Tag: first year

Photo Courtesy of James Xue (SEAS ’17)

When I first arrived at Columbia, I felt lost in the sea of freshman. NSOP felt overwhelming and overbearing at times. Though it was created  to spur genuine interaction between fellow first-years, in my case it often just produced superficial introductions and goodbyes. Needless to say, I was a tad worried at the prospect of finding those “forever friends.” Perhaps this feeling was compounded by the fact that I live in Wallach, a dorm with first-years as well as upperclassmen, so the majority of my floor had still not yet moved in.

After all the upperclassmen move-in day, however, something changed. The lobby would constantly be filled with people, driven out of their rooms by the September heat and into the floor lounge for AC. Even after the heat subsided, the upperclassmen stayed and just talked about whatever came to mind. As I inserted myself into these conversations, I quickly found some of my first and closest friends at Columbia. There’s Will and Ashu, who are always in the lounge and ready at any given moment to order UberEats. There’s Cindy and Victoria, the reigning Queens of Wallach 4; there’s Ralph, the fixed guest-resident from Wallach 2. There’s Josh, whose ability to make me smile never fades, even after the most stressful days.

As I quickly learned, these people were always happy to lend a helping hand, and whether it was a difficult pset or an emotional breakdown didn’t matter. As juniors and sophomores, they were also able to provide insightful tips and tricks, ranging from warning me about John Jay’s meatless Mondays to telling me how to score some free gear at various events on campus. More than just resources, these people have shaped and defined my experience thus far. I’m only two months in and already eager for the rest of the next four years. My initial tensions and anxieties have all but subsidied; in Josh’s words, I know that “everything will be ooooo-kay.”

Meet Tevis. Tevis, a first-year in Columbia College is originally from Hurricane, West Virginia. We sat down with him to learn more about his interests in Economics and some of his goals while at Columbia.

What are you current passions? How do you think you’ll pursue them on campus?

I have a few that come to mind. I love singing and want to join an a cappella group at some point. I really like playing piano, so I might take some lessons here if possible. I like making people laugh and entertaining people. Mostly helping people.

When I was younger, I always asked others about the stock market. Then I finally looked at YouTube, read some articles and took AP Macro and Micro online and realized I really love it. That’s why I want to study Economics here.

Also, I’d love to start a lip sync battle club on campus. I would be fun. I am only really good at one song, but I’m learning some new songs right now.

Of everything you’ve worked on, volunteered for, and studied, what are you most proud of?

I’m happy I was the only student from my high school to come to an Ivy League and/or New York City. People in my hometown initially were shocked that I did not choose to go to school in West Virginia because of scholarship opportunities, but Columbia was my dream school.

I first visited New York in the third grade and ever since then, I’ve always wanted to live in the city. Throughout the years, I’ve visited multiple metropolitan areas (except for LA) and realized I want to go to a good university in a metropolitan area.  Then, I toured on campus (shoutout to URC tour guide Jess Hui (CC ’18)) who heavily influenced my decision to want to come here. She encouraged me, saying that I could succeed. I felt like I had a chance because I might be able to get in Early Decision. And it worked out thankfully. A lot of people from small towns want to dream about life in the big city and I’m so excited to be here. There are so many opportunities [in NYC]. Seeing websites like Lionshare, I was amazed by the numerous amount of resources here [at Columbia] that I couldn’t fathom having in West Virginia.

My end goal is to work on Board of Governors or the Federal Reserve of NYC with my buddy Alexander Hamilton.

What are you most nervous/anxious about (in regards to college, Columbia, NYC, etc)?

My grades. But that’ll work out. Obviously everyone here likely came from the top of their classes. I remember that high school felt a lot easier, but we’ll see what happens. Also, stress.

What are you most excited about (in regards to college, Columbia, NYC, etc)?

Probably looking at all the clubs and activities and internships. There’s so much to do here and it’s so overwhelming to figure out what to do.

Throughout the semester, we’ll be featuring interviews from new students. To recommend someone for an interview or to become an interviewer for The Lion, email team@columbialion.com

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.

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