When I first came to Ithaca for my admissions interview in February 2015, I was mesmerised by the beauty of the place. It was covered in snow, and I felt as if through some magic spell, I had been transported inside a beautiful picture, the likes of which appear only on a calendar. Fortunately, I was invited again a month later to visit Ithaca and be a part of preview weekend. Mesmerised even more the second time around, I promised myself that during my time here, I would definitely take some time off and go on walks just to experience its beauty.
When I moved to Ithaca to begin the One-year MBA program in May, I was extremely thrilled to find out that just a few steps away from my home there is a brook running through the foliage. I walked down to the brook to discover that it was a very pristine, yet accessible spot for relaxing after a long day at college.
Over the summer, I was glad to meet an enthusiastic bunch of classmates equally eager to explore Ithaca’s beauty. Together we hiked Cascadilla Falls, Buttermilk Falls, and went swimming in the gorgeous Ithaca Falls. It provided a welcome break from the rigorous core and helped me bond with classmates in a way that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
Buoyed by my experience, I decided to enroll in the fall 2015 Day Hiking class. In our first class together we hiked the well-known Robert H. Treman State Park. We were a motley bunch of 14 students and faculty from all over Cornell interested in exploring Ithaca. Our instructor and teaching assistants were fellow Cornell students who had either grown up in Ithaca or lived here long enough to know it well. Most importantly, they all loved the place and were enthusiastic about helping others discover it. Together we hiked the lesser known trails like Hammond Hill State Forest and Sweedler Preserve, none of which, I am sure, I could have discovered on my own. We watched the leaves change colors as the legendary Ithaca fall season tiptoed around us, picked up each other when we tripped, and shared our interests along with our lunches. For me, it was a welcome break from the frenzy of classes and recruitment that I was involved in.
As I write this blog post from my apartment, with the snow falling outside, I feel an irresistible urge to stay here for another fall and relive the experience. I know there will be a time in the future, maybe 20 years from now, when I will see one of my hiking buddies at a social event, recognize them and exclaim, “Hey, do you remember? We explored Ithaca 20 years ago for five weekends.” and retrieve a long-lost connection, remembering a priceless experience. The 14 of us form a now defunct secret society of sorts, but the bonds that we developed while huffing and panting up a 40 degree slope remain, along with the memories that will be cherished forever, by all of us.