Mikey Visits the Big Red Barn

Mikey Enjoys a Nice, Warm Fire at the Big Red Barn

Cornell University is famous for its multiple eateries across campus. With so many choices, it can be hard for new students to visit all of the dining halls and restaurants available to them, especially when convenience encourages students to visit the same locations over and over again. In an effort to properly paint social life at Cornell, Mikey and I will be travelling to some of our favorite locations to comment on their food options and to encourage you to branch out to new restaurant locations on campus.

Today’s post centers on one of our more frequent dining spots on Central Campus: The Big Red Barn.

Mikey Studies at the Big Red Barn

The Big Red Barn serves different pasta meals and sandwiches in addition to the traditional grab-and-go meals you can find at other Cornell eateries. Its dining area is much smaller than places like Trillium or larger dining halls, but it is usually easy to find a spare table outside of peak lunch hours (usually between 11am-1pm). It’s a cozier, more intimate atmosphere–a style not so easily found on Central Campus. The Big Red Barn also doubles as a great meeting location and study spot, especially if you can grab a sofa on its second floor.

So comfy.

One of its downsides is that it doesn’t serve dinner and closely its food stations relatively early in comparison to other dining locations on campus. If you want to eat there, I strongly recommend looking up its open hours on Cornell’s Dining website before heading over. You don’t want to go there on an empty stomach just to be disappointed. Believe me.

All we wanted were some chocolate bars….*sniffle*

The line can also be fairly long during rush hour and, since there is usually only one register open, you may wait a very long time to get your meal. At those times, you should grab a sandwich and drink from the cooler instead and skip right past the meal line straight to the register. Sure, the meal won’t be as great, but at least you won’t be late for class.

Silly Mikey.

When Mikey and I went, we spent several hours at the Big Red Barn studying for an upcoming exam. It was very cold outside, so Mikey naturally drifted towards the fireplace in the corner. Having missed the meal shifts, we settled on eating popcorn from the first-floor popcorn machine and tried very hard not to look at the beverage cooler situated all but 10 paces away from us. (Oh how it mocked us so…)

As we studied and occasionally distracted ourselves by swinging down the banister and playing hide-and-seek, Mikey and I caught the attention of several people who were there. The first people was a group of students who were meeting together at the Big Red Barn for a social gathering. The girls thought that Mikey was very cute and willingly posed for a photograph after hearing Mikey’s story.

Mikey Poses with Friends at the Big Red Barn

Another person we met was an older gentleman from Puerto Rico. He was very curious as to why I was taking pictures nonchalantly of a stuffed panda sitting on the couch on sliding down the banister, and when I told him about how I use Mikey (and Tobi) to keep in touch with my sister back home and to write for my blog he opened up about his own relationship with his teenage niece and how he wished he had done similar bonding activities with her when she was young. Now he worries that it may be too late to form that familial bond with her because she is so busy with all her own life now that she is headed for college. We had a very interesting conversation about how to best balance work and home life and how to best develop relationships with younger family members at different stages of their life, be they children or young adults. We also touched upon the role of language and age barriers in the separation of generations among immigrant families. A more detailed account of the discussion can be read here [insert link] and it illustrates some of the amazing conversations and experiences one can accidentally come across while travelling about Cornell.

Or you can just swing down banisters. Whatever suits your fancy.

In short, the Big Red Barn is a cozy place to eat and study that is conveniently located smack in the middle of Central Campus–right next to many of the academic buildings which many students call home. It hosts several night events throughout the semester, but it is most convenient for its cozy atmosphere during the day which greatly facilitates group conversation and studying. If nothing else, you should visit the Big Red Barn simply to slide down its banister when no one is looking or to play hide and seek with your favorite panda friend.

I see you, Mikey. 🙂

Tobi Tackles the Freshman 15

Dear Elisabeth,

Today, Tobi and Nani went to RPCC to participate in our friend’s experiment. She was working with a few other students to test if the Freshman 15 was still prominent on campus. The Freshman 15 is a phenomenon in which Freshmen college students gain 15 pounds during their first year of college due to poor eating habits and lack of exercise. By measuring the weights of several Freshmen students at the beginning and end of their first semester, our friend was testing to see if there was any truth behind the Freshman 15 myth.

Now we were coming back to see if there had been any changes in our own weight. Nani was happy to see that she had only gained a few pounds during the interim, but Tobi was not nearly as happy. Being a stuffed tiger, he didn’t expect for his midnight munching to actually have any effect on his weight but, being a very special tiger, Tobi was just as susceptible to the Freshman 15 as anyone else. As the scale spun forward, Tobi panicked as he realized that he had gained a lot of weight in his first semester.

Tobi didn’t understand why he hadn’t realized earlier that he had gained so much weight. Although Tobi insisted that he had always eaten healthily, Nani couldn’t help but think of what had happened just the night before:

Caught Pancake-Handed!

In fact, Tobi had eaten a lot of things in his last few weeks at Cornell. He had a nasty habit of piling too much food onto his plate in the dining halls and of eating midnight snacks right before going to bed. Plus, Tobi had stopped exercising regularly and even took the Tcat bus to travel from his dorm room to his classes. Tobi insisted that he only took the bus because Cornell University gives their Freshmen students free bus passes, but Nani thought it might really be because Tobi was too lazy to walk the whole way (especially during the colder months).

The dorm is five minutes away by foot, Tobi. We can walk.

Let Tobi’s shock come as a warning to you, Elisabeth. It’s very tempting to eat more food than necessary when so much food is placed in front of you. At dining halls and other campus eateries, you’ll have the choice to eat as much as you want from a buffet of various tasty foods.  I have witnessed many students fill up their trays with mountains of food—pancakes, mashed potatoes, pizza, French fries—only to toss half of it out or to follow it up with a bowl of ice cream.  When you’re eating so much food and most of that food is unhealthy, it makes sense that your weight should go up significantly.

However, just because it is common does not mean that excessive weight gain is desirable. There are a few exceptions, such as those who have medical conditions that hinder their metabolism or those who actually need to gain weight, but you probably won’t qualify under those exceptions. Most likely, you will gain weight simply because you weren’t careful about your eating habits, and that behavior will noticeably hurt your health and performance later on.

This lack of discipline is what caused Tobi to gain the Freshman 15. In turn, the Freshman 15 was what made Tobi tired during classes and more susceptible to catching illnesses. He didn’t have the nutrients he needed to function properly, and he didn’t exercise regularly enough to balance out his late-night binging.

Luckily for Tobi, our friend knew all about the Freshman 15 and was able to explain to him why he was gaining weight. She told Tobi three ways through which he could get his nutrition back on track:

  1. Eat Fewer, But Better Foods
  2. Exercise More Each Week
  3. Eat at Regular Times

Tobi is very excited to try out these new tricks and to feel better. It may take some time, but he is determined to see his resolution through until the end. Tobi promised his friend that he would try out her tips for a whole semester before stepping back on the scale to see his progress. Do you think Tobi can do it? What advice would you give to Tobi as he tries to eat better this semester?

I really hope that Tobi can overcome his bad habits, and I hope that when you are older you will remember to eat healthy and exercise regularly even when you are facing the temptations of delicious pie.  It may sound like a cliché, but it really does hurt to eat unhealthily. In fact, why don’t you try Tobi’s healthy eating challenge, too? For a whole semester, all you have to do is follow the same three rules as Tobi. If you give it your best effort, maybe then you will be able to see personally the difficulties and benefits of eating healthy. What do you think?

Lots of Love,
Your Sister (a.k.a. Nani)