October 23, 2013

GUEST ROOM: The Importance of Being Friendly

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As a senior who reminisces about the glory days, I can’t help but pass some wisdom off to the younger classes, as was done to me. I feel like it was just yesterday when I came to visit my senior ILR cousin whilst a senior in high school. I distinctly remember his friends telling me how lucky I was; the enthusiasm on their faces as they relished over their college careers and the subsequent sadness over how quickly it all went by. They gave me advice ranging from “don’t be that kid in your dorm with a black-light poster” to “Mann is the loudest library in the world, so go to the stacks if you want to actually be productive.”  I soaked it all up and took their wisdom to heart. Now, as graduation approaches for the Class of 2014, I believe it’s our time to pass some knowledge down. So freshmen, listen close because this wild ride of college will come to an end sooner than you realize.

I came to Cornell in August 2010, knowing only two other people.  Coming from a small high school that graduated 80 students a year made me worried about not being able to meet new people and that college would overwhelm me. I was fearful that I would go through college only knowing the other three people who lived in my suite in Mews West.

I’m so grateful that my worst fears did not materialize. My first semester at school I started meeting people through classes, fraternity parties and student organizations. Maybe we’d spend a minute moaning about how long the grill line was in Trillium, playing games of beirut at Llenroc or playing basketball at Helen Newman gym, and then each first interaction would be followed by another.  Maybe just a wave across the street in Collegetown, a quick chat on campus or some other small interaction that would only last a minute or two; but something.

That was it: All it took to meet people was to be open and friendly.  Saying thank you to that person who held the door for you at RPCC, giving a quick wave of gratitude to that car that stopped and let you cross the street and reciprocating the “have a nice day” to my CTB cashier.  That’s all I want to pass along to my fellow Cornellians: Just be friendly.

This past September, The Cornell Daily Sun commented on a December 2012 article that named Cornell the “most competitive, challenging, and stress-inducing college in the country”.  These labels are certainly not what I want to remember about my alma mater, but I do believe these are aspects of our school that we can all contribute to change. It’s clear that Cornellians are some of the most competitive students in the country, but does that mean we can’t be friendly to one another?

I urge you all to say hello to that buddy from your bowling class three years ago, to give a wave to your neighbor in Collegetown and maybe even a quick smile to that girl you hooked up with on the Slope last year. Spend the five seconds it takes to say hi. I promise it will be worth it.

Looking back at all of my fears as a freshman, it’s ironic that now, as a senior, my friends sometimes refuse to walk with me through campus; everywhere we go I have to say hello to someone. Whether it’s a buddy from another fraternity, my club advisor or even my professor from my Freshman Writing Seminar, I say a simple hello. I promise you this simple act will make your day better, as well as theirs.

Daniel Lowenthal is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected] Guest Room appears periodically this semester.