The first picture of me as a student on campus was taken unsurprisingly on move-in day, unsurprisingly by my mom. It’s a series of photos, actually, of me tumbling out of a cardboard moving box in my Carman hallway, right onto a handful of the 2015 Orientation issue of The Blue and White.
The paper booklet meant nothing to me then, but it’s everything to me now—and I quite literally fell into it on my very first day.
I’ve since fallen into a lot of things at Columbia, fallen out of some, gotten back together with others. But the experiences I tumbled into unexpectedly have been my most rewarding.
Three hundred words to wax-poetic at this time of year is a dangerous thing for a nostalgic magazine editor, and I’m not even sure I heeded any advice given to me when I was you. But I’m in different shoes now, so Class of 2022, I offer but one nugget of wisdom:
Get comfortable with the idea of falling at Columbia. I have fallen quite a lot since that first, fateful tumble out of the cardboard cousin of a blue bin.
I’ve fallen into traps (Joe Coffee, my friends, is a trap, as is Blue Java, but at least they take dining dollars—never shun halal cart coffee). I’ve fallen for bad advice (live in McBain, they said!). I’ve fallen onto my face (metaphorically, staking out absurd points in Core classes, but I’m not the first, and certainly won’t be the last). I’ve fallen asleep in many, many a lecture. I’ve fallen short of some goals. Fallen over, fallen behind, fallen apart.
Most importantly, I have fallen in and out of love with Columbia, over and over again. For every time I curse this place (and you will, many times), there is an unseasonably warm afternoon on the steps, a stimulating lecture, a satisfying assignment, a late night not in a library but in conversation with thoughtful friends, a warm bacon-egg-and-cheese on an everything bagel.
Nothing I say here will capture what Columbia will be for you—but I will say that it will probably turn out nothing like you imagined. And I hope you fall for it.