Freshman Perspective - Finding a Place

by Meghan Burns '13

As my freshman year at Cornell draws to a close, I can remember the scared girl who showed up in August, overwhelmed by the amount of people and the breadth of activities and unsure of everything from where she wanted to eat dinner to what classes to sign up for. Fortunately, I no longer recognize myself in her. Looking back at the progression from terrified new student to confident member of the Cornell community, I see that joining the Chorus was, for me, the defining moment in finding my identity at Cornell.

Throughout my first weeks, everyone was cordial but it was sometimes hard to genuinely connect - you might have a nice conversation with someone then never run into them again. I tried a few sports clubs and went to several introductory meetings but I was still waiting to find my place. It wasn’t until I walked into my first Chorus rehearsal that I finally felt at home.

We opened with “Sing Me to Heaven,” one of my favorite songs from high school. We sang through the piece and, at the end, the girl next to me turned and told me my voice was beautiful. I’d been in numerous choirs in high school, but never in one where people were so instantly gracious. In the coming weeks, I sat next to a different girl every rehearsal and she always introduced herself and talked with me. After only that brief introduction, if I saw her on campus she would be quick to approach and say hello. Immediately I felt like a part of something; suddenly I had a place on campus.

The girls in Chorus are a team. There is no sense of individual competition. Every Sunday and Wednesday for the two hours we rehearse each of us suspends our stress over school, our personal troubles, our lack of sleep, and gives our complete selves to the music. It is amazing to be a part of such a united effort.

As the year progressed, the girls in Chorus and the a capella subset, After Eight, became my closest friends. They were always there to help me, whether it was with an economics problem set or with a break-up. They were the people to whom I could ask any question and express any difficulty. Most importantly, they were the ones around whom I felt I could always be myself.

From a musical perspective, we are a unique group. We work collectively for the bigger picture. We take pride in every performance, no matter how small. We have so much fun, but we also make incredible music. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect combination.

As I progress through my years at Cornell I know that Chorus will continue to be the shaping factor of my week, the hours I look forward to every day. I am confident already that by the time I live Cornell my fondest memories will be of Chorus: the music, the performances, and the remarkable women. Now, at the end of my freshman year, I feel so lucky not only to be a part of this group, but to have three more years to enjoy every part of it.