Dear Freshmen (and Transfers too): Hello! I hope you have had an exciting weekend that has proved all your snobby friends from home who go to NYU and say that nothing ever happens in any place that isn’t New York wrong.If you’re like me, however, and spent the first couple days of O-Week freshman year playing Bananagrams and Apples to Apples (which is totally fine, those were some good times) and a small part of you thinks those snobby friends might be right, I am here to guide you through what is actually an extremely artsy/entertaining community. I am officially an upperclassman now, so that means I know what I’m talking about (ish).
My biggest piece of advice for you artistically inclined youngsters (I know you’re only two years younger than I am, okay?) is to get involved in arts on campus. I’m not advising all 5,000 of you to join a cappella groups, although if that’s your thing, go for it. The people who do it seem to enjoy themselves. Sign up for like a bajillion (four or five) things that appeal to you — whether it’s singing, playing an instrument, acting, sketch comedy, whatever. Audition for stuff. If you don’t get in, no one will remember you, and if you do, great! It’s super easy to drop a club halfway through the year if you don’t like it, but not so easy to pick one up if you find you have spare time.
You should also go watch a non-arch a cappella concert, a Whistling Shrimp (improv comedy) show, plays at Risley and other student performances, even if you’re not close personal friends with a performer. Some of your peers are really talented (some are not, but you should smile, say they were great and pray they don’t drop out of school to audition for The X Factor anyway).
I personally am not a particularly talented vocalist, but obviously I enjoy having a role in arts on campus, so I’ve gotten involved with some groups that plan and produce shows: Cornell Concert Commission and Cornell University Program Board (like CCC but for speakers and comedians). CUPB is my second favorite thing about Cornell (#1 goes to the Farmer’s Market — mostly because of the Cambodian food). If you have strong opinions about bands, comedians or speakers you want to bring here, I encourage you to join one or both. Or, if that’s too much pressure for you, you can simply attend the frequent concerts and shows we put on (like the free LA Riots concert coming up this Saturday on the Arts Quad!).
Between Cornell Cinema, Regal Cinemas and Cinemapolis, the film junkies among you should do a little dance of appreciation about the number of movies one can see in Ithaca. Cornell Cinema plays a mix of newer movies, classic movies and some really obscure titles that you can sound super smart and interesting talking about later. This week, five of the movies they are playing rank highly on all those lists of the best movies ever that I know most of you usually just laugh and nod when they are referenced, but have never actually seen (Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Citizen Kane and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.) Take advantage of the fabulous Cornell Cinema. It’s right on campus so you really have no excuse not to.
Regal Cinemas doesn’t need an explanation. It’s at The Shops at Ithaca Mall. You can take the bus. It’s handy if you need anything at Target and want to see the new Twilight movie (are there more Twilight movies, or are we done with those?)
Cinemapolis, down in the Commons across the street from Urban Outfitters, plays smaller movies that don’t make it to Regal, and it’s wonderful. I especially recommend checking out Cinemapolis because it gives you a chance to leave the North Campus bubble and explore downtown. Also, there is no shame in seeing a movie by yourself.
The City of Ithaca has cool artsy things happening literally all the time: things like local musicians at the Farmer’s Market (the Cambodian food is really good), in the Commons or at various fests i.e. Porchfest, Applefest, Chilifest. Porchfest happens in September and features a ton of diverse bands playing on porches in the pretty, old residential neighborhoods near downtown. The latter two fest are self-explanatory and delicious. There are also plays, art shows, concerts, comedy at The State Theater, The Haunt, Ithaca College and elsewhere.
My last and possibly most important tip is to READ THIS SECTION OF THE NEWSPAPER. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told by peers, professors, strangers, my parents, that they read The Sun every day, but they skip Arts (which is pretty rude to tell someone even if it’s true). It’s a short section, it’s usually a fun read and we inform you about all the amazing arts and entertainment related shenanigans that I’ve forgotten to mention (of which there are plenty because there’s a lot of artsy stuff happening here and I only get about 900 words to cover the major bases.) I know it’s pretty Andy Bernard-y of us to keep reminding everyone, but The Sun is the #1 college newspaper in America. That paper includes this section, and you should read it.
Original Author: Julia Moser