Coming Around to Liking Ithaca

The opinion I’m about to share with you taken a while to arrive at, and one that I’ve only recently confirmed with myself after much deliberation–over 5 semesters worth of time spent at Cornell. Are you ready to hear it?

Okay, here goes: I like living in Ithaca.

Whaaat? You may ask. You’ve written 96 blog posts chronicling your life at Cornell with an upbeat attitude, and you just realize now that you like the town of Ithaca?

Well, yes. As a high school senior from Connecticut who applied to Cornell under the Early Decision option, I’ll admit that after submitting my deposit, I had unsettling feelings about my chosen college’s location–especially when comparing it with my friends’ choices. Some of my pals were heading into the heart of Boston for four years, some of them chose schools in the Big Apple, and I could even name a few that decided on higher education in appealingly warm destinations (e.g. UMiami). Though I was excited about attending Cornell, telling people that I was going to be living in a small town–one that’s supposedly “centrally isolated” in frigid upstate New York–I often got responses that elicited negative sentiments about the weather, the isolation, and the distance from home.

Coming into Cornell with this bias, its no wonder I was apprehensive about the location throughout my freshman year. I hadn’t mastered the TCAT,  clamored for proximity to a big city, and wasn’t used to the kind of stores that were nearby–the many tattoo parlors, smoke shops and hemp retailers on the commons/throughout Ithaca just weren’t (and still aren’t) my thing.


At some point in the last year or so, it hit me that Ithaca’s a pretty unique and ‘likable’ place, and a great place for a college student to spend 4 years. I’m not exactly sure what ‘it’ was that caused the change of heart, but here are some possibilities:

  • Realizing that I’ve actually passed tall waterfalls on the way to class–Ithaca is, in fact, gorges
  • Getting invited to professors houses for Thanksgiving (something I’d bet is only likely in a ‘small town’ community), or spotting them in the dining hall
  • Learning to navigate the bus system to find stores that I actually enjoy getting stuff at (taking the 10 or 30 bus, then the 15, gets you to Route 13, where the chain stores–Wal*Mart, Wegmans, Chipotle, and Five Guys–are)
  • Swimming in state parks
  • Enjoying fresh, local Cornell Apple Cider and Cornell Dairy ice cream around campus
I’ve basically come to the conclusion that, while yes, I may not be a country dweller at heart…I have my whole life to get an apartment and live in a city, and might as well enjoy my education in this unique place in the meantime.
Moral of the story? Don’t be disuaded by Cornell’s location; you’d be surprised how much Ithaca has to offer after a while. Plus, at least we’re not in New Haven

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