Isolation – So Far So Good

During the Fall break, I went to visit my friends at Cornell University in Ithaca.

Besides the breathtaking autumn scenery, Cornell shares similar geographical isolation as Colgate. There is only a small college town with quaint crooks and crannies, homely eateries and convenience shops. My friends and I are always overwhelmed by photos posted on Wechat by friends from suburban universities. The tantalizing local Chinese dishes, rotating conveyor belt sushi, and sizzling Korean barbecue make our taste buds feel lonely time after time.

To be frank, Colgate might seem more forlorn due to its small student body. While there seems to be fewer options of things to do around campus, I do relish the proximity to nature. As a girl who has lived in cities throughout her life, being away from the hustle and bustle of city life is a brand new experience. Walking on a carpet of golden leaves in the quiet woods, waking up greeting a deer outside the window, and having fresh local-grown fruits and vegetables daily are fantastic! More importantly, the “ascetic” setting has made it easier to let my heart settle and reflect — to really listen to my own voice, to examine my own identity, and cultivate my own individuality.

I have also been enjoying the close-knitted relationships around me. The small student body makes it easier to make friends — people I meet are not just be passers-by because we will probably bump into each other another time. The small class size gives me ample opportunities to connect with classmates and professors. This also means that more resources can be devoted to each student. One common complaint I hear from friends in big universities is how hard it is to get into their desired clubs and societies. While for me, without the hassle of application and rounds of interviews, I could drop in for knitting over a weekend, get my hands dirty with clay when I am free, or get assigned to write for the school newspaper every week. This liberal spirit permeates our learning environment, and I am really grateful for the latitude and variety of choices. 

While the people and the environment are really nice, sometimes I do worry about getting disconnected from the real world. The whole campus seems like a small bubble — familiar and friendly people, great accessibility to resources, idyllic environment — too good to be true in a highly competitive or even ruthless world. However, I hope that at present, I can take advantage of this innocent setting, appreciate both the sweetness and the tartness life holds, to explore, experience, and mature.

Quanzhi Guo

Quanzhi Guo

Quanzhi Quo is a sophomore at Colgate University. You can contact Quanzhi Guo at