With Thanksgiving this past week and a quickly approaching New Year (finally!), I have been reflecting on the things that I am thankful for. As you can imagine, there are a lot of things to not be thankful for in 2020; a deadly pandemic, police brutality and heightened racial injustice, as well as a highly divisive Presidential election.
So if you can’t think of anything to be thankful for this year, I don’t blame you. Take a year off and be extra thankful in 2021. But if you’re really trying to fill out your list (or need a bit of grounding), here’s my list of 20 things to be thankful for as a Cornell student as we close out 2020. I hope at least one applies to you too.
1. Roll Over BRBs from Spring 2020
If you didn’t splurge on your BRBs at Nasties the night before you left campus in March, you might’ve had some extra BRB money this semester. For me, that means this semester I had $133 extra dollars to spend at Cafe Jennie to further fuel my coffee addiction.
2. A Quiet Zeus
Confession time, I am much more of a coffee shop studier than a library studier. A little background noise and a few familiar faces in between cramming is the key to an A paper or exam. However, as much as I adore a Zeus sandwich, this semester has been the first time that I can actually get a table and get work done in Zeus without screaming to my study-buddy or using noise cancelling headphones.
3. Cornell’s Hybrid System
I’m sure you could guess that this was coming. Although there were some bumps in the road, I am very thankful for Cornell’s flexibility this semester. Cornell provided the opportunity for students to attend in-person, hybrid and remote courses to better accommodate their situations this semester. As a Californian, this meant only 3 weeks of 5 a.m. courses! Thank you to President Pollack, V.P. Lomabrdi, Provost Kotlikoff and all the other administrators who worked behind the scenes to make this semester happen.
4. E-Boards Adjusting
If you are a part of ANY club on campus, take a second to email your E-board members a quick thank you. Cornell’s clubs have been astounding in the past two semesters. They have taken in new members (especially the class of 2024), found ways to complete their philanthropic and professional objectives, as well as have found ways to make virtual clubs fun through these stressful times.
5. COVID-19 Testing (Even if you Don’t Live on Campus)
I’m adding 17 emphases on “even if you don’t live on campus,” because several of my friends at other universities in the country have been tested less than 5 times throughout the entire semester. Although it can be a hassle sometimes, I am grateful that Cornell has the resources to regularly test students. This has been amazing for both my physical and mental wellbeing, as well as has forced me out of my room and onto Central twice a week. Bonus, it forced my off-campus friends to actually come to campus every once in a while.
6. The Cornell Store’s Black Friday Sale
For someone who hates gift shopping and holiday shopping, the Cornell Store has become my one-stop-shop for family presents since my freshman year. You get a Cornell sweater! You get a Cornell hat! You get a Cornell bear! So this year, I am very happy that the Cornell Store is still open and that I saved myself from the online shopping rabbit hole yet again.
7. Asynchronous Classes
Can we all agree that once we’re “back to normal,” we won’t throw out asynchronous classes. Although I was on campus for Fall 1, I will be in California for Fall 2. Asynchronous classes mean that unlike last semester, I won’t have to take all of my classes at 6 a.m. to match Ithaca time.
8. CTB not Closing (and even Expanding!)
One of my favorite things about being a Cornell student is our proximity to CollegeTown Bagels. More specifically CTB’s iced vanilla chai lattes and pesto pizza bagels. I can’t get enough of them! After my two week quarantine, my first stop was CTB for my regular meal in their new outdoor seating.
9. Cornell’s Essential Workers
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you to every testing site staff member for working such long shifts and risking your health to protect ours. Thank you to the Cornell Dining staff for adjusting so drastically to the needs of this semester (and for serving Cornell Dairy ice cream!). Thank you to the maintenance staff for helping to keep our campus clean, safe and conducive for our new learning. Thank you to all of the essential workers (both on and off campus) who made this semester run so smoothly.
10. My Laptop’s Proximity to My Bed
During a normal semester, it would be considered highly irresponsible to wake up five minutes before a class, club meeting or chat with an advisor. Now it’s a new norm! Waking up and getting ready for a Zoom call is much less of a hassle than waking up and trekking the Slope to Goldwin Smith.
11. The Class of 2024 (Special Shout out to Ezugo Ononye)
I have so much respect for the class of 2024. My brother, Ezugo Ononye ’24, is completing his first semester at Cornell and can’t stop gushing about how much fun(?) he’s having. For a class that missed a good half of their Senior year of high school and are experiencing their first semester of college in more than unique circumstances, they’re killing it.
12. The Class of 2021
Thank you to the Class of 2021 for being such amazing leaders in an unprecedented time. Thank you for leading our clubs, guiding us through our classes, and making this year as fun as the last. We know this isn’t how you hoped to spend your Senior year, but you are taking it in stride.
13. Caring Professors
I am also beyond grateful for our amazing professors at Cornell. My professors this semester have been beyond flexible and have adapted to help us make the most out of this semester. This has meant switching exam based classes to paper based, understanding that sometimes Zoom just doesn’t work, and doing check ins to make sure that students are doing well.
14. More Guest Speakers
I’m a sucker for a good guest speaker. Since “guests” no longer need to physically be in Ithaca this year, I have had so many more guest speakers than usual this semester. P.S., as someone who runs meetings for different orgs on campus, speakers are much more willing to do a Zoom call from their homes across the country than you’d think.
15. The new Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Toni Morrison Dorms
If you live on North campus this year, the construction might be on your not-thankful-for list this year. However, two of those new dorms will be named after two of the most famous Cornell alumni (bonus that they’re both women!) — Ruth Bader Ginsburg ‘54 and Toni Morrison M.A. ‘55. If that isn’t something to be thankful for, I don’t know what is!
16. Spotify’s Student Discount
Okay, I’ll admit that this one isn’t particularly specific to 2020. But, I can’t tell you a student who didn’t get through 2020 without a good playlist for studying, crying, Zoom parties or all of the above. If music is our outlet to get through this crazy year, at least we aren’t paying full price.
17. Cornell’s Residential Staff.
Full disclosure, I am an Undergraduate Resident Fellow on West Campus and was a North Resident Assistant last year. Working closely with the members of the residential community has shown me how much work that staff put into making this a smooth semester. Believe me, hosting a virtual event where EVERYONE has their cameras off is not easy.
18. Cornell’s P.E. Department
I am so thankful for the Cornell P.E. department for holding classes during the pandemic. One of the best decisions I made this semester was taking Cornell’s Introduction to Yoga course. If you didn’t this semester, I highly recommend taking a P.E. course next semester, whether online or in person to combat Zoom fatigue.
19. The Ithaca Community
While saying our 2020 thank yous, no one’s more deserving than the Ithaca community. Thank you to the Ithaca community for welcoming us back to Ithaca this semester, despite the severe challenges of the global pandemic.
20. My Friends
Last but not least, I couldn’t have made it through 2020 without my amazing friends. Whether you live a mile or a continent away from your Cornell friends this semester, I hope that your friends were there to listen to you, support you, and virtually party with you through this year’s thick and thin.
Anuli Ononye is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com. Womansplaining runs every other Wednesday this semester.