February 20, 2011

Only at Cornell

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I’m pretty sure you are all well aware that we, my fellow Cornellians, are an odd bunch. I mean, let’s get serious here people. Anyone that chooses to go to school in the middle of the Arctic tundra, where cows with viewfinders in their 9,000 stomachs outnumber the population, has to be at least mildly insane.

But in these 10-square miles surrounded by reality, we Cornellians don’t really get a taste of “normal.” That is, until the glorious enormity that is summer break finally strikes.

I don’t know about you, but for about a week after I’m home in sunny South Florida, I find myself telling stories that would (in my mind) be hilarious over sangrias at CTB. But those same stories turn out to be not-quite-so-clever over virgin Mojitos at my neighborhood Applebee’s.

Take, for example, a conversation with my housemate from last year:

Slower-than-normal-me: “So what’s your essay on?”

Baby-Einstein-housemate: “The relationship between modes of operating and listening as related to system aspects in radio and television from 1890-1970.

I’m-just-a-history-major: … (blink)

Calculated-Pi-when-she-was-three: “Hey, you asked.”

Did you find yourself saying, “Only at Cornell …” Because I do, pretty much all the time.

Still, the fact that we all have at least one friend who will likely win a Nobel Prize at some point in his or her lifetime isn’t exactly what makes the Cornell experience particularly unique.

I’m pretty sure that most of us here aren’t superhero geniuses — I can only add two cells in Excel without freaking out.

But every once in a great while, I will come across someone and I just have to wonder what building their parents donated so they could get in.

For example, the other day as I was walking home, I casually eavesdropped on a guy chatting to his buddy over the phone:

I-got-someone-else-to-pee-in-the-cup: “Dude, paternity tests are totally no big deal. I passed all four of mine, don’t even worry about it.”

So if it ain’t our abnormally huge brains, what makes us Cornellians instantly so darn awkward as soon as we leave our little bubble on the Hill?

Perhaps it’s something about this hippie town that gets under our skin.

Maybe it’s discovering that Ithaca has the largest number of “glass shops” per capita (totally unverified statement). Or possibly it’s the Cornell ritual of explaining to your mother that your hair is now green and you’re coming home with a few more holes in your ears than when you had arrived.

Still, even if you landed in Ithaca, N.Y. — population: cows — by some horrible Ivy League application mix-up (Cornell, Columbia, same thing, right?), you’ll eventually do something that will make all those city folk accuse you of having become a tree-hugging gypsy.

Listen, you little fashionista, they’re going to call you out the second you say something remotely Earth-friendly. I don’t care if it’s in vogue right now, you’ll sound a little nutty to them. I guarantee it. Even if it wasn’t you that said it in the first place:

Tell-me-what-just-happened-in-your-bedroom-NOW: “So, that was quick. No, erm, hanky panky?”

Shut-down-girlfriend-of-a-vegan: “No, the boif needed soy sauce and balsamic vinegar for his tofu. Not some hot SEX like I was hoping.”

Even those who insist on wearing their Christian Louboutin’s every day to class are eventually going to meet someone interesting who wears Birkenstocks even in wintertime. And they’re going to like them. And they will be judged.

For me, I’d have to say that I’m pretty okay with the impact Cornell has made on my life. Sure, I might have a nervous breakdown when my future boss informs me that Michelin-man down coats are inappropriate business wear. And God help him if he dare tries to take away my fur-lined wellies.

Sure, I may not come out of this place the next Mark Zuckerberg. (Let’s be serious, friends … we don’t go to Harvard.) But other than that, I’m pretty sure that my experience on the Hill will make me, if anything, a little more interesting than the chick in the next cubicle over.

Cristina Stiller is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at cstiller@cornellsun.com. Believe You Me appears alternate Mondays this semester.

Original Author: Cristina Stiller