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Hello! This is the first instalment of my exciting series of blog entries from Cornell University. I hope the latter part of my previous sentence turns out to be true.

Firstly, things I find exciting may not be the things you find exciting (would you find a waffle maker exciting?), and 'series' suggests I'll be writing regularly - I hope I can do it every week, but to me, thinking "I'll write a blog entry every week" sounds like "I'll study my lecture notes during semester and not STUVAC".

Well, I arrived at New York La Guardia airport at 6:15 am yesterday because I've got a "missing planes is bad - so I should get there early - but I'm not sure how early - so I'll get there super early" complex with flights. My flight was supposed to board at 8am (and for domestic you only need 30 mins) - anyway SOMETHING held it up and the plane ended up leaving at 8:45 am.

So I stumbled into the departure gate and I was staring mindlessly into the roof when BANG! I see someone from the University of Sydney (Hello, Daniel!). Isn't that so random?

No it's not - because he's an exchange student going to Cornell as well, and anyone who buys on-campus housing has to come on the same day, and not many airports have flights to Ithaca, so it was quite likely I'd see someone from Australia (there are five University of Sydney students going to Cornell this semester - that's quite exciting!)

Were you wondering why I capitalised SOMETHING earlier? It's because the something was so hilarious I felt I had to write about it. We all boarded the plane - it was a little plane because not many people go to Ithaca - and the luggage was all on board and the flight attendant seemed happy and we were all ready to go when one of the flight attendants entered the plane with a grim look on her face. She whispered something to another attendant and they both solemnly nodded - and then she took the phone and said "Unfortunately we have exceeded the weight restriction on this plane and we cannot leave until one person leaves the aircraft. The next plane to Ithaca is at 3:59 pm this afternoon. We will give you one ticket for your trouble".

So this is already slightly strange - why wouldn't an airline think of this beforehand? Anyway, so everyone's giving each other surreptitious glances, "Come on, do the right thing - I know you've got nothing important to do - get off the plane," but no one's budging. So the flight attendants just stare at us with sad eyes hoping someone gets up - no one does.

Waiting. I'm getting a bit worried now (what will they do if no one budges?)

"Ok. We'll give you two return tickets to anywhere in the US."

Nothing. 5 mins. More whispering and sad stares - no one moves.

"Ok. Two return tickets and $100 in cash!" (The exclamation mark signifies their desperation not excitement.)

Everyone's getting a bit edgy now. I'm getting a bit worried - in my mind I've pictured each passenger having to justify their seat on the plane to a jury composed of the flight attendants, baggage handlers and pilot. Alternately I've pictured some sort of Survivor scenario where one person gets voted off the plane.

5 mins late. "Ok. Two return tickets and $200 in cash!!" (Rising desperation.)

It would have been good if this kept going but sadly the guy across my aisle cracked and gave in. Everyone clapped - he was the hero of our flight - he sacrificed himself for our sakes (ok, ok, I know he did it for himself.)

Anyway - I got to Cornell eventually - it's only a 20 min taxi ride from Ithaca airport. On any day except the day everyone comes. So August 17th is the day all the freshmen (freshman = 1st year, sophomore = 2nd year, junior = 3rd year, senior = 4th year) arrive on campus to move into the dorms. The university was a bit packed - but the orientation was really well organised.

The campus is really beautiful - everyone kept telling me about it - and that raised my expectations (I usually don't like doing that because raising expectations is dangerous) - but happily the university is really nice. There are these massive ravines and waterfalls running between buildings and they've organised the buildings really well.

I never thought I had an Australian accent (I say 'ostraylian' - not 'strine') - but within a few seconds of talking to anyone, a funny smile appears on their face, inevitably ending with, "So where are you from?"

Anyway, classes start next Thursday - so that'll be interesting and I'll write my next entry then.


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