Life as a Cornell Freshman

A photo of student writer Amanda Rabin over a scene of North Campus.

By: Amanda Rabin, EN ’21

When I moved into my new dorm on the first day of orientation week, I quickly discovered the community of North Campus. Before arriving for my freshman year, I had been nervous that I couldn’t pick which residence hall I would live in and worried about making friends. However, I soon realized that all the freshman residence halls are clustered around a big, open green space and three big buildings — Robert Purcell Community Center (RPCC), Appel Commons, and Helen Newman Hall — filled with dining halls, gyms, and study spaces. On that first day, I was able to meet so many people from different residence halls and continued to make friends throughout the orientation week events. As we spent time with new friends, played Frisbee on the fields, and enjoyed the start of college, North Campus became our home.

I loved living in a double in Low Rise 6. I met my roommate beforehand through a mutual friend and found that having a roommate made the transition to college much easier; however, students also have the option to live in a single room, triple, or quad. If you choose to have a random roommate, you fill out a basic survey regarding your living style, and Cornell pairs you with someone with similar habits. There are also Residential Assistants (RAs) on each floor to organize events like snack breaks or trips to places in Ithaca.

Both in close walking distance from all of the residence halls, RPCC and Appel Commons have large dining halls with a wide variety of food and, of course, Cornell’s famous ice cream. Daily menus are posted on Cornell Dining apps and websites, which was how my friends and I usually chose which dining hall to go to. Cornell Dining happily works with students regarding dietary restrictions, and there are a few different dining plans to choose from. I had a 10-swipes-per-week plan that included 500 of Cornell’s dining cash, Big Red Bucks (BRBs), and this worked really well for me as I could eat anywhere on campus during the week for lunch and could use my meal swipes for dinner every night and for lunch on the weekends. RPCC also houses a convenience store and cafe called Bear Necessities, fondly known as “Nasties” to Cornellians. Nasties is a great place to grab essentials or a quick bite, and my friends and I loved to stop there to pick up snacks or late-night treats. RPCC is also filled with chairs, tables, and study rooms, making it the perfect place to do homework near the dorms.

Both Helen Newman Hall and Appel Commons house gyms for students on campus. Many PE classes are held in these spaces and students have the option to purchase Cornell Fitness memberships to get access to the gym equipment and group fitness classes. Another great option for staying active on North Campus is Beebe Lake, a beautiful trail for walking, running, or enjoying the Ithaca scenery.

I loved living on North Campus and made some of my favorite Cornell memories there.