You've gotten your acceptance letter, notified your school that you will not be returning next semester, and paid your deposit. You are officially a transfer student at Cornell University! Now that the hard part is over, here's some things that may happen to you as you transition to life at Cornell.
1. You'll realize the housing process is a mess.
In your orientation packet, you are told that if you pay your deposit by a specific date (in my case, July 1st), you are guaranteed on-campus housing for transfers. However, this doesn't guarantee it will be good housing. Typically, transfers are placed on West Campus with other upperclassmen. This year, several transfer students, including myself, received an email stating that they would not be getting a housing assignment on the day they were supposed to. Due to "an unusually large incoming class of transfer students," many new transfers (including myself) were placed in temporary forced quintuples in study lounges on North Campus. As housing opened up, they were moved there and promptly charged for the price of the room they were placed in. This practice was incredibly frustrating, especially to students with no prior knowledge of Cornell's housing process.
2. You'll learn that finding housing in Collegetown is just as hard.
If you decide that living in the dorms isn't for you, Collegetown is your next best bet as a transfer. However, you'll quickly realize that finding an affordable living space is much harder than you'd think. Due to Ithaca's housing crisis, students wait outside rental offices overnight months in advance to get a good lease. So as an incoming transfer student, you're pretty late to the game. Even if you do find a lease, apartments in Collegetown are usually exorbitantly overpriced, and are typically low-quality. Subletting is the easiest route in my experience, but constantly negotiating and moving to new living arrangements is just another stressor.
3. You'll struggle to learn the lingo.
During your first few days at Cornell, you'll learn a lot of new vocabulary. Prelim, TCAT, Hotelie, CTB, BRBs... the list goes on. You'll hear these phrases all over campus, and you'll have no idea what people are talking about. The key is to make friends with an upperclassmen who doesn't mind explaining it all to you like you're five. And even then, you probably won't understand it all until your second semester.
4. You'll figure out the food options, and realize that they're all terrible.
As a transfer, you'll probably struggle with figuring out Cornell Dining for the first few weeks. It feels like there's a million dining halls, but deciding where and when to eat is a real struggle. If you're not eating on North, you're stuck trying to figure out the menus on West. And what the heck is a House Dinner anyways? If all else fails, you'll probably end up at Okenshields. You'll probably develop strong feelings about Cornell food, especially regarding the Trillium vs. Terrace salad debate (#TeamTrillium). If you're a commuter, I recommend getting as many BRBs as possible--it's much easier than relying on swipes. Bonus--if you have enough left at the end of the semester, you can blow it on expensive food and coffee!
5. You'll learn that finding a study spot is even harder than deciding where eat.
Depending on your college and where you live, you'll grow very attached to certain study spots and quickly learn the types of people that inhabit each one. You'll probably feel the joy of snagging an alcove in Duffield, getting a seat in Libe, finding a good couch in Mann, or taking a spot in the coveted A.D. White Library. If you really want to upgrade the scenery, check out the Law Library.
6. You'll discover the list of 161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do and wonder if you'll ever finish it.
As a transfer, you're already late to the game when it comes to Cornell traditions. You've missed one or more Dragon Day, Slope Day, and other experiences only Cornellians know. It feels almost impossible to finish all the items on the 161 list in your limited time at Cornell, but that shouldn't stop you from trying!
7. If you're not into hockey, you'll quickly become a fan.
If there's one thing Cornell is known for other than lack of sleep and incredibly hard classes, it's hockey. You'll go from not knowing what a puck is to following the stats and chanting "Let's go red!" by the end of your first semester.
8. You'll develop insane leg muscles and get a workout any time you need to walk across campus.
Whether it's trekking up the slope, walking from Collegetown, trudging up East Buffalo Street, or just hustling from one class to the next, you'll quickly learn what a workout truly is. After all, Cornell is filled with hills! Even if you're in the best shape of your life, walking around campus will seem to suck the life out of you. It'll only get tougher once the snow and freezing winds start up.
9. You'll learn the art of dodging quarter cards on Ho Plaza.
Clubs and organizations recruiting on Ho Plaza are ruthless. First, you'll see the seemingly never ending chalkings all over campus advertising for acapella auditions, club meetings, and other activities on campus. As you make your way through Ho Plaza, you'll be bombarded by brightly covered cards and enthusiastic students trying to convince you that their organization is best. If you don't want to talk, it's best to avert your eyes and walk quickly, or avoid Ho Plaza all-together.
10. You'll develop intense school pride.
Within the first month, you'll turn into a full-blown Andy Bernard. Cornell will be the best at everything, even if it isn't--period. You'll soon find that your closet is full of red gear, and you'll try to convice your other friends that they should transfer too. You'll instantly feel better every time you hear the fight song. And if all else fails, you'll know that HARVARD SUCKS (but so do Penn, Brown, Dartmouth, Princeton, Columbia, and Yale).
11. Even though Cornell is probably way more stressful than your old school, you'll grow to love it.
Although Cornell's brutal weather, prelim season, and competitive nature can be almost too much to handle, it'll become your second home. You'll join an organization you love, find your way around campus, and (hopefully) expand your horizons. Even on your most stressful day, you'll hear the Alma Mater or Evening Song, and you'll be proud to say you're a Cornellian.