The Blog


Utterly SNAKEHIPS vibe right here. You’ve got the neo-soul feel, the R&B influence, the beautiful voice and flow of a black vocalist (Rachel Marie), and the feel-good kiss. You can’t help but love songs like this- they’re just joyful. Kick back at the pool and bump this on your speaker.

 

This song is so incredibly chill. Like sitting in a calm oasis in the middle of the woods type of chill. It literally feels like meditation at some points, especially in the beginning before the lyrics enter. Iris Temple has this deep, soothing voice that lingers in space, caressing your ears. Relatively unknown at the moment, but I can see that changing- hopefully not too soon though, because I want him all to myself (and you guys). You can download this track free on Soundcloud, just click the little down-pointing arrow in the song widget below.

 

An Open Letter to My Last Summer Self

Hey, I know how you feel. You feel indestructible. You struggled through high school—all the exams and applications. You graduated. You got into your dream school. You’re looking forward to moving out. You know you’ve never lived alone, but you say you’ll get used to it—New York is only 7,000 miles away. You barely know anyone there, but you figure it couldn’t be too difficult to make friends. You hear college is hard, but you’re not bothered. You think you’ve already seen how hard things can get. You think the hard part is over.

Too bad you’re wrong.

On your first night after move-in you’ll cry alone in your room because you’ll miss the way your sheets smelled at home. During NSOP you’ll exchange phone numbers with nearly every person you meet, but you’ll barely speak to any of them again. You’ll freak out during registration and panic about which classes to take, even though half of them have already been picked for you. Your five classes course load will get the best of you, and you’ll have to drop one just to keep afloat. You’ll wonder what’s wrong with you, since you’re used to taking 8 courses at once. Chemistry will be confusing, and you’ll be embarrassed to ask for help because you took it all four years in high school. Now that it’ll make your blood boil, you’ll try to fathom why you ever liked the subject. You’ll struggle with deadlines and wince at the sight of dining hall food. You’ll wonder why you never have the time to explore the city the way you planned to.

But everyone else will be comfortable with his/her workloads. They’ll have found their favorite place to eat in the city. They’ll have made close friends on literally the first day. They won’t miss home the way you will, but they’ll still get to go back over fall break. You won’t, because those 7,000 miles will prove to be too many. Even when people surround you, you’ll feel alone. It’ll feel all the worse because you spent years fantasizing about an amazing college experience at a fancy ivy-league institution only to realize you can’t survive there.

Good thing you’ll be wrong again.

You will survive. You’ll survive because you’ll ask for help and learn that chemistry makes other people want to punch a hole in the wall too; you’re not the only one. They’re struggling with tons of essays and hundred-page- readings too. Regardless of whether they’re from a different continent or two blocks down, they miss home too. You just can’t tell. You’ll realize you were comparing others’ best selves, the ones they choose to show to the world, to your most private core, where all your demons and insecurities lie. And just like that you’ll feel lighter. You’ll find someone to struggle through chemistry with, to whine about LitHum with, and to take breaks with. They’ll remind you that dropping that fifth class doesn’t make you a quitter. Because now that you have to remember to wake up, study, eat, sleep, bathe, do laundry and stay sane, all on your own. Living is your fifth course.

Once you’ve remembered to stop and breathe, you’ll do more than just survive. Because although you don’t realize how difficult college will be, you also don’t realize what you’re capable of. You think you already reached your limits in high school. You think you’ve peaked. Not true. Yeah, you may have gotten the best grades you possibly could in high school. You’re probably never going to get grades like that again. But that’s a good thing. You see, you’ll probably never be able to stop worrying about grades completely, you just cannot afford to, but now you have a chance to stop letting that worry consume you.

Recall the time when you actually liked learning. Unearth the curiosity that got buried under assignments somewhere along the way. Look beyond books a little. Make time to explore the city or join a club, regardless of a busy schedule. Create that 25th hour. Let yourself learn from experience, from mistakes, and more importantly from other people. Wasn’t that the whole point of going to a fancy ivy-league institution any way—to learn a thing or two?

Do that, and maybe some day you won’t just feel indestructible, you actually might be.

Photo Courtesy of Trevor Rukwava
Meet Trevor. Trevor, originally CC’19, has been suspended from Columbia College for the upcoming 2016-2017 academic year. We sat down with him to learn more about his situation and to understand how Columbia works to help students facing adversity and where it needs improvements.
What is your intended major?
I have always wanted to be pre-med. I was planning on doing neuroscience and behavior. I kind of wanted to do engineering but my parents talked me out of it, saying there are no engineering jobs in Africa. I had this dream of making electric cars, and an airplane with an emergency parachute system which deploys out of the top of the plane—the engines will be detached from the plane for weight management. However, my poor performance in the past semester pretty much kills my chances of doing medicine. I was considering switching to political science, or something. Not that I would be able to make a viable career out of it in my home country. I really don’t know at this point, but I’m trying to figure that out. It would be great if I could become a neurosurgeon.
When did Columbia notify you of its intention to suspend you for the upcoming academic year?
On June 8, 2016, Dr. Lavinia Lorch—my academic advisor—emailed me telling me that my case was going to be reviewed the following day. She told me that I was at risk of suspension because of my grades. She asked me if there was any information I wanted the Board to know. I received the notification of my suspension from CSA [Center for Student Advising] on the 9th of June. I read both emails on the 9th, so I did not have time to provide Lavinia with the information she requested. I was also under the impression that she knew my whole story.
Why do you believe Columbia choose to suspend you for the upcoming year?
According to Lavinia, “A suspension is not a punitive measure but actually an opportunity for you to make up credits back home (at an accredited 4 year institution) so as to ensure that you will graduate in a timely manner.” I think Columbia (or Dr. Lorch, I do not really know who made the decision) wanted to “help” me by giving me a forced gap year of sorts, to handle my stuff. After much persuasion, Dr. Lorch convinced me to take a medical leave of absence—which I could return from at any time. I agreed to this because, I was having a rather tough time and wanted a break. I also thought it would be more convenient if I did the paperwork while I was in America, so I would not have to fly to and fro again. The fact that I was expecting a medical leave, made the suspension more confusing, since I could not really differentiate the two.
As for the actual intentions behind the suspension, I can only make assumptions. Perhaps they didn’t want me to fail again and have to be considered for academic suspension, ironically, or expulsion. I had an almost nonexistent work ethic and motivation because of my mental condition, because they probably assumed that allowing me to return would lead to another bad semester. I may not be allowed to progress to the following semester if I don’t complete enough credits. I only completed 3, from one class. I failed 2, and dropped another 2—in order to avoid failing them. It was bad. I guess Columbia doesn’t have room for subpar performance, so I had to go.
How transparent has Columbia been throughout this process?
Well, they gave a day’s heads up. They also told me explicitly that I was suspended, and that I needed to take a year of classes and reapply. They also cancelled my I-20, which made it very clear that I wasn’t coming back.
How will this potential suspension impact your academic and personal goals?
I do not think that I can do medicine anymore. Perhaps I wasn’t cut out for it? My parents won’t hear it however, and have pushed me to apply to other universities in southern Africa. I must become a doctor, they say. Since I cannot do it at Columbia, I should do it back home. They never really liked America, and would call frequently to ensure that I had not been shot by police. The recent news has only made my parents’ resolve stronger. I made my own way to Columbia, and America at large. If I give up on Columbia, then I’m essentially giving up on the United States. However, I told Lavinia this information, which is why she said, “credits back home.” I am pretty sure that if I get into one of the two universities in my country, I will not be permitted to go back to America. Time is of the essence! My parents rejected the notion of a medical leave when I got home, claiming that my mind would rot if I stayed at home. I understand where they are coming from. They don’t want me to become like my older brother who was expelled from university because of drug addiction. He has turned to a lot of antisocial behaviours to feed his habit, including gradually taking everything I own. I doubt that I will still be in possession of the laptop on which I am typing by the end of next month. My parents suspect him every time the house is robbed, and he has been caught red-handed a few times. There is a lot of drama, which I would really rather not be in the middle of.
I do not think I will be allowed to switch to the engineering school, because of the suspension. Perhaps I’m mistaken.
Politics is not really something one can talk about where I’m from, for a number of reasons that I can not talk about because of the reasons themselves. It’s rather cyclic.
Do you think Columbia’s current academic suspension processes are fair? If not, how do you think they should be improved?
I do not think that the suspension policies are fair. I was given a single strike-out opportunity, and I did not even know that that was the case. If getting kicked out of Columbia is that easy, they should at least warn you beforehand. I tried very hard to ask for help, but my depression and history made it difficult. I did not know how to ask for help. I didn’t think that I was worth helping—depression talk. Perhaps, I was suspended because I said that Columbia sucked, I really didn’t want to be there, I was having the worst time of my life, and I felt like nobody cared about me. I said these things because that was how I truly felt, and they were multiple cries for help. I strongly suspect that this depression talk made my advisor think that suspending me was a favor, and I don’t blame her. However, these “issues” started at home and being home triggers a lot of them. I don’t have a therapist here for whatever reason, and I just kind of absorb the things that come my way. My cousin’s sickness and death, for example.
I wish Columbia had given me more support during the semester. I only got disability services help at the end of the second semester. At which point, my grades were so bad that my professors practically told me not to bother writing finals.
Do you have any advice for other students who may be in your position? For those who are also fighting depression?
To other students fighting depression, it is hard. People don’t understand how hard it is. They may tell you to ‘man up’ or fix your issues. They may assume that the illness is just an attitude problem. It doesn’t make sense to them, why someone would want to kill themselves when everything is ‘fine’. They don’t know how much harder it is to get out of bed and get things done when you are questioning the value of your existence. For most of second semester, I told myself not to think. I drowned all of it out with music; some people use other coping mechanisms. But being at an institution like Columbia requires you to think, and learn, and perform; to jump through hoops. I thought people didn’t care even though I didn’t really give them a chance to care. It took too much energy, when all I wanted to accomplish each day was survival. People do care. They may not always show it, but people care. Appreciate every person in your life, and know that you matter. Your life matters.
As for suspension, don’t let it get you down. I don’t really know what to say, because this is a problem that I am yet to overcome.
Have you faced issues at Columbia in regards to mental health and/or threats of suspension? If you would be willing to talk about your story (anonymously or publicly), email us at team@columbialion.com.

So this one’s personal. Well actually not really but it feels that way. Pierce is my friend Addie’s older brother, and “Borrowed Lives” is his single off his upcoming EP Borrowed Lives out tomorrow.  Pierce has been off the map for a while due to personal circumstances, but he’s come back better than ever.  Don’t expect this to sound like what you’re used to from Pierce; he’s truly taken a radically different turn away from his heavier, more intense electronic music with this, and I’m heavily, heavily into it. “Borrowed Lives” is an indie-electronic dance track, and it’s got the kind of sound that drags me to my feet. Pierce is calling Borrowed Lives “his favorite music he’s ever made”, and I’m in no place to disagree. Check this shit out.