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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Washington, DC
Freedom and Justice
Summer College 2010
Hey guys, I’m Emily and I go to the British School of Washington in DC. This summer I’ll be taking Freedom and Justice: the Law in Theory and in Practice—we argue a lot in my family, and I’m looking to get a leg up on my contentious parents. I’m a figure skater but I compete on a synchronized skating team (less scary, more makeup). I teach 6 and 7 year olds at a free skating program. I also teach cats at a shelter to behave so that people will want to adopt them (true fact). This year I won a gold medal from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for a play. My biggest worry right now is that I’m not going to have enough space in my luggage to fit all of my shoes.


Things to do before I leave for Cornell:

  1. Study for Physics. My last exam is literally the day that I leave to drive up to Cornell, and I’m not looking forward to it. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
  2. Go to the shelter. I’m supposed to be putting in 6 hours a month, but because I’m going to be gone for all of July, I have to do double hours this month. Occasionally, there comes a point when you really feel you’ve had enough of cats misbehaving for one day.
  3. Skating practice. This is the last time I’ll see my coach for almost the rest of the summer, and I’ll miss her.
  4. Pack. I do this every summer, and each year I manage to forget something vitally important. Last year, it was my pillow. This year, who knows what it’s going to be? In the meantime, I’m just trying to figure out how all my stuff is going to fit into my bags… and even the car.
  5. Yeah, the car. I’m driving the 7 hours from DC to Cornell (I hate to fly). The one good thing about driving is that rest stops usually have the kind of food that you would feel guilty eating anywhere else—like Cinnabons. Yum.

I’m sitting outside in the shade of a massive tree in the arts quad right now—a whole bunch of us have come out here to study. We have a prelim (kind of like a midterm) on Wednesday for Freedom and Justice, but every class has some kind of presentation, exam, or paper that they’re working on, and everyone is really helping to keep each other motivated. It’s about 90 degrees but earlier this week it was in the 70s—Professor Kramnick, who teaches Freedom and Justice, says that cold fronts come in occasionally from Canada, and that’s why the temperatures change so dramatically. Yesterday we went swimming in the gorges of lower Treman, where there’s a diving board and a waterfall and freezing cold water that feels so good to jump in after sitting in the sun. I even managed not to get sunburnt! The people here are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met—week one has gone by much too fast and I never want this to end. My friends are already halfway through our reading assignment on Locke now, so I’ll end this now so I can catch up—you’ll hear from me more next week.

I’m in Robert Purcell Community Center, right across from my dorm in Mary Donlon, and I can hear all the noise coming from the TV room as people are watching the World Cup. I’m not really a soccer person, but everyone is so enthusiastic about it that I almost can’t help but get caught up in it. Then again, that’s how pretty much everything is here. Living in such close quarters with people, you get to know them so well that you can’t even remember your life without them. Things that you could barely tolerate before—like soccer (thanks a lot, Pheebs)—you come to love, just because of the people you’re doing them with.

I have less than a week left here, and I can’t bear it. I’ll be leaving on a plane straight to a three-week program at UC Berkeley once I’m done here at Cornell, and I can’t imagine how it’s possibly going to be as amazing as this. Admittedly, the course is extremely difficult and the work load large, but every day we manage to have another “adventure”—running back from Collegetown in time for check-in, walking to Dunkin’ Donuts in the rain—and so I always feel like there’s a reward for the hard work we do here. Today we’re allowed to go and get our midterm results from our TAs during office hours, and I’m nervous. Wish me luck!

I’m sitting on the plane on my way to UC Berkeley. If this program is even close to being as amazing as Cornell, I’ll be happy. The final few days were a lot of work for everyone: Freedom and Justice kids had our final drafts of our papers due and our final exam, and I know that everyone else had some kind of paper, project or exam. When it was all over, it was really satisfying to realize how much I’ve learned in such a short amount of time.

What’s so hard about leaving Summer College is that you know you’ll never be with these exact same people, in this exact same place, ever again. I miss the campus. I miss Collegetown Bagels and Stella’s and Plum Tree. I miss Mary Donlon and Balch and Appel and Trillium. I miss ordering cookie-cake from Insomnia Cookies on late study nights… or you know, just because. I miss Uris Library. But mostly, I miss everyone I’ve become so close to. Over the course of the past three weeks, I managed to acquire two sons, a sister, and a nephew. You know who you guys are. Love you.

Four weeks since Cornell, and I’m still not even close to getting over it. I miss Donlon Hall and its air conditioned lounge. I miss lectures from Professor Kramnick, studying on the green in the arts quad, that day when we read Plato for 7 hours straight, Uris Library and its balconies and big black couches, and the bowling alley at Helen Newman. I miss sitting on a towel in the fields behind Appel Dining Hall and reading de Gouges and Burke and watching soccer, going to Appel but only for “social reasons” and then ordering take out at one in the morning, the Chinese food at Trillium, our classroom with the weird swivel chairs. I miss my Cornell family. I miss the freedom.

As you guys know, after Cornell, I went to a program at UC Berkeley. I liked a lot of things about it, but what I didn’t like was the lack of freedom. At Cornell, we were treated like adults and therefore learned to act accordingly. We weren’t told to study for the midterm or read the passages, we were simply expected to. We weren’t told when we had to be in bed or where on campus or off we were allowed to go. This meant that everyone learned how to take care of themselves.

Cornell and the people that were there with me are home to me. I hope to be back soon.