Carl Yin ’17 is a consultant at PwC Strategy&, focusing on corporate and business strategy for companies in the financial services space. While eight months removed from Morningside Heights, Yin has stayed involved with the College as co-chair of his 2018 Reunion Committee, as CC’17’s Columbia College Today class correspondent, as a member of Columbia College Young Alumni and as a member of the Columbia College Alumni Association Homecoming Committee.
What were you like when you arrived at Columbia?
In many ways, like any first-year. Excited to be in the city and at a university with tremendous resources. Eager to learn, make friends, and have fun. Coming from a boarding high school (a public boarding school that focused on science and mathematics), I was particularly ready to not have a 10:30 p.m. curfew and internet that shut off at midnight.
What do you remember about your first-year living situation?
I loved it, so much that I spent three years in the same first-year dorm (the latter two as an R.A., in hopes of passing along a similarly fantastic experience). I lived on John Jay 7 in a sizable single overlooking my second home, Butler Library. Though it was a bit decrepit, I adored that room. Scattered across my walls were printed stills from some of my favorite movies — in those days I secretly dreamed of ditching economics for film studies in hopes of becoming a director. I remember that whenever a friend from home visited, I would print and temporarily replace the stills with whatever Facebook photos of said friend I could find. A bit creepy, but always good for a laugh.
My floor had a bit of a reputation for being incredibly cliquey, and that was reflective of how well we got along. We did everything together. One of my favorite moments was when we convinced neighboring Wallach residents to open their windows by serenading them from our lounge, and then throwing a cornucopia of fruit at them.
What class do you most remember and why?
“China in the Modern World” with Professor Lydia Liu. Each week we would focus on a different piece of Chinese literature, art, or film of the past century. Professor Liu was brilliant and enabled engaging discussions every class. The works themselves were interesting, each unveiling certain aspects of the larger scope of Chinese modernity. Collectively, I was able to gain a better understanding of something very personal to me — my roots.
What I found special about this class was that it was one of the few that I could discuss with my parents. After reading Lu Xun or watching In the Heat of the Sun, I was always excited to call them and hear their perspectives and own relevant experiences. Ultimately, this class brought us closer.
Did you have a favorite spot on campus, and what did you like about it?
There are a few insignificant nooks and crannies around campus that I became quite attached to. There was a closet-sized, windowless room between the hallway and a lecture hall in NoCo [Northwest Corner] that I claimed as my personal office every time finals came around, where I would spend countless hours holed up in. To make it feel cozier I hung up a painting, which unfortunately Facilities took down during the summer. I claimed the closet in John Jay lounge as my personal walk-in closet. A simple “Property of Residential Life” tag I stuck on anything I stored guaranteed it would not be disturbed.
But my favorite spot on campus, where I probably spent more time than anywhere else, was the basketball courts in Levien Gym. I played pickup basketball whenever I could, for hours at a time. The games were always good, but the friends I made were better. It was a supportive community of Columbia students and affiliates of all different backgrounds. There was no place I would rather be on a weekday night.
What, if anything, about your College experience would you do over?
I wish I took more advantage of it, because four years goes by fast. I regret every moment I spent in my room alone, browsing the web or watching Netflix. If I could go back, I would take more classes in a variety of subjects to pursue the interests I never did and spend more time with friends who are now halfway across the world or city, rather than across the street.