What surprised me most about Columbia
While I was growing up, college seemed like a magical place where everyone wanted to argue about obscure movies, were thrilled to be learning new things and couldn’t wait to talk about them over dinner, and had completely different perspectives on life than I did.
Needless to say, this was indeed just “magical.”
I’ve had completely boring conversations with other students, where we could find nothing to talk about other than the weather, the slowness of the elevator, or a Columbia favorite–how tired we both were and how much work we had.
And, I’ve been in lectures where the professor expected so few people to show up that he had to book a different room for the exam because our classroom held less than half of the class.
I don’t say this to discourage anyone from coming here, or to hate on Columbia– my year here has been one of the happiest of my life.
But, I think it’s important that we recognize sometimes college, even if we’re talking about one in the Ivy League, isn’t always sweater vests and smiles.
And so, I present a list of the things, good and bad, that surprised me most about Columbia:
- Not everybody talks to everybody. I thought before I came here that I’d make friends sitting in classes, or recitation sections, but that doesn’t happen often. Even after a month or so of being here, I couldn’t believe that people purposely sat several seats apart. We do all go to school here, right?
- I meet new people every day. My mom had always told me that I’d be meeting people constantly at college, and I was skeptical. But I can tell you honestly I’ve made friends while I’ve been in the elevator, waiting on lines, or sitting in the library. For me personally, this is one of the things I love most about being here.
- People will not always remember you, and will not always say hello. Sometimes you’ll meet someone one weekend, see them the next day and do that awkward “I’m going to grin and see if you smile back and then we’ll both wave” and get nothing, and end up introducing yourself all over again the very next weekend. Some do it intentionally, and others really are just bad at keeping track of people. And that brings me to:
- Not everyone is like you. People are good at different things, and not everyone is able to remember names, or enjoys meeting new people, or has very much to say. Some are quiet and shy, and others are so friendly that you cringe and try to run away before you get another pat on the arm from basically a complete stranger. I’ve learned that you just have to roll with the punches, and that it’s a great thing that people are different. It’s pretty exciting not knowing if a conversation is going to be one of the most interesting you’ve ever had or one in which you’re so desperate to leave you tell someone you forgot you left the stove on.
First-Year Student Sounds Better Than Freshman is a weekly series on life as a first-year at Columbia that runs every Saturday.
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