Days 37 & 38

8 DAYS LEFT!! :) :( ? I don’t know exactly how I feel about that.

Yesterday, I slept in till 11 because I was extremely tired from the trip. I had lunch with Rachel at RPCC and then we had a lazy day. Yesterday evening, I went with Faisal to a religious celebration marking the end of Ramadan. I don’t know much about the Muslim religion, so it was interesting to take part in this event. There were a lot of non-Muslims attending, which made me feel less awkward. They had Indian food, and I tried Nan bread and samosa. The Nan bread was good, but I ate it plain. They had things to dip it in, but I am not an adventurous eater, so I just ate it plain. The samosa was a pyramid-shaped fried stuffed bread thing. Inside, it had spices, potato, and peas. It was very interesting, but I didn’t really like it. It was an interesting experience, though, and I’m glad that I went. :)

On a completely unrelated topic, my mom posted some more pictures on Facebook yesterday from Saturday, so here they are!

Rachel, Candy, Faisal, and Me :)
Rachel, Candy, Faisal, and Me :)



My eyes are so bright in this one!
My eyes are so bright in this one!


Today I did not want to get out of bed. I stayed up pretty late talking to an old friend last night, so I was pretty tired. I thought about skipping class, but decided against it, because… you know, grades. I should have skipped. In my writing class, we didn’t do anything because most of the class forgot to bring their homework, which we were going to use during class for an assignment (I did my homework!). The teacher let us leave after 20 minutes, so I had some time to kill before my second class. I went to Libe Café and read the news (I’m such a nerd). I should have bought a coffee, but I decided not to for some reason. In my second class, we had an activity where we looked at pictures of fruit fly larva and arranged them chronologically, looked at which genes are expressed at which larval stage, and then matched a mutated larva with its mutated gene. It was kind of boring, but I’m glad I went. I learned things that will correlate with the lecture portion of the course. That class ended early also, so I came back to Balch and waited for lunch rather impatiently because I didn’t have breakfast. After lunch, I came back to my room and tried to work on my research paper for my second biology class. I have decided to write about Cocaine Esterase, which can possibly be used to treat cocaine addiction by overriding the effects of cocaine in the body. It is an interesting topic, but the act of writing the paper is quite boring. I decided to take a nap, because I was so tired, and when I woke up Rachel wanted to go to dinner. I just got back from dinner, and now I’m waiting for Rachel in one of South Balch’s lounges.

Day 36

I woke up at 6 a.m. and got ready for the big day ahead. We boarded the buses around 7:15 and hit the road around 7:30, bound for Niagara Falls, NY. It was a long drive, about 4 hours with the stop we made halfway for breakfast, and at some point the air conditioning on our bus broke so by time we got off I was kinda cranky. I wasn’t having a really good time, because of the crankiness, so I called my mom when I was waiting for my friends outside of the pizza place they were using the restroom in. I complained to her about how awful of a time I was having, and I told her how much better it would be if she were there. At that moment, I realized that I really, really, really, missed my whole family. My family and I traveled to Niagara Falls before, when I was younger, and I have fond memories of riding The Maid of the Mist, a boat that takes you close to the falls, going to Canada, and visiting an awesome aquarium. Every time we went, we had a great time.

After I got off of the phone with my mom, my friends and I walked over to the falls. Every time I see them, I am surprised at how big and powerful they are. The clear water rushed over the humungous boulders, spilled gracefully over the lip of the cliff, and then fell with a thundering roar into the turquoise waters below. I decided to stay behind and just watch the waterfalls while my friends went to walk onto a tall overlook. I was alone, taking pictures of the falls and texting my mom, when I heard a woman say my name next to me. I spun around, and was face-to-face with my mom and dad. I was so shocked and surprised, that all I could do was burst into happy tears and hug them. I felt dumbfounded, elated, and quizzical all at the same time. I had no idea that they were even thinking of coming – as far as I knew they were spending a quiet day at home after sending my sister off on a bus with my grandma to see Blackwater Falls in West Virginia.

I was so happy to see them, and they were happy to see me. They brought awesome food, including a bunch of freshly-baked homemade chocolate chip cookies and a rhubarb cobbler. We sat and ate and then found my friends and I introduced them. Anyone who ever meets my parents pretty much always says, “Wow, your parents are really cool”. I am so grateful to have such thoughtful and loving parents. Thank you mom and dad for making my day!!!

I spent the whole day walking around with my parents and just talking with them. It was one of the best days of my life. It felt great to be able to sit with them face-to-face and catch up with them after so long. It was kind of hard to say goodbye to them, but it was easier than when they dropped me off at the beginning of my stay at Cornell, because I knew that I would be seeing them again very soon, on the 5th of August.

I do realize and feel bad about the fact that although my parents could drive the 4 hours to come see me, not everyone has that luxury. I couldn’t imagine being halfway around the world from my parents for this long.

Well, anyway, here are some pictures from my trip!

Niagara Falls 1

Niagara Falls 2

Niagara Falls 3

Niagara Falls 4

Niagara Falls 5

Niagara Falls 6

Niagara Falls Selfie w Mom



Days 30 & 31 & 32 & 33 & 34 & 35

On Sunday, day 30, I went to the mall to return my Redbox movies. Not much else happened. It was a kind of mundane day. Here is a picture I took that day:

Kyra and Faisal!
Kyra and Faisal!

Oh! I just remembered that I also studied with Rachel and Candy on Sunday in one of the South Balch lounges (remembered isn’t the correct term – I checked my Facebook page and noticed I posted something and then I remembered). I was reading an essay for English called Son of Mr. Green Jeans by Dinty Moore. It is a fascinating piece of literature, and set up in an abecedarian fashion. I reached the section of the essay titled Masculinity for the M section. It reads:

“Wolf fathers spend the daylight hours away from the home – hunting – but return every evening. The wolf cubs, five or six to a litter, rush out of the den when they hear their father approaching and fling themselves at their dad, leaping up to his face. The father will back up a few feet and disgorge food for the cubs in small, separate piles.”

I found this so interesting that I read it aloud to Rachel and Candy. They soaked it in for a few moments, and then Rachel said: “What if your dad came home and said, “Hey kids!” and you said, “Hey dad!” and you were all excited, and then he vomited all over the floor and you ate it?”. I nearly died from laughter. Rachel has a way of looking at things from a unique, and sometimes quite odd, perspective. She comes up with this kind of stuff all day.

On Monday, I found this YouTube video:

You’re welcome!

On Tuesday, I took my second Biology Prelim. I didn’t do as well as I had hoped on it, but he does curve the scores so I guess I didn’t do toooo badly. The class is hard because I haven’t had chemistry yet, and a lot of the concepts include chemistry terms. I met with my teacher about my grades on Wednesday, and we went over the Prelim. He says he isn’t too worried about me, because I get most of the concepts. It’s just when it gets really technical, I falter.

On Wednesday, I had a normal day like usual. I did end up getting caught in the rain because I lost my umbrella somewhere, and I got completely soaked walking back from class:



I hung out with Rachel and Candy again in the Balch lounge. Usually we try to study and work on homework, but it usually ends up with us singing off-key to Bohemian Rhapsody or Don’t Stop Believing and playing songs on the piano. Rachel plays very well, and it makes me want to learn how. Maybe, one day in the distant future, I will learn to play piano. When we became bored of playing piano and pretending to study, we went outside and took funny pictures on Snapchat and talked. I dropped my phone behind a railing into a bush, and when I reached in to get it I developed a rash:


It was quite painful and stung, but it went away quickly. (Thanks, Rachel, for lending me some Cortisone!)

On Wednesday, I got a letter confirming my spot on a trip to Niagara Falls! I signed up on Monday or Tuesday, but it is a first-come first-served kind of thing, and there were only 118 seats available, so I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to go.  Rachel, Candy, and Faisal are also going, so I’m pretty excited!

I also noticed, sadly, that Harriet and Howard’s beautiful little baby mourning doves had fledged. The nest was abandoned when I came back from class. I didn’t even name them. I shall do so right now. There is no way to tell what gender they were, but I’m going to say that there was on girl and one boy. Their names, in keeping with the H-theme, are Harold and Holly. I like those names.

So sad :(
So sad :(

On Thursday, the most interesting and noteworthy thing that happened was that a package that my mom sent me arrived in the mail! She sent me a variety of my favorite foods, and I am very thankful for having such a thoughtful mom. Here is a picture of what she sent me: (Note that on the top of the box is a card!)


Package! :)
Package! :)

The second most noteworthy thing that happened is that my biology class went on a field trip to the Ithaca Children’s Garden to document ladybug populations. Apparently, the population of a few native species of ladybugs are dwindling significantly, almost to the point of extinction. Although as far as I know we didn’t collect and 9-spotted rare ladybugs, we did find quite a few of them. It was actually pretty fun, and the garden was kind of kitschy. It was an interesting experience that I think I’ll remember for a long time.

Today, I had my classes as usual. Right now, I’m lying in bed texting my mom. Check-in is in an hour, so I am just going to get ready for bed and read the news. We board the bus at 6:45 tomorrow morning, and we should arrive at the falls by 10:30-ish (because we’re stopping for breakfast). I went to the mall with Rachel and Candy to buy snacks and lunch-food for tomorrow. I’m just super excited to send the day with my friends!!!

Day 29

I had a great day today. I woke up early and had breakfast with Rachel before heading out to town. Candy came with us to Walmart and Barnes and Noble. The bus ride was about 40 minutes long, which really sucked. It was packed and the driver kept running over the curb. I highly dislike public transportation, so I know having a car at college is going to be a high priority.

At Walmart, I filled a prescription, rented a couple of Redbox Movies (Her and Non-Stop), and bought popcorn. We planned on having a great movie night! At Barnes and Noble, Rachel bought a book and we went to the Starbucks to get drinks. After a 30 minute bus ride home, we had dinner and then came back to my room. We turned on Her, but I left to watch Wreck It Ralph with Faisal at the Jameson Sky Lounge instead. I did get to see the beginning of Her, and let me tell you it was awkward!

After the movie, I hung out with Faisal and a few other friends and then had to rush to check in. Once I got back to my room, I looked at my prescription and realized it said NO REFILLS LEFT when it should still have a refill. I don’t know why the Walmart would short me a refill, but my mom is going to call them in the morning to get it all sorted out. I think this is the beginning of a great headache.

Right now, I’m sitting on my bed about to watch Non-Stop before I sleep. I forgot that the plot-twist at the end of the movie sits unfavorably with me, but I paid a $1.20 for it, so I may as well watch it. Apparently, at the end, the terrorists are American soldiers. My dad is in the Army, so I don’t like when movies show soldiers as “bad guys”. I’ll see how well I like it otherwise, but I don’t think I will.

I hope that everyone had a great day and will have an even better one tomorrow! J

Days 23 & 24 & 25 & 26 & 27 & 28

Wow. It’s been almost a whole weeks since I’ve last posted! This is partly due to my forgetfulness, (can’t enjoy the present while thinking about the past!), and also my tiredness. I have been getting to sleep pretty late the past week or so, staying up to do homework or reading Facebook (bad habit). This does not mix well with my 7:00 alarm clock. I have also discovered that the Libe Slope Café sells Starbucks coffee, so the past few days I have been buying a daily caramel Frappuccino (another bad habit). I could get coffee at RPCC in the mornings with breakfast, but during the week I do not eat breakfast there because then I would have to get up even earlier. Life is tough.

I don’t remember much about day 23. It was a Sunday. Hmm… This is the problem with not updating regularly.

On day 24, I had an assignment for my writing class to explore a physical space. I chose Beebe Lake, and actually spent 2 hours by the lake writing about what my senses were picking up and also how I felt about them. I then used these notes to write a paper that I turned in yesterday. It was relaxing to sit by the lake, especially because it was such a beautiful day. I took some pictures:




On day 25, I climbed all the way up 161 stairs to the top McGraw Tower. This tower houses the Cornell Chimes, played by chime-masters, whose sounds resonate all across central campus. It was very fun, though extremely exhausting. Here is the view from the top:


Afterwards, I hosted a pizza party in my room. Although I broke a rule, (only 2 guests per resident per room, I’m such a rebel) all 9 of my guests fit comfortably into my room and we had a great time. We listened to music and I met some new friends. Here’s a random picture, even though it was taken awhile back:

Me and Faisal (nice hairdo) and Kyra in the back :)
Me and Faisal (nice hairdo) and Kyra in the back :)

On day 26, I had classes as usual, and then walked a little under a mile to meet up with Rachel after her class. She is taking Animal Husbandry for the last half of her stay here, so her class is in the Vet area of campus. She lost her glasses that morning, and couldn’t look for them without them, so I walked with her back to Balch and found them under her bed. After that, I went to my second biology class, where we were supposed to look at the nervous system of a crayfish. We took live crayfish and covered them in ice to numb them and to make them sluggish, and then we cut them in half and put them in a dish with saline. Then, we were supposed to cut them along the midline to expose their spine, but my group’s cutter cut too deeply, so all was for naught. Our class did have 2 groups who completed it successfully, so we just kind of migrated to them. By some technical set up, the crayfish’s nerve impulses could be heard through a machine and shown on a graph with lines. So, when you stimulated its tail with a wooden probe, the line would spike and it would beep. It was highly fascinating, and much more complicated than what I’ve written here.

After class, I met up with Rachel and Candy and then after dinner we went down to the gorge. It is so peaceful. As we were talking and hanging out, I realized how much I would miss all of the friends I have met here. Yesterday, I was even trying to persuade Rachel to go to the same college as me, showing her pictures of Pittsburgh, because the University of Pittsburgh is on my list of schools to check out. The Saturday after I get back, I will be visiting the campus to see if I like it. Pittsburgh is close to home, which I have realized during my stay here is an extremely important factor. I miss my friends and family back home a lot. Part of me wants to stay here with all of these great people, and part of me wants to go home ASAP. It’s a back-and-forth kind of thing.

That evening, I decided to take a peek at my nest, and I got a really good picture of the hatchlings! That’s right, there are definitely 2. They are already so big, but I’m glad I got to see them. Before then, I couldn’t see much of anything because the momma bird was always sitting on them. Here’s a picture!


So cute!
So cute!

Yesterday, Day 27, was pretty mundane, which was a good thing. I was dragging all day, so before check-in I decided to sleep for about an hour. That did not happen. I just could not go to sleep! I laid in bed that entire hour, willing sleep, and just as I was about to drift off, my alarm went off, telling me to go to check in. After check in, I was wide awake. I tried going to sleep, but all my mind could think about was an interesting concept we had briefly talked about in my second biology class that day: the 2nd heart. I had never heard of it before yesterday, so last night I did some Googling. The 2nd heart is a system of skeletal muscle and veins in your calves that counteracts the effects of gravity pulling your blood down to your feet while sitting or standing. Essentially, it slowly but rhythmically squeezes the veins in your legs, which pushes the blood upwards. To prevent the blood from just falling back down, our veins have one-way valves that catch it. This is all very fascinating to me, but probably not to the average person.

Today, I have been elated all day. I wound up getting enough sleep to function without a Frappuccino, (yay?) and I understood all of the concepts we went over in my biology class activity, for the first time ever. I even explained some of the concepts to my partner, which is a first. Right now, I have just come back from lunch and I am sitting in a lounge in South Balch. The décor is outdated, but I feel like it gives the building soul. Plus, I noticed that there is a DVD played and a TV here, which would be great for a movie night. Later today, I’m planning on going to the movies with some friends to see The Purge: Anarchy and we’re going to eat some frozen yogurt (yum!).

Lastly, I want to thank everyone for reading my posts. I know I should update more, but it makes me feel motivated to do so when I know people are reading.

Days 18 & 19 & 20 & 21 & 22

So, In the past few days I have received some bad grades , made new friends, and battled a ferocious thunderstorm. The thunderstorm was on Tuesday, Day 18. Rachel, Candy, and I went out in the thick of it to get to RPCC. We got there looking like drenched rats. It was pretty fun though, and my umbrella inverted itself twice. Plus, once we got there, we could look out of the floor-to-ceiling windows and see the trees thrashing in the 60 mph winds. It was a pretty spectacular spectacle.

On Wednesday, day 19, the most interesting thing that happened was that my biology class had a guest speaker, Dr. David Robertshaw, who is a Cornell professor and has led a very distinguished life. One thing that impressed me was that he was the first teacher to begin teaching at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. Most notably, he worked with NASA to study the physiological effects on astronauts when they are in space. Apparently, gravity plays a crucial role in the ways our bodies work and even how they look! It was a very interesting lecture, and I wish we could have had longer to speak with him.

On Thursday, day 20, my biology class dissected fresh chickens at Cornell’s veterinary building. The best part is that we had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Howard Evans. Dr. Evans is one of the premier zoologists in the world, and knows pretty much anything there is to know about any animal. His office is decorated with thousands of specimens, skeletons, shed skins and exoskeletons, and some just really odd but interesting things. I would love to spend hours listening to him tell stories of how he obtained every specimen.

Yesterday, day 21, I went to my classes as usual. After class, I had a meeting with my English teacher, one of two that he requires throughout the 6 weeks. We discussed my essays, how to improve them, and what I did best. He also helped me narrow down my topics for my essay due this week. After lunch, Rachel and Candy accompanied me to Cornell’s Dairy Bar. It is near the veterinary building, so it was about a 20 minute walk, but it was so worth it! The interior is slightly futuristic and very modern. They have lots of delicious flavors, and all of the ice cream is made from milk from the Cornell Dairy Farm! It was a lot of fun, and the ice cream was delicious. After that, we walked back to Balch and took some pictures along the way:

Candy, me, and Rachel! :)
Candy, me, and Rachel! :)
Beautiful :)
Beautiful :)

Later that evening, I went to the talent show with my friend Kyra. There were a lot of really great acts, including a girl who played an awesome song on a French horn, and a gymnast! It was cool to see that there are some extremely talented people here. After the talent show, I walked around campus with Kyra and met up with a group of her friends. I had a great time, but I’m sad that a couple of those people are leaving today because they were attending 3 week programs. I would have liked getting to know them better.

Today is day 22 of my stay here. It is the halfway mark. I am both saddened and elated at this, as I will really miss the campus and people I’ve met, but I miss my friends and family back home (including my dog, Frank!). I just got back from the mall with Kyra, Rachel, and Candy. We went to the ceramic painting place again, and this time I painted a penguin! Here are all of our creations:

Candy - Piggy, Kyra - Squirrel, Rachel - Kitty, and Me - Penguin!
Candy – Piggy, Kyra – Squirrel, Rachel – Kitty, and Me – Penguin!

Oh, and here’s a group picture of us at Applebee’s! None of them had ever been there, so I was happy to introduce them.

Candy, Rachel, Kyra, and me!
Candy, Rachel, Kyra, and me!

Days 15 & 16 & 17

Whew, have I been busy! Right now I’m about to go to bed, and I told myself a moment ago, “Ashlea, you need to update your blog TODAY!” This will probably be short, because I have my first preliminary exam for my Cell Biology class tomorrow – which I naturally feel completely unprepared for – and I need to get enough sleep to do my best!

On Saturday, Day 15, I went to Buttermilk Falls on a trip put together by Cornell’s Summer College faculty. We boarded a bus at Cornell and it only took about 15 minutes to get there. We arrived shortly after 10 am, and then we were allowed to explore the entire park until 3. I was very bummed when I found out that the swimming area was closed for the day. Apparently, the water quality wasn’t up to par. I hadn’t planned for this, so I was only wearing flip flops. The only other activity was to hike up a large, steep hill with a thousand (maybe not a thousand, but you get my point) uneven stairs. Candy and I hiked all the way to the top of the trail, and the view all the way along the trail was gorgeous. These pictures do not at all do it justice.

Swimming area and waterfall.
Swimming area and waterfall.
View from the top of the waterfall by the swimming area.
View from the top of the waterfall by the swimming area.
So pretty!
So pretty!
Me! :)
Me! :)


A pretty little flower along the trail. :)
A pretty little flower along the trail. :)
Me again!
Me again!


When we finally came back down to the main area where we had set up our picnic table, it was about 1:30 and our legs hurt. My calves felt tight the entire day! We did a lot of walking. We ate our lunch and then sat to read. It was very relaxing. At 3, we boarded back up on the bus to head back to Cornell. I was happy to be going back at that point because I was pretty bored, but I was also sad, because I know that I probably won’t be back during my short time here. It really is a beautiful park, and if you’re ever in the area you should visit.

The next day, Rachel and I took the bus to the Ithaca Mall. We arrived a little after 10, not knowing that most of the shops in the mall didn’t open until 11 on Sundays! We meandered around and then found an arcade game room. We wasted lots of quarters and dollars playing air hockey, virtual shooting games, skee ball, etc. It was actually a lot of fun! The room also had an awesome juke box chock full of 80s rock songs, so we played Barracuda by Heart, Another One Bites the Dust by Queen, and another one that I can’t recall the name of at the moment. It was a lot of fun.

While we were meandering before visiting the arcade, we noticed a painting shop called Dynamic Ceramics where you could sit and paint a ceramic figure. It looked interesting, so we headed there right after the arcade. There were so many options, but I set my eyes on an owl figurine. Rachel chose a swan. The owner of the shop gave us each a paint pallet and we set to work. I think we stayed there till 12:30, but would have stayed much longer if our bus didn’t come at 1. After we were finished painting, she took them into the back and sprayed them with a clear lacquer. It would take about 20 minutes to dry. We headed over to the Target because I needed to buy a case of water bottles (a necessity!!) and a few other items. We then raced back to the ceramics store, because we were running out of time to catch our bus. Our figurines were still slightly sticky, but she bagged them anyway in bubble wrap and directed us to the bus stop, because we weren’t entirely sure where it was. We walked quickly to the bus stop, and I was carrying my super heavy case of 15 bottles of water. When I go away to college, having my own car is going to be a major priority. Lugging home groceries by way of public transportation is difficult! As we exited the mall, we spotted the bus stopped at the bus stop and thought we were going to miss it! In reality, the bus driver was outside of the bus taking a cigarette break and we had a good 5 minutes till he was about to leave. Whew! We found a seat and got situated. I decided this would be the perfect time to take a picture of my owl that I painted:


As you can see from the picture, the bus was empty. There were only 2 others riding, so it was quiet. I actually enjoyed it. I guess that the bus driver half-heard my conversation with Rachel about grabbing lunch at RPCC, so as he neared the building, he asked us if we would like let off here. In my confusion, I said yes. We got off the bus, and I thanked him, and then reality sunk in. I would have to walk almost 1/3 of a mile back to my dorm while lugging this big case of water. We made the slow but steady trip past RPCC and down to Balch, and then doubled back to RPCC for lunch. It was a nice gesture for him to offer to let us off where he guessed we were going, but in the end it ended up to be a hassle for me. Oh well!

I had a study session with my bio class for our preliminary exam at 7 pm, so beforehand I studied instead of going to dinner. I then ordered Chinese takeout around 10, but it didn’t arrive until an hour later. It was pretty good, and I’ll have to order from there again. I had originally decided to have pizza, but the Pizza Hut was closed by the time I ordered.

Today, I had an activity in my Cell Biology class where we used a computer program called PyMOL to view a protein molecule in 3D animation. It involved a lot of typing and computer skills, but the instructions were very straight-forward so that helped tremendously. My computer skills are very limited, because computers do not interest me. I still don’t type like a normal person, as I didn’t learn during school like everyone else did, but it isn’t as slow as it used to be. I was very surprised that I was able to use PyMOL, which is very high-tech for me, despite these problems. It was very interesting to change the shape of the protein and to see its parts individually.

When I got back from class, I decided to study for my Bio prelim and to read the required passages for English class tomorrow. I was very tired, having only had about 5 hours of sleep last night, so I decided to take a nap. I set my alarm for 4, as it was already 2, and went to sleep. At 4, I woke up long enough to set my alarm for 5. At 5, I did the same to set my alarm for 6. I decided I should stay up at 6 and go to dinner. That 4 hour nap helped me tremendously though!