Thoughts For Food

Insights into the Mind of a Culinary School Student

Life in the CIA: Living the Dorm Life


Taken from Google Image Search

So, let’s say you’re a new student at the Culinary Institute of America. THE premier culinary college in the United States. First of all, welcome to the CIA family! You’ve made a great choice coming here!

Now let’s say that you’ve chosen to live on-campus during your time at the CIA. Confused? Scared? Don’t know anyone? Welcome to how I felt when I first moved in. It can be a little daunting being away from home and/or being on your own for the first time. I’ve been there before coming to the CIA and trust me when I say, I know exactly how you feel. It is a really scary moment stepping out on your own for the first time, believe you me. That being said, here’s some sound advice from someone who’s done the dorm-room dance once before. Hopefully, it’ll help you, if you are coming to the CIA!

  • Find out who you’re going to be living with. The more you know about your soon-to-be roommates, the better. Now, I’m not saying stalk them like a creeper, but at least find out their names, where they are in the program, etc. Facebook is a wonderful tool for this job. Send a friend request, message, whatever. Bottom line, establish some communication with them before you meet them. It’s easier that way when you finally do meet face-to-face. Or, if you’re like my last two roommates, find out that you need a fridge, haha.
  • When you do meet, find out the “Room Rules.” In the majority of cases here at the CIA, there will be 1 – 2 people already living in the room that you will be moving into. Don’t let that scare you. Sure, they’ve been in the program longer than you, but they can still be friendly. Still, it doesn’t hurt to find out what’s off-limits, who’s stuff goes where, what’s fair game for the room and, most importantly, who gets stuck with the top bunk. Sad to say folks, 99% of the time, that’s going to be YOU, newbie. I’d say that has to be the only pecking order in most rooms: new guy gets top bunk.
  • Get to know the people in your class-block. As mentioned in a previous entry, the CIA has a block system of classes. As a result, many of the people you move in with, you will be seeing later on down the line. So, get to know them. Make friends. It’s going to help you out so much later on in the program when you’re split into groups of 2 or 4 while in class. This way, you know who you best work with, etc. Also, it’s great to have people to hang out with on weekends, during the week, etc. Fun times is the name of the game!
  • Get to know your chefs! I CANNOT stress this point enough. Yes, they’re intimidating. Get over it. Many chefs here are very friendly and will often go out of their way to help you in and out of class. Stay on their good side and really just talk with them. They have some diverse and impressive resumes and many are more than willing to chat about the industry, recipes, etc. It’s a great way to form connections and even get references when extern or a job opportunity rolls your way.
  • Find out more about the campus and the surrounding town. If you’ve never been to the Hyde Park/Poughkeepsie area of New York, it’s not a bad area. It’s wonderful during the Spring and Summer with all the local farmers markets. Great local malls, nice restaurants, really good local atmosphere. For you nerdy types out there, like myself, The Dragon’s Den in your one-stop shop for all things comics, D&D, Magic, Warhammer and videogames. Oh, and let’s not forget, you’re only a 45-minute train ride away from New York City. There’s always something to do in this area.
  • Find out about clubs on campus and join some. This is yet another way to make friends and make contacts. There are a TON of clubs on campus so no matter what your likes are, there’s bound to be a club here that will tickle your fancy.

There’s my list! Hope you find it helpful! And if you really are coming to the CIA, welcome to the family!

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Author: NJ_Chef

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and aspiring food-writer. 28-year old chef, blogger, eSports fan, gamer, jack-of-all-trades and master of none.

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