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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Bronx, NY
The Individual in the Social World
Summer College 2012
Hey! My name's Annie, and I'm a rising senior (WHOOT) at Fieldston, a high school in the Bronx. I'm taking psychology at Cornell this summer, a subject I've learned little about, but am therefore really excited to study. On the rare occasion that I'm not being a complete nerd though, I spend a lot of my time advocating for human rights, especially those revolving around LGBT issues. At school, I'm co-head of the Gay-Straight Alliance. I'm also a part of the Network, a youth-run group for LGBT kids and allies in the tri-state area. I'm also on the basketball and softball teams and I help out with my school's branch of Special Olympics New York.

I'm extremely excited to begin and write about my summer at Cornell. Preliminary warning though: I tend to get a bit ridiculous at times, so just bear with my Cornell updates—likelihood is that they may be a bit satirical in nature. Stay tuned! (:

I've got a week until I go up to Ithaca and, to be honest, I'm pretty pumped. I can't wait to start classes and meet my roommate. By the way, to whomever my roommate happens to be, let me apologize in advance for the fact that our room will look like a war zone by day 3 at Cornell. Sorry.

I'm also excited to take psychology. I'm extremely interested in human behavior, so all I can hope for is a good professor to take me along for the ride. I'm especially excited to study alongside kids from around the world. The amazing aspect of Summer College is that I'll be able to meet kids from completely different cultures, and not only learn in the classroom, but also learn by getting to know them. It'll be great to gain a different perspective from those international students in and outside of class. Coming from a school in which it's easier to come out as gay than as a Republican, I'm looking forward to being exposed to a variety of opinions—both conservative and liberal.

As for thoughts on Cornell itself, I'm frankly just thrilled to be spending my summer on that gorgeous campus. Having visited Cornell twice before, I've already scoped out my favorite spot. It's called "the slope" and it's got the most beautiful view of the mountains, and it's a perfect place to watch the sunset. I'm a city girl, so I'm not used to seeing a view that beautiful. It's a perfect place to do homework, hangout with friends, and just relax.

To be honest, I haven't given that much thought as to how I'm going to prepare for Cornell. Obviously, I'm planning on bringing standard school supplies. I'm also intent on bringing a bike to campus (…as you can tell I've got my academic priorities in check) because it'll make it easier to explore Ithaca. Anyway, all in all, I think it's going to be an incredible summer, and I can't wait to keep you posted.

This week has been a whirlwind—kind of like my room. Luckily, my roommate, Julia, is just as messy as I am, so we've got a pretty nice dynamic going. Julia was the first person I met on the day of orientation, but she was far from the last. I immediately befriended a group of five girls in my psychology class, all of whom stem from different corners of the world. My two best friends, Yu Ya and Kyleen, are from Burma and Canada. In just a week, I feel like I've learned something about almost every culture in the world. It sounds extremely corny, but the best part about befriending international students is that at the end of the day, we're not Americans, Burmese, Turks, or Canadians—we're just kids. It's unbelievable to think that such seemingly different people share commonalities.

As for my psych class, I'm enjoying it greatly as well. My professor, Thomas Gilovich, is extremely dynamic and has an awesome sense of humor. Our class has about sixty students though, so I don't get that much one-on-one time with him. However, he's extremely personable and has frequently walked with me and a couple of his other students to lunch just to get to know us. However, to make sure that everyone understands the material, the class has four outstanding teaching assistants. My T.A, Jeremy, is hilarious and dynamic. He never misses a step, and answers all of our questions. He does enjoy scaring us into studying hard (and succeeds tremendously) by telling us that "we're cooked" if we don't know material X or Y, but it's all in good fun. The material covered is also incredibly interesting. It all relates to real life, so I don't mind doing homework during the week. The topics covered include cultural case studies, evolution, and human attraction—long story short, everyone subconsciously thinks you're hot commodity if your features are symmetrical. But don't take a ruler to your face just yet, there are other factors, so you're not completely doomed in the game of natural selection.

I've also discovered another gorgeous Cornell spot—the A.D White Room in Uris Library. For all of you Potter Heads out there, it's the spitting image of Hogwarts. I was studying there on Thursday and again on Saturday, and each time I half expected Dumbledore to spontaneously appear from behind the shelves.

Come to think of it though, today was my best day yet. Kyleen, Yu Ya, and I took a trip to Buttermilk Falls, a national park about a half hour from campus by bus. We hiked up a side of a mountain to spend the afternoon by a waterfall. We were with about six other kids from CUSC who we had never talked to before, but had just met at the bus stop. By the end of our trip to Buttermilk though, we all had become extremely close. One thing that I've noticed about people at CUSC is that they're all friendly—and that isn't an exaggeration. All in all, this week has been amazing. I couldn't have asked for a warmer welcome to Ithaca, NY. Stay tuned!

After the first week went so well, it's hard to believe that the second week was just as good. Although the workload increased substantially because I had a quiz and a paper to write, I also befriended new interesting people and engaged in more activities on campus. In addition, there was a black light party last night which, although extremely loud and sweaty, was just the perfect antidote for a tough work week. Everyone dressed in white and neon, danced to corny pop songs, and humiliated themselves like only work-crazed teenagers can. For the kids reading this blog, the crunk fest was hilarious. For the parents reading this, it was a responsible get-together which I assure you was over by 6 p.m.

As for my psych class, it's still extremely interesting. To be honest though, I've developed a little bit of disdain for my textbook, who I've named Larry. He and I have had a few quarrels over how I genuinely don't understand why his chapters have to be so long. However, Larry never fails to fill my head with titillating psychological concepts, like how youngest siblings' IQs are substantially lower than those of their older siblings because they're never the teachers—they're always being taught (my older sister Sarah is just going to love that one…thanks Larry…you're a real pal). In all seriousness though, I'm still amazed at how much psych relates to my everyday life. For those of you considering Summer College, I seriously recommend that you take the course.

Anyway, in the coming week, I'm going to be preparing for a final exam. I suspect the last week will also be nostalgic, because I really have made great friends here. I'm going to genuinely miss them. Until we say our goodbyes though, I'm going to try to focus on the here-now, because there's no point in worrying about the future. One thing's for sure though—Summer College, and the people I've met here, have changed my life.

Summer College ended two days ago. It's a bit of an adjustment being back home—Manhattan stayed as loud and polluted as ever, two qualities I haven't been used to for the past three weeks.

My last week at Cornell was a blur. I studied for my exam, walked into Collegetown on the last night with a bunch of people, and played some pranks on friends. After finishing my exam, I went to the design program's exhibit. Now, having not gone to Summer College, you probably think that the room was empty—who would spend their first afternoon of freedom at an art show they weren't forced to be at? Well, probably to your surprise, the room was packed, which is very telling of the kind of people that attended CUSC. Everyone was there to support their friends and make last-minute new ones. Not only were the works on display amazing (the design kids constructed lamps of all different shapes and sizes), but the room was filled with laughter and nostalgia, everyone knowing full well that today was their last day together.

After reflecting on my time at CUSC, I think the people were the most valuable aspect of the program. Before coming to Cornell, I blogged that the one thing I was looking forward to was meeting a diverse group of people. I came into the program assuming we'd all be boring, homogenous nerds. That couldn't have been farther from the truth. The people at Summer College had a thirst for knowledge, but also a thirst for life. For example, Yu Ya, who became my best friend at the program, comes from Burma, which is a destitute country. While most people there are yearning to get out, to escape the poverty, Yu Ya's dream is to stay. She wants to protect, educate, and inspire her countrymen, and knowing Yu Ya, I have no doubt that she'll succeed. My friend Tafari is also set on saving the world, but unlike Yu Ya, his plan involves wind turbines. Tafari, along with being an incredibly insightful and kind person, is in the engineering program and is determined to make it easier for people to live greener lives. There was also Ama, a Yemeni-American from Fargo, North Dakota, who has sacrificed her social standing back home to proudly wear her head scarf around town. Coming from a homogenous, predominantly conservative part of the world, Ama is seen as a symbol of her religion, rather than a person. Well, I'm here to tell you that she's one of the bravest people I've ever met. I learned a lot about integrity and consistency of convictions from Ama and although I never got to tell her this, she inspires me deeply.

It's people like these that made my experience at Summer College a revolutionary one. I miss them tremendously, and strangely enough, I learned more from them than I have at any school I've attended. If you're considering applying to CUSC, think about whether you want to grow into a bigger and better person, and then send in your application. Thanks, guys(: