I am still jet lagged and adjusting to the time difference, having woken up at 4:00 AM the morning of 1/17/07. I don’t really want to spend too much time in the apartment because I have just flown 20 hours around the world just to be here! It’d be such a waste to be holed up in the room. The only thing is, it’s cold outside and my room is very cozy so it’s alright for now.
Received a message from R that he was in his dorm room and had bad news. Upon reaching Detroit, he was switched onto another flight along with 10 others because the flight to Ithaca was apparently too heavy. So they were put on another flight to Binghamton, which is an hour’s drive from Ithaca, and given a complimentary round-trip ticket from Northwest. Long story short, he shared a cab with others to Ithaca, presumably Cornell students, and the driver dropped him off in the middle of nowhere. He had to take another cab to IC, and his luggage were still at Ithaca airport, so he had to collect them.
After he collected his luggage and checked into his room, we took a short tour of the campus and had lunch. We decided to head out to Ithaca Commons to run some errands. We thought it was good to attempt walking there at least once in the winter so we braved the -10 °C weather and walked for about half an hour to the Commons. Not bad I must say, given that it was our first day there and we had no idea where anything was. Along the way, we saw many typical American houses with a front porch, a chimney and a garage. Everything was covered in snow and it is really beautiful to look at. It was too cold to whip out my camera though, so no photos there. Maybe another time.
First stop was HSBC to set up a bank account. The bank lady and I were chatting and she said this winter has been very mild compared to previous years and today happened to be the coldest day so far at -14 °C. I told her it was our first day here and she joked that it must have decided to give us a welcome. Then we hopped across the street for our first cup of Starbucks! It’s fantastic to stand in the cold and sip caramel macchiato while waiting for a bus. We took TCAT bus 30 to Pyramid Mall which took some time passing through Cornell University before reaching. At Pyramid Mall, there’s Target, which is great for the household items. At the mall, there’s also Abercrombie, Gap, American Eagle, Borders, Old Navy, and a cinema. The things here aren’t as expensive as I anticipated them to be.
First impression of Cornell – huge! And it takes forever to get through the campus on the bus. The academic buildings look very modern. There are a lot of international students here and we ran into some at the mall. Chatted with two French girls who are here doing graduate studies at Cornell. It’s been really easy for international students to click with common topics to talk about. One of the girls’ brother did his MBA at NTU and she came to visit him in Singapore in 2005.
Today, 1/18/07, was International Orientation but I was late for it because I called maintenance in to check on the heater. It seemed faulty. The one in the toilet was working fine but the one outside didn’t seem to be. It had been freezing the past couple of nights, which shouldn’t be the case. The guys from maintenance said the dial that allows the water to flow was switched off. So now it works and I’m happy I don’t have to wake up with numb fingers and toes.
I went off to join in the orientation and met J, a fellow Singaporean who is doing her graduate studies in communications here. She was from NTU communications too and was here on exchange, so she decided to return for grad studies. She invited R and I to join her and the other Singaporeans from Cornell for a Chinese New Year lunch.
It’s a really small group of international kids here on exchange. There was a Norwegian, three Aussies, two Swedes, an Indian, a Japanese and two of us Singaporeans. I think there are a few more coming in tomorrow. We set up our email accounts and tomorrow we have appointments with our academic mentors to discuss classes.
R wasn’t feeling too good so today we just stayed indoors. We missed dinner at the food court because they closed really early at 6.30pm so we ordered Chinese delivery. It was exactly like how you see it on TV. The food was served in these white paper holders and the food was not too bad actually. I had beef noodles and R had fried rice. And there were fortune cookies too!
It’s coming to about four days since I left Singapore so maybe it’s not been enough time to feel homesick yet. I feel at home here and very comfortable with things so far. But I cannot get ahead of myself. After all, I haven’t started classes yet. D at the orientation today talked much sense. She was from Bulgaria herself and has since settled here in the US. She reminded us to keep an open mind to our experiences here and be flexible. One thing that really excited me was how she said the experience here will change our perspectives. Having traveled half the world to get here for most of us was an experience in itself. And what will come in the following weeks will really shape us as a person and might possibly affect how we see things. I’m just going to wait for classes to start to see how communications here works out for me, given the good reputation the communications school has. Like I said, the novelty of being here may wear off and I may actually long for home.
Tomorrow we are thinking of going back to the mall to get our Cingular Wireless cell phone line because it is so important to have a local line. The news says the weather is going to get more extreme because of winds from Lake Ontario and there’s expected to be about 5 inches of snow coming our way. Can’t wait for more snow!