February 28, 2014

Remember the Prefrosh’s Perspective

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My prospective student seemed politely unimpressed as I rambled on about Cornell’s convenient bus system, the restaurants in college town, about how you don’t need a car to get around and how most people walk to class. She listened as I continued talking about the museum, the libraries and etc. I tried to impart to her everything that was impressive to me about Cornell, everything I adjusted to this year and all of the ups and the downs of college life.

I felt like I was flailing in a swimming pool of cultural and geological separation. You see, my student was from Queens, in the city. I was born in raised in a town of 6,000 in Soldotna, Alaska. I had not thought these two facts were significant—until I started talking. I realized quickly that most things I loved about Cornell, and prattled on about, were ordinary, ritual and monotonous for her. Why should she be excited about taking a public bus, about walking as a means of getting around and about being surrounded by rich culture, architecture and opportunity when she had grown up within minutes from all of these things?

The open air, the stars above the arts quad at night, the plantations, the hikes around the gorges, Cayuga lake, sledding down Libe Slope in the winter and the quiet of the campus early on Saturday mornings. These are details I thought of later, things that seem habitual to me of any place. Nature, stars, trees, “the country” this is what I am used to, the things about Cornell I take for granted. As I completed number 113 of “161 Things to do at Cornell” (“Host a prefrosh”) this past weekend, I learned a few valuable lessons: DO take your prefrosh to insomnia for a s’mores cookie, DON’T be nervous about having nothing in common with your prospective student and DO try and portray all the great aspects of Cornell, even the things that seem inherent to you. And lastly but most importantly, let the campus speak for itself, Cornell is a unique place no matter where you come from, don’t forget to let it shine.