Around 10 years ago, my parents pulled by brother aside to discuss one of his recent searches on the family’s computer. Shocker, a teenage boy had been searching porn. He didn’t get in trouble. My parents actually got him his own computer and a virus protection plan — basically, as sex-positive as it gets. That night though, my parents looked at me and said something along the lines of how grateful they were that I was a girl and they didn’t have to deal with this problem twice.
It starts with a “hey.” Or maybe a “sup” or a “you out?” It rolls through around 12:45 a.m. as bars begin to shut down and angsty college students begin to take lap-after-rapid-lap around their final evening’s destination, searching for a mate. Or maybe at 11:45 p.m. as you plan for the impending moment at which you will run into one another as you snake through the tightly wound aisle of Loco. Maybe it’s a “you up?” coming across your phone’s screen at 2 a.m.
Your friends will write your response. Meaningful logic in crafting one’s own answer seems to only apply when the answer is not, in fact, your own. You would use far too many words — your friends push you to just say “hey.” You want to say where you are: “Hey!
I already know how this will go. I’m standing up to deliver a speech in front of an organization’s executive board, my name adorning the title of president, but my face screaming something else to the panel that eyes me with raised eyebrows. I’m petitioning a policy yet again — I’m angry, I’m invigorated, I’m explosive. I get a few eye rolls. Someone clears their throat.
Over the weekend, Cornell hosted the East Coast Asian American Student Union conference — the largest Asian American conference in the East Coast. Overall, it was a notable weekend: Asian Tinder was absolutely on fire, Duffield radiated with the smell of food from the homeland and Buzzfeed’s sweetheart Steven Lim graced campus with his wholesome presence. It was inspiring and uplifting to see so many Asian American students from all over the country discuss ever-relevant issues in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. During my freshman year, Eddie Huang of VICE Munchies and Fresh Off the Boat fame came to Cornell to talk about food, media and everything Asian American. Unabashed in his opinions on racial politics and embraced by viewers of all colors, he represented what I believed to be the best of what a new generation of Asian Americans has to offer.
The realization that most on-campus eateries are closed on weekends strikes me as a fresh blow every time I remember. Are we, the students, presumed to be fasting on weekends? Have weekends somehow still maintained their rosy reputations as periods of rejuvenation rather than periods of barreling anxieties? I don’t mean to speak for the entire student body, but I have a feeling that this bold claim carries a speck of universal truth: we’re still alive on weekends! We’re not hibernating, pleasant as that would be, and we’re absolutely in need of sustenance.
There are many aspects to “adulting” that I’ve learned over the past two years since my acceptance to Cornell. I applied for a student visa and traveled alone on a plane for the first time, set up and started managing my own bank account, signed my first housing contract with a landlord, got my first paid job, began to shop for groceries and cook regularly — the list could go on. I thought that achieving such milestones allowed me to become one step closer to adulthood, that I had done a pretty good job of making it through these rites of passage. I was completely wrong. One thing that I had discarded was a sense of concern for safety.
ByChristopher Schott, Akhilesh Issur, Shivang Tayal, Dean Xu, Chiara Benitez, Binoy Jhaveri & Robin Wang |
International students are integral to Cornell’s campus, mission and values. There is no denying the value and diversity that their presence brings to this campus. Yet international students face many unique barriers at Cornell and are often treated as second-class students. They are the only group subjected to need-aware admissions following the administration’s decision to terminate need-blind policy a couple of years ago. They are the only constituency ineligible to re-apply for financial aid under any circumstances.
Buried amidst last year’s dumpster fire of headlines are harrowing threats to our species’ long-term existence. In 2017, we learned that the “slow down” in climate change between 1998 to 2012 was actually because we lacked Arctic data revealing otherwise. In “resistance” to this, the environmental goals of the world’s governments have grown increasingly pessimistic: what was once described as the point of no return has already been breached. While there are billionaires making earnest attempts to reduce our technologies’ footprint and send lifeboats to Mars, the ambitiousness of their proposals is enough to provoke skepticism in even the most fervent optimist. Empirical evidence of our planet’s increasing degradation might prompt a sense of nihilism even greater than that felt by the early postmodernists.
My visit to Iran over winter break was like catching up with your best friend from elementary school years later, as an adult: awkward, albeit familiar. My journal entries from the last time I visited — five years ago, when I was 15 pounds lighter and had recently rapped all of “Thrift Shop” in a live acoustic performance in front of my peers and World History teacher — were mostly about how weird the dubbed Turkish soap operas on satellite TV were and how everyone suddenly got really into volleyball. I spent most of that visit sleeping until 3 p.m. and then playing Super Mario flash games with my cousins until it was cool enough outside to go stroll through historic Shiraz and all its stunning mosques and mausoleums.
This time around, though, the entries have scribbled-in sentences like “Everyone keeps asking if I have a boyfriend,” “so many people got divorced” and “apparently depression runs in my family.” Trips to Iran used to be a welcomed hiatus from East Coast cynicism and a rare chance to have fun with some of my favorite people in the world who I missed so, so dearly; instead, this visit got really real, really fast. My best friend from back home just landed in India last week. She makes similar observations: “It feels harder to hang out now that everyone’s grown up, because we don’t talk about kid stuff.” Questions like “How’s school?” or “What movies do you watch?” no longer suffice.
As intelligent, young Ivy League students, we seem to know it all. We know how to tackle complicated economic models, apply thermodynamic analysis and develop successful medical practices. And where our classes lack, our countless pre-professional organizations fill in the gaps to teach us how to capitalize on our assets, develop our career goals, and move up in this world. But when it comes to filling our lives with meaning, finding fulfillment and happiness in the real world, we don’t have a clue. We view happiness as a byproduct of success, rather than the means through which we get there.