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

Finals Are Upon Us

Chloe Hawkey '16

Chloe Hawkey ’16

Well, folks, this is it: classes are done, and finals are upon us. Since finals in college are an entirely different business than finals in high school, let me describe it for you. Picture the amount of stress you felt right before taking the SAT. Now, extend that into a solid two-week period, and add the dizzy-tired you feel when you’re jet-lagged, and the pressure to impress professors that you seriously idolize. There you have my life right now: 2 exams (Latin and Romantic Poetry), 4 papers (Sociolinguistics, American Lit, Latin, and Cold War history), and a mock conference (Cold War again). A struggle, I admit.

Now, this may sound rather dark (and, indeed, with it getting dark at 4.30 in the afternoon and snowing, it is). But, Barnard isn’t about to leave us out in the cold, literally or metaphorically. It’s really remarkable the way the campus pulls together during finals; not only does it show how dedicated the students are to their education, but it shows how thoughtful and kind they are.

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, on the last day of the reading period (i.e. the night before the first day of finals), Barnard serves us all tons of food in the gym for “Midnight Breakfast.” It may start with waffles and eggs, but it very quickly turns into a banana split-loud music-and-goofy hysteria party. That’s tomorrow night.

But since the stress starts well before exams do, there are a whole bunch of study breaks all this week: free coffee, various snacks, “Stressbuster” back rubs, a capella performances. It’s really quite nice—and (in terms of caffeine and chocolate) very much needed.

You may have noticed that I’m in an exceedingly good mood for someone who is basically running into a brick wall over and over again—and you’re right. I am! It’s because a student here (the artistic director of Columbia University Ballet Ensemble, one of the student-run dance groups) just gave a spontaneous ballet class for anyone who wanted to take it. And it was a very good class indeed.

To me, this is what makes this school absolutely incredible. We all go to class all day, spend hours upon hours in the library and behind laptops and textbooks, and then we can drop everything to do something we all love. Faculty and administrators are wonderful about doing everything they can to help us out, but in the end, it’s often the talented and passionate (sorry—so cliché, but so true!) students that make it happen.

And with that, it’s back to it: Rereading twenty Horace poems and reading 200 pages of Moby Dick—I can do that in one night, right?I’m in awe.

With all best, cheerful wishes for a not-too-stressful pre-holiday season,

Chloe Hawkey ’16

Gearing Up for Finals

keep-calm-and-study-for-finals-3They’re here. FINALS. Whether you are a first-year or a senior, finals can be the most difficult time of the semester. In most classes, finals account for a large percentage of your overall grade. I have come up a few tips that will prepare you for finals once you’re here at Barnard:

We have a Reading Week, which begins after the last day of classes, always a Monday, and lasts up to the first day of finals, always a Friday. Your final exam schedule depends on your class schedule, so you will not always have a final every day. Before Reading Week starts, you should look at your final exam schedule to make sure you don’t have two or more exams at the same time or have an exam hardship (three exams in a 24 time period or four exams in a 24 time period). If you have either of those issues, you will have to go to the Registrar’s Office to reschedule your exams.

Find a place to study: Spots in library filled up rapidly during finals week. It’s butler_interiora good idea to figure out where you’re going to study in advance. When I can’t find a seat in the library, I usually find an empty classroom to study in, which can help you because that’d be the environment you’ll take your exams in and that can help you remember the materials you studied when you’re taking the exam. My other favorite study spots include (alternatives to campus libraries): the Hungarian Pastry Shop, 6th floor of the Diana Center (aka the Green Room), and, the New York Public Library in Midtown.

Create a study schedule and gather study materials: Depending on you exam schedule and levels of difficulty of classes, you should plan what topics you will study on each day and how much time you are going to study for each class. Organize your notes, highlight important concepts in textbooks and ask your professors any last minute questions about the material and/or exam (professors usually hold extra office hours during reading week).

Study in groups (or in pairs): I was against study groups in high school as I found them distractive and unproductive. But it has become a very important component of studying once I started college. Study groups are very effective, as you can ask your peers for clarification of concepts, and often times they help you come up with unique ways to remember things. Plus, it is very assuring to know you’re all in it together.xcgKL75zi

Most importantly, eat well and sleep: Even though finals week is the most stressful time of the semester, it is very important to make sure you eat and week. During Reading Week, there are multiple study breaks hosted by student organizations. Close your books/laptops for a few minutes and go to one. They often have tasty (and healthy) snacks, and it’s good to give your brain a break. And always remember that no matter how much you study, you won’t perform to your best abilities on exams if you don’t sleep. So please make sure you sleep!

Just stay calm and focused, and pace yourself. You will get through finals!

-Sarah Kim ’17

Sarah Kim

Sarah Kim ’17

Thanksgiving Plans

With so many Barnard students hailing from all over the country and the world, we asked a few of them what they had planned for this Thanksgiving….


Danah Screen ’15

Danah Screen ’15

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, followed by New Year’s Eve. It’s the time of the year when my grandmother whips out her secret recipes and I’m given the job of stirring the vat of deliciousness, but I have zero complaints. My little cousins are zipping around faster than the human eye can see. The men have an eggnog competition and the women catch up on the things that they love. I know for a fact that it is on this day that I laugh the most and I am probably at my happiest. I am a young woman who is very family-oriented and being with family, well there is no comparison.

This year for Thanksgiving I’ll be going upstate to Goshen, NY to my grandmother’s house. This has been the tradition for the last couple of years, but I love it because up there it is about 85% trees and 15% modern civilization (I have no idea if these percentages are accurate, but they are accurate in my heart). Though I am “techie” and I love to tinker with metal and dabble in the sciences, my favorite place is outdoors. Up there we have had a baby otter swim in the pool with us, does (female deer) walk up to the windows, and various birds make their homes on the roof. I love it. For me, it feels how Thanksgiving should be: super cold outside, but cozy on the inside with laughter to be heard from miles away and each year we pick a different movie for the family to watch together after we eat such as The Hunger Games. What has me even more excited for this year is that I will probably be bringing a friend with me to experience what the Screen family is all about. My friend, a fellow Barnard senior, is an international student and for her to travel home would be a 25-hour flight. This limits her choices on what she can do during this extended weekend. She is also my suitemate and I know that she originally planned to spend her break alone in the suite (the other members of my suite are from the USA and are travelling back home to their families). So this year, she will be coming upstate with me to have Thanksgiving with my family and learn where I get my charisma and energy from. I am really excited and seeing that this is my last Thanksgiving as a Barnard student, I don’t think I could have made it a better one.

Julia Qian ’15

Barnard way

Julia Qian ’15 (third from the left)

Hello hello, Happy Thanksgiving :)I am Julia and I am an international student from China. In the midst of busy celebration, I want to set aside some time to share the excitement and joy of the holiday with you. As a senior, I have spent each break very differently because there are millions of things to do on campus and in NYC. You will soon discover, as Barnard students, we not only take our school work seriously, but breaks as well. :)
On Tuesday night, I am going to a Thanksgiving dinner with my bible study group. It is a free dinner celebration hosted by several religious groups at Columbia. On Wednesday, I am going to watch Interstellar with my friend, who is graduating from Columbia College early, so I want to spend as much time with her as possible before she leaves. Thursday will be a busy day for me. My host family from California is flying to New York for a family reunion. I am invited to their family brunch at 11am. I have known them since my first visit to the States when I was 15, so they are basically my second family. Then in the afternoon, I will try to swing by Harvard club where my Barnard alumna mentor is hosting a Thanksgiving lunch. She is truly my New York mom who has been taking care of me over breaks and mentored me every step along the way. That night, I am visiting my friend Pascale at Long Island. We met in French class the first semester after I transferred to Barnard and we have been friends ever since. I am excited about her mom’s rice and beans, and Pascale promised me that she will make my favorite pumpkin pie with handmade whip-cream. Yum! I might hit the mall on Saturday to shop for some gifts for my parents that I could bring back home over winter break. Sometime during this break, I will somehow magically manage to finish my thesis proposal (life of a senior) and catch up with meetings. Phew… that is a brief overview of my Thanksgiving break. If my Thanksgiving plan sounds exciting to you, I can only tell you that college life is ten times more exciting and fulfilling. Can’t wait to share these experiences with you!

Millie bear hug,



Triana Kalmanoff ’15

Triana Kalmanoff '15

Triana Kalmanoff ’15

I’m from California, and it’s a bit to far to fly home and back for such a short break– particularly with finals looming in the not-distant-enough future–so I’m staying on campus for Thanksgiving. This year I’m continuing a tradition I started three years ago. A bunch of my friends who are also staying in NYC for the holiday will be spending it in my Barnard dorm. We combine resources and buy all our groceries on Wednesday, and then spend all day Thursday making a full-on traditional Thanksgiving meal. In the past two years we’ve made a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, gravy, squash, and pumpkin and apple pies! We then proceed to eat our meal for the entirety of that weekend. While in the past, our guest-list has included friends from out of town, this year I will be joined by my high school friends: a student at NYU, a student at Circle in the Square Theater Conservatory, and two friends who work as artists in Brooklyn. While most of us were used to Thanksgiving at home, “Friendsgiving” has become a new tradition for us. Home is where the pie is, so this year we will be spending it with loved ones and good food. What could be better?

Mamma Yaa Buckman ’15

Maame Yaa Buckman '15

Maame Yaa Buckman ’15

This thanksgiving I’m headed to Dallas, Texas, to spend the holiday with my mom’s friend and her lovely family. Within the Ghanaian culture, the notion of family extends to anyone with any remote connections to members of a family. So I’m excited to spend this holiday with my new family in Texas and my brother who’ll be celebrating his first Thanksgiving! I do not have any specific plans about places to see whilst I’m there but it should be lots of fun! I spent my first two Thanksgivings with one of my best friends from Ghana at her aunt and uncle’s home in New Jersey. They always laid out an amazing spread. Last Thanksgiving, I studied abroad in Copenhagen and the program wanted to ensure the “Americans students” did not feel left out so they organized Thanksgiving celebrations with a turkey. This year is definitely tied with an adventure as Dallas is a new city and it’s my first Thanksgiving with an American family! The thought of how quick people are to open their homes and hearts always fills my heart with gratitude.

Shezza Dallal ’16

On the last Thursday of November, a holiday titled “Thanksgiving” falls upon the whole of the United States. Campuses, workplaces, and dormitories are left virtually empty, Instagram feeds are inundated with photographs of piles of Turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pies, and everyone is suddenly overwhelmed by thankfulness for their families, friends, loved ones at large, and general circumstances. When you’re an international student, this might not come naturally to you; in fact, you’ll most probably spend a full month trying to figure out how you’re going to navigate this holiday when your home is by no means close enough to travel to for a total of 4 days, you lack a history of practicing the giving of thanks en masse on a random day in November, and don’t have a large and generously supplied kitchen to test making your own Turkey if all else fails.

Shezza Dallal '16

Shezza Dallal ’16

My first Thanksgiving at Barnard, I was lucky enough to find a home in my uncle and aunt’s house in Connecticut. So, while everyone shuffled home to see their parents, I set off on the Metro North train to my relatives’ lovely house in Wilton, Connecticut. I’d successfully figured out what to do with myself, but Thanksgiving still didn’t come naturally. My maternal grandmother was American and she had always capitalized on this holiday—insisting that, despite all the stress cooking for two (sometimes three) days caused her—this was a duty of hers. This tradition came to a sweet end in my middle school years, and I had since somewhat forgotten what Thanksgiving was supposed to look like. It didn’t take long for me to feel a renewed sense of victory in the “Navigating US Customs and Holidays” game I was playing with myself.

Here’s the secret: like most holidays, it’s primarily about the Gravy, followed by the turkey, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and family. If you know how to quickly put yourself into a food coma and enjoy it, you’re set. You don’t need to go all the way home to get that type of experience and you don’t have to be a die-hard American patriot to enjoy some pie. I found relatives who were happy to spoil me for the weekend and, my sophomore year, I brought another international friend, who didn’t have that same luxury, home to my relatives’ house as well. Some friends took advantage of empty dorms to invite their High School friends over for the weekend and explore NYC in peace, and some took advantage of the extra time to start studying for finals. You can’t miss what you never had but there’s no harm in trying it out either.

Course Selection at Barnard

Hello, everyone, and happy November! (If I sound bizarrely cheerful for being in the midst of an onslaught of research papers and Latin quizzes, I assure you, it is the four free coffee refills I just had.)

IMG_1516I’m at the Hungarian Pastry Shop—something of a Columbia institution—trying  to read Lincoln speeches and pull together research on the New York intellectuals in the Cold War, but I thought I’d take a break to tell you a little about course selection. “Program filing,” as it is called, only takes a few days to accomplish, but it carries a lot of weight, as I’m sure you can imagine. The basic protocol is this: at the end of each semester you choose classes for the following semester, and you sign up for them at your allotted time. Then you meet with your advisor to confirm that your choices are responsible and logical, and—ta da!—you have a tentative schedule. Once classes start the next semester, you have another window to add or drop classes once you see what they’re like, and then you meet with your advisor once again to finalize everything. It is delightfully flexible, and though it can be stressful, you can always find a schedule that works for you.

banner1I know that was a lot of information in one go, so let me expand. (This is where it will become blatantly obvious how much of a nerd I am, because I get SO EXCITED when we get to pick out new classes…) All of the classes, at Barnard and Columbia alike, are published online in the CU Course Directory. The listings include professors, days and times, prerequisites, and often short summaries of the syllabi. It is then up to each student to sort through the classes and select ones that are both exciting and useful for her course of study (i.e. fulfills requirements for our major or minor or for the distribution requirements—the “nine ways of knowing”). Of course, we also can take electives just because they fascinate us; not every course need do something for your graduation requirements. ‘Tis the beauty of our liberal arts education!

IMG_2804We then enter the call numbers from the directory into eBear, our student website, and slowly a schedule comes together. Often it takes quite a few tries to find courses that fit into your schedule and have enough room in them. That said, if you have a plan-B program filed in November, you can go to classes from your plan-3A schedule in January and talk to professors, and very often you can get into even full classes.

IMG_4190So, for example…me. I have been just about drowning in extra classes this fall (they were just so interesting, the profs so wonderful—I couldn’t say no!). I have decided to go a bit lighter next semester so that I can actually enjoy the glories of being in class. If all goes according to plan, I will take a research seminar with Eric Foner (did you read his American history textbook in high school?), another seminar with Adam Kirsch (have your seen that name in the New York Times or the New Republic?), and a Virgilian poetry class (oh, yes)—and then three or four ballet classes. The first course is for my major—History—but also because there is no one with whom I’d rather learn how to research than Eric Foner. The last one is for my minor in Latin. But the Kirsch seminar on David Foster Wallace and all five days a week on dancing are purely for fun. And this sort of intellectual exploration (that word is too cold… Intellectual revelry!) is not only accepted, but highly encouraged.

This, my friends, it a pretty sweet gig we have going here.


Chloe Hawkey ’16

If you have any questions, even vague and confused ones, about course selection, courses themselves, professors, history, Latin, literature, please let me know! You can email me at

My Internship in the City (Part 1)

Leah Sodowick '16

Leah Sodowick ’16

With over 2,500 internships available to Barnard students, choosing the best opportunities and then navigating the world of cover-letter writing, applications, and interviews can seem like a daunting task. With the help of the Barnard Career Development office, my adviser, and older students, the process of finding a summer internship became a lot easier.

As a psychology major, I was interested in finding either a research assistant position or a more clinical experience. I love working with kids, so I searched for research projects focusing on children’s psychology — such as NYU’s Child Study Center — and work at various children’s hospitals and clinics. After weeks searching for the internship that best suited my interests and goals, I had a few options to choose from: working at a toddler cognition lab, assisting a group psychotherapy program at St. Luke’s Hospital, and interning in the Psychiatric Inpatient Unit at Bellevue Hospital.

Image by Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times

Image by Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times

I am excited to say that I chose Bellevue Hospital! I chose this opportunity because I knew that working with a team of psychologists, social workers, nurses, and psychiatrists would help me learn multiple perspectives and better realize my own career interests for the future. Additionally, I felt that the internship program at Bellevue would provide the most fulfilling, hands-on experience. Working with patients, shadowing professionals, leading fun group activities, and gathering intake and follow-up information for patients were all attractive features of the program. I am so excited for the summer to begin so that I can get my feet wet in a professional setting!

Below are some helpful tips that I discovered while looking for my internship in New York City:

  1. Check out the Career Development Office: Before you start your search, set up an appointment with an adviser at the Career Development Office! They have tons of resources and opportunities that you may not be able to find through a quick internet search. At the beginning of my search I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and lost, but Career Development was able to narrow my search, find internship opportunities based on my academic interests and personality, and guide me through the cover-letter/resume writing process. Career Development’s web page has a lot of useful information as well, and don’t forget you can always meet with a peer counselor in the office to have your application reviewed.
  2. Meet with your academic adviser: Your adviser is another great resource for advice and information about internship and research opportunities in your field of interest. Oftentimes, professors will know of colleagues who are looking to higher an undergraduate intern or connect you with their past advisees who have had positive experiences.
  3. Don’t be afraid to follow up with employers and professors: As someone who was interested in working in a psychology lab as a research assistant, I had to send many e-mails to professors and Lab Managers to inquire about available positions and application materials. Do not get frustrated if you do not hear back right away. Sometimes it takes employers a few weeks to respond. Patience is key. If you do not hear back within a few weeks, it never hurts to send a follow up e-mail or call.
  4. Talk to older students: I learned about my summer internship at Bellevue Hospital through my friend, Jasmine. Talking to fellow students about their past internships is a great way to hear about their unique experiences and even get the contact information for their previous employers. Maybe they will even put in a good word for you!
  5. Consider unpaid internships: Earning money over the summer is certainly ideal and, for some, a necessity. But don’t stay away from unpaid internships. Oftentimes you can receive academic credit for your work, and Barnard Career Development even offers funding opportunities specifically for the purpose of allowing students to take advantage of unpaid positions. Additionally, the experience of interning itself is extremely valuable. Learning new skills, working amongst professionals who can write you letters of recommendation in the future, and discovering your interests for possible careers are truly priceless.  Don’t forget, if you need to earn money in order to afford to live in NYC over the summer (like myself!), you can always find great babysitting jobs and weekend jobs to supplement.


Leah Sodowick ’16