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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Charlestown, RI
Body, Mind, and Health
Summer College 2007
Hi, how's it going? My name is Dave. Welcome to the "Inside Cornell" page. For the next three weeks I'll be one of your guides in bringing you a first-hand account of life at Cornell. I do hope you enjoy it. Currently, I reside in the coastal town of Charlestown, Rhode Island (one of the smallest towns in the smallest state). I attend the Chariho Regional High School and have around 290 students in my class. I'm a huge fan of classic, bop, and alternative jazz. Guys like Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Jamie Cullum, Dave Brubeck and Art Tatum were (and still are) the kings. My favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut and my favorite show is The Office. In my spare time, I work in my family's coffee shop, Dave's Coffee. There I help manage and run the production and transfer of lattes, cappuccinos, and espresso. I also train new employees and run the Web site ( Sunday mornings I also volunteer at the local emergency room. As I write (well, type) this, I'm about 3 days from finishing school and about a week and a half from my voyage to Ithaca. I'm really excited to be attending Cornell this summer. I'll be studying in the three week Body, Mind, and Health course. I chose this course because I want to become a doctor. I'm really looking forward to learning new things, meeting new people, and living the Cornell experience. Alright then -- let's get started.

Summer College alumni news: Summer College Alum Establishes Non-Profit to Help College Students Pay for Textbooks

So how come no one told me there was a waterfall in the middle of campus? How cool is that! I mean, I knew Cornell was a gorgeous place, but you really have no idea how nice it is until you've come here. One of the best things (to me) is walking over the footbridge adjacent to the waterfall on your way to class in the morning. It's seven a.m., the sun is still rising, and all you can hear is the rush of the water--it's great.

In fact, I've found a lot of surprises up here at Cornell. Over the first week I've gotten to meet people from all over the country and all over the world. Just off the top of my head: Pennsylvania, Colorado, New York, Miami, San Antonio, Bangkok, China, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Greece, and Mexico. I've never met so many people from so many places at once. But that really is part the college experience.

Another part of the college experience is dorm life. I'm in Ujamaa on the North side of campus. What's really great about living in a dorm is that it's actually not just a place for living. This week we've had root beer float night, trivia night, casino night, the "twista-mixa" (with Jamison dorm), and bowling night. Once classes end (around 5 or so), it's always great to know that there's something going on.

Speaking of classes, Body, Mind, and Health is fantastic. I highly recommend it to anyone planning to attend Summer College (no, I don't get a commission for recommendations). Professor Brumberg, one of the world's leading experts on anorexia nervosa, is an excellent professor. I love the fact that she's so down to earth. Here you've got an internationally famous, Ivy League educated expert who still takes the time to get to know each of her students personally. Every morning before class starts, Professor Brumberg can be seen talking and laughing with a student over some anecdote. As far as teaching goes, having someone with that kind of personality can make a world of difference. Additionally, the course material is absolutely fascinating. This week we've covered the history of anorexia nervosa, smallpox, polio, mental illnesses, stem cells, autism, leeches, culture bound syndromes, along with Medieval and Victorian medicine.

So what's in store for next week? Possibly a visit to nearby Collegetown, the second week of classes, and the Fourth of July. I'll let you know how it goes.

A Day in the Body, Mind, and Health lecture
As the title would suggest, the topic of this post will be a quick write up about a day in the Body, Mind, and Health lecture. I wanted to give the prospective student an idea of what kind of topic you might hear about from Professor Brumberg. BMH definitely isn't a boring lecture to hear.

One Moment in the History of Medicine
According to my "Medical Glossary Study Guide" for the Body, Mind, and Health final, I've learned 167 new words. Throughout the course I've seen that time and time again, the history of medicine has always been action packed. Yes, I said action packed. How so? As I look back through my notes, the history of anesthesiology comes to mind. As little as 150 years ago, there were no anesthetics. You just had to "bite the bullet." (Which actually was not just an expression. You would seriously have to bite a bullet, or a stick, to keep from screaming). So, as an insight to the course, let's take a quick look at a routine operation back in the 1800's.

Amputation: Nineteenth-Century Style
Say you fell off your horse one day and broke your leg. No big deal, right? Actually, yes. Should infection happen (as it often did), gangrene would set in. Uh oh. You know what that means--amputation.

As you're dragged into the operating room (most often, very similar looking to a classroom), you're put on a table and held down by the doctor's assistants. These were usually medical students eager to learn this Flintstonian practice. I have no idea why. Since this is the nineteenth century, the best anesthetic they had for surgeries like amputation was an opium-laced wine called laudanum. Neither ingredient was particularly strong. Just a glass of laudanum and off with the leg. Yikes. So now that you were infected, restrained, and slightly intoxicated, the assistants had done their jobs and the surgery was ready to begin. In comes the doctor. God knows where he just came from. All I know is that it didn't involve washing his hands, getting sterilized, or taking off his street clothes. As if being awake for an amputation wasn't bad enough, your surgery actually took less than five minutes. I kid you not. If your surgery took longer than Letterman's Top Ten List, you'd die of shock. Literally. Ready, set, go. The doctor grabbed his high-tech medical equipment (a saw) and went to work. Somewhere in the audience of the operating theater someone might pass out. After about a minute, you'd pass out. Hopefully the doctor didn't follow the trend. If you woke up, the surgery was a success. Woo! If you didn't, there was always the chance of becoming a volunteer for the "bodies for scientific studies" program.

I'm so glad I live in modern times.

A couple days ago I came across my Body, Mind, and Health texts on my bookcase. Now that I've been home a few weeks, seeing my Cornell memorabilia makes me ponder what it is that I've gained from my Cornell Summer College experience.

Academically, I've learned how to think outside the box with my work. My teachers at Cornell taught me to not just answer the prompt given, but to really look at the material. When you do this, your paper will become much more in depth and professional. As I start my first AP classes this year, I'm positive this will come in handy.

I've also learned how to better organize myself with what I do. My notes have improved, my time management skills for writing papers have improved, and the structure and organization of my papers have also improved.

Also, I just want to say, never underestimate the power of a 20 minute nap. On the first day, when our "crash course to Summer College" lecturer told us that a 20 minute nap can give you tons of energy, we all thought she was crazy. However, I can't believe the impact that it's made. All you need is a solid twenty minute nap in the afternoon and you're as good as you were when you got up that morning. I think I might start implementing this routine here in Rhode Island.

Apart from all the academic exposure Cornell Summer College gave me, I also got to see a bit more of the world outside of Rhode Island. Cornell gave me the opportunity to meet people from all of the country and all over the world. I saw a plethora of bright students -- after all, this is Cornell and there was a selection process, so these are some of the most intelligent students in the country. Cornell gives you a chance to see who else you'll be going against during the college admissions process. It gives you a chance to assess your own strengths and weaknesses before you have to apply. And, with two years until I have to send in my college apps, I'm glad I've gotten a chance to see what I need to work on before I apply.

On a similar note, Cornell has given me a unique lesson on how your mindset can determine what you're capable of. On numerous occasions at Cornell, I saw how having a negative mindset can hold you back from your full capabilities. For example, each night Professor Brumberg usually assigned between 80 and 100 pages of reading for the course. When I learned that I was capable of doing this quite easily, I couldn't help but think back to my English class the previous year. Whenever our teacher would assign 30 or 40 pages out of "To Kill a Mockingbird" everyone (including me at times) would groan about the "ton" of reading we had to do. And you know what -- since we all thought that 30 pages was such a huge burden, it took us all forever to do it. If you think something is a hurdle, then you will struggle to overcome it. My Cornell experience made me expand my thinking by teaching me that you are the only one that sets up your own limitations. If you think you can't, then you can't. I've since found a quote by Henry Ford that sums this up quite nicely: "Whether you think you can, or you can't, you're right."

I guess that's exactly what happened at Cornell -- I grew as a person. I found out that the extent of my academic capabilities goes much deeper than I realized. I found out who I would most likely be seeing again when I go to college. I found out that the work I get at high school is actually not that extensive, and that the only thing holding you back from excelling anywhere is your own mindset. If you think 30 pages are a lot, then that 30 pages will take you forever to read. I also learned how to tailor your paper for a college evaluation. And of course, I've learned about the history of medicine.

The End.

(Is that clichéd? Okay, how about:)

The End
For now.