Pak Kret, Thailand
War, Peace, Poverty, and Power: Intro to International Relations
Summer College 2017
Hi, my name is Nicolas, and I am from Colombia, however, I am a rising senior at the International School of Bangkok in Thailand. I was born in Peru to Colombian and Panamanian parents. I lived in Peru for six years before moving to Puerto Rico for one and a half years, then Venezuela for 6 years finally ending in Thailand where I plan to finish High School. At Cornell, I am attending the 3-week long War, Peace, Poverty, and Power: Intro to International Relations. I enjoy playing tennis but my favorite activity is traveling, whether it be within Thailand or around South-East Asia, I’ve enjoyed experiencing first-hand the vastly different cultural settings of the world. I hope that after this course I develop a better understanding of the interactions between the different nations of the world, but I also hope to meet new people and have fun.
A week ago, after enduring a grueling 22 hours of flight, I managed to safely arrive at Cornell where I was met with open arms and smiles. I won't lie; the first few hours here were tough. As an international student there was no chance that I'd know anyone else and on top of that I was taken by surprise at the staggering variety of people from different backgrounds. I'm glad to say, however, that everything went uphill shortly after the initial period of discomfort. I (like most others) was able to quickly settle in and find a group of people with whom I felt comfortable.
I spent the opening weekend with my newfound friends. We each settled in to our respective dorms and took a walk around the beautiful campus. I was amazed by how connected with nature the campus is. What I enjoyed the most was looking in any direction and still being able to see trees, grass or a distant gorge. I consistently found myself taking the long routes anywhere I went just so that I could fully take in the refreshing beauty of Cornell.
The Monday after opening weekend, classes began. That morning I remember feeling nervous and scared that I wouldn't be able to handle a college-level course. However, as the professor began his lecture, I realized that I wasn't having a hard time understanding the content and my previous worries were quickly dispelled. It didn't take long for me to settle into the classroom dynamic, which I consider to be important, especially taking a course that heavily relies on in-class discussion and debate.
Through the week I developed a healthy routine of eating a slightly early breakfast and taking my time walking to my classroom. Even though it's been a week, the beauty of the campus never seizes to amaze me.
Before I knew it, it was Friday. I spent the weekend with friends, exploring Collegetown and eating at a couple of the many restaurants there. During the evening, I stayed in my dorm playing cards with friends and getting to know more people.
Thus far, my Cornell experience has been more than enjoyable. It's only been a week and I've already been able to learn, grow and experience life in a completely new setting. I can't wait to see what the next weeks have in store!
My second week at Cornell consisted of equal parts studying and hanging out with friends. The homework I am assigned and the amount of studying necessary to succeed in the international relations course is definitely no joke, but its consistency and often its enjoyability, make it easy for me to complete it with few complaints. For any prospective student reading this, I'll tell you one thing I've learned at CUSC (and something your parents and teachers have likely told you more than once), it pays to stay on top of the workload. The faster you get homework done the more time you have to spend with friends, eat out and enjoy the college life that we all aspire to have in the near future.
Despite the intense classwork, I have had plenty of time to be with friends and enjoy the beauty of the campus. One of my favorite experiences this week was going to Collegetown for lunch and picking out a random restaurant to try. The wide variety of food in Collegetown made it easy to experiment with different cuisines from around the world. During the weekend I was also able to visit the Ithaca Commons where I was taken by surprise by the vibrant nightlife featuring a lot more food to try and street performers to listen to.
By far the most memorable part of my week, however, was the Ithaca Farmers Market. Being a relatively short bus ride from campus, the Farmers Market is definitely a place anyone and everyone should attempt to visit. With food from around world, music, fresh produce, nearby Cayuga Lake and (my personal favorite) apple cider slushies, there's something for everyone at the Farmers Market.
So far, Cornell and Ithaca have been full of surprises. I arrived with the expectation that I'd be in some campus in "the middle of nowhere" but was met with the reality of a highly active city with endless entertainment. All I can say now is that I wish I could stay longer because I know that I won't be able to experience the rest of the Cornell life in the last week.
Summer College is now over and I'm met with a combination of different emotions. I'm happy to see my family, have my own bathroom, and be able to sleep until late. I'm excited about what lies ahead in my future, as a rising senior I'll be applying to colleges soon, and after this experience, Cornell is definitely at the top of my list. Also, I'm curious about how my life will look in 20 years, what career path I'll take and where it will lead me. However, along with these positive, optimistic emotions, I can't help also feel certain negative emotions. I'm sad that I won't be able to see most of the friends I made at Cornell for a long time, especially since I live in Asia. Part of me regrets not taking a six-week course, because Summer College has given me a craving for college life with all its faults and merits.
As I reflect on my final Summer College days I realize how the experience has inspired immense growth within me. Living independently from my parents was a new experience that I found daunting at first, but enjoyable by the end. Dorm life has made me appreciate the work my parents put in at home: cleaning, cooking and doing laundry. It has reminded how, in a year, I won't have my parents to do rely on. However, I found this idea of self-reliance and independence weirdly comforting. The feeling being an adult (something that seems distant to many children and teens) filled me with pride. After comfortably surviving these three weeks I'm optimistic that I'll be able to do the same in the near future.
Moreover, Summer College has not only been a growth experience, but also one of academic and social discovery. The rigor of the course showed me the effort that I will have to dedicate in college. Its intensity helps me as I begin to prepare for the International Baccalaureate exams (the international equivalent to AP). Socially, I've learned about the cultural differences between the US and other nations. Coming into the program I had very little experience with American culture and people, and now, having had met many people from a wide range of states and socio-cultural backgrounds, I've come to admire America and its varied subcultures.
As I end this relatively brief chapter in the story of my life, I can only hope that it will lead to many more chapters like it. I'm approaching the end of high school and the beginning of college, so I can only wish that these types of experiences won't be mere outliers but rather common events in my life. If all goes according to plan, I'll be back in Cornell within a year and my aforementioned wish will be fulfilled. But for now, all I can do is work hard and finish high school strongly. Regardless of where I am within a year, I'll always look back at my Summer College experience positively.