should rule and that democracy is the most dangerous way of overturning his self-made aristocracy.  One of the most satisfying parts of the day was when Professor Kramnick referred to what he said was the most important message in the text, which I had already underlined during my independent reading. We later made comparisons from Plato’s ideal society to ours today and how much we differ with our opinions of democracy.  Before lunch, a few of us stayed to speak to Ulas in greater depth about Plato’s philosophy before heading toward the Trillium Dining Hall. 

After lunch, Ross Brann, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Cornell, came to speak to us about the importance of Freedom and Justice in Middle Eastern as well as international affairs.  Of course, with the enduring involvement of fossil fuels in Middle Eastern matters, our conversation focused more in that matter.  One thing that I didn’t know was that in Egypt, the recently elected president as supported by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. 

Some days Professor Kramnick is willing to stay after class to have an open discussion about anything related to the class.  With the election coming up later in the year, we talked about Professor Kramnick’s opinion of politics and the election process.  He believes, while including his humorous personality in his explanation, that the admittance of the president into office should be based on a lottery system. His thoughts are that few people want to be president, and that those who campaign are doing it primarily for attention and personal benefit.  Appointing a president at random will not only erase any competition for the spot, but will eliminate all the financial association that is involved in each election, something that can arguably go against the philosophy of freedom. 

The afternoon was hot, but still not at all humid.  We sought refuge in Risley Lounge with a friend to watch the Germany vs. Italy soccer match and later study for tomorrow.  As the week approaches its end I cannot believe that we have almost spent a whole week in Freedom and Justice.  This experience has truly been enlightening and I an so grateful for this opportunity.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I knew It! Reality Television is Educational!

Today Frank and I began to settle into our routine. We get up at 6:30 AM, meet at room at 7 AM to go to the RPCC for breakfast. We leave at 7:30AM to find a different way to class. On average, we arrive in class  at 8:10AM with time to cool down a bit before class begins. Today was a bit unusual in that we didn't begin class with a lecture. Instead, we began class by watching an episode of "Hotel Impossible". During the show, Anthony Revamps, a very successful general manager of several hotels, is called in to turn struggling hotels around. The episode today was about Penguin Hotels in South Beach, Miami.  While the show is about what Revamps does to fix a struggling hotel, it is also littered with facts about the hotel industry such as that clients spend more time in the lobby relaxing than they do in their rooms.

After our lectures today, my group went to the computer lab to play CHESS for an hour and a half. It's amazing how fast that hour and a half went by. We then went to lunch and we class reconvened, Mark taught us even more about Word as he walked us though creating a business memo. 

Mark then spoke about the ins and outs about giving a PowerPoint presentation which has made me more excited about my group presentation on Monday! There's a lot to keep in mind when it comes to preparing. Not only do we have to have our material down, we have to make sure our presentation skills are on point. We have to  have smooth transitions between speakers, speak confidently, know where we're going to stand, where we're going to put our hands, and where we're going to look, just to name a few. I really can't wait to get to go and practice and practice our presentation so that we can have a very good presentation.

Right now, I'm listening to Calvin going crazy playing 'A Thousand Miles' on the piano. It's an awesome way to relax and blog after a long day.

Peanut Butter Saves the Day

I knew today was going to be really good when I finally found the peanut butter in the cafeteria this morning. I had been looking for four mornings for something to put on those gluten-free bagels that have been tempting me; so of course, this was a good omen.

Sure enough, it was my best day so far. We watched a show about amazingly dirty hotel rooms for the first twenty minutes of class before moving on to a lecture, which I had no trouble following (finally). During the computer lab, we expanded on how to create our memo templates, as well as going over a soon-due business letter template. I was able to take notes this time while getting hands-on experience. I walked with Eric and Frank to lunch, and we even managed to beat the unending lines of people inside the too-small space. I got to have a burger finally instead of salad! I had some extra time before class, so I took a walk and discovered the small quad surrounded by the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. It was a great place to hang out before going back to work; the walkway was cobbled, and the chairs, benches, and tables were all made of a finished wood. This, surrounded by the stone building with modern architectural design, created a suiting professional yet tranquil mood.

Back in the computer labs, we this time got to actually run the CHESS game. I decided to focus on empowering my labor forces and increasing amenities for business and leisure guest segments. To even out my expenditures though, I sacrificed the group segment because they buy the cheapest rooms and they don't make reservations as frequently. According to Reneta, the average occupancy percentage in the U.S. is about 60%, and my hotel is currently averaging 75% - I think my strategy is working.

At our last evening session, I finished my memo template with much help from Ryan (one of my group members) - computers are not always my friends - and was able to use my extra time to do extra research for our upcoming presentation. Although everyone in my group is a different kind of personality (which often conflicts with the other types in our group), we are surprisingly functional, and so far we have gotten along well. We all come from different backgrounds, and probably find each other strange, but everyone is determined to learn and succeed. That is our unifying factor; it's something that can't be found in high school where people with different motivation and interest levels are thrown together at random, or where friends stick together for convenience. It is a new, exciting experience, because for once I feel that I have actual support and we are truly collaborating.

Even these last two hours have been excellent. I discovered my mom sent me a care package today containing more professional clothes for class, home-made trail mix (we have to buy ingredients individually to avoid gluten contamination), dried mangos, corn chips, Glutino crackers (a special gluten-free brand that are similar to Ritz crackers) , and chocolate chips. My dad also shortened the amount of research that I had to do by about two hours with just a ten-minute conversation about how stocks work. Just now, about 7 Chinese students who were visiting my roommate just left my room; I think I will take advantage of the quiet now to continue my research.

I am really glad that I found that peanut butter today. Who knows, perhaps tomorrow I can find some gluten-free pasta?

Reality TV and CHESS

To begin the day, I met up with Eric and ate breakfast. We got ready and started walking at around 7:30 AM. It took 15 minutes to walk to our building, so once we were there, we had some free time before class started.

To start off this class, Mrs. McCarthy played a reality show called "Hotel Impossible." It was about a man named Anthony Revamps remodeling struggling hotel businesses. This episode featured the Penguin Hotel in Miami, and Revamps described how the problems, like the unsanitary bathrooms, was from the hotel manager, even though the house keepers are the ones that make up the rooms. The movie was a great beginning to entertain our class before those very long lectures.

After the lunch break, I finally started actually trying CHESS. It was like a video game, except much more complicated. There are three types of customers: business, leisure, and groups, and I tried to not use my money on groups and focus more on business customers. I did fairly well, as my first time. My final profit per day average was around $8,400. It was very fun to use this program, and on the plus side, it helps teach us about what hotel managers have to do. The advantage of this program is that there aren't any real life affects from my decisions to, for example, raise or lower the expenses on amenities for the leisure customers.

Finishing up class, I met with my ILC cohorts at Bailey Hall. Mr. Chan-Law was there discussing what we were going to do on the weekends. We were all discussing about visiting the baseball hall of fame and smaller events, like watching Spider Man. After our group meeting, we went to buy our Cornell sweaters. When we finished paying, then walked to to dinner, and later, Eric and I finished off our day in our office hours from 7-9 PM.

The Contradictions of the Saints

Statue of Ezra Cornell located
 right outside our discussion room

Our class today addressed Saint Augustine and Saint Aquinas. They were two religious authorities who, in their separate times, created very different theories on human nature and what the government's role should be. The lecture was very interesting, and the discussion even more so. If I have learned anything so far it is that political theory, and especially the Bible, is full of contradictions. After lunch we had writing workshop in which Ulas gave us back our first drafts of our papers from Monday. His comments were very helpful and made me think in a whole different way about my essay and its content. Then we rewrote our essays in a final draft. I really enjoy the dynamic of our discussion section and writing workshops. Ulas acts as a discussion leaders and guides the conversations as opposed to controlling it. It makes me feel very comfortable and is much more engaging.

We had a meeting with Mr. Chan-Law today in which we discussed our out-of-school plans for the rest of the 3 weeks. We decided that next Friday (which Freedom and Justice has off instead of The 4th of July)  we would go and visit Colgate University then see the new Spiderman movie. We also decided to visit Cooperstown on Saturday the 7th. Then we went and got our ILC supplied Cornell University sweaters. I got a black and red Underarmor sweater which I am very happy with. It is way too hot here, but I am very excited to wear it when I get home.

After dinner we hung out in the tv lounge in Donlon Hall. We watched tv and blogged. Then we went outside and played frisbee for a little while. The rest of the night I spent relaxing at a various areas around Donlon Hall until I went to sleep. I am falling in to a consistent rhythm here at Cornell, and feel very at place. I miss my family and friends, but experiencing being away is great.

Ahead of the Game

Every morning, I seem to do the same thing. At 6:45, my roommate wakes up and I go back to sleep. At 7:15, I wake up and my roommate heads out for breakfast. I wash up and always receive the reassuring text that Eric is headed to the dining hall. At 7:45, I head up to breakfast; then minutes later, Alex arrives. At 8:30, we go to class. You can pretty much count that this will be my daily routine.

During our lecture, Professor Kramnick went over our readings and compared the explanations of Christianity by Saint Augustine versus Thomas Aquinas. It was interesting seeing their opposing viewpoints: Saint Augustine who thinks men are naturally evil, and Thomas Aquinas who thinks men are naturally rational. Later, we broke into our discussion group where we discussed the two in further detail. Once lunch had come and gone, we went had to our group for a writing workshop where we revised the essays we wrote on the first day. Everyday, it seems that the class gets more and more engaging and interesting.

Since Eric, Alex, and I had finished reading Plato's Republic prior to the start of the program, we went to the library just to discuss the main themes of our reading. It's great that we got the books early since I now get to enjoy this scarce free-time.

At 4:30, we checked-up with Mr. Chan-Law who told us (the F&J group) that we will be going to tour Colgate University next Friday and visit Cooperstown the following day. After going over the same logistics with the Hotelies that got out of class late, we headed to The Cornell Store to purchase our Cornell Hoodies. Mr. Chan-Law, Eric Wilson, and I chose the same jersey. We all, except Rachel, got UnderArmour hoodies, which I found quite comical. After we purchased them we had to go to dinner while Mr. Chan-Law returned back to the Statler Hotel (so jealous). 

Now I get to relax and enjoy the rest of my day. It seems like I've been here for a while, but I'm enjoying every minute of it.  

When the Saints Go Marching In

After performing our normal breakfast routine, we took a new a new route to class, which appeared to be a five minutes shorter, and was a lot more scenic, crossing the East Avenue bridge across the gorge.  Today we talked about the philosophy of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, analyzing their conflicting thoughts and recognizing the religious influence in their theory. Last night the readings of St. Augustine were particularly lengthy and difficult, but this morning Professor Kramnick went into greater depth, dissecting the text until all of my previous questions were answered.

In the discussion section today with Ulas we discussed the differences between the views of St. Augustine and St. Aquinas.  About 900 years separated the lives of these two philosophers, and we observed the cultural and social changes that occurred that separated the ideas these two theorists, Augustine more pessimistic and disciplinary, and Aquinas more rational and accepting to the societal evolution.  We noticed in particular that the role of Jesus Christ in Augustine’s time period has a larger role than in Aquinas, where God as the dominant leader, with representatives on Earth, influenced the people.  I have realized in class, as we are becoming more comfortable with each other in our discussion group, more people have been participating and the conversations have become more intricate.  

After lunch we returned to McGraw Hall to begin our second day of writer’s workshop, where we received our essays about freedom back with revisions.  We buddied up to exchange essays and ideas and tried to help each other enhance our writing.  We spent the rest of the class rewriting our essay. 

Near McGraw Hall, our discussion building
Tomorrow we will start learning about Plato, so after class we went to the Uris Library to review Plato's The Republic.  I feel like it helped that we had read the book prior to our trip, so we all feel well-prepared for tomorrow’s class.  Personally, I like the teachings of Plato the most because of the organization of the text and the logic he uses in his simulation of an ideal community explained in the given selections.  I cannot wait for Professor Kramnick as well as Ulas to further analyze the literature so as for me to gain a full understanding of the teachings of Plato. 

After gathering at Bailey Hall for a meeting with Mr. Chan-Law, we planned out a day trip a day trip to Cooperstown and then a college tour at Colgate University for next Friday, where the Freedom and Justice students do not have school (to make up for having class on July 4th, where we will have of Preliminary Exam.)  Later we walked down to the Cornell Store to choose our sweatshirts; Eric Wilson, Calvin, and Mr. Chan-Law all bought the same sweatshirt. 

We ate an early dinner with Frank and Eric as usual before they ran down to office hours. Matt broke out the bagpipes when we got back to the Mary Donlon before settling down to study, and later going to bed.   

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

So Much To Learn

Standardization, standardization, standardization. Thats the one message that stuck with me from Mark's lecture this morning. That's not to say that the other aspects he hit on didn't stay with me, but standardization is something I will apply to my CHESS simulation. Originally, I was going to have different rates for different times of the week, but Mark and Reneta explained that we need to shoot for standardization because a person that comes in a Sunday can't have a higher or lower quality amenities on Monday just because I wanted, for example, to give my leisure customers higher quality amenities on the weekend when leisurely customers are more likely to arrive. What if a leisure customer stayed until Monday? Does that mean he or she gets lower quality amenities? That is why there needs to be standardization. The amount I spend on guest room supplies is totally dependent on the number of rooms I sell. That is, I can set my rate for the supplies leisure customers get for the whole week and I'll have consistent service yet only really pay on weekends when more leisure customers are likely to come and stay at my hotel. I found this really interesting.

In the afternoon, Mark led Group A for a workshop on Microsoft Word. I had no clue I could do so much with Word. Mark walked us through setting up a business memo template and showed us the ins and outs of Word such as setting up our own style and making custom tabs. He taught us so much and surprised us by saying "By the way, be ready for you quiz tomorrow". Time to play around with Word and try to get familiar.

After the information session, we were assigned what hotel company we would be doing research on for our group presentation. My group will be presenting on Host Hotel and Resorts, Inc. While we didn't get the requirements for our presentation, I cannot wait to jump in and begin researching with my group, but first, I need to practice using Microsoft Word because I refuse to let Word use me, I will use Word!

Hotelies Do Not Get "Me-Time"

Day two of class, and I'm already exhausted. It often feels like I have no personal time to just...take a breath. So far, my schedule has been unbending: I woke up at 7 today, rushed to beat other girls to a sink, changed, ran down to the cafeteria by 7:30, and I'm walking to class by 8. This morning started with another lecture, this time about standardization and efficiency. Then we went to the computer lab to learn how to properly use Microsoft Word 2010. Our homework assignment is to create a memo template that's original by playing with all of the different tools; we will also have a quiz tomorrow morning about both the lecture and the different functions of Word. During lunch, we were assigned (yes, we still have to work, even during breaks) to talk with our assigned groups, establish norms (rules to abide by to ensure respect and efficiency), and to type it all up in our memo template with our signatures on it. Colleen (one of our members) took notes on the rules we decided on, and agreed to type it up before office hours.
Class fills up fast. One guy even posed for the camera.
I walked back to class with another member, Alva, who wanted to know how being gay was treated in the U.S. Surprisingly, he is the second person to ask me that. He explained to me that in China, they have a country-wide equivalent to "Don't ask, and don't ever tell." He says his generation, though, has become more accepting of it, and are interested in the topic because no one is allowed to discuss it in school and most other places. It was an interesting insight to Chinese culture and life, but I wasn't really surprised. After all, this is the same country the used to bind girls' ankles because they thought the deformed walk was attractive. Thankfully, that practice has long been banned, and it seems that people my age are thinking more globally and progressively, rather than relying on the thousands of years riddled with heavy, strict tradition.

Our afternoon class was all lecture; Reneta went over the CHESS program, and gave us a few helpful tips for the more complicated concepts. Then she further built upon hotel structures. At 4 PM I briefly met with my group before heading back to my dorm to take a quick nap. At 6 I was once again rushing through my dinner (salad again), and arrived to class at 6:50. We worked some more on our memos - both the template and the group norms - and then worked on playing with Word. I also started to research our assigned hotel group: the Choice Hotels International, a franchise group that includes brands like Quality and Comfort Inn. We have to turn in a PowerPoint presentation by Friday, as well as a memo explaining what we plan to do in CHESS to try to run our hotel successfully (using our new templates, of course). Two projects with two more days to do it! This class cannot be taken lightly.  
We put trays here in the cafeteria; unfortunately, I spend little time here exploring.

Mr. Constitution

We had our first official, full class today. Again I got up at 7:15 on the dot. I hope this trend continues. Professor Kramnick did say that if we wake up late we could come in quietly and he would not ridicule us, but I do not plan on testing that. Fortunately it seems like we are beginning to fall in to a comfortable schedule already. Alex, Calvin, and I got to breakfast just as our Hotel Management friends were leaving. Then, after eating, we headed off to class at 8:30.

Our friend, Matt, playing the bagpipes
Our lecture today discussed The Old and New Testaments. I feel like this will probably be one of my favorite topics, because I love reading the Bible and the messages it contains. Even though I am not religious I still appreciate the lessons it teaches. In our discussion groups we delved further into the teachings of the Testaments and talked about our own interpretations. We then compared the Old and New Testaments. The last thing we did before lunch was a quick group activity in which we identified the kinds of justice (formal, retributive, distributive, or restorative) in various passages from our readings.

This time at lunch I had a better understand of how Trillium's dining system worked, and I used that to my advantage to get a spicy beef burrito, a small drink, and a muffin. Needless to say, I was excited.

After lunch we returned to the lecture hall for a guest lecture from a local lawyer. His name was Ray Schlather, or (as Professor Kramnick dubbed him) Mr. Constitution. This was made immediately evident when he handed out a pocket Constitution to everyone. He spent his time telling about how the Constitution and the law are living entities. They change throughout time and we "the people" breathe life into them. He told us a few stories of cases (three of which he was involved in) in which Constitutional rights, or the denial of them, were exemplified. It was a moving lecture. We could tell he was extremely passionate about the Constitution and creating a just society.

The Discussion Room
The rest of the day was calm. We did our assigned readings, hung out, and ate a particularly big dinner. I love the college experience so far. I really feel my horizons expanding in this environment of higher learning.

The Bible and Bagpipes

After performing our normal breakfast routine, we took a new a new route to class, which appeared to be a five minutes shorter, and was a lot more scenic, crossing the East Avenue bridge across the gorge.  Today we talked about the philosophy of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, analyzing their conflicting thoughts and recognizing the religious influence in their theory. Last night the readings of St. Augustine were particularly lengthy and difficult, but this morning Professor Kramnick went into greater depth, dissecting the text until all of my previous questions were answered. 

In the discussion section today with Ulas we discussed the differences between the views of St. Augustine and St. Aquinas.  About 900 years separated the lives of these two philosophers, and we observed the cultural and social changes that occurred that separated the ideas these two theorists, Augustine more pessimistic and disciplinary, and Aquinas more rational and accepting to the societal evolution.  We noticed in particular that the role of Jesus Christ in Augustine’s time period has a larger role than in Aquinas, where God as the dominant leader, with representatives on Earth, influenced the people.  I have realized in class, as we are becoming more comfortable with each other in our discussion group, more people have been participating and the conversations have become more intricate.  

After lunch we returned to McGraw Hall to begin our second day of writer’s workshop, where we received our essays about freedom back with revisions.  We buddied up to exchange essays and ideas and tried to help each other enhance our writing.  We spent the rest of the class rewriting our essay. 

Tomorrow we will start learning about Plato, so after class we went to the Uris Library to review Plato Republic.  I feel like it helped that we had read the book prior to our trip, so we all feel well-prepared for tomorrow’s class.  Personally, I like the teachings of Plato the most because of the organization of the text and the logic he uses in his simulation of an ideal community explained in the given selections.  I cannot wait for Professor Kramnick as well as Ulas to further analyze the literature so as for me to gain a full understanding of the teachings of Plato. 

After gathering at Bailey Hall for a meeting with Mr. Chan-Law, we planned out a day trip a day trip to Cooperstown and then a college tour at Colgate University for next Friday, where the Freedom and Justice students do not have school (to make up for having class on July 4th, where we will have of Preliminary Exam.)  Later we walked down to the Cornell Store to choose our sweatshirts; Eric Wilson, Calvin, and Mr. Chan-Law all bought the same sweatshirt. 

We ate an early dinner with Frank and Eric as usual before they ran down to office hours. Matt broke out the bagpipes when we got back to the Mary Donlon before settling down to study, and later going to bed.   

My First College Lecture

Today was our "official first" day of class since we started our real lectures and discussions about our readings. The lecture by Professor Kramnick was focused on Justice in Christian Political Thought. He touched base on many sub-categories about God's Laws and the contradictions found in the New and Old Testament. After Professor Kramnick's lecture, we broke into our discussion groups and talked about how some forms of justice were justified and if there was a standardized definition of justice. The whole discussion required a lot of deep-thinking. After our discussion groups, we went to lunch and then reconvened at the lecture hall for our guest lecturer Ray Schlather, a local lawyer that has been in famous trials and will be speaking for a federal case. He taught us mainly of our rights in the 4th and 5th Amendment (rights against unjust search and seizure, and the right to remain silent). He told us three real cases that he worked on where his client was practicing their rights and throughout the lecture, told us to "breath life" unto the Constitution.

Once class ended Eric, Alex, and I went to the Donlon Hall lounge to starttonight's reading. Shortly afterwards, we went up to dinner with the rest of the Cornell cohort and Matt. The Hotelies had to leave early to go back for office hours while the four of us went back to the Donlon lounge. Matt ended up playing the bagpipes for a while, and we were amazed. He told us he played when we met him, but to actually see him was simply amazing!

Our friend Matt playing the bagpipes
Although we've only had one, I think I will extremely enjoy these guest lecturers. Class, as a whole, also seems to be getting more and more engaging. Well, now it's time to finish reading the works of Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.

A Long Long Day

Today was the second day of class. After breakfast, I walked down to the Statler Building. I sat with my new group, which was assigned yesterday. To start the class, Mr. McCarthy discussed standardization. This is all about the management of hotels, including efficiency and consistency. A company has to be consistent in quality throughout their hotels, and efficiency describes the ability to use resources with the lowest cost possible. After, each group was told what hotel they were going to get for their group project. My group got Best Western. It is a private company, so it was harder to gather information on the company. I would have preferred to research a luxury company, but this huge hotel chain is good too. Later in the day, the professors separated the class into two sections again. My group and I went with section B and arrived into the computer lab.

In the computer lab, Mr. McCarthy taught everyone how to use many of the Microsoft Word gadgets. We only grazed the surface of all the functions of Word, but it still took over an hour. He told the class that it would take another decade or so to finally master Word. It was interesting though, learning new things. I learned about themes, and how to copy and paste folders onto desktops. He was able to make the class fun with jokes here and there. Finishing this part of the class, I went with my small group and ate lunch.

After lunch, I walked back to class. It was an estimated 2 hour lecture. The only way I was able to not be drowsy was by taking notes. Mrs. McCarthy described the CHESS simulation, giving us some tips on how to succeed. After the lecture, we joined the other section again, and  Mr. McCarthy came back and talked about how the hotel industry was broken down. It is divided into three groups: real estate, management, and owners.

This day passed super slowly. It felt like the last two days felt like a week. I guess I'm not used to these long classes. Tomorrow, I'm guessing that it will be better because I will have gotten used to it. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Are we there yet?

My day has been non-stop from 6:30 this morning until now, at 12:18 AM. Busy is an understatement for my first day of class. I also did not get much sleep thanks to the thunderstorm right outside my window at 2 AM! I got up earlier because Eric invited me to talk with the group at breakfast; unfortunately, they were busy doing some last-minute readings, so I was bored for the next half hour. We finally started walking to class at 8, and thanks to my fast pace, we got there in eleven minutes. I don't think Eric and Frank wanted to get there that early though....

The professors, Mark and Reneta, wasted no time in getting down to business. They went over their class rules and expectations again, and, after some lengthy student introductions, separated Groups A and B. Group A went to work on their memo and behavior analysis, while Group B enjoyed some lecture time. After about an hour, we switched. I am an Analyzer-Controller, by the way; basically I sound anti-social, arrogant, and untrusting, but I will get the job done, and make sure decisions are made. One must always take these tests with a grain of salt. As for the business memo, we just had to answer questions about why we are in the program, something interesting about ourselves, and what our behavioral style is. I tried writing one on my own before looking at a template; I actually was not too far off from what it is supposed to look like.

Between the morning and the afternoon sessions, we had a lunch break. First, I had to go to the Cornell store to buy a flash drive for class (I forgot mine at home somehow); then I headed over to the closer cafeteria, Trillium. Between the Vet Med kids and the Hotelies, each with over 80 students, the small building was incredibly crowded and nearly impossible to navigate. Since the burger line was almost out the door, I went to the apparently unpopular deli line (or lack of) instead. I sat with Frank, Eric, Mr. Chan-Law, and Ms. Kronenberg (today was her last one), but left early so I could start on some homework. We had a lecture on the different classes of hotels and how to calculate things like average daily revenue. After class we had a three-hour break before mandatory office hours; we had to meet with Mr. Chan-Law first to check in with him. Then I rushed to my room to get in a quick 20-minute run before dinner. I didn't end up having much time to eat, but it was worth it. Office hours were much easier; we did our assigned reading and freely played with the CHESS game. I finally arrived back in my dorm around 9:30 PM, attended a mandatory meeting concerning safety rules, and made calls to family. As exhaustion now kicks in, my body is wondering, "Are we there yet?"

"There is No Freedom Without Justice"

Our first day of class. To be honest, I was not at all nervous for the course; sheer excitement flowed through me as we made our walk down to Goldwin-Smith Hall. We arrived early and took a seat in the lecture hall as Professor Kramnick introduced himself and gave an in-depth outline of the class and what we can expect to learn during the three-week course.  The class will involve a lot of reading and writing, which will hopefully be good as I am stronger at conveying my thoughts on paper rather than verbally. After the introductory lecture, we peeked into the views of various philosophers throughout history, and, something I found particularly interesting, what made them successful leaders and how they gathered such a large following.

Next, we split up into discussion groups, where we met out T.A. Ulas, who is originally from Turkey and is pursuing his Ph. D. in Political Philosophy at Cornell. I enjoy his teaching style, encouraging participation but sets a casual and comfortable tone in the discussion room. We dove into further depth about the theory of famous philosophers for most of the time before getting a lunch break, this time in Trillium Hall, which is closer to or classroom. 

Before explaining our dining experience away from the Robert Purcell Community Center, I want to describe the walk to Trillium. Today the weather has been suitable for jeans and a jacket, and in my opinion was reinforced by the heavy rain and occasional hail that we experienced on the way there, we soon found refuge in the dining hall, which was a pay-as-you-go style, a zoo swarming with students and professors alike. 

After lunch we returned to our discussion groups for our writing workshop. Our topic: “What does freedom mean to you?” We began by brainstorming ideas and later sharing them with our group. It was interesting to hear other people from different backgrounds and cultures; I do wish we had one of the international in our group to potentially hear a completely different point of view.  To conclude the day we wrote an ungraded essay to introduce is to the feel o the Freedom and Justice essays.

We later walked to the Cornell Store and then into College Town, right off the Ithaca campus, before meeting up with Mr. Chan-Law and the hotel group. We heard about the hotelies’ day, which was completely different than ours, them jumping straight into the tactics of profitability and beginning their hotel simulation. We soon returned to Donlon Hall, where we began our homework together, reading selections from the New Testament.

I cannot wait for tomorrow. This course demands that you think critically above the high school level, and I love the way our conversations escalate during the philosophical discussion session. 

The Starting Line

It has finally began. After a long week of campus visits we have now started our classes. My roommate Alex (not Alex Wing) some me up with his alarm at 6:45 PM but I somehow fell back asleep and didn't get out of bed until 7:15 AM. I washed up quickly and met up with the other Cornellies. At breakfast, we met Andrew who is taking Architecture. Not wanting to be late for class, we left the dining hall at 8:30 AM. When we arrived at our lecture hall, I was surprised how many people were earlier than us. Once Professor Kramnick arrived he quickly wrote out the outline of the subjects we would be covering on the calculate and went over a weird tradition in Cornell Summer College. Apparently, when a professor takes off his watch and places it on his podium, it signifies that class has started and we need to greet him as such: "Good morning, Professor Kramnick!"

The lecture was more like an in-depth orientation. He talked about the workload as well as the grading breakdown. Overall, it was similar to the orientation but with extra bits of information thrown in. After the lecture, we broke up into discussion sections of 10-12 people in 4 groups led by the TAs. My TA was originally from India but moved to the United States to pursue a PhD.

During the discussions section, we explored the subject of freedom. My TA was asking extremely philosophical questions about our viewpoints on life and our interpretations of freedom that seemed to stump all of my group-mates. Lunch was a warm welcome after all the deep thinking involved in to sections. I made an additional three friends: Jordan, Brian, and Margo. During lunch, the Cornell cohort and I had a quick catch-up with Mr. Chan-Law and Mrs. Kronenberg. The only downside was that the Trillium Food Court was packed.

The second half of the group section consisted of writing an essay on what we thought freedom meant to us. Afterwards, we went into a long discussion of morality. In fact, we went about 30 minutes overtime but it was the most engaging 30 minutes of discussions.

Once our class was over, we decided to explore the Cornell Store and Collegetown. We didn't explore for that much since we had to meet up with Mr. Chan-Law to give him a rundown of how our classes were.

The Hotelies are now back in class and we have some reading to do. Tomorrow, the class will actually kick into gear.