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.

A First Impression

Today was the start of my classes. Eric, Rachel, and I walked down to the Statler Building to start our first day of summer college. When we entered, there was name tags for assigned seats, and I sat in the edge of the class. The class was quite large, with exactly 81 students. It felt like a college class because no one was goofing off during the beginning of class.

The course went on from 8:30 to 4:00, with a lunch break in between for an hour and a half. Our professors, Mrs. and Mr. McCarthy were very funny. They would occasionally make jokes to entertain the class a bit. After a brief introduction of the hospitality industry, The class separated into two sections, sections A and B. Section A went to the computer room, and being in B, I was in the classroom. I sat next to two students named Tiffany Chung and David Li. We had to stand up and introduce each other to the class. It was a fun experience and they were very nice. After we finished, our section went to the computer rooms to take a survey. It was a behavior survey which allowed Mr. McCarthy sort us in groups to work with. I was a persuader-stabilizer, which meant that I showed empathy towards people.

After that, we had lunch and continued our lecture. We had a brief lecture of the history of hotels. We learned about franchises and how they made money. Some hotels only franchise, while others manage their own, and don't do franchising, like the Four Seasons. It was, I admit, long, but I was able to last through it without feeling drowsy.

After dinner, I walked back to the Statler Building and began messing around with CHESS, which stands for Competitive Hospitality Education Simulation Series I. CHESS is a simulation that basically represents a real life hotel. It was very interesting trying out the stimulation. There were a lot of gadgets to help adjust the hotel's spending. Everyone just experimented with it and it was nice to have that preview.

The class didn't seem as bad as I had imagined. Of course, this was just an introduction day to get to know everyone. The real journey begins tomorrow.

It Has Begun

First day of class! Today Frank, Rachael, and I went to class and saw both Mr. Chan-Law and Mrs. Kronenberg sitting in the corner observing our class. One of our professors, Mark, is a very sharp man. He stopped Reneta once to show us a way it is OK to yawn and said 'Six of you have yawned already'. Whether he actually kept count or not I have no clue, but I'm going to believe that he was actually keeps track.

After we went over the norms of the class, we were divided into two groups because the computer lab couldn't fit all 81 students. In the computer lab we took a behavior test and I came out as an Analyst-Stabilizer which means I have a hard time making decisions because I want to weight all of my options and that I don't like aggressive and confrontational people. I find this to be very true.

When my group came back from the computer labs we did introductions where you had to interview the person next to you and them introduce that person. I introduced a girl who will be a rising junior at Oklahoma State studying Hotel Management. She's doing a dual-program with a school in Guangzhou, China where by the time she finishes her senior year at Oklahoma State she'll have a degree from both her school in China and Oklahoma State.

In the afternoon session, Reneta spoke about franchises, the worlds largest hotel brands, and how ADR (average daily rate) and RevPAR (revenue per available room) are calculated.  After the lecture, We then were broken into groups of four. Each group contains four people who each have a different behavior so that each group will have one persuader, one analyst, one stabilizer, an one controller. The idea is that we'd butt heads and have to learn to deal with people we don't get along with.  The funny thing is that during office hours, my group got along really well. We weren't confrontational and we learned a lot together about how to use the CHESS program. While we only completed 2 days on the trial, both days we made a decent profit. Honestly I really look forward to office hours!

The Inception

Cornellian Statue
Our first day of classes began very well. I woke up before the first ring of my alarm ended (which is a monumental occasion for me) feeling refreshed and alert. After a quick shower I said goodbye to my roommate, who was actually on his way to the infirmary because of a splitting headache, and headed off to breakfast to meet with my cohort. We left breakfast at 8:30 at the suggestion of our new architecture friend, Andrew.

We got to class a few minutes early and settled in, preparing for our first lesson. Professors Kramnick's first lecture was only a sample lecture which covered three main topics. We talked about what the course is about, how the course is organized, and who the teachers are. It was a good chance to practice note taking, and get used to the class dynamic and Professor Kramnick's teaching style. Note taking is slightly more difficult for me, as a lefty, because all the chairs have a desk on the right hand side. Oh well, it is an unjust world.

After almost two hours of lecturing we split into 4 smaller groups for discussion time with our TA. My group's TA was a Turkish man named Ulas who is in his last year for a PHD in political theory. We spent the discussion period getting to know one another and preparing to future sessions. Then we went as a group to a different dining hall, where we will eat lunch from now on. This dining hall was not a buffet, instead we have a choice of many restaurants and a $9 limit on food. We got to see Mrs. Kronenburg one last time before she departed from Ithaca.

A View of the Cornell Gorges
When we finished lunch, we went back to our discussion groups for a writing workshop. The topic of this workshop was an essay on what we think freedom is. The first hour we spent discussing our ideas of freedom. Then, during the last 30 minutes we wrote a first draft which Ulas is going to comment on by Wednesday.

The writing workshop ended at 3, then we had the rest of the day free. I spent it blogging, eating, and reading the works of various philosophers. We also took a brief trip to Collegetown so I could restock on shampoo, body wash, and toothpaste. My roommate was back in our room by the end of the night feeling much better.

The Freedom and Justice class seems too good to be true. My TA and the professor are both very supportive, interesting, and engaging which really pushes me to think expansively about the topic at hand. My discussion group is a well rounded group of individuals who all think very differently.Professor Kramnick really treats us like college students which inspires me to maintain a high level of maturity which a student in college would have. I can already tell this will be an even more enriching experience than originally expected.