What You Wish You Knew About Cornell

Aubrey Kohl ’17, a PA with NSO 2015 writes on what she wishes she knew about Cornell her first year and it’s a Cornell phenomenon: the Cornell Plague. With intensive academics and dedicated students, Cornellians are notorious for working through a lot of conditions. Prior to Cornell, you may be used to taking a day off and watching classic ’80s movies; Aubrey talks about a Cornellian’s Day Off (or Not).

What I Wish I Knew



The infamous 1980s movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is centered around the escapades of a high schooler who feigns being sick to get out of school for the day. Anyone who has actually been too physically ill to go to school, however, knows that it is not quite so glamorous. You go to a doctor and get some medication as well as get lots of rest. Within a few days, you’re back to school and it’s no big deal.

Before going to Cornell, I never thought that would change–I could take a sick day and that would be normal. Promptly at Cornell, by the end of my first block to be exact, I came to the realization that it had changed. I got sick with the flu on Friday of third week. Fortunately, I have a mother who is a nurse and, thus, I was prepared with a first aid kit that had the medicine I needed. Additionally, I slept a lot that weekend. And, back to class.

There is so much to learn in a short period of time at Cornell, faculty and students, myself included, are known to not take sick days whenever possible. Thus, what many students will refer to jokingly as the “Cornell Plague” begins. My best advice for avoiding the plague? Be sure to take care of yourself – remember hygiene, sleep, eat healthy, and exercise. If you do get sick, go to the health center or a doctor. If you need to take a sick day, do it. Your professor will understand. You are more important than the test. I would not recommend doing what Ferris Bueller did, though…

Thanks to Aubrey for addressing the phenomenon of the Cornell plague! Setting up this post got me thinking about what I wish I had known about Cornell so, here you go!
What I Wish I Had Known About Cornell
(or alternately: Nostalgia of a Soon To Be Cornell Senior.)

When I first came to Cornell, I really didn’t know what to expect. My older sister had gone to a similar small liberal arts school, but right away, I knew my college experience would be very different from hers. My academic hero, the scholar Joseph Campbell, writes about following your bliss, a phrase which looking back, influenced me ending up in a small town in Iowa to study a widely obscure interdisciplinary field of medieval-early modern studies. I knew that the caliber of academics at Cornell were what I wanted for my college experience and have so enjoyed being challenged and inspired  by this community of scholars and professors. As much as my academics and passion for academia are a large part of my Cornell experience, I had no idea that on this hilltop, I would gain so much more than knowledge: I gained a new family.

That’s cheesy, and I recognize that. But it still stands that as I think back to 3 summers ago, I had no concept of the amazing people I would meet here at Cornell that have challenged me to grow and forever changed who I am. I could never have anticipated developing friendships that I can honestly say have changed who I am, but I am so glad that I have. I wish I had known my first year to be patient in finding these lifelong friends. I made friends during NSO and early on on my floor, but looking back, the friendships that I now cherish were very gradual and getting to know these individuals, ultimately unplanned, just like many of my favorite, random memories of Cornell of which there are too many to go into.

Something else I wish I had known? Any relationship takes work, be it old friends you want to maintain a connection with, new friends, potential “someones” (I can tell you right now that I know which of my friends would roll their eyes at me typing that), and–although sometimes we take it for granted–your family. I feel lucky that my parents and I developed a policy of “you call us when you have time”, but regardless, I wish I had called home sooner than when I did after move in. Your parents miss you: call them. And say thank you for helping you unpack your room.

What surprised me the most in my Cornell experience has been falling even more in love with my field, this hilltop campus and all it’s trees, and making lifelong connections. Actually, I think I’m glad that I didn’t realize how much Cornell would change me when I saw King Chapel from miles away as I drove into town on move in day. Why? Because that’s Cornell: to be surprised and to stumble upon life changing experiences, be they a 15th century text that speaks to you or a friend you know you can call at all hours to just tell them what you’ve been thinking about. -L