Columbia University: A Week In

View of the city I shot while walking along the Brooklyn Bridge

My journey at Columbia University has arrived, bringing with it the academics, the city and the community my life has been leading up to.

The city itself is incredible and majestic. I’ve enjoyed exploring it from the far reaches of Coney Island to the art galleries in Queensboro. The Yankees vs. Red Sox game introduced me to the world of pro-level sports and the freedom of my own living space steps me further into the adult world.

Yankee Stadium

At Coney, I was able to take the most thrilling rides present, and having only gone to one much smaller amusement park in my life, this was quite an amazing experience. Getting thrown upside down while loosely strapped into a comparatively frail contraption certainly carries an exhilarating terror. Similarly, although New York presents a drastically different way of life and surroundings than I’ve grown up with, it is a fascinating and enjoyable experience.

A view from Morningside Park into Manhattan

There are many parks surrounding campus, and central park is only a short jog away. This natural beauty makes a great setting for morning runs, or just a quick breath of fresh air.

My first day of classes went well, and although the coursework will certainly be a challenge, I think given a solid work ethic, handling it shouldn’t be an issue. The well-oiled daily schedule I’ve been planning out will make budgeting work in much easier. Using a digital flashcard tool called Anki, I can ensure I keep on top of every bit of knowledge learned throughout the semester, so studying for finals and midterms will be a lot less stressful (and less important) than otherwise. This tool was very effective in high school and uses the very efficient spaced repetition method, so one only studies a flash card when one starts to forget it. This makes all knowledge in any flashcard deck always remembered by its user at any point without requiring constant flashcard use.

Street art alongside the 10 mile trek I made up in Queensboro

All my classes are technical in nature and except for the Honors Introduction to Computer Science, they are all general requirements. However, by the end of my first year, I will have the majority of general requirements out of the way, so I can then focus more concertedly on my major and delve in much farther than otherwise. I will also have a lot more freedom in electives and can explore many more cross-disciplinary subjects.

Stunning shot across the water as surreal in life as the photo

On this second day of classes, I went to a research project “fair” with resume in hand, and although they definitely were interested in students with several years of college level CS work in specific areas of the field, the connections made could be invaluable in future applications to do research. One professor was working in the area of quantified self research, something I’ve been passionate about for a long time, and in future years, he could be an incredible asset to further my involvement in this area. With so many opportunities so readily accessible, it is certainly a challenge determining how and if they fall in my plans for my four years here.

Time lapse of working in my dorm room

Alongside coursework and research, Columbia’s dining situation has thoroughly impressed me. Their food is high quality and there are always plenty of healthy options. On cold days, I can even walk to two of their dining locations without stepping outside. Recently, they began offering the Beyond Burger from the Bill Gate’s backed Beyond Meat company who is on the front-lines of pushing us toward a meatless future where no sacrifice is made on taste, and the proteins are entirely derived from sources other than soy. This kind of forward thinking seems to pervade nearly every aspect of Columbia, and I look forward to seeing how I can contribute back to the campus.

Fireworks display at Coney Island (kudos to the stranger with the rock symbol)

There is so much more I could share, but with a study block scheduled in right now, I’ll have to wait for a future post. Cheers to all who’ve helped make this possible!

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