On Poetry and Culture Shock

Slope Day (tangarse clases a la americana)

Slope Day is the last day of classes in the Spring semester at Cornell. In New York State, it is illegal to carry an open container of alcohol (not drinking: having an open bottle, which eliminates the excuse "but I am NOT drinking!") in open public spaces, and it is also illegal to give alcohol to people under the age of 21. Not to sell it: to give it. If I was giving a party, one of my friends was 20, and she drank alcohol, I'd be committing an offense.

So, for Slope Day a section of campus is fenced in so that it is legal for one day to drink in the street (in the area inside the fence). Classes are not suspended, but people skip them anyway. Any Spanish readers should be comforted to know that foreign students, even in an elite university, skip class to drink in the streets in the early spring. And professors here also say, like Spanish ones: "I will be coming on Friday because that is what I get paid for. If none of you is here, then I'll have to leave". (everyone giggles and looks guilty and amused)

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