Hannah Rosenberg/Sun Photography Editor

Students walk up Ho Plaza on the first day of classes on August 26, 2021.

August 29, 2021

From Remote Classes to a Reopened Campus: Students Enjoy Their First Day of Fall 2021

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On Thursday, Cornellians enjoyed their first day of in-person classes after a year of hybrid scheduling and heavy COVID restrictions. Despite hot weather and fresh homework loads, students flocked to campus to participate in classes and meet friends for the first time in months.

Freshmen got started developing in-person friendships and academic interests after a hybrid end to high school. Sophomores stepped foot on a transformed campus they’d never experienced. Juniors returned to the populated campus they barely remembered, and seniors got to relive a part of their pre-COVID college days.

“There’s so much lively energy on campus,” said Hannah Han ’23. “It’s really nice.”

Carley Kukk ’23 poses with Alec, a Seeing Eye puppy in training. (Hannah Rosenberg/Sun Photography Editor)

Carley Kukk ’23: walking a puppy in training for Guiding Eyes

Carley Kukk ’23 spent her first morning on the Arts quad with Alec, a three-month-old puppy training to become a guide dog. As a member of Guiding Eyes, Carley watches Alec and other puppies for several hours a week. She expressed her enthusiasm to work with the dogs throughout this semester and the rest of her time at Cornell.

“I help them so they can graduate and become actual guide dogs,” she said, “which is awesome.”

A linguistics and psychology student in the College of Arts and Sciences, Kukk looks forward to the spontaneity of the in-person college experience and forming friendships with peers in her majors. 

“I just love finding your first seat and getting lost going to class,” she said. “I’m probably most excited for that.”

Toby Lidov ’23 enjoys the warm weather on the Arts quad. (Hannah Rosenberg/Sun Photography Editor)

Toby Lidov ’23: tossing a frisbee on the Arts quad

Toby Lidov ’23 enjoyed a 9 a.m. acting class and a game of frisbee with friends on his first morning back to school. He looks forward to enjoying the outdoors more this semester with the Cornell Outing Club and his frisbee team.

“It’s going to be nice to get back outside and explore what the greater Ithaca area has to offer,” he said.

Lidov studies environmental sustainability in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and he looks forward to returning to ecological field research.

“It’ll allow me to dive deeper into what I’m studying,” he said. “I’m thinking of starting an honors thesis now that I can actually do this work properly.”

As the vice president of the Cornell Outing Club, Lidov is currently planning a 40-person camping and canoeing trip in the Adirondacks over fall break. COVID restrictions made such trips impossible last year, and Lidov expressed excitement for their return.

Cristian Carranza ’23 and Michael Ortiz ’23 get ahead on the Ag quad. (Hannah Rosenberg/Sun Photography Editor)

Cristian Carranza ’23 and Michael Ortiz ’23: studying together on the Ag quad

Dyson students Michael Ortiz ’23 and Cristian Carranza ’23 studied in the shade of Kennedy Hall after their first classes of the semester. They both enjoyed seeing a well-populated campus on their first day, and they look forward to meeting with peers in-person as the semester continues.

Carranza expressed enthusiasm for school events, classes and extracurricular meetings freed from the constraints of Zoom.

“Just having an in-person class and being able to see everyone has been a nice change of pace considering the last eighteen months or so,” he said.

Cyrus Irani ’25 takes to campus after his first college classes. (Hannah Rosenberg/Sun Photography Editor)

Cyrus Irani ’25: heading to lunch with friends

Cyrus Irani ’25 made the most of his initial day after O-Week, attending his first college classes and getting lunch with his friends. After this week, he’s considering switching out of his 8 a.m. class – but he’s enthusiastic to start his college career in information science at CALS.

Irani said he’s seeking new friends and interactions, and he has greatly enjoyed meeting peers during orientation.

“It was a whole new experience,” he said, “and there was a lot of fun.”

Thuy Pham ’25 and Hannah Han ’23 hang out on Ho Plaza. (Hannah Rosenberg/Sun Photography Editor)

Thuy Pham ’25 and Hannah Han ’23: chatting outside the Cornell Store

Thuy Pham ’25 and Hannah Han ’23 met by chance outside the Cornell Store, sharing lunch and a chat on their first day of school. They enjoyed the shade of the trees on Ho Plaza.

Pham, an engineering student from Vietnam, expressed her excitement to make new friends and mentors this year. She’s interested to learn more about culinary and social cultures in the U.S., since COVID has prevented her from visiting before now.

“I don’t regret that I’ve come to the U.S.,” she said. “Especially in COVID-19, it’s really hard for me from an Asian country to get here.”

Pham looks forward to hanging out with friends and utilizing Cornell gyms this semester. She plans to join a project team in the College of Engineering.

Han returned to school for her first day after a fully remote sophomore year. A junior in applied economics and management, she’s working to adjust to in-person classes and campus life.

“I haven’t been to any of the buildings or anything because I was completely online,” she said, “so it was really interesting to be thrown back into school.”

On Thursday, Han met face-to-face for the first time with peers from her Zoom classes. She looks forward to in-person club meetings this semester.

“I might join Ultimate Frisbee or something,” she said. “Yeah, I’m super excited for that.”

Jordan Paraboschi ’25 studies outside Klarman Hall on his first day. (Hannah Rosenberg/Sun Photography Editor)

Jordan Paraboschi ’25: preparing for class near Klarman Hall

New to campus, Jordan Paraboschi ’25 spent part of his first day working outside Klarman Hall. He got up early, ate breakfast, and narrowly made it to class on time. He enjoyed the warm weather on the first day of school and looks forward to figuring out his academic interests this semester.

“I’m interested in government,” he said, “And there are some government-based clubs I’m looking to join.”

Paraboschi’s senior year of high school operated on a hybrid schedule, so he had some in-person classes over the past year. However, he expressed gratitude that his freshman year can happen in person.

Lia Sokol ’23 poses by the ivy outside of Klarman Hall. (Hannah Rosenberg/Sun Photography Editor)

Lia Sokol ’23: taking a shortcut through Temple of Zeus

Lia Sokol, a government major in the College of Arts and Sciences, cut through Klarman Hall between classes. She thinks in-person schooling will take some getting used to after a semester off-campus with Cornell in Washington, but she’s optimistic for what the year will bring.

“Really being here, being immersed in the experience and having in-person classes is fantastic,” she said.

Although last semester’s Cornell in Washington program featured some regular classes, it enforced social distancing and felt more restrictive, she stated. Cornell’s current policies remind her of pre-pandemic times.

“There is such a sense of normalcy beyond the masks,” she said. “Having that made me really excited to be in school again.”