Prelims and Bill Gates

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, and that’s the result of a combination of busy-ness and laziness. For anyone who’d like to know, here’s an update on how I’m doing here at Cornell after about a month!

A.D. White Reading Room
A.D. White Reading Room

First of all, it’s prelim season here. The libraries are full and a general sense of anxiety plagues the freshman class as we prepare for our first round of serious college exams. This is the big leagues, now, after all. However, I’ve somehow managed to luck out on the prelim front. I have only one real prelim (or midterm) in Latin, which will basically mimic the chapter tests we’ve already taken. In my math class, we take unit tests (confusingly dubbed “prelims” as well), and in my remaining two classes we don’t take tests at all, we just write papers. Which, as someone who enjoys writing, I must say is a huge blessing. The stress that many engineering and pre-med students are feeling right now eludes me and all I can do is thank the heavens and continue to do the many readings I have instead.

The social front is a pretty quiet one. We’re long past the ambitious (and desperate) friend-making craze of O-week and as the weeks go by, it gets harder to meet new people since everyone’s settling into a pretty standard routine. Though it’s no longer appropriate (or at least normal) to sit with random people at the dining hall, I’ve had the chance to hang out with a few familiar faces (people from my hometown, people I know for some reason or another) and that’s been really great. I still do meet new people every once in a while, but the trickle of acquaintances has definitely slowed down.

In the extracurricular sphere, things are going pretty well. The ballroom dance team (Cornell DanceSport) is competing this weekend at the competition we’re hosting ourselves, and we newcomers have finally been paired up into partnerships. While we have limited time to prepare with our actual partners, I’m feeling pretty confident about it all! I get along well with both partners and this first competition isn’t so much about winning as it’s about being introduced to ballroom competitions and having fun. Writing for the Daily Sun is still new and thrilling (and I made staff last week!), but I have yet to branch out from writing book and movie reviews. Nonetheless, I really enjoy writing them–I can expand my horizons in time, right?

In the past two weeks, I’ve met with my advising dean, the study abroad dean, and the career services dean/advisor. After a month of classes, I feel pretty confident in my tentative choice to declare the English major. I still can’t say for sure, but the more I talk about it, the more I feel like it’s right for me–like it’s what I want. I have yet to figure out if I want to become an editor or writer down the line, but I suppose there’s still time for that. Apparently, I’m on track for study abroad as well; by that I mean I’m taking appropriate classes for gaining a strong major background and fulfilling college requirements. The only thing I need to think about right now is getting the GPA I’d need to apply to Oxford, which, as you can imagine, is no small feat.

Bill Gates (left) and President David Skorton (right)
Bill Gates (left) and President David Skorton (right)

All in all, I’d say things are going really well so far. The weather has yet to descend into the winter temperatures, but I’m ready. The few major grades I’ve gotten back have all been non-threatening (the grade on my most recent lit paper might or might not change that) and I’m already starting to pick out classes for next semester. Oh, and I got to listen to Bill Gates speak today from the seventh row in the theatre, so I suppose that’s pretty cool?!?! (See post-script for explanation)

~Natalie

P.S. So what happened is this: free tickets to the “Conversation with Bill Gates” event were available Monday, Sept. 22. They sold out in about 20-30 minutes, but more tickets were reserved for 10:00 AM Thursday. My roommate and I got in line at about 6:30 AM (after just a tiny bit of sleep) and were 19th and 20th in line. About 3.5 hours later, we got the tickets which later sold on Facebook for upwards of $100 in the most extreme cases. Or so I’ve heard. But many were definitely sold.

P.S.S. The event was a “casual” Q&A session, President David Skorton asking most of them, and pre-approved students asked the rest. Getting to hear one of the biggest personalities of our era speak was just really, really cool. He’s intelligent, amusing, articulate, inspiring… And he pronounces the word “aggregate” funny. In all seriousness, it was a great opportunity and really memorable day.

P.S.S.S. Also, the entire audience broke out into uber-enthusiastic applause when Skorton mentioned that Bill dropped out of Harvard.

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