College is all about exploring and trying unfamiliar things, getting outside of your comfort zone and saying yes to new experiences. In fact, common advice given to first-year students at Cornell is “Don’t say no to anything.”
But there are some things at Cornell that you can say no to, and you won’t be missing much. I’ll be avoiding the obvious stuff, such as hard drugs, invitations from clowns in white vans, Nigerian princes in need of a bailout, and will focus on the more discreet details.
Too Cool for Coats: Wear your warm winter coat, zip it up, and put on a hat. Even better, gain an encasing layer of body fat from sedentary hours studying.
Olin Basement Bathrooms: Roach party! I’d also recommend popping on a gas mask before entering. Better yet, go up a floor and use the first-floor bathroom instead.
Microwaving Your Popcorn Incorrectly in the Dorms: A surprising number of Cornell students are illiterate when it comes to food hazards. A personal lapse may have involved a midnight evacuation of Morrison Hall during finals week.
Sickness: Wash your grubbers before picking up your pizza and gobbling it up. Drink your Vitamin C powder. Invest in hand sanitizer. Shun your sniffly friends. Wear a beaked plague doctor mask.
Counting on that 5am Uber to the Airport: Or Ubers in rural New York in general. Another car-less Sun editor and I had an unexpected stay in a charming roadside motel together due to a sudden lack of drivers.
Forgetting Physics: Don’t be like that woman chasing her screeching stroller rocketing down Libe Slope. Be mindful of how acceleration, gravity and hills work, as there are many here.
Sign up for 20+ Credits First-Year Fall: It’s good to have friends, as well as sanity. Consider a winter or summer course if you’re so desperate to wrack up credits.
Okenshields Shellfish: Tapeworms do have some weight loss properties if you’re so interested, although Ozempic may be a better — and more controlled — option.
Joining a Cult: The Yellow Deli recently opened shop in the heart of the Commons. If you’re curious, read our article on the Twelve Tribes. No need to venture within.
Going to Cornell Health: Give Marlene Berke’s article a read, and catch a ride to Cayuga Medical Health Center instead if you can (free slushies in the lobby)!
Ignoring the No Winter Maintenance Signs: “My sneakers have enough grip,” I thought before thumping down the PSB stairs on my tailbone.
Leaving your Umbrella at Home: Unless you fancy buying a new computer. It rains every day in Ithaca, so pack accordingly and avoid squelching into your lectures looking (and smelling) like a wet rat.
Showering Barefoot: Warts are easy to get but hard to get rid of. Trust no one, not even your seemingly wart-free suitemates.
Going to McGraw Hall at Night: Definitely haunted by the ghost of Ezra Cornell. Creepiest building on campus; I just about killed myself sprinting down those rickety steps after a night of studying.
Assuming the Car Will Stop: Crosswalks don’t mean anything here, and the TCAT doesn’t stop for anyone, for any reason. Get off your phone and look both ways. Glare at the passing cars until one finally relents and allows you to pass.
Buying a Live Turtle or Frog at Ren’s Mart: As tempting as it is, I would encourage adventurous chefs to pass. The animals aren’t exactly thriving — zip-tied in a plastic bag in a Styrofoam cooler.
Exposing your Parents to a Morning in Collegetown: It’s a mystery as to why Cornell always has parents’ weekend on Halloweekend. Whenever my mom visits, she’s always cackling at the scurrying students on their Walk of Shame and stray costumed men on annex porches.
Using up your BRBs in September: You will pay for your early hoggery in the following months. Avoid spending a fortune on “little treats” and overpriced drinks. Don’t underestimate the power of hoarding bananas from the dining halls.
Being A Group Project Slacker: Yes, your life may be easier by not pulling your weight, but you will live in your groupmates’ minds in eternal infamy. The shame may also plague you forever, as it should.
Forgoing the Slope Day Sunscreen: Finals are painful enough without looking like a lobster. And drink enough water, too. Don’t be one of those delirious fools the EMTs have to wheel away on a gurney.
That’s my comprehensive list of things you should say no to at Cornell. For additional guidance, here are 161 things you could say yes to at Cornell, according to a 2005 email survey collected from students. Just remember, some experiences are best left unexplored.
Aurora Weirens is a third year student in the College of Arts & Sciences. Her fortnightly column The Northern Light illuminates student life. She can be reached at [email protected].
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