With the semester winding down, you may be anticipating all the stories you will tell friends and family back home about your time here. As much as there can be common similarities across colleges, there are certain things that non-Cornellians just won’t understand. You know you go to Cornell if…

1The first test you take in college does not involve academics.

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That’s right: all Cornellians are required to take a swim test at the start of their college careers. Like it or not, you must get in the pool and demonstrate your ability to keep yourself above water, even if you can’t quite keep your head above the impending exams and workload awaiting you.

2You are encouraged to drink alcohol in class (if you take the right courses).

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A Cornellian’s rite of passage is taking Wines or Beers (or both). Just because you’ve mastered how to drink and avoid a hangover, don’t be fooled into thinking these classes will be easy; if the reputations hold true, you might actually have to study hard for these “fun” classes.

3You deal with #prelimszn.

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Don’t forget that your friends and family back home will give you a blank stare when you constantly throw around the term “prelim.” Most schools give two types of exams: midterms and finals. You will probably be the only one of your friends with multiple exams throughout the semester, and we all know too well the saying that ‘once prelim season begins, it doesn’t end.’

4You never need leg-day at the gym.

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Who needs to tone their legs when they walk the equivalent of several miles of hills every day? The slope can be annoying when you are rushing from Collegetown to your 8:40 in MVR, but it sure gives you defined #Ithacalves without ever hitting the gym.

5You have access to unlimited free popcorn any weekday at any time.

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I know I’m not the only one guilty of going to Willard Straight Hall just for a little mid-afternoon snack, or maybe even to just sit with the aroma of popcorn wafting through the air. While every school probably has special days with perks like free popcorn, we’re spoiled and get to have this every day!

6You can get class credit for developing an ice cream flavor.

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This is not a rumor: there is actually a food science class at Cornell geared towards learning about dairy, and the final project is developing your own ice cream flavor in competition with your classmates.

7Your most difficult graduation requirement is physical education classes.

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Leave it to Cornell to require you to take two semesters worth of gym. While most students tend to knock out these credits as freshmen, there are always people who worry they won’t graduate on time as seniors simply because they still need to take gym classes.

8You have at least one friend who is pre-med, pre-law, pre-vet, and pre-health.

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Among seven undergraduate colleges, almost 80 majors and 125 minors, there are people studying just about everything under the sun. This is a huge perk of attending Cornell: not only can you learn from your professors in your own area of study, but you can also learn from your peers.

9Your favorite holiday of the year is dedicated to a giant hill.

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Nearly every student Cornell awaits Slope Day with anticipation and excitement. A day full of (hopefully) beautiful weather, good music, yummy food and time with friends, what could be a better way to celebrate the end of classes?

10You never have to worry about forgetting what time it is.

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Characteristic of every Cornell postcard is the beautiful McGraw Clock Tower, which makes some sort of declaration of time every 15 minutes. Additionally, the chimes routinely play songs at every hour-mark, as well as some tunes intermittently dispersed throughout the day. What better way to signal the end your 11:00 a.m. class than the theme song of Harry Potter?

11You don’t know how to pronounce the name of multiple places on your campus.

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Schoellkopf Field? Bethe House? Mallot Hall? Yeah, we’re smart, but who knows whether that ‘p’ in Schoellkopf is silent or not?

12You dread pre-enrolling in classes.

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Getting up at 7:00 a.m. to click a button alongside thousands of other students on the same network is the most stressful experience of the semester. Never mind that you spent hours agonizing over your schedule with your advisor; it is bound to change.

13Speaking in acronyms is completely normal.

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What other students besides Cornellians can derive meaning from terms like AEM, ILR, MVR, CALS, EARS, CAPS, and CURB? Take a minute to slow down when talking to non-Cornellians, because they won’t understand what any of these acronyms mean.

As Cornellians, we face several unique experiences that show our true red and white. The next time you want to share your stress over surviving prelim season or fulfilling physical education classes, remember that only those in the Cornell community will truly understand and fully appreciate your undergraduate experience.

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