What were you like when you arrived at Columbia?
I had never been to New York before, let alone the Morningside Heights campus. I was eager to join the culture and traditions experienced by some of my biggest influences, creative minds like Vampire Weekend, Vanessa Carlton and Kathryn Bigelow SOA’81.
Transferring from the University of Miami’s film program as a junior, I came equipped with a passion for storytelling media and an appetite to inspire social change. However, the Core Curriculum quickly wrangled me into shape. I spent many late nights in Butler.
What do you remember about your first-year living situation?
Disaster. I sought to live off-campus in order to save money. An ineffective apartment hunt resulted in two $125 parking tickets and left me with only one solid lead: an 80-sq.-ft. box in a building adjacent to the International House.
The building was pre-war. The fire escape was “under maintenance.” And, I lived underneath a percussionist who attended the nearby Manhattan School of Music.
Needless to say, I moved into campus housing the next semester and found my “Rat Pack.”
What Core class or experience do you most remember and why?
Hands down, Contemporary Civilization. Before attending the College, George Orwell’s essay “Why I Write” had an immense influence on me. As an aspiring filmmaker, I shared his desire to “push the world in a certain direction, to alter other people’s’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.”
Contemporary Civilization helped me understand the background and circumstances of the Western world I inhabit and equipped me with the understanding necessary to (I hope, one day) inspire change.
Did you have a favorite spot on campus, and what did you like about it?
Two spots come to mind: First, one of the study nooks accessed through the spiral staircases in Butler’s west wing on the second floor. I’ve probably spent at least 10,000 — dually inspired and miserable — hours there alone.
Second, the Columbia Tennis Center. It is quite a trek up to the athletics campus; however, the view of the George Washington Bridge and the river is to die for.
What, if anything, about your College experience, would you do over?
It would be to temper ambition with an open mindset. It can help you learn lessons you didn’t think you needed and it can help save you from living in a glorified closet. ; )