As plow trucks cleared the streets of Ithaca after a full night of snow, many Cornellians strapped up their backpacks to trudge through the snow and secure a seat at their first morning lecture of the spring semester.
To many Cornellians, winter break meant a long journey back home. For Amanda Yongvanich ’26, it meant a 19-hour flight to Bangkok, visiting her family for the first time since starting Cornell.
“I was excited to see my family again, [along with] my sister and my dog, because this was the first time that I have been away from them for quite a while,” Yongvanich said.
Yongvanich told The Sun that she spent substantial time reconnecting with her hometown friends while unwinding and recharging from her rigorous first semester at Cornell.
“I was also excited to reconnect with friends because most of them were coming back from their colleges,” Yongvanich said. “[I] took time to relax and be away from the academic environment.”
Some Cornellians took meaningful trips that connected to their personal values and widened their views. Tobie Bertisch ’25 took this time to travel to Israel, a place of personal and religious significance.
“I am Jewish, and going to Israel is meaningful and powerful. It’s a homeland,” Bertisch said. “The emotions are very high.”
According to Bertisch, her experience traveling provided opportunities to explore her interests and academic inquiries on current issues that Bertisch sees in the media.
“There is a lot of conflict in the Middle East right now. It was very interesting to hear the perspectives of the people who are actually living there,” Bertisch said. “More personal individual stories make the issue more tangible. That was very powerful.”
Many students voiced that they missed the community, friendships and experiences Cornell and Ithaca foster.
“I missed my friends,” Bertisch said. “I love school. I love the people here and the energy.”
Yongvanich voiced that she missed the Ithaca campus and the independence of living alone in college.
“I missed the campus, I think it is very pretty, especially at night,” Yongvanich said. “I missed a lot of the people that I met in my first semester. Also, [I missed] the independence and getting to live alone from small things like doing my own laundry to having the flexibility to choose when you want to do certain things. I really valued that.”
Cindy Meddaugh, who has been a part of the Cornell community for 21 years as a custodian, voiced her excitement about students’ return to campus.
“It’s very quiet around here. That’s for sure,” Meddaugh said. “It’s nice to have them back. I like the energy of the students and hearing them. When they are not here, it’s almost like an eerie quiet.”
With excitement and energy, many Cornellians are seeking new challenges and growth opportunities. Bertisch signed up for classes that excite her and took on a new job as a research assistant. In an effort to connect with industry professionals and bolster her resume, Yongvanich shared her plans to join Cornell-affiliated business clubs.
When asked to offer advice to the students in gearing up for the semester, Meddaugh voiced that students should take a step back and be mindful of their stress and mental health.
“Try to enjoy yourself, and do not get too stressed about things,” Meddaugh said. “Life does go by too fast.”