First-Year Park Blog

The weekly go-to resource for Park's newest students.

Posted by Marc Phillips at 10:54AM   |  Add a comment

Now that I live in a Circle Apartment—with a full kitchen—I don’t have to worry about a meal plan. I loved the community aspect of the dining halls, but I still wanted to cook. I lived in a dorm my freshman and sophomore years, and I can tell you from first hand experience that it’s not hard to be a “dorm room chef.”

Every residence hall has a full kitchen. The trick is finding it. Visit your area office (For BRT it’s in Talcott and for the Lower Quads it’s Eastman). If you’re still unsure, ask your RA where it is, and you will be pointed in the right direction. You will find a variety of cooking utensils you can check out. If you like cooking in a full kitchen this is a great opportunity to do so. 

If you’re like the majority of college students who has no desire to lug all your ingredients and cooking utensils up 3 flights up stairs every time you want to cook, don’t fret. You can still make a variety of meals just using your microwave. If you do plan on cooking, whether it’s in the dorm kitchen or in your dorm, I suggest you keep a few things in your room: a fork, knife, spoon, a few bowls, plates and cups, as well as whatever ingredients you might need to cook your desired meal.

The mini fridge/freezer comes in handy for keeping food fresh. I usually stocked mine with fruits, veggies, and other healthy snacks. As far as the freezer goes I always had some frozen dinners, bagels, Hot Pockets, and chicken nuggets. Easy Mac (a favorite of mine) is also a microwave-ready meal. If you’re not in the mood to cook a full meal or you just need a fast fix these are all tasty and easy solutions.

If you do have the time and desire to make a full meal that’s more than possible! Ramen soup is simple, and if you’re feeling creative add some veggies or meat.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can make a full chicken/eggplant parmesan dinner using your microwave. Believe it or not, you can cook pasta with hot water in a microwave. It takes some time, but it is possible.  

Heat up your chicken nuggets/frozen breaded eggplant. Throw it on top of your cooked pasta and add sauce and some cheese. Heat it up for another minute and you’ve completed your microwavable Italian feast. Bon Appetit!    

Now it’s time for dessert. You can always keep a pint of your favorite ice cream in the freezer, but if you’re finding that this isn’t satisfying your sweet tooth don’t worry!  

There are plenty of simple microwavable dessert recipes online. Brownies in a mug anyone?  

In general, if you are looking for some easy recipes, Google search “dorm cooking.”

Below are some websites I’ve used in the past:


Posted by Marc Phillips at 12:34AM   |  Add a comment

Coming to Ithaca College from out of state isn’t that uncommon, but coming all the way from Seattle definitely isn’t the norm. At first I didn’t really notice the difference between driving 6 hours to school and flying 6 hours, but when fall break rolled around in October, I found the difference for the first time. I wasn’t able to just drive home. That is why it is really important to go home at the right times.

Most students are able to take a bus or drive home on breaks without much planning in advance. Even if they can’t find a ride, booking a bus can be done without any preparation. When I fly home, it takes making a plane reservation months in advance, finding a ride to the airport, and hoping that Ithaca’s weather doesn’t screw with my schedule.

Since traveling does take a lot of effort and has many variables, choosing when to go home is very important. I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving, opting to go to my friend Liz’s home instead. This worked out well for me because I got to spend time with one of my best friends and hang out in New York City for a week. Some people really need to go home for Thanksgiving to help ease the feeling of being homesick, which is perfectly fine. If you think that you can last a little bit longer, staying with a friend for Thanksgiving can save your parents tons of money and you can create some great memories.

I think it goes without saying that almost everyone should go home for winter break, so I’m going to move to spring break. For spring break, I did go home. I went home because my birthday falls right around that time and I wanted to be able to celebrate with my family. Looking back on it now, I think that I could have held off on going home, only because there isn’t a lot of time between winter and spring break. Also, none of my friends from home were home at the same time as me because their school schedules were all different. This year, I plan on studying at Ithaca’s brand new NYC program for spring semester and won’t be going home. Instead, my parents will visit me for my Birthday.

In the end, deciding what breaks to go home for really depends on how badly you need to go home. Just remember to plan in advance to get the cheapest air fare and think of other alternatives that could be just as fun.


Posted by Marc Phillips at 1:11PM   |  Add a comment


With the transition from home life to college life a common question that many students have is: “how often should I be calling home?”

I’m a sophomore and looking back on my first year I have learned a lot about how often to call home. I live about 45 minutes from Ithaca, so for many of you that probably sounds quite close. Here’s the thing though, whether Ithaca is 20 minutes or 20 hours from your home, calling home is something we all have to deal with.  

During my first semester I will admit, I did not call home as much as I probably should have. Even though I live semi close to home, my family still misses me. I was really focused with getting involved on campus, keeping my grades up, going out on weekends and meeting new people, because for me it was a new adventure. However, while I was doing all these new and exciting things my family was living their regular routine life, just without me. I didn’t notice them as much as I should have and if I could go back, I would have called more that semester. 

Now that I am through my first year I understand why I acted the way that I did. I didn’t want to be the girl that couldn’t handle being on her own, so keeping myself busy was a way to avoid feeling lonely and needing to call my parents.  

I understand that it’s okay to call your family and talk to them, that doesn’t mean you can’t handle living on your own, it just means you love them. I still enjoy being busy, but calling my mom on that ten minute break between classes lets her know I’m thinking of her and brings peace to my mind.  

On the flip side of things, calling home too much is not good either because you do need to establish a new sense of independence. Leaning on your parents for every detail of your life will stunt your metaphorical growth. 

My answer to the big question isn’t something like “you should call home 2.5 hours every 2 days” or some crazy statistic like that, instead it is simply: whatever you find necessary.

If you need to talk to your mom every day, then call her every day and if you would like to start calling her less, then maybe try setting a goal to call her every other day. Everyone has a different experience with calling home. Some need it more than others, but the most important thing is that you do it as much as YOU need/want to given your life and relationships with your family.

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