Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Thoughts of Going Halfway

Late nights are surprisingly strange.  Strange in that it becomes so much easier to socialize with other people and understand what they are speaking about.  Tonight, I discussed several different types of music, social psychology, student behavior and a variant of perspectives on crime.

Mary Donlon Hall is a chasm of words and insane antics all around, and when one is trying to do their report template early, it does not fit very well.  But it is not a big issue -- I still have a few days to finish this.

Altogether, today was a standard day, as far as standard goes around here I guess.   We had a short quiz, which turned out to be deceptively easy.  After that, Mark taught us quite a bit about Word and creating a report template.  So much information in fact, we went extremely fast.  Which means that I really need to ask for advice tomorrow.

On a funny note, I wandered around campus during lunch, until I realized that I had left my binder halfway around campus about twenty minutes before class, so I ran there and back again.  That was, more or less, very idiotic of me.  But strangely, it was beneficial.

It was beneficial because it gave me some time to think about things.  To try to understand what was going on right now, wrap around the fact that my time here was halfway through.  It did not make any sense to me -- it feels like I have been here for months, if not years.  I am not sure why, but it does.

I am not really thinking towards the end of this, or the beginning, or the present at all.  Does that seem so strange?  I am not really sure.  I am not thinking bad, thinking forward, thinking sideways or in diagonals.

To put it simply, I am thinking but there is nothing direct I am thinking about.  Maybe I do not fully understand what is going on around me besides my class and my friends.  But guess what?  To some people, that is usually enough.

Maybe it is.

Your "Choice" to "Host" Hotels

Today called for a celebration. Not one in which we pop firecrackers or blow confetti, but one in which we feel relaxed and relieved that one of the most grueling assignments (according to the McCarthies) is now taken care of.

While there was a sense of ease in the atmosphere today, the first thing thrown at us was a quiz that was meant to prove just how much we learned from yesterday's presentations. Despite Mark McCarthy's discouragement to study for the quiz, several students around me did. Feeling like I may have made a mistake in thinking I could easily ace this, I went to cramming as much info on the brands, business models, and trivia tid-bits I jotted down in my notebook during the bus ride to class. Little did I know, that last-minute studying may have made the difference between passing and failing. And after going over the answers, I actually feel quite confident with my answers!

The main drill during our lab sessions were how to make a professional report template which would be modeled off of our letter template. The more we get into the Office suite, the more interested I get in truly applying these lessons to my own high school curriculum. While I want to believe that it's only the content that counts, many teachers will get a first impression just from face value alone, and that impression can reflect on how a teacher initially judges an assignment. I'm hoping that some of the useful techniques we are learning can be easily used to help my assignments look pleasant, functional, and professional.

Our lecture focused on the specific aspects that make the hospitality industry unique. We touched on yield management, perishable inventory, and other things like fixed and variable costs. While the first week was an introduction of the people and things involved with the industry, from here-on-out, the focus will be on how and what makes the hotel business tick.

Midway Musings

We're officially halfway in. Every day I'm surprised how much I'm learning in class. Then again, there's hardly any time out of the classroom, but we're so busy gaining new knowledge and practicing new skills, I barely notice.

Before we started the program, I took note of the fact that we Hotelies would be endlessly working, but for some reason, I still believed in my head that I would explore the beautiful surroundings nonetheless, go jogging with friends every morning, and hang out. I still want to do all those things. What I'm trying to say is that midway through the program ( I know, I can't believe it either) I'm realizing what a painfully short time we have left here in Ithaca, whose beauty should not remain a mystery. I don't want to go home.

I want to chase butterflies at the Cornell Plantations; I want to flip through volumes at the enchanted Uris Library; I want to raid the farmers' market; I want to climb all 161 step up the Cornell bell tower; I want to jump inside Buttermilk Falls (with a life vest of course!), and most of all, I want to be successful in our hotel class.

It's all about the scheduling, as Ms Neal has reminded me. While I probably won't get to live out the Cornell experience that I had imagined, I will be taking away from this the realization of the disorganized way I manage my life. While I'm living it up in independence (not counting the laborious hours spent in the classroom), I know that there are things I need to work on which will make my future life in college much smoother.

Academic-wise, I've been fairing somewhat well, doing well on my memos and today's quiz. On the other hand, my presentation skills remain a weakness to overcome, but I'm feeling more comfortable. CHESS is a game I vow to conquer somehow. It is mind-boggling and baffling, but I must find myself a winning strategy. I've been doing better each time I try my hand at the game, but there are definitely quite a few curve-balls.

There's a week and a half left. Strangely I feel more disheartened by the fact that our return (to summer assignments, to conditioning, and to dreary responsibilities incomparable to the life we've established here at Cornell) is imminent, than I am by the many projects I should be worrying about.

A Request to All of You

I have been reading some of the old blog posts from last year's Cornell group, and every time I do, I think about how many people have gone through this program before us. Some of these people we know- they went to our school, they still go to our school. Most of these people, though, we never met- they were from all over the world, they are much older than us.

Every year, 80+ students take Reneta and Mark's course. The entire experience is incredibly special to each one of us- we believe we are special in taking the class. It's about us taking the class. It's always about us. Except it isn't. Really, each one of us is just one in 80+ students every year taking the course. But still, nothing seems to be able to diminish how we feel about being apart of that 80. I am not sure what point I'm trying to make here, actually. This is just something I have been thinking about quite a lot.

Every student will go home with a set of memories different from everyone else's. Every one of us will go on with our separate lives, but we were all here at the same time, on the same days, in the same place, learning the same things.

I just reread what I wrote and I am making it sound as if the program is already over and I am reflecting back on it. I think the reason it sounds like this is because today I realized that I only have about a week and a half of class left, and at this point, I find that so short it hurts.

I can't even imagine how much more I will learn in a week and a half. Nothing is ending yet! We still have tons of material to cover and tons of work to do. I know that. But I also can already imagine myself as a high school senior, back in school, thinking back on this.

My personal goal for the next week and a half is to avoid thinking about the future and how I will feel in the future and just be here, fully here, at Cornell.

If I write anything else that shows I have been getting ahead of myself here, please call me out on it. Seriously.

Locke On Lock

Today was our ‘death’ day you might say of class. We had three lectures today plus our discussion group and have a prelim tomorrow so today was been a day filled with learning. Today has been rough but I guess this is what college is like.

Our first and third lectures today were about none other than Mr. John Locke himself. The brief intro to Locke I got from my AP World History course didn’t even scratch the surface of Professor Kramnick’s lectures. John Locke is credited as the original Liberalist. He was the first one to write down the importance of individualism. He thought, unlike the other philosophers we have read about, that the individual is where the community gains it power. It was very interesting to hear what Locke had to say because it was so very different from the others. Most of the other philosophers thought that power and government came from above and that the larger community was more important than the individual. I think I am a Locke fan. I think the individual is more important than the larger community, but I also believe that people choose to join a community because they want to feel safe; thus the community should listen to the concerns of the individuals and address them.

I am sorry for the brevity of my blog but I have a mid-term/prelim to study for. Wish me luck.

Until tomorrow, Over and Out blog readers.

Why Do I Feel Calm?

After looking at my title, one might assume that I have a completely lackadaisical attitude to my upcoming midterm tomorrow, but they would have completely misinterpreted what I meant by that. What I mean to say is, while many of my classmates are cramming and in a complete panic mode, I feel calm and confident heading into tomorrow’s test. Not to say that I won’t be studying, I’ve already finished a study guide handed out to us by our TAs, but I feel more prepared then I would’ve expected to be for a test only a week and a half into the course.

But test feelings aside, today was another long but informative day in Freedom and Justice. I wasn’t looking forward to the first day of class after a three-day weekend, and those feelings were increased when I realized our day would run two hours longer than usual, because of a double lecture by Kramnick. Over the 4th of July weekend, which celebrates our country’s independence, or freedom, we read writings by John Locke, whose topic of choice was ironically, freedom. Locke had many fascinating points, and is still greatly influential today (as Professor Kramnick said, Locke started the basic ideas of Liberalism and individualism. After we broke into discussion sections in which we prepared for the upcoming exam, it was time for our guest lecture of the day, from attorney Ray Schlather. He spoke about some very interesting teen rights cases, and did a little exercise with the class showing just how few Americans actually ever exercised their 4th and 5th amendments. After his entertaining stories, it was back to a 2 hour lecture by Kramnick, which really just covered Locke’s main point, that all should be able to have property that they had made or worked on.

Amen To Our Amendments

The building to the left contains our lecture hall and discussion classrooms: Goldwin-Smith Hall

Today I spent approximately six hours in this building. Excepting one for lunch and one for a discussion session with my group, there were five hours of lecture today to make up for the lost day we had in our mini vacation yesterday. Thankfully, the one and a half hour guest lecture was the most riveting one yet. Ray Schlather gave a compelling speech about his part in a local Ithaca high school's case where it's newspaper, the "Tattler," went to court over it's rights on publishing certain articles. It was all really interesting because he made us all question our rights in society and how they are only available to us as individuals if we utilize them.

Professor Kramnick lectured on John Locke doubly today, but that's alright because I really feel Locke's visions of how a government should function and his ideas on property reverberate within me. One thing about this course is that I get a great experience non-withstanding, but this particular material really makes me question many ideas I have of the world, as well as society and it's government and the ideals I believe it needs to uphold.

Afterwards I went to play some intramural soccer to blow off all my steam so I could get down to studying without any fidgeting. Now I'm going to head for a quick bite to eat so that I make sure to finish reviewing all my notes for our big pre-lim tomorrow! I know I should feel prepared, but I always get nervous for tests so I am setting aside alot of time to make sure I know my material and get a good night's rest. Wish me luck!

Study, Study, Study....

Today, honestly, was a pretty good day in class. We were scheduled to have a lecture in the morning, then group discussions, then lunch, then a guest speaker, and then another lecture following immediately after that. As you can imagine, I was not particularly looking forward to that schedule, but I am excited to say that it was not even close to the grueling experience that I thought it would be.

The morning lecture, in my opinion, droned on for a bit too long, but my discussion group afterwards was fairly interesting and our guest speaker was by far the best one we've had yet. He was a lawyer who specializes in cases with high school students and he shared some stories and information with us that we could truly relate to. He was an engaging speaker with a commanding voice and he taught us about our inalienable rights as citizens.

The afternoon lecture went a lot better for me, because I had become completely focused after hearing from that last speaker. Professor Kramnick spoke about John Locke and his Liberal views on government, which I found extremely interesting because his views and beliefs were the building blocks for American democracy.

Also, in our discussion groups we were given an example of what our preliminary exam would look like tomorrow... It is an hour long test with a total of six questions. The first is an essay question (recommended 40 minutes) and then there are five short response questions (recommended 20 minutes). The essay question will most likely test how well we can relate the ideas of different authors and the short responses are to see how well we understand the concepts of each author.

I will be spending the rest of the day studying for that and so I wish you all adieu. Good night! I'll tell you all how it went tomorrow...

...And just as a little side-note for my more frequent readers, I did wake up on time today. Thanks for wishing me luck!