This academic year, the Columbia College experience is taking place in all corners of the world. To help keep our community connected, we’re asking students to share their thoughts about their classes and hobbies and what they’re learning about themselves during the pandemic. This week, we speak with Jaxon Williams-Bellamy CC’21, a double major in economics and political science with a concentration in French and francophone studies from Santa Monica, Calif.
What’s been your favorite class so far and why?
That’s a tough one! I’ve had a lot of really great classes during my time at Columbia. If I had to choose, though, it would be probably be Contemporary Civilization. I loved CC; it’s like the cornerstone of the Core. I study economics and political science, so a lot of the content was right up my alley — Wealth of Nations, Leviathan, all of these great books. I had a professor, Daniel del Nido, who chose such good stuff, like Hegel and other authors that other classes weren’t reading, so it was a lot of fun.
What do you like to do outside of class?
I’ve been especially enjoying giving tours for the Undergraduate Recruitment Committee. I love getting to see the prospective students, and I find that with the virtual tour format they ask more questions at the end. I’ve also been doing an internship with a geopolitical consulting firm since the fall; I write articles about important or major events in European politics. That’s been really great, because before the pandemic I was studying abroad in Paris [but then had to come home mid-semester], so the internship is how I keep in touch with what’s going on in Europe.
Have you picked up any hobbies or interests during the pandemic?
I’ve been playing a lot more video games! I have two brothers, and we’ve been playing online together a lot. We’re big Star Wars fans, so we play “Star Wars Battlefront II” and “Star Wars: Squadrons,” which just came out, and “Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker,” which is an anime fighting game that we all really like. I’ve also been watching a lot of TV — I have every streaming service imaginable. I went through all six seasons of Downton Abbey during the pandemic!
What have you been reading/watching/listening to that you would recommend to fellow students, and why?
I’ve read a lot of great books this year because I’m writing my thesis about Victor Hugo. I’m reading his plays and his books — Les Misérables, Notre-Dame de Paris, Quatre-vingt-treize and some other works — in the original French. That’s been fun and challenging, and a great way to make sure I’m staying on top of my French.
What’s something you learned about yourself during the pandemic?
I was surprised to learn how much I like the work of research! I’ve been writing a lot of papers and I’ve really enjoyed sifting through the library system to find books, articles and scholarly journals. Sometimes it’s stressful with deadlines, but it’s also been a lot of fun and really soothing. It’s helped me stay connected to the University and my studies.
What message would you send to/share with classmates?
I’ve been abroad three times, and one thing I’ve learned from those experiences is that while Columbia is Columbia University in the City of New York, and of course New York is part of the experience, Columbia is a global community and environment that has roots all over the world. So my message would be to keep that in mind if you can’t be in New York or go to campus, there’s always something you can learn about yourself when you’re applying the culture we have on campus to wherever you are in the world. That really helped me when I was abroad, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot as I’ve been away from campus.