Tag: advice

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.

As you get ready to arrive to Columbia, The Lion team has compiled various packing lists from current students for the most important things to bring to campus.  It’s up to you to determine what to bring and what to buy later. During NSOP, Columbia operates a shuttle to Bed Bath & Beyond, so you can save on packing weight and just buy your supplies there.

And remember – you can always ask peers in your Class Facebook pages or by emailing team@columbialion.com

And to make it even easier, a student from the Class of 2020 compiled our packing list into a Google Doc that you can categorize based on when and where you will buy your supplies.

Continue Reading..

Welcome to another installment of Ask an Adult, where Rebecca Hsu, CC ’89, tells you what to do about life’s biggest problems. Have a question? Send it to thecolumbialion@gmail.com – God knows we aren’t qualified to answer, but we’ll pass it along! 

Q: It’s finals week — save us! What do we do about stress?

A: What is stress? I’m a doctor, so let’s start with the medical definition: stress is defined as an organism’s total response to environmental demands or pressures.

As you approach finals week, I’m sure you understand. There have been studies to show that the stress felt by students taking finals is like that of soldiers entering a battle. Well, I definitely took a few exams where I would have preferred bullets flying by my head than writing the answer to the question.

First and most importantly, you need to realize what you are stressed about. You think you are freaking out because you need to pull an all-nighter to finish your Lit Hum paper, but what you may be more worried about is what to wear on your next hot date, since you can’t decide between the red pumps and the black sandals.

Let’s make it simple by starting with the obvious and easy. Find a way to RELAX both your body and your mind. This usually means taking a study break.

Here are a few suggestions for one:

 

Engage in some intimate time with another person. For those of you with your mind in the gutter, yes, sex is on the list. However, aside from the postcoital high that may follow by a good nap, it shouldn’t be the only option that comes to mind. A long walk, an interesting conversation, a nice meal, a massage, or any time spent in the company of someone you like can be very good for you. Even if all you do is vent about how much you hate whatever, at least you get it out of your system.

Do some intense physical activity. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Go for a run (not in Central Park, alone, after midnight. This is a stress relief thing, not a suicide mission). Get some friends together and play a game that involves a lot of running around. No, shopping doesn’t count in this category, but do read on.

Do some shopping. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping! At least that’s how they handled stress in Great Neck, Long Island where I grew up. This can be great, but expensive. Window shopping, without buying, counts. Then you have a great excuse to buy it AFTER you pass your exams…

Do something quiet that lets your mind wander. Read a novel (one that isn’t required reading, of course). If you enjoy meditating, painting, writing, or any type of craft or hobby, now is a great time to break it out and dust it off. You liked it before school, so why not indulge a little now?

Make some noise. Sing, dance, blast that stereo for just a little while. Blow something up-that’s what chemistry lab is for, isn’t it? As an archer, I’d feel better when I just plain shot something. It could work for you too!
Just make certain you do SOMETHING. Cook, clean, create, or destroy something. Do whatever it takes to take your mind off the current problem. Remember that taking too long can be a problem, so whatever you choose to do, make it a quickie!

What SHOULDN’T you do?

Don’t beat yourself up for feeling stressed. You will only become more stressed. Pain is a relative thing. Just because you think it can’t get worse doesn’t mean it won’t!

Drowning yourself in ANYTHING is not good. This includes, but is not limited to ethanol, drugs, sex, work, and swimming pools. Follow Aristotle-there is a balance to be struck that works.

The key to stress relief is to find something to keep you happy while your mind works out the details of how to handle whatever is making you stressed. You will be surprised how quickly that works or fails to work if you are too intoxicated to think about anything. Get yourself calm and you will start to ask: “What stress? I feel great!”

Ok, maybe not great, but as long as you do SOMETHING other than what you were stressing out about, you’ll find that you didn’t need to stress after all. To assist you in this, let me make a suggestion:

Wear the pumps. They work with everything.