Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Final Good-Bye

I can't believe it's finally time for the final blog. I won't necessarily miss it, but it does mark the end of this trip. It's a bittersweet feeling.

I did not do much today - for once, there were no quizzes to study for, no office hours to go to, no phone calls home to make; it was my first real day of summer vacation. I did volunteer from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Richmond hospital; it was good to get back to my regular routine. Tonight I am starting a new book series, and tomorrow I am running with my dad in the morning. I almost feel like I am in a dream - that I really never left Cornell, and tomorrow class starts at 8:30 with an hour-long lecture with Reneta, followed by some computer work with Mark. I can't say that I will miss the class itself; business did not turn out to be my forte, and I struggled to try to think of customers in terms of money instead of people (I will stick with osteopathic school).
I will miss the traveling. Whenever I had free time, I tried to explore the campus by either walking or running on a new route. I went into random buildings, read the flyers and the posted student projects, and tried to see what student life was really like at Cornell. My biggest regret was that I never fully explored the town of Ithaca; but maybe I will get another chance next year. I liked the warm summer weather, but winter might be tough for me. I also did not like living in the dorms too much because it was hard to share a bathroom with 20 or more girls who had varying ideas of what cleanliness was.
My favorite part was probably meeting new people. Even in my own class of 80 students, I could always learn a new name when I had a question, or when I sat with someone new during lunch. Everyone had their own story, and I wish I could have heard every one of them. One of the perks of going to a big school like Cornell is being exposed to a little bit of everything; I believe that is one of the purposes of the Ivy League Connection. As students, we represent our school and district; and as a program, they give us the opportunity to see schools beyond the limits of our backyard. I've seen experienced first-hand what it could be like to take classes at a big university. Sometimes it was hard because there were so many students and only two teachers; but it would be easier if it was a class I was passionate about. I feel like I have so much more to consider when I apply to colleges this fall. I will still apply to a couple of California schools, like Cal Poly San Louis Obispo. Now though, applying some East Coast schools does not seem so far-fetched; the Ivy League Schools feel especially possible now that I've met students who actually attend. I was able to talk with them intelligently, and that was the best way to make being accepted by these schools feel possible. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity the ILC gave me. The actual trip only lasted for four weeks, but the memories, and the friends, may last a life time. Next stop, college applications!

Leaving Ithaca

It's been almost 24 hours since our plane landed last night at the San Francisco airport, and I am still adjusting. From the application process into the Ivy League Connection to actually arriving at Cornell, and finally to writing this last blog at home, this has been one very long adventure. Before I get into that, though, let me describe my last day in Ithaca....
I woke up at 7:30 AM in my air conditioned Statler hotel room and in a comfy bed that I was going to miss. I quickly got ready, finished packing, and met with Mr. Chan-Law, Eric Wang, and Frank to drop off our suitcases at the airport. We didn't have any trouble (though the employees were surprised at how early we arrived), and we headed back to eat breakfast with the rest of the group. I quickly changed, but we were a little late waiting for Eric and Frank. We ate at Collegetown Bagels; I didn't really like it, and the hotel group had to rush because our graduation ceremony started early. We made it in time, and people mingled for a few minutes before we were briefed by Mark on how to walk in to the hall. The graduation ceremony was in the same room that we met in on the first day for orientation, and I think everyone was feeling nostalgic as pictures of the past three weeks were flashed on the PowerPoint. A handful of students from the class talked about what we had learned, and Group 6A gave their hotel presentation for all of the parents and relatives. The TAs also put together a picture slideshow with more pictures. Finally, we were called up to get our completion certificates and a copy of our final report. Everyone congregated outside to say their final good-byes, and then it was over.
We all met again in the lobby at 12:05, and drove to the airport for the last time - stopping once more at Collegetown Bagels to pick up lunch. We ate at the airport, got through the short security line quickly, and then our trip home truly began. I slept through most of the Ithaca flight, and played on my iPod while waiting for our connecting flight in Philadelphia to San Francisco. There was not much to do during those last six hours: I mostly worked through my puzzle book, listened to music, and thought about how the trip has impacted me. It was great to land and after four weeks finally see my family; it took awhile to get my luggage, but my boyfriend and my father were there to keep me company. I didn't get home until about 10:30 PM (thus, this blog is a day late), and after being greeted like the Queen of England by my pets, I almost immediately went to bed. As fun as sleeping in the hotel and dorm beds were, I really like sleeping in my own bed better.

Back Home

My own bed! Today we traveled across the country from Ithaca to Hercules. We, Frank, Rachael, and I started the day early when we checked in our luggage at the airport before we went to graduation. At graduation, several student speakers were asked to go up and give an example of a presentation and explain to the parents what we covered during the past three weeks.

As soon as the presentations concluded, Mark was his energetic self and called us up group by group to give us a certificate for complete HAdm 1101 and a copy of our final group business report. Graduation blew by and it made me realize that as much as I wanted to stay with all my new friends, the clock was ticking and that the time to leave gorge-ous Cornell was drawing near. Frank and I (Freric as our friends and Mark named us) spent the next half and hour mingling, taking pictures, and talking. It was a sad moment when slowly, one by one, or two by two, our friends filed out of the Statler School of Hotel Administration to make their way home.

After all the graduation ceremonies ended, our cohort packed up our last few belongings and headed to the airport and left Cornell and Ithaca for Philadelphia. It was so hard to watch Ithaca grow smaller and smaller out of the plane window as our plane flew higher and higher and further away from Cornell. In Philly, we had a short layover where we grabbed a bite to eat and then boarded our final flight back to San Francisco. I spent the majority of the flight back sleeping, listening to music, and more sleeping. Before I knew it, we were descending into the sunset on the bay at SFO. It was cool to see the fog crawling over the hills and the beautifully colored sky as the sun set.

Currently I am enjoying the comforts of home, but I know that I want to go back to Cornell and study in Cornell's School of Hotel Administration! I am determined to be a Hotelie!

Goodbye Cornell!

The last day at Cornell finally arrived. I woke up at 7:00 in the Statler instead of the dorm, 2 and a half hours before our graduation. Mr. Chan-Law drove Eric, Rachael, and I to the airport early to check in our bags. We came back to the Statler to dress up for the graduation. It was nearly 9 AM, but I was struggling with my tie. After finally fixing my tie, Eric and I met up with the rest of the ILCers to eat our breakfast at Collegetown Bagels.
Collegetown  Bagels from the Car.
Finishing our bagels, we arrived at the Statler building just in time at 9:30 AM. Everyone already there were well dressed and were just hanging around, before Mark brought everyone inside a classroom. We discussed how the graduation was going to work, how people were going to walk, and how he was going to pronounce everyone's names. Quickly afterwards, we set off to the auditorium. It was a small graduation because it was only our hotel class, which made it feel closer because I knew most of the students. Music was playing and it felt like an actual high school graduation. In the beginning, we had student speakers talk about our experiences at this three week program. Two of them were from my group, Linna and Josh. Shortly later, Mark called out each of our names. We all got a certificate for this program and a copy of our final report. Finishing off our graduation, the TA's put together a special PowerPoint that had pictures of everyone.

At the end of the graduation, everyone stayed to say their last good-byes and take pictures. Eric and I were there for about 20 minutes  before heading to the Statler to finish packing for our trip back. It was sad, seeing people that are from different states or countries for the last time because it is unlikely that I'd be visiting them anytime soon. I will still try to keep in touch with as many people as I can. As Mr. Chan-Law was driving us to the Ithaca airport, I tried to get my last pictures of the amazing campus.

A Last Look at the Statler Building Where my Class is.
After about an estimated 15 minutes of driving, we were finally arrived at the airport that would take us away from New York. We ate our sandwiches from Collegetown Bagels as lunch on the benches there before setting off. The airplane was like the one from last time, with propellers. I sat next to Alex on the plane, and the chairs were comfortable for such a small plane. An hour later, we arrived at a familiar place, Philadelphia. At around 5 PM ET, we grabbed lunch at the airport. It felt right to get Philly Cheese steaks, so everyone except Rachael (she's gluten intolerant) got one. After our quick lunch, we went on our final plane. It was a sad moment, sitting there, knowing this would be the last time here for a while.

Our Airplane to Philly
Fast forward 6 hours of flying on a plane, we were back home. Our long happy voyage has come to an end. We all said our farewells to each other when we checked out our luggage. I had a lot of fun with all of them, and hopefully, we'll have a reunion some time soon.

Reflections on the Final Day at Cornell

I woke up to the sound of music playing out of the iHome alarm at the Statler Hotel.  I already knew today would be a hard day, leaving the campus that we have called home for the past three weeks.  I took a shower and packed the remainder of my luggage. To be honest I was a little sluggish this morning as we had a late night at the Statler to cherish the remaining hours at Cornell.  I headed downstairs to meet the group for breakfast, which would be at the locally well-known Collegetown Bagels.  The bagels lived up to their reputation as we enjoyed a breakfast away from the Robert Purcell Community Center.

The Hotelies had to leave soon after breakfast to attend their graduation at 10 o’clock.  They had already checked in their luggage at the Ithaca Airport earlier in the morning; the rest of us headed toward the airport after breakfast to check in luggage.  I saw Jonathan, who was in my discussion group, the first of the many people I would have to say goodbye to today.  From the airport we headed to Kennedy Hall for graduation. 

Seeing our friends at graduation was the saddest part of the day.  We already had our goodbyes with friends who had early morning flights, and seeing the rest of them go was hard.  We lined up alphabetically with our fellow Freedom and Justice classmates, but soon visited with Matt in VetMed and Ganeev in Body, Mind, & Health along with many others.  Everyone gathered into the hall to begin the ceremony.

Ms. Eller, the Summer College Administrator, opened the program with concluding statements about the program: what we have learned, how we have changed, and so on. Afterward, each class’s teacher gave a speech and called the students up individually to receive their certificate. Freedom and Justice went second after Design, and was followed by Body, Mind, & Health and then VetMed.  After the ceremony we met with classmates, friends, and Professor Kramnick for pictures before we had to leave to catch our flight to Philadelphia. 

Everything was different after leaving Ithaca, practically leaving our home. The flights home seemed longer; the atmosphere was completely different.  On the bright side, I ended up being 4 for 4 in getting the aisle seat on the flights, and the journey home provided one last bonding event for our group.

I am so grateful for having this experience. The things that I have learned have been invaluable and the people I have met here have been amazing. I want to thank the Ivy League Connection staff, administrators, and sponsors for making this trip possible, as well as Mr. Chan-Law for making this journey with us.  He has been such a wonderful, responsible chaperone who we all have really gotten to know over the month; I couldn’t think how a high school teacher would volunteer to spend their summers with even more kids, but I’m sure there are other privileges involved in participating in this program.  I also want to thank Professor Kramnick and Ulas for being such masterful educators. They have really changed my perspective not only on governmental philosophy, but also on matters of thinking in general and analyzing philosophy. Also Asher and Riley, our R.A.s, who have really made me feel welcome at Cornell since the beginning of my stay. Finally, I am so grateful to be able to share this experience with my fellow cohort: Calvin, Eric Wilson, Eric Wang, Frank, and Rachael.  We have developed a special bond that I know is going to last beyond this program and I am truly grateful for that.