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Friday, November 19, 2010

Life is tough @Cornell especially as international student

It is almost at the end of my 1st semester at Cornell and it is the worst timing of the season. The projects are pilling up, due dates are around the corner, exams are indefinitely coming soon in 2 weeks' time and the contents of every courses are extremely difficult. Well, everyone would say this is what a graduate life should be and it is always more challenging than undergraduate. I do agree with that but the expectation is so high here and the pressure is just so intense that there are a few people who blackout  in labs or while working on projects.

After being here for a few months now, I can definitely say that Computer Science and Engineering at Cornell is extremely difficult, and these words actually came out from the ex-Cornellian who did their undergraduate here. The projects and exams are all super difficult but yet they are interesting if the professors actually covered them in classes. The problem here is the professor assumes that it is your responsibility to search and figure it out yourself and they won't cover them in classes. Well, there is good and bad here and i hated the way when it is a total new content for you and when you go to the office hours of the teaching assistants, they are not entirely helpful and they would just bombarded you with "why not you tell me this..., or think about this..." and why can't they just explain how should i look into and give me some idea what the whole thing is about. I know they do not want to spoon-feed the students but come on, everyone is a student, and I made it clear it is totally new thing and i did try searching in the website to understand it, but can't you help to explain to me as i do not understand the whole picture.
The worst part is when you are an international student who did undergraduate in other places, the whole situation just get worst. It got worst because we have different background based on the different syllabus being taught, and the culture cum the language being used here...as the slang or the local terms here are so new to us. The worst part is that the professor would assume all the students know everything as he thinks that the students did their undergraduate at Cornell. And he would just say you already known this from "xxxx" class and it is the same..and then some of us would just go blank (the international students) and we have to figure it out on our own.
Well, I know it's tough and i can't complain as I just have to work harder. But it's not just about working harder...i have worked very hard....studying and working on projects 24 hours a day except for 3-4 hours of sleep...and the work is never ending and the time is so limited. It's really stressful here and sometimes i would think why would i need this....is this for my future career? (i do not really need this as I have my career) and is this for my better life? Well i do not think this will provide me better life after graduation except of getting a Master degree. My earlier thought was to learn and expose myself to the new technology as US has the fastest yet latest technology, but after being here...makes me think getting back to school to experience this is a silly thing to do as i can see...it makes no different that students/people here are all competing to get good grades for better career and life...so it is very restrictive.
And the students here especially the locals and the undergraduates are so selfish and ignorant. They would just compete among themselves and not sharing any information when you need some help. It is really sad...cause though they are super smart but the interpersonal personality is so bad and I really dislike the students here. On the contrary, the international students are more helpful and they tend to help each other cause they know it's tough and we tend to share and back each other up. So sometimes, the locals here or the people should not stereotype why international students tend to stay together because the locals are the one who create this environment.
Anyway, I will continue to strive no matter how miserable and difficult life is here...i just wish that i won't do so badly in this semester...but it is really eye-opening to experience the different culture, lifestyle, the people here and their perception.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Irene, I've been following your blog and have been interested to hear your stories from studying in the US. I'm sorry to hear things are getting tough - I know it's a wall that a lot of people hit when they get towards the end of the semester, and I can imagine it's much more difficult for international students who are already dealing with language and cultural barriers in addition to just the academic challenges. But I hope it will make you feel better to know you're not alone. Here's one perspective on how difficult grad school can get: http://blogs.voanews.com/student-union/2010/10/20/you-can-sleep-when-you%E2%80%99re-dead-keeping-the-schoollife-balance/ and if you check back at http://blogs.voanews.com/student-union next week, Tara from China is working on a post about the particular language/culture challenges she's faced studying in the US. I also posted a link to this post on my blog, because I think other students will benefit from hearing about your experiences. Good luck with everything!

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