Friday, July 9, 2010

That Infamous Weather I've Heard So Much About

Day 16/Dyanasaurus Sighting on a Friday Afternoon

It’s Friday. I’m supposed to be alert and wide-awake, but I’m not. Even though this nicely air-conditioned room is noisy and filled with chatter, my eyes continue to flicker slowly as I stare at this laptop screen. It’s a shame that I’m this tired; there are so many things to do tonight. There are so many things I’d like to see. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I should start at the beginning: this morning.

I woke up once again with the sizzling touch of the summer sun on my legs. Groggily, I look to my right and I discover that my roommate was not in bed. Don’t be alarmed. While I do not mind sleeping in a hot, stuffy dorm room - one in which you’re sure to wake up in a pool of sweat, Phoebe does. A friend of ours, named Emily has a room in the third dorm, and between her and her roommate, they have five fans whirring away in their room. So, you can see where I’m going with this. I had a hot, stuffy wonderful room to myself (with two fans) and she slept in a room of three (five fans).

Breakfast at the infamous Appel Commons went by as quickly as we entered. As usual, I’d tag along with the boys (and Andrew’s roommate, Jordan) as we all set out to class through a recently discovered shortcut. While I may not mind our warm dorm room, I’m not too terribly excited about walking up long hills in hot weather.

Today’s lecture dealt solely with the philosopher, John Stewart Mill. Along with Plato, he is one of my favorite thinkers. It’s such a courageous thing, in my opinion, for a man in such a male-dominated time, to speak on behalf of women’s rights. It is not only brave, but the right thing to do. I admire that he is able to represent his argument in On Liberty, when he speaks out about the right of freedom of speech.

Class discussion was like before. We didn’t do much that stood out. I did raise my hand a lot more than usual today, since I understood Mill quite well. Right before class ended and the weekend began, our TAs returned all of our Plato essays to us. I had heard later on today that the TA Desmond gave some harsh and negative critique to several of student’s essay. This made me feel slightly good, only because the essay I got back didn’t have as many mistakes or negative comments as I predicted. I love to write, so whenever I get feedback, I always have this impulse to edit my own work to accommodate to the reader(s). I’m also a strategist. Based on the few essay critiques Simon G has given me in the past two weeks and his lectures during Writing Workshops, I discovered that he is more tuned to the type of writing that is less wordy, straight-to-the-point, and has strong points with even stronger arguments to back them up. I am ready to write the best essay I’ve ever written so far for this class. It will be a tougher hill to climb than the one I trek through every morning, but it will be so worth it.

Directly after class, it was off to the Statler Hotel. There, we were to meet up with Ms. Kaplan, who was so kind enough to take the Kramnick Kids out, despite that she was still sick. (Ms. Kaplan, I hope you get better soon!) Originally, the plans were set on meeting a small Amish community not too far from here. But again, to my utter dismay, a visit at the time that we could be available, just wasn’t possible. By now, I was so used to our plans backfiring, that I think I’ve become completely immune. I mean, first O’Hare Airport fiasco, than no Erie Canal Cruise, and now no Amish people? What else do you have for us?

Instead of visiting the Amish, the Kramnick Kids felt that it would be a waste to ignore the forms we worked so hard to fill out by not using it, so plan B became: THE EARTH AND SCIENCE MUSEUM : THE INSTITUTE OF PALEONTOLOGY. When it came to organizing events prior to coming to the East Coast, I admit I was not a part of any of it. Much of that really goes towards Jacky, Alex, and Chris – and I applaud them for all their great work. However, seeing as how we needed something to replace the canceled Amish event, I thought it was in my interest to at least see what we could do with our new free time and I resulted in finding this very museum. It had flexible schedules and really low admission prices. Oh, and did I mention it had air condition?

Another reason why I was so excited to go was because I absolutely love dinosaurs. Ever since I was a little girl, I remembered how much I loved watching the “Jurassic Parks” movies and how cool I thought it was to be a paleontologist. Although I have not thought of this career path in a long time, I do feel quite nostalgic when I hear about fossils and extinct animals from a “land lost in time”. It may have been a relatively small museum, but it was packed with so much information and wonderful exhibits that it was hard to see it finally come to an end. I’ve always loved museums; I’m glad I got to see one before heading back the West Coast.

On our way back, we scoured the outskirts of Cornell University for a bagel shop Ms. Kaplan noticed on our way to the museum. Tomorrow’s events take place at a very early time and we simply will not have any time to stop for breakfast. Ms. Kaplan thought that to save time, we ought to buy a dozen or so bagels so we could munch on them in our new large truck (I’d tell you the name, but I’m afraid I’ve never been very intellectual when it came to the name and brand of cars.)

We went to an Art Store before the Bagel shop. This store was unique because it sold various hand-made items by various artists around New York. There were some really nice and beautiful works of art, from mittens to blank books, to earrings to little clocks. The bagel shop on the other hand, really embodied the “college town” feel. Many young people, whom I would assume were college students, could be seen sitting with each other, with some coffee and snacks on their little round tables. A large blackboard with a handwritten, colorful menu looked down on us as we waited for our turn to place our orders. Ms. Kaplan picked two of each bagel flavors until we reached our 14 bagel capacity. I was so glad that I had the honor of holding the large paper bag of bagels back to Cornell because the aroma from these pastries smelled very delicious.

As soon as our escapades outside of Cornell ceased, I directed my attention towards the upcoming Latin concert that was starting at seven in the Arts Quad. Last Friday, I had intentions to go, but because of a couple of games of bowling, it slipped my mind completely. But from the description I read on the Cornell site, the concerts seem so fun and entertaining. I addition to which, it was absolutely free.

A friend of mine, Linh, joined me on my quest for some Latin music. Before heading off though, we decided to have dinner at our favorite dining hall of Appel. We weren’t particularly hungry, but we thought having some food in our stomach was better than having nothing at all. We sat together with my friends from Qatar.

The four girls from Qatar are really sweet and fun to talk to. They are all very intelligent and beautiful young women. I’m so glad that I gained the courage to introduce myself to them during the ice cream social on the second day of Cornell. Since then, we’ve always waved to each other whenever we pass by during the day, and sometimes, I’d join them for a meal at Appel. It also took me awhile to learn all their names, but by now I’ve got them down. And to prove it to you, their names were: Munierra, Miriam, Dalal, and Malaz. It is sweet girls like these that make me love Cornell, for they are providing me with an opportunity to meet real international, bright students.

However, as fun as I was having learning some new Arabic phrases from these lovely ladies, the weather did not want to cooperate with my spirit of adventure. When Linh and I walked to Appel, the sky was already quite gloomy. By the time we finished our ever so delicious food, it was raining cats and dogs outside. Finally, the famous Ithaca summer shows its ugly head. This outrageous downpour was by far, the largest I’ve ever experienced. What once became a sweaty, five minute walk from our dorms to Appel, became a two minute run though bullets of crashing raindrops. A friend of mine, Esther, gave me her umbrella to use before Appel, but since I was feeling spontaneous, I gave it to my friend Linh to use instead. So, as she took her time returning to Donlon, I joined in with the other summer college students as they raced for cover. And no matter how fast I tried to run, I was as soaked as the next person.

By the now, the idea of walking 15 minutes in the rain to see a concert seemed a bit too ambitious. I was disappointed because I had such high hopes of relaxing in the large lawn in the Arts Quad as “Paso Fino” filled the air with their Latin beats and rhythms. However, it also came to my mind that perhaps it was just too rainy for the concert to play anyways and because of this, I immediately dropped any idea I had of going to the Arts Quad. I guess today just wasn’t a good day for both the Amish and Latin Music.

Again, as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I am a believer of: “everything happens for a reason.” While it was a major setback to have these two things canceled, I still kept my head up for any possible adventures that I could sneak in before 9:00pm when the “Decades Dance” for Summer College students would commence in the Robert Purcell Building’s Multipurpose Room. The problem was, my mind was blank and I had nothing better to do.

As a result, my boredom and curiosity got the best of me and I decided: “Why not take advantage of this crazy weather? I do have an umbrella after all!” And so, I changed into some nice, dry clothes and headed down to the lounge. I had a plan to walk to the nearby Balch Hall, both for the fun of walking in the pouring rain and visiting a friend, Angela, who resides in that residential hall. But to my utter surprise, I realized my fellow ILC Cornellians had the same wild ideas about this outrageous downpour.

Right in front of our Donlon dorms, I saw them tossing a frisbee around as buckets of water fell from the sky. Immediately, I ran back up, grabbed my camera, and started snapping shots of them as they ran around on the wet and muddy grass. After some nice shots of these crazy bay area teenagers, I decided it was finally time for me to head out to Balch Hall. I too entered the heavy rain, after placing my camera back into the dorm.

The rain was quite heavy, despite having rained for nearly an hour now. While the top of me was relatively dry, the bottom half remained victim to the puddles and bouncing raindrops. Yet, I still managed to enter Balch relatively dry and in a much better condition that earlier, when I raced from Appel to Donlon.

Immediately I saw Angela in the lobby. I was about to join her and Angel to their dorm to hang out when my curiosity, again, got the best of me. Balch Hall has this lounge which was far more beautiful than the one in Donlon. I’ve always wanted to go in there every time I’ve visited but I never actually physically went in to at least take a look. And so, led by this feeling of adventure, I opened the door and walked in.

The air condition greeted me first. It was not harsh or alarming, like in Donlon, where the freezing air will make any sweaty person sick in a snap of the finger. But that wasn’t what caught my eye. What really caught my eye was the event that was going on in the middle of the room. I noticed immediately that the people sitting around on the floor were Chinese. Seeing as how I really wanted to kill some time, I inched into their congregation and tried to join in.

I didn’t say that I “joined in” because it would be a lie to say so. Apparently, this was a private event for Chinese students, mainly the international students. It was probably the fact that I too was Chinese that they didn’t turn me away when I walked in, because everyone else that did try to walk in, were rejected entrance. And another thing: everyone spoke Mandarin there! I was able to pick very little of what they all were saying because I only spoke Cantonese. However, despite this language barrier, I couldn’t resist the idea that I was sitting with them. I felt like I was taking part in a little secret meeting and the thrill of not understanding practically, EVERYTHING that they were saying, I loved every minute of it. How I saw it, was that the table had turned and I was the international student listening in as the natives spoke amongst each other.

However, that is not to say I went through my hour and a half stay there without knowing what was going on. I was able to meet Serene, an RCA on the second floor who was both from the Bay Area and spoke Cantonese. She’s a rising junior to Cornell University and is currently majoring in City Development. Instantly, we clicked and shared lots of conversations. Without her, I may never have had the chance to join in on one of their games, “Mafia”. While it was confusing because I had a hard time understanding what they were saying, I was glad that I got to take part in something rather than acting like the awkward spectator watching them on the side.

By the time the dance drew near, Serene and I headed back to Donlon to get ready. We ran into the Assistant Summer Program Director, Natasha (I met her during a meeting for the Cornell Times), and we offered assistance in terms of preparations for the dance. Therefore Serene and I became in charge of the streamers. Unfortunately, I accidently cut one of my fingers with my friend’s umbrella so that if you really spent a great deal inspecting our lovely streamer decorations, you may just find some specks on my blood on some of them. What a way to leave a mark at Cornell, bloody streamers.

Before hitting the dance floor, Serene, another new friend I met, and I all played pool for half an hour. Pool is one of those activities that I absolutely love playing despite the fact that I’m not that good. However, while I had the lead in both games, I lost them both because I sunk the dreadful eight ball into the hole. I must play a rematch before I leave.

The rest of the evening, I spent in the “Decades Dance”. As it was a dance of students, whom, I would presume, were very distinguished and top of their class, I was warned by Serene that it was going to be quite awkward and unlike the typical high school dances I’ve grown up to knowing. And she was right. While the people themselves were not bad (in fact, they were so much fun to dance with and watch), the DJ did a bad job. The playlist was pretty much “undanceable”; everyone left the multipurpose room with slightly dissatisfied faces. I hung out with my British sister who’s also from Hong Kong, Clara, after the dance. We spent some time chatting to cool down, but not for too long. After all I have to wake up really early tomorrow for a Colgate University tour with the other ILC Students. In other words, for all of you back in the Bay Area, while it is 4:30 in the morning for all of you, it is 7:30am in the Statler Hotel Lobby with Ms.Kaplan for us.

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