The "Hogwarts Effect"

This week, sophomore Yousef Anwer describes how his interdisciplinary experience at Cornell has been utterly magical…

By: Yousef Anwer ’19, Economics major, Law and Society minor

Growing up I had Harry Potter fever. I still low-key blame J. K. Rowling for ruining fantasy books for me, because nothing I’ve read since has ever been able to match up to the wild imagination that was allowed to run rampant in her novels. Still, at least we parted on good (?) terms – sort of like when you finish that jar of Nutella and part of your brain says, ‘well that’s enough saturated fats for you’ and the other half is screaming, ‘MORE!’ – so there’s something to be said in that.

The first time I’ve really thought about Harry Potter since I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Tw0 was right at the end of my freshman year when I was checking out McFaddin Hall (I was supposed to live there in the coming fall). ‘Ooh you’re going to be living in Hogwarts,’ is what everyone said to me when I told them about my housing arrangements. Personally though, I wasn’t too fussed about it. I’d be living on the sixth floor, and yeah, the view was nice, but there was no elevator (gasp, I know right).

A magical view of West Campus (Haris Hasan, SHA ’18)

Anyhoo, glossing over my first-world problems and back to this so-called ‘Hogwarts Effect,’ I entered my sophomore year, and even though it’s not over yet it has (if I may say so) been the greatest nine and three-quarters of a year (see what I did there) that I have ever had. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re in the middle-of-nowhere-there-are-cows-grazing-10-miles-away, maybe it’s the professors, maybe it’s the phenomenal students, maybe it’s all of the above, but there’s just something magical about Cornell (and I’m not just talking about PLPPM 2010: Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds).

“He was home. Hogwarts was the first and best home he had known. He and Voldemort and Snape… had all found home here” (Rowling 697) [You have to remember to keep these MLA citations, they give us a huge spiel about plagiarism and what-not during orientation]. But back to this effect I keep harping about. Minus the bit about ‘first’ and adding ‘one of the’ before ‘best’ and not restricting this to males, we have what I like to call the ‘Hogwarts Effect.’

I genuinely believe there’s something special about Cornell. It’s is possible we’re being slipped a love potion (my guess is one of the Wonder Witch line products from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes) but I’m a little skeptical about that – it’s just difficult not to fall in love with this place. I came to Cornell as a very goal-oriented and inflexible individual. I was going to graduate in three years, major in economics, and be off on my merry way. Instead, I took a course in astronomy where I met Professor Steve “The Martian” Squyres (that’s what I call him, I don’t think anyone else does), and so began my little affair with the subject. Sometime later I took BIOEE 1540: Introductory Oceanography (which I think should be mandatory for every single student – global warming it’s a thing, check it out, we should be freaking about it, but I digress) and it significantly changed my views on what I wanted to achieve in life. There are so many other courses like this that I’ve been able to take as an Arts & Sciences student which have left me better off. Even the ones I’ve been atrocious at (I’m looking at you CS 1112: Introduction to Computing Using MATLAB) have left me with a set of skills that I didn’t previously have. I’ve now come to realize the value of that extra year which I was ‘saving’, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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