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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Berkeley, CA
Nature and Culture
Summer College 2009
My name is William, however everyone calls me Trey. I grew up in the Bay Area-Berkeley and San Francisco- and have lived in California for most of my life. This summer at Cornell I plan on studying environmental science in the class "Nature and Culture." Currently I live in Ventura, California (Southern Cal.) where I enjoy surfing, climbing, snowboarding, playing guitar and hanging out with my friends. I am 17 now and I will graduate in the spring of 2010 from Foothill Tech.

I arrived in Ithaca last Saturday and went to the Farmers Market in the morning. I was stoked on getting offered a job to work in a vineyard in Trumansburg, so now I have a job for the rest of the summer. Anyway, I was really surprised and excited to discover how beautiful Ithaca and the campus of Cornell is. My class, Nature and Culture, is truly insightful and provocative, especially with the recent readings of Thoreau and William Cronon. There are only 15 people in my class so the environment really fosters discussion and the opportunity to get to know one another and the professor. After class I go climbing at Noyes, the bouldering wall on campus. All and all, the first week has been exciting and it has lived up to any expectations I had.

This past week has been similar to the first, however I am now beginning my term paper for my class. Last Thursday night I went into Ithaca with some floor mates and we walked around the downtown. I was excited to find several books by Emerson, which were published in 1889, in this used bookstore called Autumn Leaves. Then on Friday I worked all day and spent the night in Trumansburg, where I watched fireworks above the lake with some family friends. After returning to Ithaca on Saturday, I met my roommate at the Farmers Market, which we haven't missed since I arrived in Ithaca. The Farmers Market is nice, but somewhat "touristy", although there are other less popularized farmer's markets around Tompkins County (so I have heard). Nature and Culture, my class, is going well. The previous week was spent discussing the Hudson River School of Art, therefore, we visited the museum on campus to analyze some pieces outside the classroom.

So I just completed the last week at Summer College. Everything went well, and on Friday I took the final, which consisted of 4 essays; I also turned in my term paper. I went to Ithaca with my floormates again to celebrate after class was over. All and all, the class was exciting and fulfilling, I read a lot of text and revised my paper constantly. I have taken many college classes before but I would say that the class at Cornell was more independent, the professor left the students to themselves for the most part. Advice for future students taking Nature and Culture: stay on top of the reading and start you term paper early, keep in mind that the class is a semester class in 3 weeks. The quality of experience you get out of this class is entirely up to how much you put into it, for me this three weeks was great. I definitely learned a lot about myself.

The three weeks of Summer College were a time of self reflection for me, especially on what I want for the next four years. Both my parents are from the East Coast, so they have always pushed attending a school there, however, I have spent most of my life in California. After Summer College, I felt that the Northeast--or at least in Central New York--there were a very diverse group of people, much like California. Sometimes I hear people stereotype California or the West Coast as more liberal, more superficial or even reckless. Similarly on the West Coast I often hear people stereotype the East as being more conservative, or traditionalists. I met a lot of people who fulfilled these stereotypes, but I also met a lot of people, like my roommate, who I felt that I could definitely mesh with. I have learned that geographic location does not define the way people act necessarily, but what I have found is that areas where education is prevalent generally yield similar thoughts amongst a community, despite political or cultural backgrounds, like in Ithaca. As I have said in previous posts, I really liked Ithaca, and it is probably one of my favorite cities/towns in the Northeast.

At Summer College people came from all over the world, so I have learned, mostly from my experiences in class, that everyone has new or different cultural ideas to contribute to discussion. Furthermore, I have learned that many people from different places share universal beliefs or hopes for their future. In the end, I cherish the past three weeks and would recommend this experience to anyone who is ambitious about attending Cornell, indecisive about their personal goals for the future or type of college they want, loves earning college credit, or who wants to pursue an academic interest at a prestigious institution.

Thanks for everything,