Sheltered, occupied, distracted.
Sheltered, occupied, distracted.
Work-hard, play-hard, blah blah blah, Cornellians know to have fun, blah blah blah. People party here — we get it, whether we like it or not. But, as a 17-year-old applicant a year ago, at a time when I thought I’d be partying instead of writing articles about partying on Friday nights, Cornell’s intellectual-partying bimorph was an intriguing appeal, as it is for each class’s prospective students. Admissions ambassadors are well aware that “work-hard, play-hard” is a very powerful pitch to all senioritis-ridden applicants seeking a prestigious degree. So, if we look past the apparent tensions between administration and Greek Life — the source of nearly all organized partying — maybe the two are on the same team after all.
Five months after my Cornell interview and three months after committing to my Big Red acceptance, I attended a local meet-and-greet for the incoming class. Hosted at an alum’s home and intended to be a mixer between incoming freshmen, current students and alumni, it was meant to be a laid-back social. But in the immediate aftermath of the crapshoot that are college applications, such socials are anything but laid back. Allow me to offer a snapshot of what I mean. After parking a block away from the event’s address, I walked down the street and arrived at the front door, only to run into a line of fellow Cornellians waiting to enter.
I think it’s safe to say we’ve all gotten a little sick of instinctively fearing any living soul on this campus that sneezes.
Last semester, a friend and I enrolled in the same Freshman Writing Seminar, basing our decision on a brief course description in the Class Roster. We thought little of the fact that we enrolled in different sections; after all, not much else could differ besides the professor and time slot, right? Wrong. Yet, at the time, basking in our pre-freshman innocence, we were convinced otherwise — to the point where we promised each other we would be “study-buddies” when the semester rolled around. How cute.
While America pretends that turkey is edible every Thanksgiving, my hometown friends and I unapologetically devour plates of delicious home-fried chicken. Last week, we perched ourselves on the familiar living room couch, cheered as we watched the Cowboys lose and grasped ketchup bottles in-hand: a refreshing tradition that started long before college. Back then, what I now revere as my hometown traditions were the standard. So, by the time I visited home over this break, after planning my days and nights in advance, after hyping-up “the return” for weeks, it all seemed contrived, almost artificial — canned like the gravy we weren’t eating. I felt out of place at home for the first time.
I lost my virginity to a Krispy Kreme donut the other day. I ate my first one, that is (disappointed? Head over to Sex on Thursday). My hometown of Rochester is a Dunkin’ Donuts stronghold, so the pastry was a distant dream of mine only delivered by friends who ventured to the Krispy Kreme Scranton branch hours away. Fast forward three days, a dozen donuts and 20 bucks shelled out to the donut pimps, and I know now that a greater truth about this philanthropy comes unglazed.
Not all Cornell dorms are created equal. From the moment we arrive on campus, we quickly conclude that the back alleys of the Low Rise community pale in comparison to air conditioned, plasma TV-lit, Mews Hall lounges. Before we know it, our freshman year housing perceptions extend to the greater campus, locked into a standard metric: West is best, the Gothics are much less desirable and South Campus is the housing annex. Campus culture accustoms us to evaluating a dorm based on its amenities rather than what a residential community can offer beyond a roof over our heads. A residence hall and a community have become two very different things at Cornell.