Cornell’s West Campus Entrance (expect tons of acapella groups singing at this arch)
As a NYC-raised individual, I grew up with the mentality that city life is the only life. My acceptance to Cornell came with the realization that I would be living in what was essentially thought of as “the middle of nowhere.” It took me no more than a few hours of being in Ithaca to realize that “the middle of nowhere” is NOT synonymous to “having nothing fun to do.”
The unimaginable happens at Ithaca’s three-day Apple Fest: You run into anything and everything for which an apple could feasibly be used. Hard apple cider (for all of you 21 and overs * cough cough *), apple donuts, apple cinnamon funnel cakes, caramelized apples, heck, even apple-scented lotions! The festival, held in the Ithaca Commons during the fall season, is an amalgam of Farmer’s Markets (food, aesthetic products, and trinket vendors), live-band performances, and tons of carnival activities. Come one, come all, and if you have work that weekend, make a sick call!
Midnight Nasties Run
Bear Necessities—colloquially referred to by Frosh as Nasties—is the food market/café/quasi-restaurant on the ground floor of RPCC. Known for its delectable subs and tasty pizzas, this is the go-to spot for any midnight munchies (not those kind of munchies) or for any drunk and hungry students passing by after a Thursday/Friday/Saturday night of partying.
“Sugar, spice, and everything nice?” More like “Glitter, grime, and mojitos with wedges of lime!” Filthy/Gorgeous is an annual dance thrown by Cornell’s LGBTQ+ organization to promote safe-sex positivity and to celebrate the beauty that is Ithaca and its gorgeous gorges—with the added fun of raunchy party themes (Glitter and Grime circa 2014), excellent house music, and deliciously gorgeous go-go dancers. Think Project X meets a Las Vegas Gentlemen’s Club meets a NYC Village rave meets RuPaul’s Drag Race. Come filthy, come gorgeous…just come (pun absolutely intended).
You know that student who sits in the front row, center aisle during your Intro to Bio lecture and constantly aims to screw up the grading curve? Yes, he, too, struggles with the stress and anxiety that comes with being a Cornell student. Finals are Hell for everyone, and Midnight Scream serves as an avenue through which students can unify through a single mentality: Finals are terrifying and I just want them to be over! Science has proven that cussing or screaming can alleviate pain. Midnight Scream brings that science into the real world setting by allowing students to race to the roof of a Cornell-designated dormitory or hall and to scream for several minutes the night before the first day of Finals. It’s tradition. It’s legal. Now let it all out!
Eat at the Risley Dining Hall:
Cornell has gotten the reputation of being the “Harry Potter” college within the Ivy League conference. I constantly argue that this reputation has emerged because of the amount of students that appear to use Hermione’s Time Turner device—I mean, how else are they able to take so many classes, get all of their homework done, and still have any time to sleep? In contrast to my own conspiracy theories, most would agree that Cornell has obtained this reputation due to the architecture and interior design present around and within the campus, Risley Dining Hall fitting into this Harry Potter-esque category. It simply fits the description of a Harry Potter dining hall—antique wood aesthetic, old Victorian-style chandeliers, and tons of stain glass windows. Located on North Campus, this dining hall is ideal for any Cornell Frosh—and even hosts an annual Harry Potter night (for any of you readers who are adamant about their “house”).
Louie’s Lunch Truck
That red truck stationed on the road that connects Balch Hall to Risley Hall is known as Louie’s Lunch Truck—or, as I called it, Heaven in a vehicle. As a New York City kid, I grew up with delis and food stalls on every corner during every hour of the day. While not open 24 hours, seven days a week, Louie’s Lunch Truck (open during lunch, dinner, and midnight-snack hours) serves the most scrumptious Cajun fries, sugary milkshakes, hefty burgers of all types, and a variety of subs! As a North Campus Frosh, it is absolutely your obligation to commit to an all-night study session and to order your midnight snacks from Louie’s.
Climb the clock tower
Cornell boasts its 161 Things To Do list inside of the Cornell Store, which is a checklist that includes 161 things to do or places to visit before one graduates. One of the items on this list is to climb the 161 steps of McGraw clock tower. I am a huge proponent for checking off this item during your Frosh year, rather than waiting until your senior year. Firstly, it’s great exercise. Secondly, the view from the top of the clock tower is grogeous! And thirdly, said view is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also makes for a wonderful Instagram photo (Hashtag Cornell, Hashtag Clock Tower, Hashtag Hashtag).
It’s a common joke around Cornell that Architecture students do not exist. There are so few of them, and their core curriculum makes it so that they rarely have an opportunity to take classes outside of their field of professional studies, let alone, gives them any opportunities to party (you’ll see them in their native habitat while walking from the Arts Quad to North Campus on any given night). Dragon Day is the one day of the year in which students from the other six colleges of Cornell are given proof that Archies do, in fact, exist. A yearlong art project culminates in the Frosh Archies running around the Cornell campus with their dragon design in hand and with their audacious and eccentric costumes and make-up in clear sight. It’s quite a sight (pun intended).
Sunday morning brunch at RPCC
Every upper class man will, at some point in their time in college, miss the beauty that is the RPCC Sunday brunch. Frosh are all stationed up on North Campus, which leaves three dining hall options, RPCC being one of them. On any given Sunday, RPCC dining hall will provide students with a pancake station, an omelet station, a croissant station, a dim sum station (don’t miss out on those dumplings), and the regular array of continental breakfast food. For those of you who identify as Foodies, Food Bloggers, or Food Instagrammers, Sunday Morning Brunch at RPCC is not something to miss.
Appreciate the gorges
With a maxed out credit-schedule, social mixers and parties, and a myriad of extra-curricular activities (because, let’s face it, Cornell students are overachievers), students rarely take the time to look at their surroundings. Next time, when you’re crossing that bridge, take a moment to stop and to look. Look at the water streaming down the gorge. Listen for the sound of water rushing across the land. Close your eyes and let the mist hit your face. Smile.