First semester at a new school

Note: First, I decided to stop using Facebook this week. From now on, I will check Facebook only about 2-3 times a week. But I will write more on this blog and on another music blog (a new project of mine and my close friends.) So if you want to contact me, just shoot me an email to or comment on this blog.

Today, let me share with you my story at Cornell so far.

It is definitely a story of mixed feelings. I am very happy to be here but also very frustrated due to my shortcomings in study and research.

Ithaca is a great town, no doubt about that. I really enjoy the scenery of Cornell and Ithaca. It must be one of the most scenic campuses in the US. I feel relaxed each time I look at the endless hills from 7th floor of Olin Library (though it’s likely I will hate this town during its 6-month winter.)


There are countless activities you can do here. For the first time I joined a proper soccer club and play real soccer – 11 vs. 11. Having been playing as a midfielder for three years in college, I came back to my usual position as a striker again. Basically I am trying to imitate Fillipo Inzaghi: beating the offside trap and being clinical in front of goals. Unfortunately, while I have done the former part fairly well I did miss a lot of sitters, i.e. one-on-ones. In many games I played exactly like (or worse than) Torres or Chicharito, pathetic and helpless with my finishing. Despite that, I have had a lot of fun playing soccer here, as if my love for soccer never ever waned.

My new soccer team

I can also tell you about mountain biking. It is a popular sport here because Ithaca possesses a number of hills and the quality of the bike trails is amazing. Honestly at first I was scared, especially when I faced a steep downhill or some crazy obstacle. Eventually I overcame some of the scary feeling and improved my biking skill to the point that I could conquer most of the trails in one hill.


Okay, those above are all the good things about Cornell and Ithaca. Here come the bad ones. It’s simple: I feel I am a stupid person here. Yes, you are hearing me right. The truth is each time I sit in the Neuron Interfaces class I feel like I am brainwashed. Several times every week I ask myself ‘Do I really belong to this place?’

Here homework and exams make a horrible experience. All grades I get to this point were Cs and Ds. It is embarrassing but I have to accept the fact that I’m not yet good enough for this school. The key thing for me, I believe, is not working harder, but to keep working. Just don’t quit and I will be fine.

Having said all that, I enjoy studying here, just like I enjoy soccer and mountain biking. My grades may be terrible but I have learned a great deal in the last two months. The people here are nice and they help me a lot. Anyway, for me struggling in a new environment is unavoidable. There’s no way I can become one of the best students here in a few months, especially with my broken background knowledge in every area. Again, the best thing to do is fighting till the end. Never quit.

The bottom line is, this semester I am a fool on the hill (the comparison is valid thanks to the hilly Ithaca.) Let’s see how it will turn out next year.


Author: Tri M. Cao

Music with my beloved HD 650 headphones.

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