What were you like when you arrived at Columbia?
I tried (and enjoyed) making the switch from shy to outgoing. I finally had the chance to depart a little bit from being entirely focused on my studies and to focus more on developing other aspects of my life and student career. I still very much threw myself into my studies, but I was able to spend some of the more flexible time I now had going out with friends and trying some on-campus activities. This led to something I really enjoyed throughout college: volunteering for and then becoming chair of After-Hours Tutoring, a Community Impact organization. I also joined the Columbia Ski Club and went on a lot of fun ski trips, including Jay Peak, Killington, Wyndham and Belleayre.
What do you remember about your first-year living situation?
When I was a first-year student, I lived on the second floor of Carman. I’m not sure if I meant to select the same-gender residential option, but I was on a floor comprised entirely of female students. I actually met two of my best friends throughout college from living on that floor, who introduced me to another great friend from floor three, the all-male floor. We spent a lot of time together not needing to use the Carman elevators and looking out our low-floor windows at 114th Street to see if there were any parties going on each weekend. We also had a lot of fun study nights in the basement lounge, especially during midterms and final exam review weeks.
What Core class or experience do you most remember, and why?
I have very fond memories of my Lit Hum class, with Professor Maude Meisel SIPA’87, GSAS’93. We had a great class dynamic, with lots of lively conversations regarding the texts (and during our five-minute break in the middle of each class), and it was more of a learning experience than a stressful, assignment-driven course. At the outset of the fall semester, I had some growing pains due to the mismatch of my overachieving high school academic tendencies with the more independent and intellectually freeform college environment; however, I was able to attend office hours frequently enough to catch on and adapt my personal style to the needs of the course, and soon I began to have a really great experience that has informed my approach to academics to this day.
Did you have a favorite spot on campus, and what did you like about it?
My friends and I spent many, many hours in Butler, but our favorite study spot ended up being the C.V. Starr East Asian library. We thought it had the most appealing ambiance, and its proximity to the science buildings worked well for time spent between classes. When not studying, a lot of us went to The Hungarian Pastry Shop, the Met and MoMA, Dodge to do cardio, and other fun dessert places in lower Manhattan.
What, if anything, about your College experience would you do over?
I think that I had a pretty good idea of how big the Core Curriculum requirement would be in terms of course credits, but I didn’t fully appreciate how quickly I would need to decide on a major in order to have enough time to give myself the option of double majoring. I had time to concentrate in French literature on top of my environmental chemistry major, but if I could do it over, I would make sure I could fit in the full French major.