“Do you know how to get to–?” Early on in your time at Cornell, you’re bound to have to ask that question a few times at least. As a head start in getting to know Cornell, it will be helpful to know campus-specific vocab. With a crash course in Cornell Lingo, you’ll save a lot of time and confusion early on. Acting as your Cornell linguist with insights into Cornell’s own vocab is Nina Kahn, a rising sophomore and PA, to introduce you to–first off–the Hilltop (campus’s most common nickname!).
Every college has their own unique vocabulary that pertains to the individual school community; Cornell is no exception. Most people have probably heard the term block plan since it is Cornell’s biggest identifier, but it is doubtful that they know the term ‘third week’. Students and teachers like to use the term ‘third week’ to describe the homestretch of the last full week of classes or the tired feelings that happens around that week. “My brain is in third week mode,” or “it’s third week, cut me a break.” Although ‘third week’ is sometimes met with mixed feelings, students push through it because they know fourth week is right around the corner, which means late night breakfast and block break!
Late Night Breakfast: aka the best finals nights
The faculty at Cornell knows how important study breaks and free food are for students. The night before finals during fourth week, the Hilltop Café opens its doors at 10 pm and serves breakfast. An amazing variety of traditional and non-traditional breakfast food is available for all students – pancakes, eggs, doughnuts, hot chocolate, churros, pretty much anything a college student might be craving late at night. This event is not only about the food, but also as much about taking a break and hanging out, talking with friends in the dining center. Think of it as giving your brain and stomach a well-deserved break before hitting the books again. This event is one the student body’s favorite, so get there early if you want to beat the mad rush for food!
Block Break: come for the block plan, stay for the block breaks.
Block break happens after finals are done on Wednesday of fourth week. It gives students four days off with no homework and classes, and the idea is to use this time to completely relax and rejuvenate. During these four days, students have the option to go off campus using their cars or participate in the Get out Of Town Club’s destination trips. Students that live close to the College even go home, but most of the students choose to stay on campus and hang out with friends. Obviously you and your friends can organize your own activities or you can participate in a school sponsored events like campus wide Humans vs. Zombies. Catching up on sleep and binging out on Netflix are my personal favorite ways to relax and physically and mentally prepare for the next block. The block plan definitely allows students to take a well-deserved break after an intense three weeks of classes and finals!
The Commons: the center of the Cornell universe.
If you want to know where the buzz is happening on campus, remember the word ‘Commons.’ This refers to the Thomas Commons, a building in the center of campus where students go to eat meals either at the Hilltop Café or Zamoras Café, get their mail in the mailroom, study in the lounge areas, or join in on some fun activities that many different clubs sponsor on the ‘Orange Carpet.’ At Cornell, students and faculty call the ‘orange carpet,’ the OC (for obvious reasons). The OC is where most activities on campus will be held. The OC has hosted concerts, speakers, game shows, and comedians, just to name a few. A lot of activities that happen around campus are put on by PAAC (pronounced like the word “pack”), The Performing Arts and Activities Council, which is a student-run club that sponsors yearlong entertainment for students throughout each block period. Students can find out about PAAC events through flyers that are posted throughout campus or on their Facebook page. The front part of the Commons has many names–to some it’s ‘the comfy chairs’ and to others, its ‘the foyer’; no matter what you call this area, it’s a great place to chat with friends, get some homework done, and relax in front of the fireplace.
[For Hilltop and Z’s hours, check out their website. Menus are posted every week and change with availability of local and fresh foods. You’ll quickly see why the Hilltop Cafe was ranked #2 in the nation.]
As you can see, Cornell has a vocabulary that is unique only to the school community, which makes our campus a very special and a fun place. I’ve given you the most important lingo to get you started once you’ve arrived at school, but don’t worry about the rest, you’ll be speaking fluent “Cornellian” in no time. Welcome to our world!
It may seem like a lot to take in right now, but it will all sink in quickly enough and you’ll know your way around like an old Cornellian. Don’t hesitate to admit that you don’t know something or where you’re going–people will be happy to help you out or explain that “Z’s” is Zamora’s and others may still call it The Rat after it’s previous moniker Ratskeller. It’s good to know the different rooms in the Commons; the big ones you’ll have for larger events are Hall-Perrine, Hedges, Shaw, Durham, and Russell classroom (on the middle level of the Commons) and the classroom basements–which include MLK and major world cities. Don’t be afraid to ask someone where something is located, check out the campus map, or call the Info Desk!