Saturday, June 23, 2012

The only word to descibe today is "Wow"

We had a full schedule today, filled with Cornell hills, confusing maps, long orientations, and all-you-can-eat food. My day started at 7 AM; I wanted to get to know the campus, so I decided to do a self-guided, thirty minute jogging tour of the roads closest to the Statler Hotel. Last night, I reviewed the map of the campus; what I did not know, though, was that I was looking at the wrong starting road. It took me an extra five minutes this morning to figure out where I was, but eventually I got it. I stayed mainly on East Avenue, veering off occasionally to get a better view of the Human Ecology building (absolutely beautiful, by the way), the Labor Relations building, and the infamous ice skating rink at the top of the hill. Although I missed that extra hour of sleep, it was definitely worth it; running just adds extra magic to new places that I visit.
My room (1 of 4).
We all met down in the lobby at 9:00. Well, it was supposed to be 8:50, but the elevators were so swamped with summer college students that most of us had to wait for three or four elevators to pass before we finally could squeeze into one. Mr. Chan-Law then drove us to our respective dorms to check-in: Eric Wang, Eric Wilson, Frank, and I are all in the Donlon Hall, while Calvin is in Balch, and Alex is in Risley. Check-in went by very quickly (although Calvin’s file was somehow lost, and they did not place him until after breakfast), and I went to my new room to unpack. My roommate had gotten there before me and left, but I knew she was a fellow Hotelie because she had Isadore Sharp’s book lying on her desk. The room was hot, so I tried to unpack quickly so I could explore a little and go eat at the Robert Purcell Community Center. They did have a gluten-free section, but it was very limited (Udi’s Bread, packaged cookies, and inedible brownies), but I was able to eat the fruit and salad. Mrs. Kronenberg also met with us, as did the summer college director, Abby Eller. From brunch, we decided to check out each other’s rooms and compare. Eric didn’t have a roommate, so he has an extra bed; Calvin does have a roommate, but they get their own private bathroom (probably the best room to have); and Alex has a homey single, but it smelled pretty bad. In fact, all of our rooms smelled bad; it makes me wonder if even college students in dorms live in squalor.
My own desk, pre-messiness (2 of 4).
My bed is the yellow one (3 of 4).
The view of other dormitories (4 of 4).
Student completely filled Bailey Hall!
We finally had killed enough time, so we caught the shuttle to Bailey Hall to hear the welcome speech by Abby and the Dean’s Convocation. Each group was then dismissed by program to meet their professors and get an idea of what the next three weeks would be like. Reneta and Mark, the Hotel Management instructors, seem very nice. The only surprise I received during their speech was that we had to dress professional casual (in the e-mail from months back, it said that during lectures, we could just stick to casual). Basically, it means no shoulders showing, and we must keep the shorts at a reasonable length. I had to ask my mom to send my some sweaters that I could wear in class, but for the next few days I will manage (it’s too bad though; 90-degree weather, three tank tops, and few chances to wear them!).

You scream, I scream, we all screamed for ice cream!
I headed back to my dorm with Eric Wang and Frank afterwards, and decided to do some much-needed laundry. I didn’t know where the facilities were though, so I went to find the nearest staff, and accidentally met my roommate on the way. She (Kathleen) is from Shanghai, but has been studying in the U.S. for the past three years. She is really nice, and I had dinner with her and friend Lynn. They are also with a special program through China which is supposed to prepare them specifically for Cornell. Kathleen and I did our laundry together and hung out at the 7:30 PM ice cream social we had later. I met more of her Chinese group (most of whom she had never met before either), as well as some other students, including a girl (Karina) from Indonesia.
The guys during the ice cream social.
The day was not over yet. At 9:30 PM, we had a mandatory floor meeting in for each dorm; ours lasted until 11! At the end, they had us make name tags for our doors with colored-in pictures from Disney movies of our choice (I have the three mice from “Cinderella”). At midnight, we also all had to go down for the nightly check-in; Sunday through Thursday, curfew is at 11, while Friday and Saturday, it is at 12. I have just had time to write my blog; today was so busy, and tomorrow will be similar, though with fewer events. It was tiring, but really fun.

And So It Begins

The Meeting Hall
Today was the start of our experience at Cornell. We left the hotel at 9 in the morning to go check in at our dorm rooms. For most of us this was an easy process but Calvin, (as I am sure his blog will indicate) had, and is still having, a lot of trouble. When I got to my dorm it was boiling hot and smelled terrible. The room was actually nicer than I expected though. It was spacious, with a bed, closet, dresser, desk, and chair for both occupants. My roommate had not arrived yet, so I left him a note with my name and number asking him to call when he arrived so we could meet. The rest of the cohort and I spent our time before and after lunch showing off or complaining about our rooms to one another.

Mmmm Ice Cream
My first meal at Cornell was an eye opener. Everything that people told me about dorm food was proved wrong. The dining hall we eat breakfast and dinner at is the next building over from my dorm. The restaurant is a buffet style with almost any food option you could want. The ones which stood out to me were a Korean Grill, a standard American food (hot dogs, burgers, and fries) booth, a pizza area, and, of course, Cornell's famous ice cream options. Being an ice cream lover, this appealed to me especially. The variety of options from soft serve to milkshakes promise endless fulfillment of my sweet tooth.

A Slight Downgrade
At 3 in the afternoon there was an orientation for all the incoming summer college students. The leaders of the program all spoke, and it turned out to be very informative and entertaining. I learned that we are fortunate to be a part of the last session run by the current leader before she retires after 22 years at Cornell in this position. The dean made an introductory speech filled with humor and good advice for both students and parents, which really put me at ease for the program. After the speeches everyone split up in to our separate classes to meet with our professors, and get a quick overview of the course.

Its not quite king size
Meeting Professor Kramnick made me even more excited for the course. He defied all my negative expectations of a college professor. Energetic, funny, and sociable, he led us the lecture hall where we will meet every morning at 9 for class, cracking jokes the whole time. When we arrived in the hall we took our seats and Kramnick went to the podium. He gave a brief introduction to what we should expect during the class, going over our required textbooks, homework, tests, and the daily schedule. Apparently what everyone says about college professors not making what is important during a lecture is not true. At least not in Professor Kramnick's class. I am even more excited for this class now that I have met the professor. He has an obvious passion for this field, and for teaching in general which makes it clear to me that the class will be a pleasure. I am really looking forward to the scheduled lunch all the students get to have with him.
I am happy with this workspace

After the orientation, Calvin, Alex, and I stopped by the student store to get out course packet and check out the extensive supply of Cornell gear. I also bought a spiral bound notebook in Cornell red, bearing the Cornell seal, since paper was something which I forgot to bring.

On our way back to the dorms we got hopelessly lost, and ended up walking deep in to the Cornell Plantations and all the way to the lake before we finally found our way back to civilization. This proved to me how large, beautiful, and diverse the Cornell campus really is. Our time in the plantations was beautiful, and I look forward to exploring it more, hopefully under more controlled circumstances. We then had some free time which we spent socializing and exploring the various dorms. Then it was off to the buffet again for dinner.

After dinner we had two events. The ice cream social and a floor meeting. The ice cream social was a really nice opportuntity to meet new people, enjoy the beautiful weather, and, of course, eat ice cream! The floor meetings took place in the common hall on each floor. Everyone on our floor got together and introduced ourselves. Then the resident Cornell students who are in charge went over rules. After the meeting we did our first nightly check in then it was back to my room to blog and shower before bed.

Tomorrow should be a fun day. We have mostly free time except for an afternoon crash course on college which I expect should be very helpful.

A Preview to Cornell

Today was the preview of how the summer classes would be like. We started off by moving from our fancy hotel to a dorm. This was pretty sad because I had finally adjusted to the comforts of the hotel. Now, we just downgraded into a non-air conditioned, double room with no bathroom. It’s not a terrible change, because, after all, this is what college is like. This will definitely help me prepare for life beyond high school.

After checking in, I took the elevator up to my dorm. It was an average sized room, which was divided for two people. I unpacked by belongings and set out with the other cohorts to get some food at the dining hall. There were many choices, and they were pretty good. It was like a buffet style, and they even had special foods for allergies.

After the lunch, we set off to explore the dorms. Calvin’s room was in the South Balch and Alex’s was located in the Risley. Then, at 2 PM, there was a mandatory orientation where the dean explained the courses. It was very informative about what Cornell's summer program was and the intensity of the classes. Later, we actually met up with our professors in our future classroom. We had  married professors, and it seemed very fascinating seeing them work together. They described the course and the more they spoke, the harder the class seemed. The course would be rigorous, but as they said, if one manages their time right, they will succeed. 

Finishing off the day, we had an ice cream party that was held outside of our dorm. It was enjoyable, and everyone had their own groups. This lasted an hour, and following that, was some floor meeting. This was where all the supervisors reviewed all the rules and regulations of living in the dorm. It took a while, but was a necessary session. 

Cornell has been a wonderful experience so far. The only problem here is the confusing campus. It is so huge that it is easy to get lost. Even with a map, I walked off to the wrong places a couple of time. However, it shouldn’t be a problem as the days progress. The program seems like a lot of work, but I assume it will still be fun. Well, only time will tell now.

Settling Down

Today we got to begin our college experience. This morning we checked out of our hotels and checked into our dorms. Everything went smoothly for everyone (besides Calvin). My room is a double in the Mary Donlon Hall but I don’t have a roommate so I guess my backpack can have its own bed. I’m a little disappointed because I had a single last year at Columbia and I wanted something to compare that experience with, but I’ll be fine. My room comes with a fan, a desk, a bed, drawers, and a closet. I only have a desk lamp but that’s fine with me because my room is pretty hot as is.

After we checked in, we went to our first meal at the Bear Necessities which is located in Robert Purcell Community Center (RPCC). The food is really good here and I can see why Cornell is known to have one of best dining food in the United States.
Following lunch, our cohort checked out each other’s dorm room and it was neat because we’re scattered between the three dorms so we got to see how each dorm facility is different than the other facilities. We then took the bus to Bailey Hall where we had a welcoming speech. I thought that all the speakers did well as they mixed in humor with their serious message. The message that hit home was that while the summer college wants us to have fun, we’re at a summer college, not a summer camp. This message was reiterated when all the Hotelies gathered in our lecture hall to listen to Reneta and Mark speak about our class.
We were assigned our first assignment which is about 25 pages of reading and Mark stressed that if everyone can pass the class, but if we want to pass we really have to keep our focus and be dedicated to the class. We were given a syllabus and while the course looks extremely challenging, I’m excited and I really want to immerse myself in the classwork and know the ins and outs of the hotel and hospitality industry.
When the meeting ended, Frank, Rachael, and I tried to time our walk back so we know how much time to allot for walking to class, but we got lost and ended up taking different route than we planned to take. I forgot my camera and I really regret it because the campus here is amazing. While we didn’t find the route we wanted to take, we got to see the scenery and crossed a bridge that goes right over a waterfall!

We then went to dinner where Calvin, Eric, Frank, and I became friends with two New Yorkers: Anderson and Matt. They’re both really cool people. Anderson is really active in the community. He volunteers for the NYPD, is a registered scuba diver, is a junior navy officer, runs cross country, and plays rugby. He’s such a happy person and really likes conversations. Matt is an Eagle Scout, wrestles, and plays the bagpipes. The guys in our cohort took the dinner and ice cream social to bond with them and I think that we’re all going to be really good buddies by the end of our classes.

"Ithaca is Gorges"

After waking up in the Statler Hotel we made our way to check in at our dorms.  It was another breezy, beautiful day in Ithaca as Mr. Chan-Law dropped us off at our dorms, me being the only one in Risley Hall, the rest in Donlon.  I guess I have been living a life of solitude during the night hours between the hotel and the dorms, but I find this as a great opportunity to meet new people.  After checking in I met my R.A. Asher, and went to check out the dining hall for lunch and saw Ms. Kronenberg as well as Abby Eller, the Associate Director of the Summer College.

My dorm!
The next activity of the day was orientation, where we gathered for an assembly in the magnificent Bailey Hall to be greeted by Abby as well as the Dean of the Summer College.  The staff made us feel extremely comfortable and welcome to the school and provided helpful insights on how to get settled in to life on campus.  The enthusiasm of the faculty encouraged us to become more excited for the programs and opportunities available at Cornell as the next step was to divide up into our respective classes. 

Bailey Hall
Right off the bat I can say that I am eager to start the course.  Ms. Kronenberg gave us a personal introduction to Professor Isaac Kramnick, who I felt is not only a gifted instructor, but a cooperative exciting person to learn from.  We settled in the lecture hall where we will be attending classes to have a tutorial for the course with students and parents alike.  The environment of the classroom was wonderful and the tone that Professor Kramnick set especially made me motivated to begin our sessions.  It has also been beneficial to read the required material ahead of time, not only because we will have less work to do later, but also has given me an idea of what the class will be like.   
Risley Hall Residence
Afterwards our ILC Freedom and Justice group decided to take a walk around campus.  This is easily the largest campus we have visited, and discovering what it contains was really an adventure.  Part of the campus consists of a large garden where we explored (and got lost, but luckily we had a sufficient amount of time until dinner).  Tomorrow I hope to see another part of the campus, mostly where the classrooms are located, to get a better feel for the school.  The campus contains a mixture of both older-looking buildings as well as newer ones as well; the Ivies we have visited on this trip have had mostly older buildings on campus with the exception on UPenn. 

Before the night was over we had our first floor meeting to go over basic rules and procedures as well as introduce ourselves to our floormates.  Asher, our Room Advisor, is an undergraduate student at Cornell who is also taking a course over the summer.  I really hope to meet new people through my floor make a smooth transition into dorm life, though it may be hard at first as I am living in a single room with my friends up the hill in Donlon. 
Scenery from the Cornell Campus
So far I am still curious for what the future has in store for us.  I met two great new people today, one of whom is taking the Freedom and Justice course with us, and I hope to meet more.  The transition into the dorm rooms has been interesting so far, especially from making the change from our life of luxury in the hotels visiting the cities.  Right now I am so curious to see what the course is like and am anxious to begin.  I already miss Mr. Chan-Law as we have been acclimated to being around him when not in the hotels, but part of the college experience is to be on your own.  Tomorrow we will have a “college crash-course” in the afternoon and more socializing and activities before we begin classes on Monday. 

Finally, I actually didn't make up the title, I saw it on a grocery bag and thought it was clever...

A Shaky Start

A shaky start to this Cornell Summer College experience is a drastic understatement. Everything that could have went wrong did. 

We started the day by checking out of the beautiful Statler Hotel and into the dorms. Now here is when everything goes downhill. Upon arriving at Mary Donlon Hall, I was told that the list on a piece of paper said that I was in Balch Hall. However, the email I received about one week ago said that I was assigned to Mary Donlon Hall. After the confusion, I was referred to a staff member who then found out that my name was actually in the roster at Mary Donlon Hall on the computer. So I was now officially checked into Mary Donlon Hall. Now you may think that it ended like that, but I was far from over. It turned out that my class schedule was not in Mary Donlon Hall, but in Balch Hall. I was then referred to another staff member who took me to Balch Hall. Unfortunately, my name was not on the roster on the computer for Balch Hall and so I ended up not even having a room for the first four hours of the day. The staff member helping me, Jesus, ended up having to actually find me a room. Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, I found out that Cornell Summer College didn't even make me an ID Card. This basically limits my whole access to anything on the campus. I did get a temporary card but it is close to useless: I can't get into my hall because you need an actual ID card to swipe open the doors! After about four hours since the start of this ordeal, I finally got a room. Furthermore, to make things seem even more like I don't exist, I am not officially a part of either Donlon or Balch Hall, I am simply just here. 

Well, enough about all the things that went wrong (which was actually a lot), let's go on to the other events of the day. During lunch, we ate at the Robert Purcell Food Court, which I do have to say has some pretty delicious food. After lunch, we headed to Bailey Hall for our orientation. We heard from the head of the program, two Summer College staff members, and the Dean. After the orientation, Alex, Eric, Mrs. Kronenberg, Mr. Chan-Law, and I went off to meet with the Freedom and Justice class for a class orientation. I did have the honor of Mr. Kramnick (our professor) giving me the duty of holding up the "Freedom" sign. Once the orientation was over, Alex, Eric, and I went to the Cornell Bookstore to purchase the Course Syllabus for our class. However, on our way back we got lost in the Cornell Plantations. What would've been a 15 minute walk became an hour journey. Luckily, we did stumble open some beautiful scenery.

Overall this day has been extremely stressful and frustrating. Considering that Don, Mr. Ramsey and Mrs. Kronenberg are always stressing the importance of first impressions, I have to say that I am not very impressed (although my roommate and I do have a personal bathroom in our room).

Here's to hoping that things will get better as the week progresses.