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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Great Neck, NY
Focus on Writing
Summer College 2010
Hey everyone! My name is Ariel. I’m 17 years old and a rising senior at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School in Great Neck, NY. For most of my life I’ve lived in Roslyn Heights, a town on the north shore of Long Island, NY. However, I spent my first two years of middle school in London, England. I attended a British school rather than the local American school in order to keep up with my religious studies. I left London four years ago but I will always remember my experience there.

This summer I’ll be taking The Personal Essay and Greek Mythology as part of the six-week Focus on Writing program. I’ve always loved to read and write but it wasn’t until high school that my passion really started to take over. Recently, I revived my school’s newspaper. Raising the money was hard but in the end we were able to publish a packed issue of the newspaper. I am now Editor in Chief of the paper and am hoping that we will be able to continue publishing next year. I’m also really looking forward to the Greek Mythology class. I’ve always been fascinated by sophistication of the ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, and Egypt. I already know a number of the Greek myths but I’m excited to learn the meaning behind the myths and gain an insight into Greek culture.

One thing that lured me to Cornell is the horseback riding at Oxley Equestrian Center. I love horses and I’ve been riding for eight years. I can’t wait to check out the stables and hopefully I will even ride there! I can’t believe that next week I’ll be at Cornell. As a daughter of Cornell Summer and Cornell University alumni I’m thrilled to have the chance to experience Cornell for myself. Just a few more days to go!

I can’t believe that I’m leaving for Cornell tomorrow! I’ve dreamed about this summer for so long. The fact that it has finally arrived seems almost surreal. I think I have all of my things together now which is good. Packing is stressful and annoying but it actually made me even more excited about the summer. It’s strange for me to be excited about going away—I never loved sleep away camp and have always been nervous about spending the summers away from home. Yet this time I feel different. I guess all the anticipation that’s built up over the years is finally kicking in!

Tomorrow my family and I are going to make the five-hour car journey from Long Island to Ithaca. We are planning on arriving with enough time for my parents to show my two siblings and me around Cornell. Cornell is where my parents met each other so it means a lot that they will be the first ones to show it to me. I’ve heard that the campus is beautiful and I can’t wait to see everything.

I’m also really looking forward to meeting all the other summer Cornellians. CUSC’s Facebook page has been really helpful. I’ve able to connect with a few people and everyone seems really nice. I’m also curious about my roommate. We don’t find out who our roommates are until we arrive so I really don’t know what to expect but I do know that I’ll be staying in South Balch Hall. I’ve heard that it’s a really spacious dorm which is great because I do tend to over pack!

I’m a little worried about my classes. It hasn’t really set in that I will be doing school work over the summer. Hopefully I will be able to handle everything. I chose classes that I’m really interested in so I think that I’ll like them. I’m really glad that Cornell is giving a crash course in study skills on Sunday. I have a feeling that that’s going to be very useful.

Well, I should probably go make sure I have everything. More next week!


It’s been a rough but interesting first week at Summer College. The whole experience so far has been a huge adjustment for me. I ended up with a single room, which I wasn’t too thrilled with. I’ve met a bunch of other people in singles though. There are so many nice people here; I just wish that we all had the same class schedule so I could see them more often! Our RCA’s have planned a bunch of social activities for us. I’ve been to a few of them and they’re fun. It’s nice to take a break from the seemingly endless amount of work everyone has been getting. I do like my classes though. The first day was intimidating but now I know what to expect. Greek Mythology is very interesting. My professor is really nice and I genuinely enjoy the subject and the readings that we are assigned. The only thing I don’t like about the class is that almost everyone else is a college student. My Personal Essay class has more high school students in it but I’m finding the course a bit more challenging than Greek Mythology. I’m being asked to analyze and write essays on a whole new level and it’s taking some getting used to. I am able to participate in the class though which is something I’m usually not very good at. Overall, although the class is difficult I think I’m going to learn a lot from it.

Tonight I have my second horseback riding lesson at Oxley Equestrian Center. Taking the bus is confusing but eventually I think I’ll have it all figured out. My first lesson was fairly good and the barn is really nice and clean. It’s really nice that I can continue riding over the summer.

I can’t believe that this weekend will be my first weekend at Cornell. I hope that I will get to hang out with everyone I haven’t really been able to see, especially the people I met from the intensive Architecture program! On Sunday there is a carnival for the Fourth of July that I’m really looking forward to. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. Anyway, I should probably get back to studying. There is just so much to do! More next week!


It’s been a really busy week here at Summer College! The carnival on the Fourth of July was a lot of fun. It turns out that organized events are the best places to meet new people. After the carnival I saw the free movie at Cornell Cinema. The theater was really nice, and I definitely plan on going back there again. I’ve also been to Collegetown, Ithaca Commons, and the Ithaca Mall multiple times. There is so much to do here that I’m afraid I won’t have time to do it all! At least I’m here for six weeks, so I don’t have to try and cram everything in. Next weekend the first three-week session will end and the second will begin. I can’t believe how fast the summer is flying by. It’s going to be weird to see so many new faces here. My friends and I are going to try to go off campus to avoid the chaos of the second move-in day. Perhaps we will go to Buttermilk Falls. A bunch of people have been there already, and I’ve heard that it’s a lot of fun.

My classes are going pretty well. I had my first Greek Mythology test this week. It was fairly easy, and I did well on it. The course material is really interesting. Right now we are working on Theogony, which is the story of how the ancient Greeks believed the world was created. The Personal Essay class is going well, too. We just handed in our second writing assignment, and our third will be due at the end of this week. The class can be challenging at times, but I’m enjoying the writing and am learning a lot from it. I’m really happy with the classes I chose. The work is challenging but fun, and I’m enjoying both classes immensely.

I’m so glad that I decided to take lessons at Oxley this summer! I always miss horseback riding so much when I go away, but now I get to ride twice every week. The lessons have been going great. I found a horse that a really like and hope I will be able to ride him for most of the summer. The only bad thing is that it has been incredibly hot here, so I haven’t been able to jump. Hopefully it will be cooler this week. I’ve also met a lot of horse lovers here at Summer College. I wish more people had been aware of this opportunity, because there are definitely others here who would have been willing to ride with me. Still, I’m really enjoying it. And the fact that I have the buses all figured out now helps, too. The buses are definitely not as complicated as they seemed at first; they just take some getting used to!

I had some doubts at first, but now I’m actually having a great summer. Cornell is incredible. After two weeks I’ve really gotten to know the campus and had time to adjust to the program. I can’t wait to see what the next four weeks have in store!

Hey everyone! I’ve been having a blast at Summer College! With each day my love for this program continues to grow. This week everyone became more focused on their work in preparation for the prelims that most people will soon have. Fortunately for me I don’t have any prelims but I do have my second Greek Mythology test coming up that I should probably start preparing for. With everyone busy studying I have come to appreciate Cornell’s amazing libraries. I am particularly fond of Uris Library, the library that contains the famed “Harry Potter room,” otherwise known as A.D White Library. The library is absolutely breathtaking. I’ve come to think of it as my refuge and I thoroughly enjoy studying there. Even if I bring along a friend or two the atmosphere of the library is perfect for studying, although sometimes I do get distracted by the library’s beauty!

On Friday after classes I stopped by the Art as Experience art show. The artwork that the students created was incredible and everyone seemed to have really enjoyed the program. Saturday was very quiet. Both the first session three weekers and the first set of Cornell Adult University families left Cornell on Saturday. The campus was eerily quiet and when I went into North Star for dinner only two tables were full. The food at North Star is really good though. I am an extremely picky eater and also keep kosher to some extent but there is plenty of food for me to eat and it is all very good quality. Ithaca also has great restaurants such as The Nines and Souvlaki House; both restaurants that have been around since my parents attended Cornell! On Saturday night my friends and I even ordered in cookies from a place called Insomnia Cookies which is located in Collegetown. They were absolutely delicious, and we ate them while watching TV and playing Trivial Pursuit in one of the lounges. On Sunday the campus buzzed back to life as the second batch of three weekers moved in. During the day I hung out with one of my friends at the mall and saw the movie Eclipse (for the second time!) but when we came back we went to the Ice Cream Spree to meet some of the new Summer Cornellians. Since I’ve come to feel really secure here I was able to look forward to meeting new people with the knowledge that I already had a great group of friends to fall back on. It was an amazing feeling.

With the first three weeks already under my belt I can hardly wait for the rest of the summer. I’m so glad that I chose a six week program because I’m definitely not ready to leave yet! There is so much to look forward to such as some awesome evening programming, a trip to Niagara Falls, and of course staying on top of my schoolwork! This summer has been absolutely incredible so far. It’s definitely going to be a summer to remember.

Another busy week has gone by…and now there are only two weeks left! I can’t believe it! My workload is definitely picked up this week. In my Personal Essay class we spent the entire week on editing workshops. Basically three or four people hand out one of the essays that they wrote to the class for everyone to edit that night. The next day we discuss each essay, telling the writer what’s already great about their work and what could be improved. Although the editing has taken me a long time I’ve had a lot of fun in these workshops. I loved reading everyone else’s essays. The process has really helped me get to know my classmates better and has taught me a lot about editing. My own essay is going to be discussed in our next class. I was nervous at first but now that two of the people in my class have already come up to me to compliment my work I’m actually kind of excited! In Greek Mythology I had my second test. I did well and my professor seems very pleased with my grades. We are reading a bunch of different texts now; it’s hard for me to keep track of all of the reading assignments! I’m really enjoying it though. I’ve always found Greek Mythology fascinating and this course has definitely reignited my passion for it.

There has been a lot of great programming this week. From Dirt and Worms to hearing a chimes concert in the clock tower (finally!) this week has been packed with fun things to do. On Monday I actually attended an information session for the College of Arts and Sciences. This program has intensified my desire to attend Cornell University so I figured that doing some more research while I’m here wouldn’t hurt. The information session was amazing. The admissions officer was really nice and all of the questions I had about Cornell were answered. It didn’t even bother me that my parents weren’t there and I would definitely advise anyone in Summer College who is interested in applying to Cornell to take advantage of the information sessions. Speaking of researching colleges, Cornell is hosting a college fair for Summer College students this week. Two of the schools that I’m interested in will be there so I hope that I’ll be able to stop by. Cornell has done a great job all summer in providing programming to help coach us through the college admissions process. Even the amazing RCAs are willing to answer any questions that we have about getting into college! Now I feel much more prepared to start my college applications which is great because the Common Application comes out in just one week! This weekend also marked the start of Summer College Quidditch. Yes that’s right, Quidditch! I normally hate sports but Quidditch sounded like a lot of fun…and it really is! My house, Ravenclaw, isn’t doing so well but we’re planning on practicing this week so hopefully we can make a comeback. I’m looking forward to playing again.

There is so much going on in the next week. Our RCAs have planned a Disney movie week. I’m particularly excited to see Hercules because I’m actually going to start learning about Hercules in Greek Mythology soon. There will also be fondue, my usual horseback riding lessons, an International Bazaar, and a bunch of my friends and I are planning a little celebration for one of our friend’s eighteenth birthdays. On Saturday there is a trip to Niagara Falls which I signed up for. I may not be allowed to go because there are a limited amount of spots and preference is being given to people who live more than five hundred miles away from Cornell. I find this a little bit unfair but I do understand the reasoning behind it, particularly in terms of the international students! Oh well, worst case there is always Buttermilk Falls (which I still haven’t been to!). More next week!

As another great week comes to a close I can’t help but reflect on the fact that this week will be my last full week at Summer College. I can’t believe it, but I suppose time does fly when you’re having fun! And there is no doubt that Summer College has been a lot of fun. This week I enjoyed two Disney movies, fondue (although by the time I got there all the pretzels were gone!), and had a lot of fun hanging out with my friends. Of course I still managed to stay on top of my work somehow! Both of my classes are still going well. I thoroughly enjoyed them and definitely chose the right classes for me. Now I just need to focus on finishing three final papers and studying for my last Greek Mythology test and by Friday I’ll be done because, fortunately, I don’t have any finals! While everyone else will be studying I’m going to be showing two of my friends from home around Cornell next weekend. I hope that they will come to love Cornell as much as I do (if that’s even possible!).

On Saturday I visited Niagara Falls. Fortunately there were enough spots on the trip for everyone who had signed up to go. It was a long and very exhausting trip but I had fun. The drive was four hours long and we stopped once each way. We left Cornell really early and had five and a half hours to spend at the falls. I thought that this would be enough time but it went by fast! The falls were beautiful although not as impressive as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite which I visited last summer. Although we weren’t allowed to cross the border into Canada I was still able to see it from across the falls which was nice because I’ve never been to Canada before. Unfortunately I think I’ve now run out of time to visit Buttermilk Falls but I’m still glad that I was able to see Niagara as it is an important national icon.

Today (Sunday) was the real tournament for Quidditch. The last couple of games got rained out but I got to play in one game and it was so much fun! I hate most team sports but for some reason I really like Quidditch. My team made shirts (although very last minute) and got face paint and we all had a great time. All of that running is definitely helping me burn off all of the food I’ve been eating in North Star (but I suppose walking to class helps too). Anyway, now I’d better crack down on my work…I don’t want to start slacking off during my last week of classes! More next week!

Well everyone, this is it. It’s Sunday, August 8, 2010. On Tuesday, August 10, 2010 I’m leaving Cornell University. Hopefully this won’t be the last time I see it.

The last week of Summer College couldn’t have been better. I took my last Greek Mythology test and completed two final papers for The Personal Essay. I worked pretty hard this summer but I loved my classes and this whole experience was definitely worth it. I learned so much. I’m so glad that I was able to get a taste of the college experience. It was a really different environment for me but now, thanks to this program, I have a better idea of what to expect when it’s time for me to head off to college for real. I didn’t really get to know the students in Greek Mythology but I liked my professor a lot and he is going to write me a letter of recommendation for my college application (which I started this week…I can’t believe it!). I did get to know everyone in my Personal Essay class. We had a lot of fun together and our amazing TAs brought us doughnuts on the last day. I also had to say goodbye to the girls I met in my horseback riding class. One of them is actually an undergrad at Cornell. All of the students that I’ve interacted with this summer were so nice. If I’m able to come back here as a student it will be great to see some familiar faces around campus.

There was a really fun game of Cornell Jeopardy organized by some of the RCAs this week. There was pizza and soda and the prizes were various items from the Cornell Store. I was disappointed when my team didn’t win but I was able to answer two of the questions for my team, plus I knew the answers to a number of the questions that the other teams got. My friends and I have also done a lot of exploring around the campus. The campus is so large that I feel like I discover something knew every day I’m here. I walked around the Johnson Art Museum (where my parents had their first date!), visited the stacks in Olin Library, and went bowling with some friends in Helen Newman Hall. Two of my friends from home came to visit and I made sure to show them everything I’ve come to love in the past six weeks. I hope they got a good impression!

Now all that’s left for me to do is edit my extra credit paper for Greek Mythology, pack up, say goodbye, and go home. I’m really upset to leave. This has been the summer of my life. I can’t remember having a more wonderful and valuable experience than the one I had this summer. I’m truly going to miss everything about this program and Cornell University in general. For now all I can do is try my hardest to make sure I come back. Even if I don’t come back I don’t think I could ever feel the same way about another college or university as I do about Cornell. That’s something that hasn’t changed for seventeen years.

Tonight my friends and I are getting together for a sort of farewell party. I really look forward to spending time with them…I need to take my mind off the fact that I’m leaving. So I’ll write a little more after I get home but until then I’m going to try and enjoy the very little time I have left here. I’m really going to miss this.

It’s been exactly three weeks and one day since I lugged my suitcases out of a muggy Balch Hall, climbed into my mom’s white Audi, and paid a visit to Sigma Delta Tau (my mom’s sorority) before heading home. I spent just one full day in my house before flying out to Los Angeles, California for my cousin’s Bat Mitzvah. At this point I’ve pretty much settled back into life at home. Still, every day I’m reminded of my experience at Cornell. The room numbers at my hotel in California contained the same number of digits as the rooms in Balch Hall. I’m no longer eating meals with friends. I went back to my barn for the first time yesterday and although I was really excited to be there it just wasn’t the same as Oxley Equestrian Center. I would even trade my beloved double bed for my twin bed from Balch. I would do anything to go back.

This summer was an invaluable experience for me. This summer I popped the “Jew bubble” and learned how to interact and become friends with people who are different from me. It was surprisingly easy. After all, we’re all teenagers, so we’re really not that different. I also learned what it’s like to take a college class so when I walk into class on my first day of college I’ll know what I have to do to succeed. I also gained a better understanding of what I want from the college or university I attend. I’m finding it very difficult to find other schools I’m interested in, however. My inner compass points only in one direction. I have one alternate university that I’m extremely happy with but my heart still hopes to become part of Cornell University’s class of 2015. It’s scary that in just a few months time I’ll know if that dream will become a reality.

I made some great friends this summer and I really hope I’ll be able to stay in touch with them. So far we’ve all been pretty good about talking to each other but I’m worried we’ll lose touch once we get caught up in school and the college application process. At least two of my friends live nearby. Hopefully I’ll see them again soon.

I would like to thank everyone at Cornell University and Cornell University Summer College for an unbelievable summer. You showed me what Cornell has to offer. Now it’s my turn.