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 Karen Liu CC’23, who is planning to double major in sociology and the history and theory of architecture. She is currently studying remotely from Shenzhen, China.
What’s been your favorite class so far, and why?
I liked Contemporary Civilization! I know that’s controversial because some people like it and some people don’t, but I feel like it’s a class that showed me there are no right or wrong answers as we engage with texts. It also showed different perspectives and allowed me to listen to others. I could really practice my rational thinking, which is especially valuable these days considering we’re on Zoom and on the internet a lot more than we used to be, and it’s really hard to filter all that information.
What do you like to do outside of class?
I like to swim, do oil paintings and photography.
Have you picked up any new hobbies or interests during the pandemic?
Yes! I started to learn tarot cards. For me, the beauty of tarot comes from the fact that we are in difficult times and tarot cards can bring guidance and help you think and make things clearer. During winter break, I started working on tarot on my own channel on one of the biggest social media platforms [in China]. Making videos is really interesting because I can get feedback quickly — I’ve been learning how to build interactive skills with the audiences. I got interested in tarot from reading a book about it and was fascinated by how much knowledge was needed to do tarot. Before I learned it, I thought it was one simple part, but there are many different cards and different meanings based on how the decks are drawn and designed.
What have you been reading/watching/listening to that you would recommend to fellow students, and why?
I read Atomic Habits by James Clear; it interested me because it’s about developing good habits. The part that attracted me the most was [about how by] working hard at something you are good at, you can achieve both career success and a better life. It was really inspiring, especially during the pandemic.
What’s something you learned about yourself during the pandemic?
How to spend time by myself. In freshman year I spent a lot of time with classmates, so at the beginning of the pandemic I wasn’t used to spending the entire day or week by myself. But now I feel comfortable staying home and exploring things without relying on peer company.
What message would you send to classmates?
I know Columbia is trying to connect students [with each other], and there are a lot of different ways to do that, so I think everyone still has a chance to meet new people. In school, maybe we hang out with the same group of people and don’t really explore outside that network, so I think taking this time with online forums, clubs and meetings is a great opportunity to grow.