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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Livingston, NJ
Genius and Madness in Literature
Summer College 2011
Hello! I'm Mike, and I'm a sixteen year old from Livingston, New Jersey. I'm a lover of literature and the humanities in general, so I'm excited to be taking the Genius and Madness in Literature course at Cornell this summer. As of 6/8/11, I was named captain of the Cross Country team at Seton Hall Prep, my high school, so I plan on staying in shape for the fall. I've got a pretty intense summer line up of runs that I plan on taking with me to Summer College, so come find me if you're up for a workout! In my free time, I love to head to New York with some friends to see cheap concerts, or any of the great museums the city is so full of. I'm looking forward to this summer, and hope to meet some of you soon!

Cornell just couldn't come any sooner! At this point in the summer, I'm ready for the lazy days in Livingston to wind down. A change in scenery has been long in coming. Getting back into school mode might be tough after this long break, but the change will be a welcome one. Naturally I'll be putting the actual packing off until the last minute, but I'm definitely going to have to start this mental preparation soon! The fact that I'm going to be living away from home for three weeks is a little daunting, but it's exciting at the same time. Hope to meet some of you guys soon!

The first week has been great! Except for the weather... it’s hot! But aside from that, Cornell has been really easy to get used to. From the start I've felt comfortable here. I get along well with my roommate, and in general people are approachable and eager to make new friends. I've met people from Asia and South America along with people who live five minutes away from me in suburban New Jersey, and I'm still meeting more.

My class, Genius and Madness in Literature, is a perfect fit for me, and I can tell that the majority of my classmates feel the same way. The workload is manageable and far from tedious, everyone in the class contributes to the discussions, and Professor Schwarz and the TAs are always eager to hear what their students have to say.

Even with the heat, the running is amazing here. I can just pick a direction, run, and end up at some beautiful gorge, bridge, or field. It's really been a great week, and I can’t wait for the next one!

Leaving here is going to be tough. Those two weeks just flew by, but of course, none of it was wasted, as I've been active non-stop for the entirety of my time here. Class time, reading and essays take up a lot of that time for sure, but there's been more than enough time to play volleyball, watch movies, hike around the gorges, and nap under the trees. Every time I go for a run, I want to keep going out farther; there's always a new trail, gorge, road, or field to follow. As for class, among other things this week, we heard two guest lecturers speak about Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther and excerpts from Immanuel Kant's Critique of Judgment, respectively. The works themselves have given me the grounds to develop and form opinions and gain new perspectives on subjects I had earlier assumed I understood totally, including my own character. Specifically, in Goethe's Werther, I found a man with which I could empathize more easily than perhaps all but one character I've ever encountered. The point is, my work here does not feel like work at all. I read the texts we receive as homework not as if I were fulfilling some obligation, but with an interest I had not expected to be so genuine. The discussions in class show me that my classmates feel the same way.

The people I've come to know are probably going to be the hardest to let go of. I feel as close to some of these friends I've had for two weeks as those I've known for years, and the campus and surrounding towns are becoming as familiar as home. The freedom of living on my own with few limitations apart from an eleven o'clock curfew has set my time here apart from any comparable experience I've had beforehand. I’m really loving my time here. Going back to high school is going to be tough after seeing how much I'm going to love college.

These three weeks have really flown by. I'm sitting on a beach in New Jersey as I write this so it's a little difficult to be sad, but I'm really missing Cornell. The great thing is that, although I feel like I'm leaving a lot behind, I'm sure I'm taking plenty home with me. I've got my first three college credits, a broadened wealth of knowledge, and I've heightened my reading, writing, and analytical skills. Beyond my amazing professor and TA, I got to learn from some of the greatest thinkers, writers, and authors in history, including Immanuel Kant, E.T.A Hoffman, Kleist, and Poe. Really, I loved my class. If I had the choice, I would opt to replace my next nine months of high school with more of this course, six hours a day, but I guess I'm going to have to wait until college. This class has made me seriously consider a major in the humanities. I’ve learned that this education, one that will increase my potential as a person rather than simply in some specialized field, is the sort that I'm looking for.

The absence of all my friends who I had been seeing so much of for my three weeks at Cornell has been the most obvious and difficult change in my return home. Thanks to Facebook, we can keep in touch to some degree, but obviously this is no substitute for personal encounters. I'm lucky enough to be coming home with some new friends within easy driving distance, but I feel like there are far too many people who are just too far away. I'm going to miss my friends, my class, my professors, the awesome running trails, the freedom of living on my own, and especially Collegetown Bagels. It's been a good three weeks, but now the summer is winding down and I'm going to have to go back to high school life soon. I'm sure I'll be missing Cornell then.