I have often used my articles as another coping mechanism because I wanted someone out there to resonate with my feelings and to help me be heard on my struggles. In hindsight, I realized that I never really allowed myself to settle into college. It may sound obvious and strange but I never realized the importance of giving yourself grace and time to settle in.
RPCC Sunday brunches, Lynah Rink hockey games and Slope Day are just a few of the events that Cornell’s Class of 2024 has yet to experience, after spending their freshman year under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Saturday before last, I woke up to a flood of Facebook posts depicting a smiling young man, Antonio Tsialas ’23, an 18-year old freshman who, according to one of the posts, had just been hired as a campus tour guide. Antonio had been missing since Thursday night, when he attended a fraternity event, and the posts implored anyone who knew his whereabouts to contact the authorities. As the hours passed and more “missing student” posts appeared in my timeline, the pit in my stomach grew and grew, and I braced myself for a tragedy. Late Saturday evening, my fears — Cornell’s fears — were confirmed with a brief mass email that told us Antonio’s body had been found in Fall Creek. I had never met Antonio, so my entire knowledge of his personality, of his humanity, came from three lonely adjectives in the mass email: thoughtful, smart, outgoing.
My freshman year at Cornell was probably the best year of my life so far. I stayed up until 5 a.m. every night participating in hallway-wide gossip sessions, proudly strode into Sunday RPCC brunches in pajamas and last night’s mascara and never, ever called home — because when you’re 18 and having the time of your life, why would you? The sheer novelty of the college experience, the number of smart-mouthed, like-minded people I met at Cornell, definitely contributed to my incredible year. But upon reflection, I realize there was another factor. Although I’m sure the creators of North Campus meant to construct another damp and depressing group of dorms (West Campus reminds me forcibly of J.K. Rowling’s Knockturn Alley), they somehow stumbled upon the formula for a home, a community unto itself.
The weary Friday sun sets on Libe Slope, and Cornell’s alter ego emerges as the night falls. Slews of students trade in their books for beer, marking the paradigm shift from the intellectual atmosphere of day to the Collegetown mosh pits of night. The pregame, party, hangover cycle starts anew as the academic weekday Jekyll morphs into the partying weekend Hyde. Our campus is many things — from an intellectual community to a research powerhouse (or whatever else the admissions brochures say) — but come nightfall, we must accept our nocturnal reality as a party school. A turn-on for some, a red flag for others, the label exists.
Hello, Josh. You thought I would let you smoothly transition to campus, uscathed by the burden of a strange, washed-up older sister? Or that I wouldn’t use the first line of my first column of my senior year to grant you the public embarrassment of your name printed in The Sun for all of campus to see? You really thought. Welcome to Cornell, my dearest brother.
The first day of my last year at Cornell began with me co-leading a tour of first-years around campus. To be totally honest, I thought it was a pretty dreadful idea for me to be the co-lead for the tour, mostly because I have a rather unpopular opinion of the comings and goings around campus. Duffield Hall? Best place on campus in my eyes. My engineering friends think it’s a miserable wreck of a place that sucks the soul out of them, but I think it’s a quirky cross between the glassy exterior you find in extravagant skyscrapers, and the plush interior of stylish hotels.
A man seated at a nearby table during a Monday night chess tournament in my hometown spots my Big Red t-shirt and approaches me. With a finger aimed at my chest, he tells me through a crooked grin that he’s a Cornell alumnus. I tell him I’m thinking about a physics major, which is received by what appears to be a nod of approval as he quickly chimes that he was an engineer here. He proceeds to angle his shoulders parallel to mine, slip his phone out of his pocket, and swipes through his decades-old pictures as a Cornell student. I had barely told him my name, yet we were already peering into what appeared to be some of the best days of his life: him between two others holding drinks.
My freshman roommate once asked me, as she blinked awake to the cloudy, Ithaca sky filtering through our dorm window, “Kelly, are you ever so stressed that you can feel it in your chest when you wake up?” I, having just woken up ten minutes ago, looked at her, looked at the fort of laundry between us that needed to be done and just nodded. Earlier this week, almost exactly three years since that conversation, I woke up to that feeling in my chest again. Immediately, I thought of her and our yellowish wood furniture and string lights that clearly violated safety hazards — what a stressful, chaotic, beautiful time. It occurs to me now that her musings always came at a particular time, and it happens to be that time of year again — early March or, more to the point, summer internship acceptance season. When someone brings up the words “summer internship,” I am immediately overwhelmed by a series of thoughts: I have not found one yet.