An Ithaca Summer

Michelle Carfagno '19

I remember first reading the "161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do " page in The Daily Sun right before my freshman year. I was so excited by all there was to do at Cornell! However, when I read Item No. 31, "Enjoy Ithaca’s two months of warm weather — spend a summer here!", I was skeptical. Was that just Cornell's way of convincing people to pay for summer classes? What is so good about a summer at Cornell, anyway? In my opinion, the answer is everything.


When I originally was looking into internships for this summer, the last place I was looking was Ithaca. Being pre-med, I was looking into all these competitive programs close to home and deciding which ones I should apply to. However, due to some procrastination and competition, the stars did not align. Chorus tour was approaching, and I was freaking out that I was not going to have anything to do for the summer. However, shortly before I left for tour, an opportunity came my way.


Ever since coming to Cornell, I have always thought about doing research. Everyone always says that Cornell is one of the top research institutions in the country. I always made the excuse that I didn’t have enough time (which is mostly true, but HEY, get yourself involved). However, I realized that this summer was my chance to finally do research at Cornell. There was one lab in particular in the Nutrition department that I had had my eye on for the past year, and I decided that this summer was the time to go for it. And, lucky for me, the stars did align and I was hired to work in the lab! For 9 weeks, I have been coding and analyzing data regarding the use of the word “healthy” on food labels (you would be surprised how complex the word healthy is). As a Biological Sciences major with a Nutrition concentration, I am extremely thankful that I have been able to learn so much about nutrition in just a short amount of time. Also, I am very thankful to have been offered a paid position in the lab for the school year and named a co-author on one of our abstracts, which were both things that I would not have expected to have been given before the summer started. Working 40 hours a week this summer has been tough, but this lab has already given me so much more than I could have asked for.


However, Cornell provides more learning opportunities than just academic ones. A summer in Ithaca teaches you life skills. You may think I am exaggerating, but when summer starts, the dining halls close, and apartment leases start, and you need to start truly taking care of yourself. You now have to find time to make dinner for yourself, clean your whole apartment, and live together with people for the first time. It can be pretty challenging. I am so happy that I got to make all my mistakes this summer, though. I think I have finally memorized where everything is in Wegmans. I also cooked myself some salmon last night, and it came out pretty well if I do say so myself!


Let me revisit Item No. 31 on the Cornell Bucket list, though. It says, “Enjoy Ithaca’s two months of warm weather...” All of us Cornellians know this all too well -- Slope Day is the one warm day of the year, and then classes are over. With an Ithaca summer, however, you get to do all the things it’s too cold to usually do during the year. I’ve tried to be outdoors as much as possible-whether it means kayaking at Taughannock State Falls, boating on Cayuga Lake, hanging out on the slope, or watching the sunset at Ezra’s Tunnel. That’s right, Ithaca sunsets are even more spectacular in the summer. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for a good sunset. What has made this summer extra special, however, is the people I got to spend it with. I got lucky because there were at least 30 people from the Chorus and Glee Club here this summer. Without them and all the other friends who I spent time with, this summer would have been a lot emptier. To everyone I spent my summer with this year, thanks for all the adventures. I’ll miss ya Summer 2017. #summerofyes