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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Jakarta, Indonesia
College Success
Summer College 2014
Hola! I'm Tian Yeu, but normally, I go by my nickname, Tiffany (cause people just simply give up while trying to pronounce my name properly). Anyway, I'm Malaysian Taiwanese and except for one year in Mexico, I have been living in Indonesia for my whole life. Something really special about me is that my life is like fried rice. Different cultures are mixed together and being cooked in one huge pan. That's the reason I speak four languages: English, Chinese, Spanish, and Bahasa Indonesia. However, being multilingual can also be disadvantageous—I didn't master any of those languages. And I'm taking College Success at CUSC hoping to improve my English reading and writing skills to college level. I'm so ready to make new friends and run around the campus! (Literally run around the campus. I do track and cross-country!)

Wow! It has been a week already. I still remember when I first met my roommate. She is a really interesting young lady. Just listening to her conversations, I feel like I have taken a course in American History! Also, she's the kindest person one could ever be, and thanks to her, I didn't have to have lunch alone on the first day. I noticed her small, yet thoughtful actions. Such as always offering a helping hand, or studying outside the room when I wanted to sleep. Through her, I've learned to be more considerate about others. This is what I really like about Cornell's Summer College—you're always learning and growing, both academically and as a whole person.

If you ask me about my greatest fear for the six weeks Summer College, I would say it's my creative writing class. After three years of learning English, I'm still not very confident about my writing skills. I always want to dig a hole and hide myself when other people read my essays. However, my professor, Charlie, bumped into a chair on the first day of school, which helped lessen my fear of writing. The course is fast-paced—there's an essay due every single week! Hopefully, after six weeks, I will be able to improve my writing skills and fall in love with writing.

Finding my way around campus wasn't particularly easy on the first few days with my terrible sense of direction and carrying ten pounds of textbooks on my back. It is recommended to give yourself half an hour to get to your classes. However, there is so much offered, and so many places to explore at Cornell. One of my new friends said she was sitting beside a Cornell graduate student on her flight to Ithaca; he promised her that the Cornell plantation is an amazing place to go at night. You might be wondering, why during the night? That's exactly what we were thinking, so we decided to have a small adventure. We asked our RCA, Nancy, for directions. Let me give you a quick note about Nancy since RCAs play such an important role in our residential life. She seemed a bit intimidating at first. I guess she's the kind of girl with a cool personality who doesn't care what the others think about her. However, she's surprisingly nice! Instead of simply giving us the direction, she offered to give us a little tour to the plantation.

As a teenager who lives in the bustling city, Jakarta, I found the trail really um… green. It was a healing green that soothed me mentally and physically. However, it was a different story once the sky turned pitch-black. Except for the moonlight that shined through the leaves, they were millions and millions of tiny light bulbs that were flying and sparkling around us. I tried to capture the beauty with my camera; however, this magical scene could only be stored in my memory.

In order to make the most of my experience at Cornell, I attended the Intergroup Dialogue Workshop. There weren't as many people as I expected. At first it was kind of awkward since people weren't comfortable enough to open up. However, after the icebreaker activities, we knew a bit more about each other and started to find connections. During the workshop, we explored our own social identities and practiced being an active listener and a purposeful speaker. It was really fascinating when you realized that you could learn so much about a person when you were forced to put your phone away, keep out all the distractions, and simply be an active listener for five minutes. On the other hand, it felt amazing when you could finish your sentence without being interrupted by a phone call or a text message. The workshop inspired me to look at human communication with a different perspective and reflect on my own actions as well.

I'm looking forward to next week, when the intramural sports start. Oh! And also, I will be auditing a biology class starting from next Monday! Alright, it is time for me to do my laundry and I'll see you guys next time!


Two weeks from today, I will be on a plane, heading back to Taiwan. I try not to think about it, but when it's time to post another blog, I realize that I have not much time left. Things have pretty much settled down in the past few weeks and I'm feeling that Cornell is my home now.

Right now, I'm sitting under a tree, typing my blog. I hear the birds chirping and the leaves whispering with each other as a breeze touches my cheeks softly. Although Ithaca is famous for its rain, the weather has been beautiful lately. And since most of my assignments are reading and writing essays, this is pretty much how I do my homework every day. At Cornell, even doing homework is something enjoyable. For me, classes are going really well so far. My professor for my College Success class treats us like adults, yet at the same time, she's like a mother to all of us. In addition to teaching us during the classes, she listens to our problems patiently and give us the best advice. Also, when she asks, "How are you," it's not only a casual greeting; she really does care what is going on in our lives. In my creative writing class, I have received a lot of feedback from my professor and classmates. I am satisfied with my grades, yet I know there are still a lot for me to improve on.

I still remember on the first day of Summer College, during the orientation, Mr. Schechter mentioned that, "you will find at least one lifelong friend during your stay in Cornell." He was right. I am fortunate enough to meet a girl from Thailand, and she has become my best friend here at Cornell. Two weeks ago, I had an assignment that required me to visit Beebe Lake and write a short essay about my interaction with nature. She accompanied me and we spent the whole afternoon there. We sang, we whistled, and we dipped our toes in the water. Although the lake was not as huge as it seemed on the map, I still had an amazing time there.

Oh! Let me talk about my neighbor. Although we are living right across from each other, I got to know her only last Monday. First of all, she loves The Beatles; this immediately indicates that she's an awesome person. Also, we both have a great passion in sign language. Therefore, when we see each other, instead of talking, we communicate in sign language. She is teaching me a new phrase every day and hopefully by the end of Summer College, I will be able to have a conversation with my deaf friend back in Jakarta without using a piece of paper and pencil.

Last Friday, I checked off a lot of items on my summer bucket list. First of all, I went to the Cornell Dairy Bar and was mesmerized by all the flavors and different kinds of treats that were offered to me: peanut butter ice cream, sundae, chocolate ice cream cupcakes and many more. I allowed my greed to take control over my brain. I knew a scoop is more than enough for me, yet I ordered two. At first, it was delicious and I felt like I could die with no regrets, however, after ten minutes or so, I was full and I couldn't take it anymore. The ice cream was melting on my hand and I felt like I was going to puke. Now I'm just regretting buying two scoops. If I had been smart enough to order one instead, I would have had a better experience in the Dairy Bar. I guess that was an important lesson that I learned outside of the class. Later on that day, I climbed the 161 stairs up to the McGraw Tower and saw the stunning view of Cornell (second item on my bucket list). When I reached the top floor, the sun has disguised itself completely. Yet the sunset twilight was breathtaking. Trust me, it was worth it!

Overall, I'm having a really great time—different days at Cornell are like different small adventures. Surprises can happen at any time. I'll see you guys next time!


Hey guys! I haven't talked to you in a while, but I have been really sick these past few days. I didn't think I would go to Gannett Health Center ever again after the medical check up, but on Monday, I went there instead of going to class. However, the community at Cornell is so heart-warming that I have heard at least a hundred times of "Are you feeling better now?" from the nurses at Gannett, my roommate, my friends, my classmates, my professors, and even the lady who made me salad every day at Trillium. I feel like I'm living with my family. Actually, they ARE my family now.

I have lost my voice completely for three days—I never realized how precious my voice was until I lost it. Certainly, this applies to almost everything in life. Therefore, during this last week at Cornell, I treasure every single moment that I have and pay attention to small details, such as the soothing sound of the waterfall, the spider webs on the Thurston Bridge, and of course, the chocolate raspberry ice cream in RPCC. These may seem trivial and unimportant, yet I know I will miss every single thing at Cornell.

Apart from getting sick, I will remember this past week as one of the favorite times of my life. Out of a thousand kids at Summer College, I was fortunate enough to be one of the 118 who went on the Niagara Falls trip. After an extremely long bus ride (the air conditioner wasn't working, and we were like sardine fish stuffed in a hot can) we finally reached Niagara Falls. Instead of going in groups with an RCA, we were free to explore on our own. My friends and I went on the "Maid of the Mist" boat ride, and it took us right in front of the falls. The milky-white mist was like a thin blanket that blurred my vision. As I closed my eyes, I focused on my sense of hearing. The water roared and the sound it made was so powerful that it penetrated my eardrums. It was simply an amazing experience that will last a lifetime.

Before I came to Cornell, I set a goal for myself to run 5K every day. I've got to be honest with you guys, I slacked off after the first week. I made so many excuses: "too cold," "too hot," "essay due tomorrow," and "too late." However, last week I met some runners during a Frisbee game and they invited me to run with them every evening. They are from all around the world and they each have their own interesting story. And the most important thing is, they motivate me to run. So, if you ask me what I will miss the most when I leave Cornell, I will definitely answer: the lovely people!


Do you remember that I said my biggest fear of CUSC was my creative writing class and that I never felt confident about my own writing? You won't believe how much I have changed over these six weeks. I realized that I fell in love with weaving my own world with words and sentences. Although I still won't consider writing as my future career, writing a blog is definitely something I would do during my leisure time. My perspective towards writing has changed completely; writing is now a meditation to me, helping me pay attention to details and to the world around me. This concept overlaps with my College Success class activities. I still remember that we visited the Johnson Museum and observed an artwork for an hour, in order to practice focusing and keeping out of distractions. What I have learned from College Success was not specific knowledge of a specific subject, but strategies that I can apply to a broad range of studies in the future.

Other than the academic experience, the people I met made my time at Cornell memorable. Therefore, I would like to end my blog with a few messages. To Charlie: I loved our class discussions and it was a pleasure to have you as my professor. You were the one who built my confidence towards writing. To Dr. Selco: You were like a mom to me and you made me believe in myself. To Annie: Oh my! I miss you so much already! I don't think I would have survived these six weeks without you. I loved it when we whistled "Yellow Submarine" together. Actually, I loved every single moment we spent together. Promise me that we will stay in contact! To Caroline: Although we didn't get to hang out that often, I was really lucky to have you as my roommate. By the way, thank you for lending me your hairdryer every night ;). To Abby: It might have been really weird for you when I asked you to play basketball with me, since we didn't know each other at that time. However, I'll never regret doing that! You are such an amazing player and yet it is your personality that made me want to get to know you better. To my running crew: It was a lot of fun to run with you guys and guess what? You guys were the reason I pushed myself and kept running! To Hobin: You are the "light" and you made my summer better than I could ever have asked for. I will never forget you! :) Lastly, I would like to thank my parents, without whom I wouldn't have had the opportunity to spend my summer at Cornell.