Not long after arriving at Cornell, my friends and I decided to go on a mission. Deep in the annals of Cornellian lore (I thought it sounded pretty dirty, too), there exists a certain decree—161 tasks that one must accomplish in order to be considered a true Cornellian. In reality, it’s not that old at all (it was published in 2005 in The Cornell Daily Sun), but from the beginning, I knew that the odds were stacked against me. For one thing, I would only be in Ithaca for two months. Second of all, I hardly knew anyone as awestruck with checking items off lists as I am to want to complete this massive undertaking. I’ve never been one for weekly planners, but anyone who has seen my room can testify to a simple white board that holds the key to my daily well-being—events on the agenda, everyday reminders, people to call, songs to download, and future project ideas.
However, I was fortunate to befriend a few people from my class who were up for adventure. Comprised of a rising senior and two rising sophomores, they had just the right combination of jadedness and spunk to humor the whims of this over-curious out-of-towner. We have functioned similarly to how I’ve tried to function with other friend groups my whole life—as the willful planner and organizer, if for no other reason than staving off the dread that inevitably comes with waiting on others to do something. The true folly of youth is that plans get hatched and cracked in nearly the same breath, and there’s nothing worse than being on the receiving end of having been jilted. And so, what started as a way to occupy the long stretches of weekend afternoon in Ithaca quickly turned into a wonderful way to spend time exploring new places and tallying new experiences with friends.
Though quantitatively, I only scratched the surface of the full list, I feel pretty accomplished, considering that about 2/3 of the tasks are really only possible if you are a student during the school year or in Ithaca during a season other than the summer. Not to mention those things that range from the strange (50. Have lunch with President Skorton in the Ivy Room; ask if he's done with that Dijon Burger) to the downright bizarre (74. Throw a flaming pumpkin into the gorge). I wonder, too, how a list like this could come into being at Oberlin. No doubt ride in the Burton elevator, eat a meal at all nine co-ops, and go skinny dipping in the Arb would rank up there. If nothing else, I think that this is something Oberlin students could definitely go to town on—anyone have other ideas? And now, without further ado, here is the full 46!
First, those things which can be adapted to my time at Oberlin (18):
6. Illegally slide down [Mount Oberlin] on a tray from [Stevenson].
9. Take Psych .
13. Climb the rock wall in [Philips Gym].
17. Go to the [Peters Observatory] and gaze at [Saturn].
18. Have a snowball fight in May.
26. Live through an [Oberlin] blizzard and tell your friends how you survived frostbite.
Oh, how I will miss Oberlin winters.
32. Go to a Shabbat dinner at [Kosher Hillel].
37. Take a class you think is impossible just for fun.
For the record, it was Modern Dance during my senior year, which ended up being a great class.
41. Shop at the Friends of the Library book sale.
48. Have dinner at a professor's house.
84. Go bowling at [College Lanes].
My very own bowling ball, "The Avalanche," and the Oberlin College Lanes.
94. Go to an a cappella concert.
115. Get guilt-tripped into giving blood.
And subsequently end up giving blood every eight weeks for the next four years.
117. Drink with your R.A.
Does it count if you were the R.A.?
Does it count if you were the R.A.?
119. Sing drunk on the [RideLine] bus.
137. See how many people you can cram into your dorm room.
152. Study abroad.
My semester abroad in Japan was one of the highlights of my college experience.
160. Have the courage to tell a professor what you really think of his or her class.
And now, for my two months at Cornell (28):
10. Test out Olin Library's musically calibrated steps by throwing stones on them.
11. Go sake bombing in Collegetown (for the over-21 crowd only!).
I took a trip to Miyake with my roommate and his friend Sam. For my first time, it was shockingly no-frills, but definitely fun. Clearly, this picture was taken before we got started...
12. Order ice cream at the Dairy Bar.
14. Listen to a full chimes concert from the clock tower and guess the songs played.
114. Request a song to be played on the clock tower.
161. Climb all 161 steps to the top of McGraw Tower.
Getting the chance to go to a chimes concert was truly an awesome experience. It helped that even during the summer, there were a handful of concerts put on each week, all completely open to the public. The Chimes have a rich history at Cornell, and the ten so-called "chimesmasters" certainly seem to have a lot of clout on campus—responsible for performing three 15-minute concerts daily during the school year. The instrument looked quite physically demanding, which made it all the more fascinating to see the chimesmaster in action.
A view of McGraw Tower lit-up at night.
One of the other big perks of going to a chimes concert is the stunning panorama from the top of McGraw Tower. This is a view of Ho Plaza.
20. Play frisbee on the Arts Quad.
34. Enjoy corn nuggets at the Nines.
45. Attend an opening at the Johnson Museum of Art.
Though not quite as well-known as Oberlin's Allen, its Asian collection is especially impressive. Ironically, it is also closed Mondays. The opening we attended was for an exhibit called The Art of China's Cultural Revolution (photo courtesy of Jannine Chan).
46. Smuggle food from the dining hall and run for your life as they try to get back your stolen cookies.
51. Play a game of tag in the Kroch Library stacks.
Surprisingly, one of the most fun outings I have had in a long time. It felt strangely refreshing to (silently) run for my life like a nine-year-old again.
60. Sit in Libe Cafe when you have no work to do and watch the worried studiers down gallons of coffee.
64. Go to a fraternity party as a senior; convince yourself you were never one of them.
With no Greek life at Oberlin, I had to at least see what all the fuss was about, right?
65. Pretend you're Harry Potter and study in the Law School library (looks like Hogwarts).
I don't really see it, but, to be fair, I also know next to nothing about Harry Potter.
66. See the brain collection in Uris Hall.
69. Take part in a psychology experiment.
80. Go to karaoke night at Rulloff's on Mondays.
It shouldn't be surprising that we crooned our hearts out to Mariah Carey's "Heartbreaker." Bonus points to the first person to correctly identify the song on the teleprompter.
86. Take an unplanned nap in the library.
89. Eat breakfast at 2 a.m. at the State Diner.
It wasn't quite 2 a.m. when we went, but, as with most diners, it may as well have been.
93. Walk to the Commons and back.
The Commons is a trendy little strip in Downtown Ithaca with lots of shops and restaurants—which unfortunately, I didn't frequent as much as I should have in the last two months. The walk down was surprisingly brisk, even coming from the complete opposite side of campus. But it was hiking back up the massive incline known as East Buffalo Street that really did me in.
96. Eat pizza at the Nines.
Not quite as good as Chicago Deep Dish, but surprisingly tasty, especially for pizza outside of the city (photo courtesy of Jannine Chan).
98. Drink bubble tea.
101. See the library's Rare Book Collection.
108. Eat brunch on North Campus.
121. See how long you can go without doing laundry.
141. Ring the giant bell at the Plantations.
156. Eat at each dining hall at least once.
At least all three that were open during the summer.
31. Enjoy Ithaca's two months of warm weather by spending a summer here.
A view of Ithaca from the top floor of the Johnson Museum.