By: Solveig van der Vegt '18
During my freshman year at Cornell, I lived in Balch Hall, the North Campus dorm for first-year women. It is a beautiful, gothic building that also houses the Carol Tatkon Center for first-year students, Carol’s Cafe and some offices. Usually, when I tell people that I lived in Balch last year, they say some variant of: “Oh, I am so sorry!” But actually, it was great: I loved living in Balch! Balch has the image of being a very quiet, non-social dorm. My experience, however, was the complete opposite. I hung out with my friends in my unit almost every day and we could get pretty loud! I made all of my best friends in Balch and I couldn’t imagine life at Cornell if I hadn’t met them. That doesn’t mean that studying in Balch was impossible. If you needed some quiet, you could just close your door and study in your room, go to the Tatkon Center and grab a coffee, or sit in one of the study lounges in the building. I studied in my room most of the time; I‘m very sensitive to noises while I am working, but I never had any problems with people being too noisy.
Another great thing about Balch is that it’s a very active dorm – there are always a ton of programs going on. The Resident Advisors put on a lot of events like henna nights, karaoke and cookie decorating, and the Tatkon Center also hosts a lot of its own events. Just like every other opportunity on campus, living in Balch is what you make of it. I had a fantastic time living there my first year. For me, it was the perfect balance between a place to be social - and a great study environment. I wouldn’t change my experience at Balch for the world.