It's different, really different being back at home. I had grown accustomed to getting ready for class in my dorm when only Hotelies would be up and about in the hallways of Mary Donlon Hall, to greeting the lady who swiped our IDs at the Robert Purcell Community Center, and to walking to the Statler School of Hotel Administration with Frank and our international friends Julia, Jiyoon, and Andrea. Cornell is so far away, but I will always have a small part of Ithaca that will travel with me wherever I go.
Even before the ILC information meeting at Hercules High School, I already knew that I was going to apply for a second year with the ILC. I wrote two essays this year - one about hotel management, and one about what I know is expected of an ILCer. I wrote both essays and was selected for an interview which I was prepared for and felt went pretty smoothly. I feel that this process is necessary and that the ILC should keep the selection process, the school board meeting, and the city council speech the same for next years applicants.
The only pre-trip milestone event I would suggest some changes be made about is the dinner. This years dinner at The Prospect was absolutely delicious. I only wish that I didn't sit next to another ILCer because I feel that if the members of the cohort are more scattered, then the conversation would be more personal, more along the lines of the interests of both the alum and student, and will make it less likely that the alumni will spend time catching up with one another.
I enjoyed the college tours very much. I liked the fact that the three schools we visited were all extremely different. With UPENN, we got a taste of a school that is located in a large metropolitan area but retains its sense of campus. Columbia was similar, but we got to see a school whose campus is really the metropolitan area and whose demanding core allows for virtually no class variety for the first years of college. Finally, we got visit Princeton, located in a small town that really exists for the institution. Compared to the two other colleges, Princeton was the smallest and quietest, so we really got to visit not only three world class universities, but three world class universities in three very different settings. It really provided me with a sense of what I like and dislike about college campuses.
Cornell is amazing. I loved just about every aspect of Cornell. I lived in Mary Donlon Hall on the fifth floor. Since students at Cornell only really need air conditioning for the first few and last few weeks of school, there is no air conditioning in the dorms. I dealt with the heat by spending all the time I was allowed to spend in the lounge in the lobby which has several tables for work, soft couches for relaxing, people to meet, and air conditioning. I loved the lobby because it became the place where just about everyone went to. People from all the dorms ( Donlon, Risely, and Balch) came to Donlon to hang out and get work done. I met so many new friends from across the globe just by being in the lounge.
My dorm had everything that I needed. I had a double, but no roommate so I had twice the amount of space as everyone else on my floor. I had two of everything, but soon, I reserved the other half for Frank who would drop by my room when we were both working and he didn't want to disturb his roommate who was already sleeping. We bonded and enjoyed each other's company as we worked. We also helped each other out whenever we could. If one of us needed something that the other person had, we'd share. One time Frank needed some toothpaste, so I shared mine with him. When I described this incident to my friend at home who graduated from Cal, he laughed and said "Now you're getting the real college experience!" Although I didn't have an assigned roommate, having Frank living (sort of) in my room gave be a preview of what having a roommate is like.
I absolutely loved my class, Hotel Operations and Management: Tactics for Profitability. My class was taught by a professor couple Mark and Reneta who crammed what is parts of several college classes into three weeks. Mark gave us a couple lectures on how to be effective presenters, leaders and the like in addition to walking everyone through working with various computer programs such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. Mark made learning so much fun. His serious, no nonsense attitude kept everyone in line, but he employed his sense of humor to great effect which made what could have been really boring lessons really captivating. Reneta lectured the class about the hotel industry from the brands and chains to how casinos try to attract and keep customers on the gambling floor. While her lecturer were a little dryer than Mark's, her lectures were extremely interesting because not only did she give us the strategies that hotels use, she explained the reasoning behind the strategies which made me realize that I can apply these strategies to my CHESS hotel simulation. Her lectures lit my brain on fire as I scribbled down notes and plan for my hotel and tried to figure how I could best apply the strategies. In addition to Mark and Reneta were our fabulous T.A.s who were on the search for anyone who needed help. Our T.A.s went the extra mile and stayed late with the class at office hours and even stayed available through email until the early morning/late at night hours replying to our every question. Words cannot describe how great of a job Mark and Reneta did as professors and how great of a job the T.A.s did in helping us survive being a Hotelie!
Finally, I want to write about our cohort. I will never forget our cohort playing baseball with a plastic bat and a wiffle ball on the lawn to the side of Donlon. We established a unique bond and camaraderie that normally takes much longer to establish. I think I can say that we will all be really good friends for a long time.
The Freedom and Justice guys: Calvin and I bonded while being roommates in Philly during our college tours by trying to impress each other with impressions and by being absolutely miserable at online golf. His great sense of humor and desire to have fun made the trip so much fun! I had an gut feeling Eric Wilson had to be a cool guy as soon as I saw we had the same name, and my gut feeling was correct. Eric would always be the first one to want to hang out with and meet new people. Like Calvin, his sense of humor and nice personality allowed for the two of us, Eric Squared, to become quick buddies. Alex was always the calmest of our group. He was the most outgoing of us and wanted to meet new people and do new things. I vividly remember us spending time playing catch and him teaching me how to throw certain baseball pitches. Playing catch became one of our must-do events and each time we had time and a ball to throw, we'd play catch.
Hotelies: Rachael is a independent person who found her own way and own things to do at Cornell and I respect that. It was nice to have her in our cohort. Before this trip, Frank and I knew who each other were, but never really talked to each other. During the trip, we bonded by debating if Ryan Lochte would get more gold medals than Michael Phelps at the Olympics and became the best of friends. Some of our fellow Hotelies would stop Frank and I (Freric as Mark, Julia, and Jiyoon call us) walked to class to ask if we were brothers or best friends from school and we'd explain that we'd never really talked until this trip. I'm not sure if people believed us or not, but that just goes to show that we became very good friends very quickly.
Our chaperone Mr. Chan-Law, is an amazing chaperone. He was on top of everything from the moment was in charge of us. He was extremely organized and researched how to get to and from places as well as making sure that everyone was doing well in class. In addition, Mr. Chan-Law made a concerted effort to make sure we had fun at while we were on the East Coast. He planned a trip to Cooperstown to visit the baseball Hall of Fame as well as a trip to the local state park for the Freedom and Justice guys. His welcoming personality made everyone feel safe and contributed to the quality of time at Cornell. I truly appreciate everything Mr. Chan-Law did for our cohort.
Last but not least, I want to thank everyone in the ILC for making my experience so wonderful. I want to thank all the sponsors for making this journey possible. I also want to thank the program directors: Don, Mr. Ramsey, and Mrs. Kronenberg who have put in countless hours and long nights to plan every aspect of our experience from the information session to our arrival at SFO. The work they have done is the main reason the Ivy League Connection has been so successful and will remain to be successful for many, many years to come. This is only the beginning of a bright future for the ILC!