Barnard BLUE Summit: A Weekend to Never Forget

This year, Barnard Student Life has introduced the Barnard BLUE (Building Leadership & Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 4.01.57 AMUnderstanding Equity) Series. It has various workshops and dialogues related to social justice and leadership development. Its deeper purpose is to have students engaged in building inclusive communities on campus and have them explore their multi-faceted identities.

A part of the series is the Barnard BLUE Summit, which was previously called the Women’s Leadership Retreat. This took place the past weekend (Friday to Sunday), and I feel so grateful that I had the opportunity to attend it. The summit had various workshops that explored social identities in leadership and many opportunities to connect with new people, and even reconnect with people you already knew, but on a whole new level.

The summit was located at a YMCA camp in Upstate New York. It was extremely refreshing to get away from the city and be surrounded by nature. It was the perfect place for self-reflection and creating new connections. Ever since I walked through the Barnard gates as a first-year, I have been very active on campus, from being the first-year class vice president to recently chairing the Women’s History Month committee. Since I am always busy, I feel like I have very little time to stop everything and just reflect on life. This summit fulfilled my needs and so much more.

We focused on exploring our multiple identities and how they shape us into being leaders. I felt like I could walk out of my body and evaluate myself from an unbiased point of view. Although there are social identities that are given to us without our choice, there are some identities of ourselves that really make us unique in the way we lead. For example, my drive for perfection always lets me have the end-goal in mind and have multiple ways of getting there (plan B, C, D…) but this also limits how much I really live in the moment. This was eye-opening and I developed skills to better my leadership styles and to incorporate ways to be more inclusive.

It was very empowering to listen to everyone’s stories of both triumph and struggle and to ensure each other that no one is alone, and now we have a strong web of support. One of the goals of the summit was to create a “brave space,” in which people got out of their comfort zones but not be too uncomfortable. This was a place where I let my guards down and allowed myself to be vulnerable. It was enlightening to realize that although each one of us came from different places, we all have so much in common and share the same goal of making Barnard more amazing than it already is and fighting for social justice in order to make campus a safe place for all students. I am honored to be surrounded by such amazing, loving and strong people.

This is just one of the many reasons I love Barnard: we teach and inspire each other through our stories and it is never too late to make new connections. My advice to a new student would be to grab every opportunity Barnard has to offer and be ready to be radically transformed.

If you have any questions about getting involved on campus or about social justice on campus, please feel free to send me an email at I love every opportunity I can get to talk about Barnard!

– Sarah Kim’17

Life as an International Student at Barnard


At home in Istanbul.

Hello, Merhaba,  שלום,  Bonjour, Hola, 안녕하세요, Hallo, مرحبا, Hej, Olá, 您好, नमस्कार, привет, Salut, こんにちは,  კომენტარი, สวัสดี, Kumusta, Halo juga, Moni, Pẹlẹ o, сәлеметсізбе, ہیلو, नमस्ते ,  ஹலோ.

(I think I have managed to say hello in almost all of the native languages of international students currently studying at Barnard.)

Imagine yourself in a circle of students sitting on Lehman Lawn introducing themselves during orientation week. The reactions to an international student’s introduction tend to include the phrases  “Wow,” “That’s so cool,” and “Awesome.” Being an international student is cool here. Trust me, I experienced this during the first week of my life at Barnard. I am an international student.

Having spent nearly two years here, I am so glad to be part of this amazing Barnard community, which I now call my family in the U.S.

Chocolate from my family's store.

Chocolate from my family’s store.

Long before my journey to Barnard, I grew up in the Mediterranean region of Turkey in a home that constantly smelled of chocolate. My family owned a chocolate and Turkish delight store. I used to help them out during holidays and learned the secrets of creating the most delicious Turkish delight of all different flavors.

During my middle school years, studying at a boarding school in England was my biggest dream (thanks to J.K. Rowling and her inspiring Harry Potter series). I applied and after taking the entrance exams/interviews was admitted to a prestigious British boarding school in England.  And there began my first experience as an international student.  I adored my school and its bucolic atmosphere. I lived a fairy tale life there.

However, at the end of my junior year (Lower Sixth) I decided not to study at a British university, since I was undecided about what my major was going to be.  In the European system, students must know what they are going to study at university even before the application process starts. The United States was my only choice. I knew that I wanted to be in a small liberal arts college where I could explore many subjects and get individual attention from my professors. But  I also wanted to be in New York City. So Barnard was the perfect match.

At my British boarding school, covered in snow.

At my British boarding school, covered in snow.

I vividly remember the moment when I learned that I had gotten into Barnard. I was in England. It was late April, I was sad, and I really had no motivation to study for my A Level Organic Chemistry module. Barnard was the only place I wanted to be for college, but I had been waitlisted. I did everything that I could to get in and the only thing left to do was wait. It was sometime at night; I was in my little dorm room, staring out the window watching the rain, thinking about my uncertain future.  Then my phone rang and the number began with +1. It was from Barnard Admissions. I pressed the green button with excitement and fear. The admissions officer told me I had been admitted to Barnard.

I spent the summer preparing my F1 visa application and I-20 form and getting ready for my new life as a student across the Atlantic. As an international student, I had more forms to complete than an American student, but the Barnard Office of International Student Programs was amazingly helpful and prompt.

Now that the class of 2019 has been admitted, I want to share some advice to all of our newest international students about how to make the most of life here:

This photo was taken on my very first day at Barnard.

This photo was taken on my very first day at Barnard.

1. Get to know all the international students at Barnard during International Student Orientation. It’s really a great way to meet all of the international students in your year at a single event. About a year after I enrolled at Barnard, I was browsing the website and noticed that Barnard had posted two of my photos from orientation!

2. Know that culture shock is inevitable! I have to admit that after a traditional British boarding school experience, living in America was quite a shock for me. I had been living in the middle of nowhere and studying at a school which used to be a Ducal Palace, the perfect setting for a Jane Austen movie. Then, I magically found myself in the middle of everywhere with all these skyscrapers. It really felt like I had gone through a time tunnel. I also find it an entertaining experience; it’s good to handle the transition with a little bit of fun. When I used words that were only used in British English, the expressions on people’s faces were priceless.

Hanging out with my sister in the Quad on my first day.

Hanging out with my sister in the Quad on my first day.

3. Take advantage of the events that Barnard organizes during short holidays. If your home, like mine, is  far away from the U.S., you will usually end up staying here in NYC during short holidays like Thanksgiving. Barnard makes life a lot easier during these holidays, especially if you have no close relatives or friends living in New York or in the U.S. Just before my first Thanksgiving break, I received a surprising email from Barnard Alumni relations. It was titled “Thanksgiving with Alumnae.” I immediately signed up for the program and a week later was matched with an alumna who is a successful writer and producer living on the Upper West side. My first Thanksgiving was an incredible experience and I am still in touch with my host. 

4. When the classes start, don’t be afraid to engage in discussion.  At first, I had some difficulty speaking up in my first-year English seminar due to the differences between the European and American classroom environment. European students are more quiet in class compared to American (and especially Barnard) students, who love participating and making their voices heard. But after a couple of weeks, I got into the mood as most of my other fellow international friends did, and started to participate more. My professors have also been really helpful —  I even remember having coffee with my first-year English Professor at Liz’s Place and discussing my essay on The Odyssey! You really don’t get to do this at many universities.

5. Try not to stress about anything. You will be achieving so much already! Surviving in a big city in a different country and succeeding in a competitive college where the language of instruction may not be your first are great achievements for an 18-year-old. So whenever you feel you are not doing as well as you would expect, please remember how much you have already done. Furthermore, Barnard truly is a supportive community: deans, professors, staff are always there to help you. All you need to do is to ask.

I will be posting many more experiences in upcoming posts. In the meantime, PLEASE don’t hesitate to ask questions. Feel free to email me at or leave a comment below.

And congratulations to Class of 2019!  A new chapter is yet to begin — get excited!

To be continued…



Sena Oztosun ’17



Maybe you’re already really excited at the possibility of being in New York — dreaming about seeing shows every week, going to museums, hanging out in Central Park, etc. Or maybe you’re more like I was and a little unsure about going to school in a big city. Either way, Barnard gives you the opportunity to choose what sort of city experience you want. There are certainly advantages to going to school in New York City, and Barnard itself definitely takes advantage of its location. But everyone engages with the city differently, and you can make what you want out of it.

Absolute Bagel (2)

The BEST bagels in our neighborhood.

I tend to spend a lot of time around Barnard’s campus in Morningside Heights, where there’s lots to do–like eating at one of the best bagel places in the city (see left), studying at Hungarian Pastry Shop, or running in Riverside Park.  (Incidentally, we also have our fair share of celeb sightings, as shows and movies are regularly filmed in our neighborhood. I stood in line behind Mandy Patinkin at the Post Office once!)


Your ticket to the city.

But going to school in New York means that if I ever feel the need to get a little farther off campus, that’s never a problem at all. I can walk right out of class, hop on the subway (the 1 train stops right in front of Barnard) and get anywhere in the city. Getting to Lincoln Center takes less than 20 minutes, which means I can see the New York City Ballet on a Thursday night right after class. Last semester, my suitemate and I got free tickets (through a Barnard program!) to see the New York Philharmonic perform music from Pixar movies. It was one of the most charming, happiest performances I’ve ever seen.

I stumbled upon Banksy's Hammer Boy one day while wandering the Upper West Side

I stumbled upon Banksy’s Hammer Boy one day while wandering the Upper West Side

Some of my favorite nights in the city have been times when I’ve gotten on the subway without much of a plan. On the last day of finals last semester, my friend Lina and I went out with the intention of getting tacos and ended up stumbling across the closing night event at an exhibit we’d both been wanting to see. As a vegetarian (and just as a person who enjoys good food), all the options in the city are great. Now that I think about it, many times that I’ve come across a cool mural or piece of art (like Banksy’s Hammer Boy!) have been when I’m on my way to find something to eat. This is just one example of the city’s incredible density of people and places to see, go, do, and try.

Academically, a lot of classes incorporate parts of the city into the course. So a lot of art history classes will have discussion sections at The Met, and you’ll even go to the American Museum of Natural History with a biology lab course. Another fantastic thing about going to school in New York City is that students can have internships all around the city during the year.

Lincoln Center is only a few stops away on the 1 train!

Lincoln Center is only a few stops away on the 1 train!

Living in New York can be a character building experience, but it is also incredibly exciting, and it’s great to know you always have the supportive community at Barnard to come back to. I hope this gives you a glimpse into how some Barnard students interact with the city, but if you have any questions about New York at all and/or Barnard, feel free to email me at:


Margeaux Miller ’16

Barnard and the City

A Day in the Life of a Barnard Student

A double that I share with my awesome roommate in 616, one of the suite-style Barnard residence halls

A double that I share with my awesome roommate in 616, one of the suite-style Barnard residence halls

Greetings, friends-to-be! I hope this fine Friday is treating you well :)

I’m writing this post from the desk in my room in 616, one of Barnard’s just-slightly-off-campus dorms. I suppose this “Day in the Life” post partially serves as a chance for me to reflect on how lucky I am to be here, but it is primarily intended to offer you an idea of what your life could be like next year. As one of my favorite high school teachers (the one responsible for my history major, I might add) said, it’s hard to know what you want to study at eighteen—so focus on where and how you want to spend the next four years of your life.

So here’s how a typical Thursday (like yesterday) goes for me:

7 am—My alarm goes off, and I head into our suite kitchen to make coffee. At this point, seven o’clock feels like sleeping in to me, so getting up isn’t too hard.

7:15 am—I plop back down on my bed (big mistake), coffee in hand, to finish off Light In August, since I’m meeting with a TA to discuss it later.

Antonio Carmena © Leandro Justen

My professor, Antonio Carmena!

8:25 am—I head out the door and across the street to Antonio Carmena’s Ballet 5 class in Barnard Hall. He is a hilarious and sassy man, who also happens to be a killer dancer (he’s a soloist with New York City Ballet), and his class is always a great way to start the day.

10 am—I work in the Oral History Archives in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, a job I got through the Barnard History Department. The curator went to Wellesley, and she was specifically hoping to hire Barnard students. It’s a great fit—challenging and exciting!

11:40 am—History of the South, an American history class with Prof. Fields at Columbia: an interesting class with a brilliant professor.

1:00 pm—I head back across the street for lunch (and extra homework-ing) before a 2:10 seminar with The Great Eric Foner at Columbia. He is considered one of the leading Civil War historians alive today, and he is teaching a seminar (a very small, discussion-based class) in which we conduct original research on Columbia’s history with slavery. Sitting in a room with 11 other undergrads getting advice on how to study history from a famous historian continues to absolutely blow my mind.

4:00 pm—Back for another hour of work in the archives!

5:00 pm—I race to Brownies Café, where I am meeting the aforementioned TA to discuss my paper for History of the South. She is a third-year PhD student and she is so helpful and committed. She leads some of the smaller discussion sections that break off of the larger lecture, so her role is more that of a facilitator than a teacher. Still, she is eager to impart her wisdom, and she takes us seriously, so I appreciate the chance to meet with her.

5:40 pm—I squeeze in a workout at Dodge Fitness Center, since I’m already on Columbia’s campus (though Barnard also has a nice work out room of its own).

John Jay Dining Hall at Columbia

John Jay Dining Hall at Columbia

6:30 pm—I meet a friend from the whitewater kayak club for dinner at John Jay. I respond to the increasing paper-induced stress levels by consuming copious amounts of fro-yo (which is totally offset by the salad I ate, right?).

9:15 pm—I drag my slightly-self-conscious, dressed-up self away from my desk and to a fundraising party for Globe Med, a cool campus organization. I chat and eat classy snacks and feel proud of myself for not studying on a Thursday night…

Ok, folks, that was a long one. I hope it was helpful, though—and please, feel free to email me questions about anything anytime!


Chloe (

Congratulations to the Class of 2019!


The Office of Admissions released first-year decisions this evening and I want to extend a big CONGRATULATIONS to the admitted class of 2019! Can you believe it? You not only got into college (which is itself a very big deal), but you got into a very good college in an incredible city! In the midst of all this ruckus about colleges—where you got in, where you didn’t, what the big guide books say, and what your friends and teachers and parents think—it can be easy to lose sight of what all this fuss is about.

The goal for all of us, no matter what profession we imagine for ourselves, is to grow as much as we can in college, to learn as much as we can, and to have as many fulfilling new experiences as we can. We want to learn how to think seriously and creatively, so that wherever we end up, we’ll be able to figure out how to succeed.

So, what do you do now? Now that April is approaching, you may find yourself with some decisions to make about which college is really the best fit for you. Here are some tips from a current student about how to decide whether Barnard is that place:

  • Read this blog! We’ll be updating it daily throughout April with lots of information about the Barnard student experience, including everything from professors to sororities, clubs to dining halls. It will all be written by students, so you’ll be able to get an idea of our views on the school and our personalities as your future classmates.
  • Scour our website! Specifically, the web pages of any academic departments and student organizations in which you may be interested. Check out the specializations of professors in those departments. Look at the courses you’ll be taking.
  • Connect with people! Reach out to current students and professors to ask your questions about what it means to be a Barnard woman. Feel free to email me directly ( – I love emailing with prospective students! But also post comments to this blog so we can answer any questions you have.
  • chloe

    That’s me!

    Visit campus! The Office of Admissions offers tours and information sessions every week day at 10:30 AM and 2:30 PM, no registration required. They also offer some weekend tours; you can register for those here. And, if at all possible, come to an Open House! They are a great opportunity to take a tour, observe a class, meet your fellow admitted students, and hear voices from the entire Barnard community. For more info, visit the Admissions website.

With that, I leave you to it. Remember, the hard part is over! You have done the work and Barnard wants you. Now just soak it in and enjoy the process of finding your fit.

(Though I secretly hope you choose Barnard. :) )

Wishing you all the best for happy ponderings,

Chloe Hawkey ’16

New Year’s Resolutions

Molly Forgang ’15 – My new year’s resolution is to go to bed earlier! I had been really good about this my whole college career, that is until Gilmore Girls was released on Netflix. My love for Rory and Lorelai has seriously impeded my ability to go to bed at a decent hour.

Talia Cuddeback '17

Talia Cuddeback ’17

Talia Cuddeback ’17 – My New Year’s resolution is to read for pleasure most nights right before I go to bed, instead of being on my computer.

Marquita Amoah ’16 – A resolution of mine is to make an effort to get to know all the other girls on my floor in the residential hall. Another one is to give myself some more self-care this upcoming semester.

Ellie Williams ’16 – This year I’m aiming to find balance in all aspects of my life because I typically prioritize my academics and various extracurricular obligations. In 2015, my physical, mental, and emotional health will take a bigger priority. I’m even taking a health course in the physical education department.

Marqeaux Miller ‘16 – I’m going to sign up for a Fitbear class for the first time!

Sarah Kim '17

Sarah Kim ’17

Sarah Kim ’17 – My resolutions are: take one or two FitBear classes and stick with it through the whole semester, and get off of campus once a week and explore the city/new places to study.

Rumana Kasime ’17 – In 2015 I want to explore more of New York (i.e. go to more restaurants), and sleep at least six hours a night.

Lauren Lipsyc ’16 – A couple resolutions I have for the upcoming semester are: study in 3 new libraries on campus, and take advantage of the comedy show tickets sold at the Barnard Store in the Diana Center.

Kiana Davis ’17 – My New Year’s resolution is to focus on doing my own personal best

Olivia Watkins ’16 – Get out on my bike to Central Park and the High Line Park at least once a week!

Emilia Naranjo ’17 – I want to try and look at my phone less when out and about on campus and in the city. I feel like I’ve been missing out on things by being so absorbed by it!

Chelsea Hartney ’17 – My New Year’s Resolution is to take more advantage of the great live music scene we have in the city – both on and off campus!

Sarah Esser ’15 – My resolution is to finish out my college career with a bang!

Hye-Jin Yun '15

Hye-Jin Yun ’15

Hye-Jin Yun ’15 – 2015 appeared to be so far away when I entered the Barnard gates back in Fall 2011. There are so many things that I want to do during my last semester at Barnard. I want to meet and connect with more incredible Barnard alumnae; have an awesome time planning for the Global Symposium (to take place at Barnard this year!); and continue to foster meaningful friendships with phenomenally amazing women around me. 2015, here I come!

Reflections on My First Semester at Barnard

Excited to meet one of my favorite actresses of all time, Lauren Graham '88, at her book signing during New Student Operation Program (NSOP).

Excited to meet one of my favorite actresses of all time, Lauren Graham ’88, at her book signing during New Student Orientation Program (NSOP).

When I first stepped through the Barnard gates on a hot and hectic August morning, I was in awe. Taxi cabs swerved through Broadway traffic, throngs of people rushed into subway stations marked with foreign and intimidating destinations and numbers, and blue and white balloons circled my head. They beckoned me onto a campus filled with unfamiliar buildings, people, and acronyms (SEAS, CC, GS, NSOP, SGA . . . the list continued on).

I always had this idea that college first-years easily left their families, homes, and friends behind. I, however, realized that I did not fit into my own self-made college stereotype. For almost two decades of my life, I had happily settled into quiet suburbia. Now I was faced with the commotion of Manhattan and the task of making new friends, finding interesting and meaningful classes, joining clubs, and generally adjusting to a world where I was apart from my family.

Performing in Columbia New Opera Workshop's "Opera Untapped"

Performing in Columbia New Opera Workshop’s “Opera Untapped”

To assuage my insecurities, I threw myself into extracurriculars I thought I could be interested in, hoping to find my place within the melting pot of smart and curious students. During the first few days of classes, I filled out applications for various literary positions and auditioned for essentially every singing group on campus. My first week of school produced few positive results. I should have expected this — after all, I was at Columbia University, where talent was immense and also slightly intimidating.

Fortunately, Barnard is a school which invites a variety of different skills; eventually, I found my way into a few opera groups, where the talent was  inspiring. I sang alongside music majors, piano prodigies, and Julliard extraordinaires. I chatted with Barnard women who wrote and directed their own musicals. I realized how lucky I was to be among such accomplished people, who were equally as friendly and encouraging as they were gifted. At any other small liberal arts college, I knew I would not have had such opportunities. Gradually, Manhattan and Barnard’s imposing facades began to melt away.

Taking a break during Finals Week to ice skate at Bryant Park.

Taking a break during Finals Week to ice skate at Bryant Park.

Interesting discussions, thought-provoking professors, and a zealous political atmosphere constantly kept me excited to be a part of Barnard’s ever-changing community. Meanwhile, throughout my first semester, I focused on forging friendships by finding people who I could really count on. In high school, I was lucky enough to oscillate between a few friend groups based on my interests, forming what I hope will be lifelong friendships. At Barnard, I soon began to understand that I was not going to find my “lifelong” friend group immediately, and that was okay. I am constantly challenging myself  to break out of my comfort zone, to meet a variety of different people, rather than have one confined set of friends. There are so many wonderful people in this college and in this university, and I can’t wait to continue to meet more of them.

Celebrating my friend's birthday with a group of Barnard women.

Celebrating my friend’s birthday with a group of Barnard women.

When I step through the Barnard gates once more in late January, I will admittedly still be a little nervous, but more confident than when I first arrived in the fall. We are in a challenging but also exciting situation in which we are given the chance to create our own responsibilities and values. This task is never going to be easy. But even in this small part of our journey, we have already begun to mature and grow, explore and understand college, Manhattan, and ourselves. What an accomplishment.

-Elizabeth Lee ’18