Cornell Welcomes Class of ’18 with a Weather Showcase

It’s time for Cornell Days and just as prefrosh and their parents were visiting Ithaca, the unending winter magically gave way to Spring. In fact, this weekend, the temperature rose upto 27 C/ 80F.

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On the way from Whitby to Central Campus

Suddenly, all the men were wearing shorts and the women brought all the summer dresses out. People were running ,biking, hiking and there was bliss. Just when you’re walking from one class to another, you come across beautiful sights like these (picture below) and feel compelled to take a photo.

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Across Uris Hall

Just when you start embracing spring, things go back to normal. When you look up at the sky, you know the storm is coming. Umbrella sales at the Cornell Store rise exponentially, but within 10 minutes of buying an umbrella, people realize it’s of no help. No umbrella can stand the Ithaca wind.

On my way from Central Campus to Whitby

On my way from Central Campus to Whitby

It doesn’t end there. Within a day of 27 C/80F weather, a blizzard decides to surprise you in the middle of the day. From Cornell students, this elicits responses like the one below on Overheard at Cornell (on Facebook).

“I couldn’t recognize anyone today. Everyone looks so different when they’re miserable”
-Girl in Olin while looking out the window

Because here’s what she was probably looking at.

Mid Spring Blizzard

Then when I walked back home today in the evening, I was in a winter wonderland in the middle of April, in the northern hemisphere.

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

As Cornell students, we fully respond used to this quick, all encompassing show case of Ithaca weather. We grumble about it everyday and post screenshots of weather reports on Facebook all the time. We write blog posts and satirical news articles about it. We never get tired of complaining about the weather.

Dear Class of 2018,

Ithaca, Cornell and Cornellians have tried their best to give you a complete preview of the weather in Ithaca in the past three days. Hope you enjoyed it and please feel free to constantly share weather updates on social media. Welcome to Cornell!

Explorations of Food in Ithaca

I was talking to a friend from Zimbabwe about food. We both agreed that exploring new places, meeting people who come from different backgrounds and trying foreign food are all essential aspects of studying abroad. She recalled a story which gets the point across effectively.

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country, so seafood is very rare in the country. When some students from Zimbabwe were going to a coastal region in Mozambique, an advisor said to them, “The last time we organized this trip, one student went to Mozambique and ordered beef dishes at every meal there. Don’t be that student. You can find as much beef as you want in Zimbabwe, so try something different there.”

How does this relate to my spring break food experience? I have pretty much been ordering food on the basis of how the name sounds, at restaurants with unfamiliar cuisines. So here are my top three non-Indian food experiences in Ithaca (not in order):

Sahara
I went to Sahara for early dinner and I was the only customer there. The restaurant was warm in its design, decor and ambiance. Reading the quote –  ”The best memories are made when gathered around the table” above the door in Sahara made me happy  because I really value great food and company.

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Spanakopita and Salad

I ordered a Spanakopita plate although I had never heard of it before. I received a huge plate with a fresh looking salad, lots of hummus and pita bread and of course, spanakopita! The girl who served at my table didn’t think I could finish the entire plate. And then she was impressed by the time I was done. All credits go to the amazing food.

Pizza Aroma
I must confess that I am not a fan of pizza. Atleast not Domino’s or Papa John’s or the dining hall kind of pizza. So when I first had pizza at Pizza Aroma, I was pleasantly surprised. Although it is more expensive than the first category of pizza, the price is worth the taste.

This place also serves El Salvadorean food, which is much cheaper than its pizza. Having tried a couple of dishes from their El Salvadorean menu, I don’t think it’s as good as their pizza. But I guess you only what you pay for.

Moosewood

I was raving about this place even before going there. They’re vegetarian and source their products locally. How could that not be great? When I finally went for lunch there one Saturday afternoon, my fondness for Moosewood was enhanced.

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The entree whose name I don’t remember

House salad and veggie juice.

House salad and veggie juice.

I don’t even remember the name of the entree I ordered, but it was like a filo pastry with spinach, mushroom and fancy cheese in it. I also ordered a vegetable juice, which was flavoured with spices. Entrees come with a house salad and I choose a ‘creamy spinach basil’ dressing for mine. All of it tasted wonderful. Being a vegetarian and loving my veggies has never been more rewarding.On my way out, I flipped through one of Moosewood’s popular cookbooks. It felt more like a story book than a cookbook, in the best way possible. I’m getting a copy sometime soon!

In terms of price, a fulfilling lunch for one is possible under $15 here. Dinner is slightly more expensive, but I believe the portions are also likely to be larger.

As much as I love trying new food, nothing makes me happier than a full Indian meal. Here are my insights on the three Indian restaurants in Ithaca, each of which I’ve visited quite a few times now. Fun fact: they all offer a $10 (including taxes) all you can eat lunch buffet, every day of the week. That actually works out to be cheaper than a Cornell dining meal plan!

New Delhi Diamonds

This restaurant is in the commons and is my personal favourites. The restaurant itself is minimalistic in design and the food is delicious. The flavor is as authentic as I could have expected and the price is very reasonable. On my list, this is the best of the three Indian restaurants in Ithaca.

Dinner at Diamonds. I always over eat there.

Mehak and Sangam

Both of these restaurants are located in collegetown, very close to each other. Although the food at Sangam is priced slightly lower than that at Mehak, I think they are more or less similar in quality. Their lunch buffets are also very similar.

Gastronomic Adventures in Spring Break

I stayed in Ithaca during Fall break and Thanksgiving break last year and in that time, I experienced the biggest issue international students face during break. Dining halls close over the breaks and there is little scope for real cooking in the dorm kitchens. Many international students learn to survive on ramen, pizza, microwavable pasta and asian food as they eagerly wait for the dining halls to reopen.

When I decided to stay in Ithaca this Spring break, I promised myself that I would not resort to highly processed and preserved, packaged food this time. On the first day of break, trying to be local, I made a trip to Green Star food co-operative, instead of going to Wegman’s. Happy with the variety of locally sourced vegetables, fruits and dairy products, I purchased a week’s worth of groceries.

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Since this was the first time I actually went ‘real’ grocery shopping, I felt proud and grown-up as I walked to the Green Street bus station ,carrying my two bags of vegetables, fruits and the like.

With my stock of ingredients and Whitby’s full pantry and spacious kitchen, I have cooked more food in the last three days than ever in my life. Starting with a fruit smoothie and pancakes for breakfast, vegetable stir fry in rice and butter nut squash pasta for lunch, rice and roti with paneer curries at night, I have been cooking all day for the last three days. (And sending pictures of my creations to my mom and making sure she sees them.) I know I have come a long way from my first attempt at cooking, about three months ago.

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Pancakes made from *basic ingredients*

Pasta with butternut squash sauce!

Pasta with butternut squash sauce!

 

Lots of Indian food!

Lots of Indian food!

However, after I bask in the success of my attempts at cooking, I turn to the pile of dirty dishes in the sink and wish they would wash themselves. So after three days of intensive cooking, I am somewhat deterred by the amount of effort that goes into keeping a kitchen clean. So this evening, I am headed to Sahara in the commons for Mediterranean food!

P.S.: Come back later for a post on my explorations of Ithaca’s restaurants. Supposedly, Ithaca has more restaurants per capita than New York City!

 

First Dragon Day

For those of you who don’t know what Dragon Day is, it is an annual event held on the Friday before spring break. ”The center of the event is the procession of a dragon, created by first-year architecture students at the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, past the College of Engineering and into the Arts Quad.”

I was really excited for my first Dragon Day, but not for very long. When I learned that only architecture students would be part of the parade, I was disillusioned. Only this managed to cheer me up a little.

Unicorn at Dragon Day

Bitter, attention seeking unicorn at Dragon Day. “Why don’t they celebrate Unicorn Day?”

Still, I was surprised by the sheer number of people and amount of noise on campus. The only time there are a comparable number of people on the roads is the time between classes, when everyone is rushing from one building to another. So it was great to see that kind of energy in the community for a non academic reason. (Of course, I have not been to Slope Day yet.)

For more photos of Dragon Day 2014, Checkout the Cornell Dragon Day 2014 page on Facebook or Cornell News!

P.S.: Want to share your own experiences at Cornell? Blog for Life on The Hill! :D

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