Focus on the Humanities
Summer College 2013
Hi everyone! I'm Lindsay, a rising senior at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York. I am unbelievably excited to spend the summer high above Cayuga's waters; as the daughter of a Cornell Summer College and Cornell alum, I've heard so much about the university and can't wait to experience it for myself.
My passions include journalism (I write and edit for my town magazine and am editor-in-chief of my school sports magazine), photography, travel, piano, reading and writing (and—I confess—I am obsessed with British TV!). As part of the six week Focus on the Humanities program, I'm taking The Personal Essay and Greek Mythology, a subject that has always fascinated me.
I'm looking forward to an extraordinary summer: learning, meeting new people and making new friends, and discovering everything about beautiful Cornell. I'm counting the days—see you on Libe Slope!
6/30/13One week in, and I'm already starting to feel like a college student (well, sort of). From dorm life to managing my work and schedule, I already feel more independent than I did when I arrived. I was initially nervous about being assigned a triple, but my roommates are awesome (though the temperature of our room on these hot days, not so much). This campus is big, but I can get to my classes, meals and back to my dorm, so I think I'll be okay. I have met so many new people in the past week, from all over the country and the world. I love how even though we're all from so many places and backgrounds, we have come together at Cornell.
My workload the first week has fortunately been manageable. My Greek Mythology professor is fascinating, knowledgeable, and funny, and I am enjoying class immensely. The class is small, and we began by discussing exactly what myth is and are slowly transitioning into applying those ideas to ancient Greek myth and society, while simultaneously reading The Odyssey. As the first test is this week, I really have some reading to do! The Personal Essay freshman writing seminar has also gotten off to a great start. I really like my professor and TAs, and am interested and intrigued by the ideas raised in class.
Having my classes back to back in the morning, I have also been able to spend time with my new friends in Collegetown and exploring the various hiking trails around campus, in addition to trying to get some exercise at the gym and early-morning yoga. Late Friday we took the bus to Target (I held out almost a week!), and Saturday night we went off-campus to see a movie (high schoolers really should not have enjoyed Monsters University quite so much). Of course, we've all had work to complete, so a lot of time has been spent in the library. I am especially fond of the A.D. White Library in Uris Library; the pleasant quiet, comfortable chairs and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves (reminiscent of Oxford's Bodleian, one of my favorite places) provide the perfect environment for me to be productive, except when I start daydreaming that I'm at Hogwarts and that Harry, Ron and Hermione will be joining me shortly…
So all-in-all a very successful and fun first week! While I could have done without the hospital visit because of an allergic reaction (I'm fine, and appreciate the caution of the residential staff here), I am already planning my activities for the coming week. I'm excited to see what the next five weeks have in store!
Also, you'll be happy to know that my first attempt at doing my own laundry was a success. I think I'm starting to get the hang of this "college" thing.
It's amazing how fast time flies—it is hard to believe that week four has come to an end already! Despite a heat wave, I am having an incredible summer here at Cornell. While my workload has increased, I have felt up to the challenge and found that it is nothing I can't handle. I have learned to manage my time better and procrastinate less (which is a lot harder than it sounds), and now feel comfortable with my routine. I make sure to get my work done, but also have time for friends, exploration and fun.
A great way to cool down was an organized trip to nearby Buttermilk Falls, where we hiked alongside spectacular gorges and swam at the base of the falls. Yesterday's excursion was to the Corning Museum of Glass, by far one of the coolest places to visit in Central New York. An hour away from Ithaca, the museum is filled with both historic and modern glass, a glass-blowing exhibition, and a hands-on studio. Later that evening, we all headed over to a Collegetown nightclub called Level B (rented out by the program for Summer College students) for a dance party. Beyond the organized events, though, "fun" is really just hanging out with friends and enjoying our time here.
My classes, despite the increased amount of work, continue to go well. Learning about the unknown stories underlying and surrounding the various Greek myths has made class absolutely fascinating. In my writing seminar, we spent an entire week peer editing and critiquing each other's work; it was extremely helpful and eye-opening to hear everyone else's opinions about my essay, as well as to read about the lives of my classmates!
When my professors both cancelled class this past Friday morning, I took the opportunity to attend one of the campus information sessions for prospective freshmen (which I first attended last summer at the very start of my college search process), and was reminded again of how perfectly the program would dovetail with my interests. Summer College has also arranged various application essay-writing seminars and college fairs, so we are all starting to feel more knowledgeable about the process and prepared for what is sure to be a very busy fall.
Anyway, back to work! Until next time!
Where did this summer go? It feels like just yesterday that I was moving into my dorm room and going through the awkward "I don't know you but let's try and have a conversation" phase at the ice cream social. When I got here at the end of June, I had "general" hopes for the summer: I wanted to challenge myself academically, make new friends, meet people from different places, and have a real college experience. Check, check, check and check.
But the little things, the intangibles, really made this summer special. The early-morning walk to Collegetown Bagels with my roommate on a Sunday; how can you NOT love a place that sells t-shirts that say "Make Bagels, Not Bombs?" Insomnia Cookies that really do keep you up all night just thinking about how good they are (I highly recommend the double chocolate mint). Walking up the stairs inside the iconic clock tower for an evening chimes concert—absolutely priceless, even though I couldn't really hear that well for a few hours afterwards. Last weekend's adventure to the art show at the Ithaca Farmers Market (wow and yum combined). These small details truly made this summer a memorable one, and, homework and final papers aside, I hope that in my last week here I continue to explore and have fun.
I have learned so much this summer, both academically and about myself. I read Homeric hymns to the gods and numerous personal essays while simultaneously discovering my own ability to live on my own: I can do laundry (shh – don't tell my family)! I can maintain a (somewhat) healthy diet (those Insomnia Cookies really don't help)! I can handle my own schedule and balance work, fitness and fun. Most importantly, I learned that I can go someplace alone, without knowing anyone, and not only thrive but have a great time in the process.
Best of all, I got to celebrate my 17th birthday today with people that I know will become lifelong friends in a place I've come to love! Birthday wishes from friends and family all day, lunch and dinner in Collegetown and then a cookie cake from Insomnia makes one happy Lindsay. (I'd also, of course, like to wish a very happy birthday to my good friend Harry Potter.) But as it's everyone's last week at Summer College, there's work to be done…so back to Odysseus I go. Wish me luck!
It took a few days, but I've finally gotten out of the habit of trying to wave my ID to get into my house. While I admit that I missed sleeping in my own bed and am enjoying spending time with friends and family, I wasn't prepared to miss Cornell as much as I do.
Chappaqua remains the same, totally unchanged in the six weeks I was gone (other than the potholes, which have finally been filled). Rather, I was the one to change this summer. While this is not the first time I've been away from home, I returned from Cornell feeling different in a way that I never have before. I'm more independent, mature, and comfortable with the knowledge that I can live on my own. I loved the freedom of college life, and though I am looking forward to my senior year, can't wait to experience it again.
This summer was, in a word, transformative. One of the most enlightening things about my time at Cornell was discovering the acceptance of differing opinions, and people who embrace challenging debate and are not afraid to voice and argue their point of view. They are open and willing to listen to the opposite ideas as well. After the relative homogeneity of my town, it was extremely refreshing to be exposed to so many different backgrounds and perspectives—from high school students through undergrads—and surrounded by an incredible wealth of diversity and intellectual stimulation every day.
As I settle back into life at home, I cannot help reflecting on everything I loved about Cornell and Ithaca: I'll certainly miss the intense discussions in my classes, the almost-daily CTB and Insomnia runs (a theme this summer—think they'll open branches in Chappaqua?), and watching the extraordinary sunset over Libe Slope and Cayuga Lake every evening. More than anything, I already miss spending time with the incredible friends I made, and hearing the chimes from McGraw Tower every fifteen minutes. As I now hunker down to write that all-important Common App essay before school starts in three weeks, I can only hope that my experiences at Cornell were simply the beginning.