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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

Student blogs

Meghan

Wilton, CT
MyCUSC: Create Your Own Summer College Program
Summer College 2010
Hey, my name’s Meghan and I’ve lived in Wilton, Connecticut for nearly my entire life. Before I could even talk, I was singing. One of my earliest memories is walking along a boardwalk in Rhode Island singing “Down by the Bay” at the top of my lungs. My repertoire of song choices has become a little more sophisticated since then and now I sing in two choirs at my school. Besides my love for music, nothing brings me greater joy than learning. I find myself looking for new things to try and one subject that’s intrigued me is astronomy. My school doesn’t offer astronomy so I saw Cornell as the perfect opportunity to learn more about planets and stars and whatever else is out there. That, combined with the Personal Essay course, is sure to make for a great summer at Cornell!

6/25/10
Today, my family and I packed up the car and started the drive to Ithaca! Yes, I realize it’s a little early but we’re making a pit stop at a little place we like to call the Blueberry Patch. For four generations, my family’s owned 75 acres of land filled with blueberry bushes in East Pharsalia, New York, better known as the absolute middle of nowhere. There isn’t much to do here except go for a walk to pick blueberries or enjoy an occasional thunderstorm from the protection of the porch, but I can safely say it’s one of my favorite places.

As I’m sitting here writing this I’m thinking about my rapidly approaching arrival at Summer College! Needless to say I’m excited but I’m definitely starting to get nervous. See, I haven’t taken physics yet and since astronomy and physics go hand in hand, that might make this class much harder for me than for other people who have taken physics. The admissions office at Cornell Summer College even called me while I was applying to warn me that students who haven’t taken physics yet tend to struggle in this class. But not to worry! I have a plan. Just in case I discover that my lack of knowledge in physics is going to make astronomy too difficult and if I have to switch out, I’ve been looking at some of the other classes available at Summer College. My plan of action for the first day back is to dip my feet in the water of two other classes to see if anything else peaks my interest. I want to take astronomy more than anything and learn more about all the stars I can see right now, but I also want to succeed at Cornell. I’m keeping all of my options open. I’ll let you know how it goes!

7/5/10
I’m writing this journal entry with good news to bear! I talked to my astronomy professor and he said that any physics I would need he would teach in class. This means I don’t have to switch out! Judging by how interesting the first week was I would have missed out on a pretty incredible class. We started learning about how to find stars in the sky this week and we even went out to Cornell’s observatory to learn how to use the telescope! We haven’t been there at night yet, but I’m sure it will be amazing when we do. My other class, Personal Essay, is equally as interesting. I’ve always had a fascination with writing, so this class is a perfect fit for me. Our first assignment was to write a literacy autobiography where you describe yourself as a reader and a writer. The assignment was easy enough, but then my professor made me read mine aloud to my entire class. I don’t generally like to read my writing out loud, but I conquered my fears! I think I’ll make this a goal for the rest of the summer: get outside my comfort zone.

Enough about my classes, let me tell you about what I’ve been doing with the rest of my time here at Cornell! I’ve never been to sleep-away camp or anything, so this is my first true experience away from home. I must admit I was a little apprehensive about having a roommate for the first time, but so far it’s working out great. My roommate is from Spain and she has quickly turned into one of my closest friends here. Spain is just one of the many places that the people here are from. It makes my background seem pretty dull when people tell me that they’re from the Philippines, but they lived in South Korea, Russia, and the United States. I don’t think I’ve ever met so many unique people in one place. So far, the diversity is one of my favorite attributes of Cornell. Of course, the stunning campus is another of my favorites. Yesterday, I went with a group of friends down to a swimming hole to escape the heat and I couldn’t help but be in awe of the scenery of Ithaca. Even around campus, my morning jogs aren’t nearly as tiring because I’m able to look over the gorges on the bridge or across Cayuga Lake from the top of Libe Slope. I definitely agree with those T-shirts I see people wearing saying, "Ithaca is Gorges." (Get it?)

My first week here consisted of a lot of introductions and a lot of learning and I hope that the next five weeks continue to be just as enjoyable!

7/11/10
What a week! This week I took it upon myself to go to cycling class at the gym every morning before my first class. Needless to say, I’m a little sore, but it was totally worth it. I even think the extra adrenaline boost in the morning helped me in my test-taking abilities, because I did very well on my first astronomy quiz. Just one more reason why I like to exercise!

Speaking of astronomy, our first official astronomy lab was this week. The assignment was to find Venus and observe its motion as the night went on. I can’t say it was hard to find Venus because it was easily brighter than any star in the sky. You could even see it before the sun had fully set. Our professor told us that astronomers often get calls from people reporting UFO sightings on nights when Venus is that bright.

It feels like the weeks are flying by! Two weeks are gone, and I’ve already started planning what I’ll write for my term paper in astronomy. (I think I’m going to research nebulas.) I’ve been feeling a little stressed out with all the work I’ve been getting, but so far it’s not unmanageable. I’ve definitely had enough time to participate in all the programs that the RCAs have been putting together for us. One night I went to a program with desserts from around the world AND a poetry jam. This was one of the better nights this past week because it involved delicious food and poetry, two of my favorite things. There were also a bunch of programs this weekend. My friends and I went to a Decades Dance on Friday and then sang at karaoke on Saturday. The karaoke was especially fun. There are so many musically gifted people here… and also some very brave people.

The weekend came to a close with an awesome victory by Spain in the World Cup. The game ended several hours ago, and the hype still hasn’t died down! Being from Spain, my roommate was thoroughly pleased. Now it’s Sunday night and I still have two chapters to read for astronomy, so the good student in me is going to tear myself away from writing this journal entry and buckle down. Until next time!

7/19/10
Remember when I said that I was going to venture out of my comfort zone this summer? Well, this weekend I most certainly furthered my pursuit of this goal. There was a talent show on Friday night and my friend and I performed the duet “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat. All of my friends came to watch so the stakes were high. I was nervous about forgetting the words (which I had previously done in the audition) or messing up those tricky harmonies, but no such problems occurred and lots of applause ensued!

Besides this little adventure, I also volunteered for the Red Cross during the week. I’m a Red Cross volunteer at home, so I contacted the chapter here to see if I could do anything to help out over the summer. They only had me do some little jobs around the office for a couple hours one day, so it wasn’t terribly exciting, but hopefully later this month I can do a blood drive!

These were the most interesting of my endeavors outside of class from this past week. My course work is pretty much the same since last time I wrote. The outline of my term paper is due tomorrow and my research has really come along. Nebulae are just far too cool. In other news, I got a B++ on my first essay in Personal Essay! Who knew such a grade existed? I’m going to revise it to see if I can’t get it up to an A--… I’ll let you know how that goes! Until next time.

7/26/10
Have I mentioned that I love thunderstorms? Well, I do. A lot. I couldn’t have been happier this past week because almost every afternoon was filled with thunderstorms! The skies turned ominous colors, the thunder rumbled, lightning cracked, and more than once I was drenched from head to toe just walking to class. I loved every minute of it.

This week was pretty light work wise. My astronomy homework was fairly easy. However, in class we learned about relativity, which sort of went straight over my head. My lack of physics was catching up with me a little bit this week. Not to worry though! This week is all about stars and planets, which I can handle. In Personal Essay, the workload was also pretty light. I wrote an essay about skiing, though this can hardly be called work because I love writing about skiing.

Outside of class, I took some time to find out more about Cornell. I went to an official information session on Saturday and I also attended a workshop on the college admission process. I mostly knew everything they said in the information session, but the workshop had a great deal of valuable information that I plan on using when I apply to Cornell. I also set up a meeting with the Air Force ROTC program here at Cornell. The Lieutenant Colonel of the detachment here told me everything about the program and all of its benefits. I know it’s a big commitment, but I’m absolutely going to apply.

Now for the fun stuff! This weekend was my friend’s birthday so we went to downtown Ithaca for dinner at Just a Taste, this really cool restaurant that serves only tapas, or appetizers. The portions are small but the point is that everyone orders a bunch of dishes and everyone tries everything. We had a big group of ten people so we had a lot of food. I tried all kinds of food. I even tried shark! (It was delicious.) That’s all of the exciting news I have for now. Until next week!

8/2/10
I have exciting news! This past week I wrote an essay an essay about singing because, well, I love to sing. When my professor read my essay, he suggested that I sing with him and his band on Monday night at Collegetown Bagels! We’re going to sing "Valerie," "Melissa," "Man in the Mirror," and "The Weight." I’m currently trying to memorize the lyrics to all of these songs right now. I’m a little nervous because the only time we practiced was after class on Friday on the steps of Goldwin Smith Hall for twenty minutes. I have to say though that my excitement is kind of overpowering my nerves. To any Summer College students reading this, come to Collegetown Bagels Monday night at 6:30!

In other news, my astronomy lab was amazing this week. It was spectacular night for observing the sky on Thursday, so we went to Fuertes Observatory. We saw Mars, Venus, the Ring Nebula, Saturn and its rings, and M-13 which is a star cluster of 100,000,000 stars in one tiny dot in the sky. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. We also took a peek at the Moon. Oddly enough, there’s a type of optical illusion that happens as the Moon rises at night. It appears to be much larger on the horizon than when it’s higher in the sky. However, if you look at the Moon through your legs, it appears normal size! I suggest you try this little trick… even though you look silly doing it.

Since I wrote my last blog, my workload has picked up tremendously since the end of the program is near. I should get back to my work now but I’ll write again soon!

8/31/10
Well, school just started yesterday and I can safely say that it was quite the transition from Summer College. Leaving Cornell and all the wonderful people I met behind was hard enough, but it was certainly unsatisfying going back to high school after the amazing summer I had. Having spent six weeks experiencing Cornell and all it has to offer, I’m confident that I want to be a real Cornellian next fall. How could I live without Insomnia Cookies or the Farmer’s Market? Experiencing what Cornell is all about has helped me realize that all I could ever want is right there in quaint, little Ithaca!

Besides affirming my desire to attend Cornell, Summer College was a learning experience. You’re probably reading this thinking to yourself, "Well, duh, you were in school," but I learned more than what was taught to me in the classroom. I learned what it felt like to be away from home. I learned what it meant to be independent. I learned how to live with people other than my family. I learned how to adapt to an entirely different set of circumstances from the ones I’ve always known (even if it was only for six weeks). The first week I was home, my dad told me that he thought I grew up over the summer; that I had matured. I think he was right to a degree and it’s led me to believe that that is the reason why it was so hard for me to go back to school yesterday. Summer College was truly the best preparation I could have had for the next stage in my life. I’m ready to go to college now that I’ve had a little taste of what it’s like. Being at Cornell this summer emphasized that there are so many great things waiting for me to discover… if I just make it through senior year. Thanks for my reading my journal! It’s been a blast!