Cornell Class of 2014 Orientation

Again, I don’t feel like writing this in any order, so following is a bulleted list:

  • Only at Cornell, it seems, could a 3000-person Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament start and finish within 15 minutes. (And none of the 3000 knew about the tournament beforehand.) The grand prize for winning 12 games in a row was… Cornell bottled water. One bottle.
  • 3000 people gathered around playing RPS is a LOT of people. And that’s just the freshman class. Add in the upper classes and the graduate students, and you get around 20,000 students.
  • Ithaca is GORGES.
  • Cornell’s campus is huge. Texas-style.
  • Mews Hall (dorm where I’m staying) is super-awesome.
  • The Big Red Band (Cornell’s band program, especially the marching band) did the most comprehensive and impressive sidewalk chalking I have ever seen. There were basically arrows and words drawn everywhere. They had some especially funny ones:
    • “BAND” with forward arrow.
    • another “BAND” with forward arrow.
    • quite a few more of those.
    • “YOU MISSED IT // TURN AROUND” with a U-turn arrow once you pass it.
    • “BOTH PATHS // LEAD TO BAND” with a forward arrow and side arrow at an intersection, because the band building was on the opposite corner.
    • “(the most efficient route)” on a diagonal arrow between the two arrows described before.
    • “SUBLIMINAL MESSAGE: // JOIN BAND” all in huge letters.
    • “SEX // NOW THAT I GOT // YOUR ATTENTION // JOIN BAND” with “SEX” in particular large letters.
  • Orientation games don’t seem to help very much in remembering names or knowing people. Then again, they’re quite fun.
  • The food certainly is great.
  • Cornell’s motto is the Big Red. Technically it’s the Big Red Bear, but they have Big Red everything. The store sells things in Big Red Bags, the marching band is the Big Red Marching band, and some Cornell engineers who worked with Spirit and Opportunity insist on calling Mars the Big Red Planet.
  • There’s a freaking waterfall. Yeah, a waterfall. (Which is gorges by the way.) Edit: There are multiple.
  • So far it’s only day two of a 5-day orientation. More interesting news coming next time.

Edit (8/24/10): Well, orientation is just about done! It’s been awesome getting used to the place. The last two days though, it has been very rainy and not as scenic. Today it was a little better. Classes will start tomorrow. A few additional things:

  • I had to wear a jacket in August. That’s certainly one difference from Austin.
  • The band is so epic.
    • After a first rehearsal, we went to Collegetown and sang some really bizarre songs. One of them amounted to saying “Penn sucks” about 30 times, and another questioned the sexual nature of Yale people. Profanity was pretty much a requirement for a song.
    • If you think that was bad, imagine how the trumpet section made it even more awesome.
      • Actually, I suggest you don’t imagine that.
    • The Cornell trumpet section owns the website
    • Regarding marching, the time required to cover fundamentals, forward/backward marching, slides, dress/cover, box drill, and spin maneuvers at my high school was 3 days of strenuous band camp. At Cornell it took 15 minutes. (Actually it took much longer for most sections, but the trumpet section did it in 15 minutes.)
  • An umbrella is a must-have accessory. It rained on and off for two days.

Off to Ithaca

As I am leaving for college, I originally intended this post to be a reminiscence of and a goodbye to Austin, but when I tried to write it, the words would not easily come out. Therefore, this is not solely a farewell to Austin, but an anticipation of where I’m heading next.

Austin has been my home for 10 years, almost exactly. We moved here from Greenville, South Carolina in September 2000, and it is now late August 2010.

Even though I wasn’t born in Austin, I consider Austin to be my primary hometown. Besides relatives, nearly all the people I know I have met in Austin. I was too young to remember people from Greenville or earlier places.

I also received most of my primary and secondary education here in Austin, from third grade straight through twelfth. I attended Forest North Elementary School, Laurel Mountain Elementary School, Canyon Vista Middle School, and Westwood High School (’10).

And I almost continued this with University of Texas (’14):

UT TowerYet, I chose Cornell University instead. I have nothing against UT. In fact, logically I should have gone with UT, for it was a little bit cheaper, and I was in two honors programs (Dean’s Scholars and Plan II) to boot.

But for me, it lacked only one thing: fresh air. Don’t get me wrong—Austin is one of the cleanest cities in the nation, and is reputed one of the best places to live. What I mean by “fresh air” is, I have lived in Austin for 10 years, and it was time for a change. Between familiarity and uncertainty, I had to choose the latter:

Cornell TowerIt was certainly not an easy choice. Since most of the people I know are in Austin, I would miss them all. Furthermore, no one else from my high school class is going to Cornell (though I do know a couple of people in a different grade). And from my high school, a million (okay, more like at least 50) people in my class are going to UT. So those are the numbers. And, oh yeah: Winter? Snow? What’s that? 😀

We’re flying tomorrow morning. Today is my last day in Austin. I feel like I have a lot more things to say, but I don’t know what order, so I’ll just make a list:

  • I’m going to miss all those “Keep Austin Weird” bumper stickers.
  • An online shoutout to the Westwood Class of ’10!
  • And to the Cornell Class of ’14!
  • I am moving from a liberal city to an apparently even more liberal town.
  • Ithaca, at 7.92%, has the highest percentage of residents holding Ph.D.s in America. [Source: Forbes on MSNBC]
  • Perhaps Austin and Ithaca won’t be too different. Who knows?
  • I still have some final packing to do, and my room is nowhere near clean.
  • We’ve said so many goodbyes in the last few days as we’re going off to college. I would love nothing better than to say goodbye to all my friends in person, but that is obviously impossible. To all those whom I didn’t catch in person: Goodbye! And to those whom I did: Goodbye again!
  • Even this morning, the UT McCombs School of Business entrepreneur-in-residence Gary Hoover commented on this blog out of the blue, and gave me a goodbye present. That was very pleasant, thank you.
  • This blog WILL continue to be updated as I become a college student.
  • Cleaning out my room and finding old things is creating a lot of nostalgia. Right now there are about 253 things on the floor, so I’d best get back to cleaning. My next post shall come from Ithaca. 🙂