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3 Things I Love About Cornell: Thoughts from my night stroll

Updated: May 1, 2023

The final countdown to graduation has officially begun, and so of course you're gonna get a few stories of my favourite memories at Cornell on the blog. Being a part of the class of 2023 is really special to me, because we're the last undergraduates at Cornell that experienced it before the pandemic. I think that's really special, and something that made my time here even more memorable and nostalgic to think about. It really feels like two different universities between when I started in 2019 and now.

I could easily write about Cornell and tell you my favourite things were some of the things that you can find on their website. But instead, I'm going to share 3 of my favourite things that only a Cornell student could tell you, and that were my genuine favourite parts of my Cornell experience. I really did enjoy my 4 years at Cornell, and trust me, this won't be the last blog post about it before graduation.

In the past few weeks, I've come to the realization that every thing that I'm doing on campus needs to be very intentional, because I only have a few more days left in Ithaca. I've thought a lot about how short my time is, and it's given me the opportunity to appreciate Cornell and Ithaca so much more, and to stop and take a moment every now and again to just be grateful for where I am and for the opportunities that I've had over the past 4 years. It's so easy to get caught up in the stress of work and academics and forget about the privileges that we have and the beauty of everyday life around us.

Anyways, I could go on for days about all that (and trust me, I have lots of Sundays to so I will), so let's get into this list. Here are 3 things that I really love about Cornell:

1. The feeling that you get when you walk across a waterfall/gorge to class every morning

As a freshman at Cornell you're obligated to live on North campus, and so your walk to central campus is relatively the same every day - crossing Thurston Falls. I have a few pictures of it in an earlier blog post. It's a breathtaking waterfall, and I remember so vividly the feeling that I got every time I walked across it as a freshman. It feels a bit goofy to say, but I really felt this sense of pride when I crossed that waterfall. It was a feeling of "Wow, I really get to go to school here".

As an upperclassman, I live in Collegetown, and so I cross Cascadilla Creek everyday to go to class. It's less of a wow-factor view, but still a beautiful gorge. There's so many days that I've been late to class because I decided to just stop on the bridge for a minute or two and just pause to take it in. Those moments for me are really special, because they help to ground me and remind me of where I am. Of course, you eventually get desensitized to the everyday morning walk, but in the past few weeks when I've walked to class, especially with all the tress growing their leaves back now in the Spring, I've genuinely just thought to myself that same feeling of "Wow". It's this feeling of happiness and some sort of bliss almost when I take the time to pause and take it in.

And honestly, I get that feeling back home in Jamaica too. It's the kind of feeling that you have to be intentional to feel. That feeling of gratefulness, of satisfaction and of peace. I really encourage you to take some time to appreciate what's around you, whether it be a blue sky, blossoming trees or even just the building you're in. It's a practice that I've learnt from my everyday yoga, and it's something that has allowed me to feel grounded when I feel lost or swamped.

2. How safe I feel walking around at night by myself

Now this might be a little controversial, because of course I recognize my privilege as a man to walk by myself and feel safe, and some people might feel differently than I do. But in my experience, in my 4 years at Cornell, I've always felt very safe walking at night on campus. In fact, at the time I'm writing this blog post, I just got back from a 2.5 mile walk by myself from Collegetown to North Campus and back, airpods in, noise-cancelling on, music on full volume. I recognize that of course it's important to be aware of your surroundings, and I'll probably have some of you worried about my safety in doing things like that on my own and not even letting my friends know, but I really do feel safe in Ithaca, and I really really appreciate that, and it's not lost on me that it's a privilege to be able to do that. I have friends that go to colleges in big cities, and that's just not something that they can do without feeling like they have to be on guard.

Honestly, when I was applying to college, I didn't really know what was important for me in my decision-making process. After being here for four years though and visiting in-city campuses like Columbia University or NYU in New York and spending 5 weeks at Berklee College of Music in Boston, I'm so glad that I ended up at a University with its own campus. I really value the fact that Cornell's campus is so large, and although it's an open campus where anyone can drive through or walk on, I feel so much more at peace knowing that I'm within boundaries of an actual campus that I can call mine, rather than being in a city with only a few buildings here and there that belong to Cornell. I did that whole 2.5 mile walk on campus, and I barely even saw like 30% of campus on my journey. Cornell's campus is a huge plus that I didn't realize I would come to love when I accepted my offer to come here.

3. Sitting, laying or even sleeping on the slope at night

At Cornell, we have this beautifully landscaped hill called Libe Slope that faces towards the west. When it's warm outside, it's a popular spot for Cornellians to lay down and watch the sunset since the sun sets in the west. The sunsets in Ithaca are crazy beautiful sometimes too. Sitting on the slope, however, is something that I really take for granted. It's so easy to walk past people sitting on the slope and feel like you have too much homework to do to take 30 minutes to watch the sunset. Or sometimes you might feel like you need to have a friend with you to sit on the slope so you don't look lonely. There's too often an excuse for not sitting on the slope and watching the sunset, so it's something that I'll do whenever I happen to be on campus at that time. It's such a peaceful moment when the sun sets.

Honestly, for me though, my favourite moments on the slope haven't been watching the sunset. Let me caveat this by saying that I've definitely had some amazing times with friends just watching the sunset, and seen some incredible sunsets at that too. But the most peaceful and memorable moments that I've had have been alone or with one friend, laying down on the slope at night, stargazing. The slope offers a great POV to watch the stars and to be able to lay down comfortably in the grass while doing it, and I love taking the opportunity to lay down at night and do just that. Honestly, I've fallen asleep a few times on the slope at night while stargazing and I've had some of the most peaceful 10 minute naps as a result. On that 2.5 mile walk I just took, I took about 20 minutes to lay on the slope just now and watch the stars and clear my head. No music, just noise-cancellation (because people walk by talking sometimes haha) and my thoughts. Such peace.

If you're one of my friends at Cornell reading this - send me a text right now - and let's make a plan to go lay on the slope one night. It's something that is so peaceful, and I'd be happy to share that peace with any of you. I have exactly one month left in Ithaca so let's make a plan :)

To be honest with you, if you couldn't tell, today's blog post idea came from a short walk I took around campus by myself to clear my head. I walked through campus, and couldn't help feeling nostalgic and grateful. I felt compelled to share the things that I appreciated most about my walk, because they genuinely are 3 things that I really appreciate about going to school at Cornell. I'm not sure who you are reading this, but if you're a Cornell student or prospective Cornell student, be sure to take the time to appreciate the Ithaca campus. It's a gem of a University, and while it has it's problems, it certainly has its positives too.

Until next Sunday,

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