January 25, 2010

Far Above the Freezing Waters: First Day Impressions

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Oh, Ithaca. Smart Ithaca. Sweet, cold, dry Ithaca. Vegetarian, organic, recycle-neurotic Ithaca. Filled-with-students-that-do-not-respect-streetlights Ithaca. Haiti-helping, full-of-life and recently-rushed Ithaca.

Oh, Ithaca. Smart Ithaca. Sweet, cold, dry Ithaca. Vegetarian, organic, recycle-neurotic Ithaca. Filled-with-students-that-do-not-respect-streetlights Ithaca. Haiti-helping, full-of-life and recently-rushed Ithaca.

On the wettest and warmest Ithacan spring semester welcome to date (at least for juniors), I do have to admit it feels nice to be back.

Yeah, I know. Not many people will agree. But on the other hand, doesn’t it feel wonderful to get that brain rush again?

To leave class with this idiotic grin on your face because not all you learned in high school chemistry is forgotten, because your teachers remember you, because you run into the people you went to class with last year and they now laugh with you, happy to see you back, even though you didn’t even talk all that much last year?

To see friends again, impressed at how you do miss them, even when you spend the night talking with them about missing home? To suddenly realize, in the middle of the day, that you’re pretty much in the last half of this ride, and say to yourself it doesn’t matter because it’s all so cool?

Yeah, I might get off this giddy wonderful feeling in a few weeks, if not in a few days. But then again, it’s worth hanging on to while it lasts.

Yesterday, a friend of mine from a consulting firm recruiting in Cornell asked me to give him a quick tour of campus during lunchtime. I maybe had 40 minutes to spare and hastily went from the Slope to the Johnson Museum to the Arts Quad, taking pictures of the Clock Tower, and as I saw his eyes open in awe, I did a quick double take on the fact that, well, you know, we are in one of the most fucking amazing places on Earth.

Look around you.

The campus is beautiful, filled with some of the smartest people in the country and the world. Yeah, we complain our asses off, but once in a while, it is just necessary to stop and take in the little things that we don’t take time to notice most of the time.

Example: while walking towards Bradfield Hall for physiology last fall, on one sweet, sunny day, I happened to actually notice the lamp posts that lined the streets. They’re sweet as hell. I lit up a cigarette and leaned against the lamppost, happily enjoying the rushed expressions and movements of the students moving towards class around me. Yeah, I was two minutes late, so what. It was one of the coolest cigarettes ever.

Or mushroom soup. I have eaten it only once, maybe because I haven’t looked for it in a while (I’m not on a meal plan and hardly ever eat on campus). But the mushroom soup at Trillium is to die for. It took me almost half an hour to eat, I was so taken over. Best soup ever. I’ve mentioned it to everyone and anyone at least once. It was such an amazing experience.

Or even this past first day of school. Did anyone happen to stop by Willard Straight around 3p.m.? The clearing weather permitted standing on the balcony. And there was this particular time when the sun came out, just a little bit, and the rain seemingly washed everything away so that the greens were particularly bright and you could see this amazing view and an incredible pattern of silver clouds above you.

Sweet, small things should stick with us just as much as a bad call in customer service when you’re the one on the receiving end. (Note: usually, customer service call center people really, really, really appreciate when you ask for things nicely. Since that is not usually the case, we tend to remember those people that are nice. For years to come! I am absolutely serious.) And they do, whenever we take the time to look at them. Like now, when we can actually go out without freezing.

This may also be coming from the fact that I’m taking less than 17 credits in my coursework for the first time in a while. Before, I felt I would not have enough time to learn all I wanted to learn.

On the other hand, all that coursework has just ended up perpetuating my amnesic tendencies, so I don’t remember half of what I took. I also did not do as well in those courses. After the first “C” of my life at Cornell last semester (yes, I got a “C” and yes, I remembered the Hangovers song. I consider that song another of those things worth smiling about), I thought I’d rather keep it a little less hectic out there. And yes, even when I’m pushing this column to deadlines that even I think are over the line, I do feel pretty happy.

So, here’s a piece of advice for this coming semester: Please save yourself a lot of unnecessary stress and consider whether taking all you’re taking is really worth it. Give yourself time not necessarily to complete the courses, but to enjoy them. Which is, after all, the thing that really matters.

Florencia Ulloa is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at fulloa@cornellsun.com. Innocent Bystander appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.

Original Author: Florencia Ulloa