We’ve all come to know rural and beautiful Ithaca as Cornell students and we’re ready to confidently say how much we love it here. That being said, does anybody know what it’s like when we’re actually not here? As we all migrated home for winter break, we left Ithaca alone while we headed back for our family and friends (often in Westchester County or Long Island). Most of us don’t even consider that things here continue without us. I had the opportunity to get an inside scoop on what Cornell is like when we’re out of session in the beginning of January. And let me tell you, things were weiiiird.
The most popular places on campus went from vibrant to vacant. Take Temple of Zeus for example. On an ordinary school day, you’d need to build at least 20 extra minutes into your schedule if you want to buy a soup. That line is always looped around the Klarman atrium. Over break, this wasn’t the case. Better yet, that twenty minute wait for an open table? Gone. 30 available tables for my picking each day that I went to Zeus. Now that’s a Klarman that I can get used to.
And let’s talk about those “No Winter Maintenance” signs. When they first emerged in November, we didn’t need to take them so seriously. There were cute amounts of snow at that point and the warning posters seemed funny, maybe even unnecessary. But by January 2nd, the warning is real. And as I slipped on Ho Plaza (and every other path that I took), I realized that it’s time to respect the “no winter maintenance” after all.
The most eerie quality of deserted Ithaca is just that- it’s totally deserted! There’s no long wait at CTB, no lines outside of any places in Collegetown during the night, and little to no people! If you walk through Collegetown at 9 p.m. and didn’t have a watch or phone to tell time, you believe that it’s 5 a.m. The usually loud and crowded areas are sad and lonely. Storekeepers miss the buzz that Cornell students ordinarily provide, and so did I. The quietness also made it colder. That may sound crazy, but I promise it’s true. While it actually was colder, (highs of 0 and -2 some days) there was less body heat generated for obvious reasons. Facing the cold with friends by your side is one thing, but alone-I don’t even want to talk about it.
Even though I still love the Ithaca that surrounds our campus, I think that it needs us to make it great. January 2nd-January 9th was an interesting week up here for me, and I definitely learned a lot. It was like going behind the scenes instead of watching a performance from the audience. The energy that we bring undeniably adds to our town’s character and without us, as I said, Ithaca just feels weiiiird.