North Campus is home to all Cornell freshman. All are required to live there; they eat most of their meals in the Robert Purcell Community Center and Appel Commons dining halls. Despite Cornell’s huge size, North Campus has an amazing way of making you feel like you go to a smaller school. But all good things must come to an end—before you know it, freshman year is over and the sophomore adventure begins.
While on-campus housing is guaranteed for sophomores, many venture off campus, living in Collegetown apartments or—like me—joining a sorority or fraternity. (Some stay on North Campus by moving into program houses like Ujamaa or Risley, while others opt for the living-learning housing on West Campus.) But wherever you live, the beginning of sophomore year can be a shock. You walk out the door and don’t recognize anyone. You run to catch the bus only to remember that—while all freshmen have complimentary transit passes—your student ID no longer gets you a free ride.
Although I may sound cynical about life after the cocoon of freshman year, there are a lot of advantages to this newfound freedom. There are no resident advisers to monitor your actions. Not being on the meal plan makes it more likely you’ll try restaurants in Collegetown or even learn to cook for yourself. There are new people to meet—and the lack of a bus pass means there’s more chance to work off the freshman fifteen. The housing costs are lower; the parties are closer.
It hits you that this is truly college: the independence, the excitement, and the uncertainty (with a little bit of fear about how you’re a year closer to graduation). Just as North Campus eases you into college life, living off campus eases you into real life.
— Jillian Knowles ’15