arrow grid linear view icon
College of Arts and Sciences

Words of wisdom from our students

You are here

Do I really need to buy special gear to survive my first winter in Ithaca?

Jade Azari: First off, the winters aren't as bad as they're made out to be — and that's coming from a native Floridian. Besides, the snow makes it the most breathtaking time of year. But, keeping your hands and feet warm not only with wool socks and gloves but also with hot hand warmers makes you appreciate the beauty more. Also, if you're going to invest in anything I would say a super warm jacket that goes down to your knees — you're gonna need it all 4 years!

Janet Li '19, biology and society: I think the best way to prepare for Ithaca winters is have at least one good pair of snow boots and a thick jacket that will cover you at least below your knees. Of course, a nice, warm beanie would also come in handy!

Alexandra McClellan '17, biology & society: My best advice for preparing for Ithaca is to prepare your mind. The most common question people ask me as a native Californian is "How do you like the winters here?" I always tell people I like them just fine because my approach to the whole thing is just to enjoy every bit of "The Full Cornell Experience." (And to have a hot chocolate often). 

Karen Loya '19:  It's never too early to shop for winter gear. If you look for sales early you can stock up on all the sweaters, wool socks, and hats you'll need for when the cold hits.

Tong Suo: Bringing some winter wear is a great idea, but not too much. Fall break and Thanksgiving break are great opportunities to do some winter shopping. Plus, you don't want to pack tons of winter jackets and snow boots.

Krystin Chiellini '17, biology and society: The first lesson I learned when it came to Ithaca winters is that you need a good pair of winter boots. UGGs may keep your feet warm, but I learned the hard way that they have zero traction once I started ice-skating on the sidewalks during the winter. They also aren't waterproof... So make sure you get boots with a good rubber sole that will be able to withstand the slush! Some good brands to consider are Sorel, Colombia and L.L. Bean. The other thing that's really important is anything that will keep your ears and hands covered as you walk around campus! 

Raisa Masood ' 17, biological sciences: The best way to prepare for Ithaca winters is to buy lots of winter apparel— thick socks, winter boots, gloves, hats, and a warm jacket. Since I love running outside, I also have winter running gear so I can still enjoy the trails. Also, getting hot chocolate with your friends is a perfect study break during the winters!

Tiffany Ge '17, biology: Definitely bring a heavy winter coat, a thick scarf, and some durable boots. It's better not to underestimate how cold it gets here. 

What is the most useful thing you brought with you to Cornell?

Chance Masloff ‘19, government: The most useful thing I brought to Cornell was definitely a fan! It was so useful in the hotter months, but it also was nice to use in the winter as the dorms can sometimes get too hot.

Liz Abeles ‘19, College Scholar: Don’t forget your shower shoes!

Jade Azari ‘18, neurobiology and behavior, Premed: The most useful thing I brought is a portable fan. For the first month of school the weather is still very warm, and even in the winter, you don’t always have control over the heating exactly.

Gauri Misra ‘19, biology: One of the most useful things I brought with me to Cornell were acutally my hot and cold packs. Not only were they helpful for bruises and when I was sick, it was also really nice to have something cool nearby during the couple of weeks that it is was really warm at Cornell!

Elizabeth Schmucker ‘19, mathematics:  I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed baking/cooking at home, so I was very grateful for the small stock of baking supplies I brought with me/accumulated towards the beginning of the semester. Although you may not be a baker, it was nice to have something from home that I was able to bring with me to school.

Darshna Anigol ‘19, biological sciences: The most useful thing I brought with me was a pair of sturdy boots. They are especially helpful when walking in the snow as they kept my feet warm and comfortable.

Raisa Masood ‘17, biological sciences: The most useful thing I brought with me to Cornell was an agenda, since it helped keep me organized and balance all of my commitments. Since I lived in Low Rise 6 (no AC), bringing fans was also really useful.

Stephanie Yan ‘18, biology and astronomy: A good pair of boots, to keep your legs warm and your feet dry in the winter snow.

What were your favorite O-Week activities?

Mary Anne Amper ‘18, chemistry: During my freshman year, I followed the chalk drawings and people holding posters to "JOIN BAND" to the Fischell Band Center, where I went to the Big Red Marching Band auditions. The best part about O-Week is meeting a ton of new people, showing up to the band events was a great way to do just that.

Where are your favorite places to eat in Ithaca?

Jade Azari ‘18: On campus, my favorite place is either Terrace (awesome salads), Mac’s (sushi), or Martha’s (spinners = burritos put in a panini press). Off campus, my favorite place is Viva in the commons (nachos!!!) of De Tasty Hot Pot in collegetown. I like food a lot.

Sonia Mehra ‘17, biological sciences: As a vegetarian, I was excited to find so many amazing food options at the Ithaca commons. My favorite restaurants have to be Moosewood and Mia.

Tiffany Ge ‘17:  Saigon Kitchen, Agava, and Madeline’s are my top 3.

Jendayi Brooks-Flemister:  My favorite place to eat in Ithaca is Cafe Pacific in Collegetown. The shop owner is Japanese, so I get to practice speaking with her, and she’s the sweetest woman ever- she even paid for my family to have bubble tea!

Darshna Anigol ‘19, biology: I think one of the best places to eat in Ithaca is at Aladdin’s in Collegetown as they have a good variety of food and desserts.

Molly O’Shea ‘18, English, pre-med: “thaca is full of delicious options for any kind of eating! There are a bunch of great places right in Collegetown, and my favorite has to be Collegetown Bagels (affectionately known as CTB) since it is great from anything from coffee, to breakfast, lunch or dinner. I also love going down to the commons where you can find tons of restaurants. My favorites are Mahogany Grill and Za Za’s Cucina.

Nadia Muhammand ‘19, economics: By far, my favorite place to eat on campus freshman year was Trillium. There are so many options and it's near the center of campus so you’re bound to run into so many people you know.

Ellie Schmucker ‘19, mathematics: “ would advise all fellow breakfast lovers to visit Waffle Frolic anytime, and Carriage House Cafe for brunch.

Chance Masloff ‘19, government: My freshman year, I always really enjoyed eating with my friends in the Ithaca Commons. There is a wide variety of restaurants, and after you’re done eating you can explore some of the cute stores there as well!

Connor Donnelly ‘17, economics: My favorite places to eat around Ithaca, if not West Campus, would be Taste of Thai and Chipotle for dinner, Waffle Frolic for breakfast, and Carriage House for special dates. Also no one capitalizes on the Sunday Brunches at the Statler - stuff of legend those buffets.

Mihir Chauhan: Ithaca’s food scene is delicious. On campus, Louie’s hot truck is hands down my favorite, with quick, tasty foods at great prices. Waffle Frolic is a go-to brunch spot in the commons on weekends. Agava has incredible southwestern cuisine and a ton of events, including a salsa dancing night every Wednesday.

What are some study tips that you have for incoming freshmen?

Janet Li ‘19, biology & society: One of the best study tips that I have is to just study with 2-3 friends in the same class. It's very helpful bouncing ideas off each other and going through the notes, and it makes studying feel less tiresome.

Kathyrn Miller ‘19: Use the time you have during the day to do work (between classes, during lunch, etc.) because you don't want to have to stay up late at night finishing work.  Also try to get ahead on weekends so that you start out the week on a good note!

Jade Azari ‘18, neurobiology and behavior, pre-med: Keep organized - whether that means special programs on your computer or phone, or having a physical calendar that is color-coded on your desk. it's also a lot easier to figure out your total workload for the week or for an exam, and breaking the work up evenly over a week or so, rather than cramming everything to the last couple days. it also helps you retain information better! Also - flash cards flash cards flash cards!!

Tiffany Ge: I highly recommend going to office hours or even meeting with the professors one-on-one if you're still having trouble understanding a concept in class after doing the readings. Though people might think they're hard to approach at first, a lot of professors are really friendly and helpful--they genuinely want you to understand the material!

Yena Kang ‘17, neurobiology & behavior: “o know what you can do independently and what you know you need outside resources for (i.e. office hours, tutoring, supplemental classes, etc.) and then to plan in advance and stick to your schedule of studying.

Elizabeth Schumcker ‘19, mathematics: Go to office hours! They’re there for you and can be extremely helpful.Stephanie Yan ‘18, Biology and Astronomy: “Write things down as you study for prelims, don’t just read your notes . It’s been shown that this really aids in information retention, and it’ll slow you down enough that you can makes sure you’re actually understanding everything you write. If you have something you need to memorize, break it down into parts that you can practice individually, and then put them all together. Lastly, remember that the best way to study is to keep up in class and ask questions if there’s something you don’t understand!”

Molly O’Shea ‘18, English, pre-med: “I definitely would say that it depends a lot on the individual. For me, I try to make lists of lots of easy tasks that I can accomplish when I feel overwhelmed, and try to find a few different study spots on campus. I study with friends in Mann library or at a cafe on campus if I’m just doing group work or easier assignments, while I go to the quieter study spots in Olin or Uris library when I have a prelim to study for or an essay to write. Try to mix it up though!”

Gauri Misra ‘19, biology: My best study tip is that you should go and find a good place to do your work. This can be one of the comfy booths at Mann, or a desk in the “Harry Potter Library” at Uris, or even in your room! Once you find your study area, getting work done is a lot easier!

Nicole Davessar ‘19, economics: Visit several of the libraries on campus and explore the various study spaces available within each as being in new environments is often intellectually stimulating.

Annika Gomez ‘18, biological sciences: Look around campus in your first few weeks and find a place to study (or a few places) where you can really focus. It’s different for everyone...I like bright, open spaces with a little background noise, but some people need complete silence. Either way, it’s great to have a place to go where you know you’ll be able to just sit down and work!

Alexandra McClellan: First, start early. Second, book a study room in Uris and surround yourself with people in that class who will help you if you need help, but also let yourself study independently. It’s all about balance. Third, always tell yourself you can do it.

What has been your favorite class at Cornell so far? Why?

Elizabeth Schmucker: So far, my favorite class has been multivariable calculus (2220) because it built on the previous math I've learned and because Dr. Terrell cared so much about teaching us and helping us understand the different concepts. She was always willing to help us in her office, even outside of office hours!

Cathryn Masloff: My favorite class was 'Prisons,' taught by Joseph Margulies.  This class really opened my eyes to the different problems with the criminal justice system, which has inspired me to advocate for the various populations that are targeted by the judicial system in the United States.

Nicolaas Jedema: My favorite class at Cornell by far has been Intro to Japanese culture with Prof. Jane Law. Though the course focuses in on different examples from the Japanese canon, the design of the course is such that you come away with a far broader perspective of cultures in general. I’ll never forget the feeling of discovery that came with the realization that the types of narratives that I learned in this class were so present in my own life and culture.

Ephraim Gau: One of my favorite courses so far has been 'Archaeology of the Ancient Near East.' It's a good intro course to both the fields of Near Eastern Studies and Archaeology, examining everything from the Neolithic up until the Persians while teaching you to wrestle with archaeological arguments. Professor Khatchadourian puts so much effort into making the class interesting, informative, and manageable, as well as pushes you to think of things and think in ways you never did before!

Molly O’Shea: My favorite class so far was one that I took first semester freshman year: Hist 1700 history of exploration: Land, Sea, and Space. It is taught by Steve Squyres, a lead scientist on the Mars Rover Expedition. As a premed, I love classes with an interdisciplinary focus, so I really enjoyed learning about explorers ranging from the travels of Christopher Columbus to the Apollo missions. I even got to sit in on a my professor's meeting with the Mars Rover team! It was a class I took purely because I could do so at a place like Cornell, and I would not trade the experience for anything!!

Lauren Blacker: My favorite class thus far at Cornell has been MUSIC 1312: History of Rock Music. The material was fascinating. I found that I always looked forward to lecture and weekly discussion. It was a great class that nicely helped to balance out my science classes.

Jade Azari: My favorite class has been BIONB 2220 (Intro to Neuroscience), because I learned so many different aspects and details about the brain (my favorite subject). All the teachers that taught lectures were passionate about their respective fields, and it translated into my enthusiasm about my major (neurobiology) and the class itself.

Wei Liu: My favorite class at Cornell has to be my Anthro 2310 course that I took sophomore year - The Natural History of Chimpanzees and the Origins of Politics. I know way more about chimpanzees than I ever could have imagined and through the course found out that they're pretty amazing animals that can reveal a lot about human nature!

Tong Suo: ASIAN 1111: Breaking Bad Writing Seminar. It's about the Breaking Bad TV show. It's a chance for students to take mass entertainment very seriously. Besides Tyran Grillo, the instructor, is great.

Alexandra McClellan: My favorite class at Cornell has definitely been Ethics in Health and Medicine. It completely opened my eyes to the subtleties and complexities of ethics in the medical field. It was fascinating to talk and actively discuss these issues—eugenics, organ transplantation, etc.—with my classmates and hearing everyone’s opinions and different approaches to these controversial topics in a nonjudgmental and academic environment. It has forever changed the way I approach problems (even beyond the scope of this class!) by enhancing my critical thinking skills in a stimulating manner, all while encouraging me to develop my own thoughts and opinions freely. I’ll take the lessons that I learned from this class with me for the rest of my life.

Kimberly Lee: One of my favorite classes I've taken at Cornell is FREN 2270: Versions of Versailles. Each class was like a refreshing mini mental vacation to France, often a much appreciated break from the chilly Ithaca Winter.

Lindsay Cayne: My favorite class so far has been Politics and  Culture of the 1960s with Paul Sawyer. I loved this class because the professor did such a great job of giving us a variety of materials to help us learn the subject, such as books, essays, videos, songs and poems. I really felt transported back in time to the '60s, which is such an exciting decade!

Kathryn Miller: My favorite class was my FWS, Power and Politics, because I feel like I became a much better writer in the short time I was in that class! I also really enjoyed the subject, which was Ancient Greek dramas and how they expressed political opinions.

What do you wish you knew as an incoming freshman that you know now?

Ellie Schmucker: Eat on West campus. My biggest piece of advice to anyone is to try out the different houses on west - the trek there is definitely worth it!

Janet Li ‘19, biology & society: I wish that I knew to bring more summer clothing. Coming from a state like Texas and never having been to New York before, I assumed that I would never need to wear summer dresses or shorts, and when Ithaca was actually warm, I had nothing cute to wear!

Jade Azari '18: Coming into Cornell, I wish I knew how easy it was to get behind on work. I wish I had known to stay extremely organized and double check BlackBoard and the readings daily.

Sophia Shi: I wish I knew that it is okay to not know what you want to do in the future. It's actually a lot better to explore your interests in your first couple semesters than to completely immerse yourself in completing requirements for a major that you're not even sure of.

Anna Kook ‘17:  Just do what you love and worry later. Don't waste any time and just do everything that you think you might be interested in. Don't worry about what other people might think of you because frankly, that doesn't matter in the long-term.

Christian Brickhouse ‘17: Be uncomfortable. Go to protests even if you're tired or anxious. Read things you disagree with just to sharpen your mind. Take classes on topics you know nothing about and maybe even fail a couple. Write letters to the editor and speak truth to power. You have so many opportunities to be engaged and to learn about yourself and the culture you live in: take advantage of it.

Cole DeVoy ‘17: Study a different language. Learn about a new culture. Make connections with people, places, and histories with which you'd be otherwise unfamiliar. Even at an institution like Cornell, the temptation to hew closely to what's known and comfortable can be great.

Emma Ianni ‘17: Love what you study, don't be afraid of "unemployable" choices. The best things are difficult.

Eunu Song ‘17: Make the most out of being surrounded by brilliance! In office hours, your professors and TAs are always more than happy to get to know their students and answer any questions. You aren't confined by the time limits in class to learn more about your professors' specialties, and you'll often get wonderful life advice as well as career guidance.

Kevin Coughlin ‘17: Be humble. Have the humility to recognize that you aren't going to do as well at Cornell as you did in high school and to recognize that this is probably the first time you've been surrounded by so many people who are smarter than you and who think so differently from you. Have the humility to realize that there is way more to learn about any subject than you can possibly imagine — you're no expert yet.

Patrick Niedzielski ‘17: Take a class on a whim. Take a class you don't think you would be interested in or that you don't need to fulfill any requirements. You'll be surprised how what you learned in any discipline will help you in what you might think is a completely unrelated discipline.

Therese Banks ‘17:  My biggest piece of advice (and the one that was hardest for me to learn) would be to know when and how to ask for help — it's there when you need it, but you have to ask! I think many of us are uncomfortable asking because we're afraid of how it's going to reflect on us, but resources are there because it's expected we’ll need them.