ABBY NIERMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
Narin was senior class president. As a sophomore, she won The New York Times Modern Love College Essay Contest. Starting this summer, she’ll spend a year in Sri Lanka on a Princeton in Asia fellowship, and will be a journalist in Colombo.
What were you like when you arrived at Columbia?
As cliché as it is, I was naive. I thought I’d double-major in political science and human rights, thought I’d spend my summers and semesters interning for politicians and political campaigns, thought it unlikely that I’d make friends who’d feel like family. On all fronts, I was wrong. I ended up majoring in creative writing, interning across an array of fields (politics, journalism, advertising, nonprofits) and made a group of friends I love dearly.
What do you remember about your first-year living situation?
I lived in Carman (913A); my suitemates became two of my best friends. I remember walking into my suite after finishing up my COOP trip and seeing my suitemates, with their monogrammed towels and all, and thinking this liberal Jersey girl would never be friends with two Texans as prim and proper as they were. They proved me wrong, and four years later we’re closer than ever. In terms of my actual living quarters, I remember Carman never having hot water!
What class do you remember and why?
“Walking,” with Jon Cotner. It’s a writing class that challenges students to think about walking (and about writing!) through a new lens. We read various philosophers, novelists, poets and memoirists, whose views on walking — and mundane, daily life outside ivory towers more generally — shaped our semester. Jon is an incredible professor, and learning with him made me a more aware thinker, writer and person. We also took walks during class, around campus and around New York, which rocked!
Did you have a favorite spot on campus, and what did you like about it?
I have two! Not sure this counts, because it’s technically off-campus, but the first one is Max Caffe. Max provided me with the perfect environment to work on my writing. It feels like a cozy den — the only thing missing is a fireplace — with the right amount of white noise and delicious snacks. I once spent an entire day at Max (and ate all three meals there, too). The second one is Teachers College. The building is a labyrinth unlike anything in the undergrad part of campus, but it feels sort of magical, and is super conducive to learning. (Also, all the roofs — don’t tell!)
What, if anything, about your College experience would you do over?
If only I were one of those people who answered this question with “nothing.” In my view, though, anyone who says she has no regrets is probably lying, so here are mine: I wish I was more involved in the on-campus journalism community; I wish I had joined the Marching Band (at least for a semester!); I wish I had gone to more office hours; I wish I had stayed in touch with my professors from freshman and sophomore years; and I wish I had spent less time napping and more time exploring NYC. But overall, I couldn’t be happier or luckier with my time on Morningside Heights. I’ll miss it forever, but I know I’ll be back.