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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


San Francisco, CA
Genius and Madness in Literature
Summer College 2007
Hi, my name is Hayley. I've lived in the California Bay Area, near San Francisco, my whole life, but I love to travel and experience new places, and so I'm excited to spend three weeks across the country at Cornell this summer. I have just finished my junior year at San Mateo High School, which I spent singing, dancing (jazz and tap), tutoring elementary schoolers, and rowing (and doing some studying too, of course). In early June, I competed at the USRowing National Youth Championships, where my lightweight four placed third in the country! When I'm not rowing, I love to read and write, passions that prompted me to sign up for the course "Genius and Madness in Literature" at Cornell Summer College 2007. I'm looking forward to taking on some challenging books and improving my thinking and writing skills this summer, and also to meeting people from around the country and the world. And, just as much as anything, I look forward to getting a taste of the freedom and independence of college living!

Well, it's now five days after my arrival and I can say with certainty that if this is college, then I like college. A typical day in my life as a student of "Genius and Madness in Literature" (or just "Lit" for short): After the morning trek to Goldwin Smith Hall, we listen to a deeply thought-provoking lecture by Professor Schwarz (tip: if you really want to impress her, pronounce it the German way, "shvarz"). Then after a coffee break at the Temple of Zeus café, we reconvene to ponder, discuss, and—my favorite—to argue the issues brought up in the lecture. Following an hour-and-forty-five-minute-long lunch at Trillium (what luxury!), we meet again to talk about one of our reading assignments. Already, we have discussed not only literature but also medicine, law, philosophy, history, and psychology. This is truly English class as it's meant to be. Then, class is out, and I'm free to visit the gorges or downtown Ithaca, go on a run around the campus lake, do my reading, enjoy the cuisine at Appel, or just sit around and talk with smart, interesting, likable people. There's always something going on at night; tonight I'm planning on attending both the smoothie study break and the stargazing trip. I love the freedom and the friends I've made. I'm really enjoying this taste of college life!

The more time I spend here, the more I love it. Here class is relaxed and yet engaging--the stress and drudgery that the word "school" brings to mind just don't apply. Most of all, I love the people I've met. It's a great feeling to be completely comfortable with friends you've only known for two weeks.

Some highlights of the past week:

  • Discovering the little room in Uris Library that looks straight out of Hogwarts, complete with a fireplace, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and tiny spiral staircases. Being in there actually makes you want to study.
  • The Saturday night '80s dance!
  • Dressing up and going out to dinner in Collegetown
  • Finishing our second paper
  • Throwing stones at the mysteriously musical tiles of the patio next to Olin Library
  • And, of course, the mint chocolate chip ice cream at the Cornell Dairy Bar
  • As for the coming week, I'm excited to see the new Harry Potter movie (my friends and I are planning on dressing up) and the talent show on Friday. It should be great. Will tell you all about it soon...

    As I look back on the summer, it's clear that some of my best memories of it are from Cornell Summer College. I feel as though in the last week, I really connected with the people I had met two weeks before. We celebrated a birthday, went to the movies, saw the talent show, ate our last few meals at Appel, and a few of us even spontaneously dyed our hair together on the last day. (Don't worry, it was temporary.) I found my social niche. I had no idea that I would do that in three weeks, in a new place, and with new people.

    The academic experience was a great fit for me. I knew right away that I wanted to take the Literature course, and my instincts didn't fail me. Neither did my TA or professor, who were both very intelligent and so much fun. I feel like a much better-read person now, too, which isn't a bad side effect.

    My time at Cornell gave me confidence that in college, I will find the people and experiences I'm looking for in my life, as I did in mini-form at Cornell. In the meantime, I will enjoy my last year of home knowing that when I'm ready for it, I will leave for some of the greatest years of my life.