A college campus can feel like its own little world—especially when it’s isolated in upstate New York. With so many student-run organizations and activities on campus, Cornell could hypothetically function on its own: there are dorms, dining halls and restaurants, athletic and music facilities, libraries, and even our own student government. And since most of the university’s population is made up of young adults, we can easily forget that Cornell is merely a dot on the map of the United States and the entire world.
Lucky for us, our campus makes accessible almost everything you could ever need–minus the occasional dire run to Target. But in spite of this, there’s probably some part of you that wants to be in touch with the “real” world, too. Whether you want to learn more about the latest hurricane, public policy decision, or professional sports event, there is a lot happening outside of our little home at Cornell. The question is, then, how do we balance staying present as Cornell students and members of the Ithaca community while still keeping tabs on what’s going on outside of school? Whether you are trying to maintain long-distance relationships with family members or friends or merely attempting to keep up with current events, finding the fine line to do both is important but takes time.
Fortunately, we are lucky enough to live during a time when we have the opportunity to tune into the “real” world pretty much whenever we want. Between live-streaming technology at our fingertips and everything accessible via the Internet, the choice is really up to us: how much do we want to know?
As much as we like to be informed of current events, the truth is, the world is a scary place. Personally, I stay in touch with the rest of the world with The Week, which sends daily updates to my email with the subject “The Week: 10 Things You Need to Know Today.” In this email, there are 10 bullet points of current events topics, ranging from Donald Trump’s latest action in the White House to Taylor Swift’s release of a new single. There are little blurbs to go along with each one, as well as a link to take you to further reading. I find this is a good balance between staying informed and having the gist of what’s happening without being inundated with information. There are also many other newsletters to serve as news sources, such as theSkimm and BuzzFeed News.
If reading isn’t your thing, you can also find brief news updates via podcasts, like The Daily or 60 Minutes. Although it’s important to me to be somewhat knowledgeable about politics, I am mostly content to hear about the news from my safe spot within the Ithaca bubble. College is a unique time to enjoy life as an independent person, without any real responsibility besides school work, and I want to savor every minute of that.
Political news aside, it’s easy to get caught up in the bubble that surrounds Cornell and (almost) forget that the many people living across the country who care about. It’s difficult to manage the desire to call family and friends at home when there’s an hour to spare when we could alternatively spend that time with people surrounding us on campus. There are so many fulfilling ways to occupy each day at school, yet it’s important to keep in touch with those we really care about and update them with what’s going on in school. Especially for our parents and families who literally made it possible for us to attend Cornell, we owe them frequent phone calls, texts or facetimes. And if keeping in touch with high school friends is something that’s important, like it certainly is for me, catching up every once in awhile can sustain the relationships, even when it’s long-distance. Apps such as HouseParty allows you to videochat with multiple friends at one time and social media websites, although often used for many other purposes, can be excellent forms of communication if typical phone calls aren’t your thing.
Of course, there is always the temptation to spend a weekend away from campus—either staying at home if that’s close enough or going to visit a friend at another school. While a break from campus is nice occasionally, weekends here are a time to catch up on work, eat meals with good friends, and explore Ithaca and all it has to offer.
Balancing student life with keeping up in the real world is hard, but no one expects you to be in two places at the same time. The most important thing is to know your priorities and what means most to you, and decide how to spend your time based on what will make you happy. If that means completely isolating yourself from the outside world, so be it—as long as your parents know you are okay. You’re only in college once, so embrace it however you choose.