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Diane Kim / Questions First-Years Have

After a semester of studying, working, and partying up here at Morningside Heights, you’re hopefully starting to get the hang of things around campus. It’s still more than natural, however, to nervously stumble over your question in front of your 180-person class, or always find yourself in a 15-person line for pasta at Ferris Booth Commons. To help you start navigating Columbia like the true pro you are, we here at Spectrum have decided to publish answers to a few common first-year queries.


Q: How do you talk to a professor in a 200-person class?

A: If you’re struggling in a class, or just curious about the material, a short conversation with a professor can really clear up tricky concepts, but we understand that it’s intimidating to raise your hand in a large lecture. To interact with your professors in a more intimate setting, we suggest that you attend their office hours. If these hours conflict with another commitment, you can also email them to arrange a separate time to meet. Additionally, most large lectures have TAs whom you can talk to in order to sort out difficult questions.

Q: How do you know what’s in the library and how do you check books out?

A: Between Butler stacks, the smaller libraries scattered around campus, and offsite storage in (you guessed it!) New Jersey, there are several million books in Columbia’s library system. But if you’re a first-year, you might not know how to access all of these resources. No worries. Simply follow this link to the CLIO Quicksearch page to find whatever you’re looking for, and then follow the Butler Stack Guide or ask an attendant at the Circulation Desk to find the killer anthology that you need. If you don’t want to brave the cold to get to a library, you can also try your luck with the CLIO e-book collection.


Q: What are good cheap places to eat around campus?

A: The Broadway Halal carts are a reliably inexpensive (albeit cash-only) option, but if you’re willing to walk a little further from campus, we have a few more suggestions for you. If you’re in the mood for wholesome, delicious, and wallet-friendly Japanese comfort food, go to Go! Go! Curry on 567 W. 125th St. If you don’t mind a bit of a walk and want something hot, spicy, and thoroughly filling, visit Xi’an Famous Foods between 101st and 102nd street at 2675 Broadway. And of course, there’s nothing more quintessentially “New York” than dollar pizza. Get a slice at Koronet Pizza on 2848 Broadway.

Q: What time should you go to a dining hall to beat the rush?

A: The real answer is: Avoid all dining halls from 12 to 1 p.m. or 6 to 7 p.m if you can. According to our admittedly unscientific analysis, average wait times for entrées are much shorter before 11:30 a.m. and after 7:15 p.m. If you have no choice but to eat during peak hours, don’t go to Ferris or Diana.

Q: Is there a central place to donate old things?

A: At the end of the spring semester, EcoReps collect appliances like mini-fridges, fans, and lamps at a donation drive called Give & Go Green. Until then, your best bet is to probably continue religiously recycling and composting and visit the closest Goodwill donation center at 2196 5th Ave. If you have any clothes or housewares that could use a new home, you can also join the Free & For Sale Facebook group at Columbia if you want to give or sell some things to your own peers!

Q: What are the best rooftop views from campus?

A: We’re not going to tell you how to access the roofs. We will say, however, that the Diana rooftop, Milstein balconies, Butler roof, and Milbank greenhouse all have beautiful views and are accessible for exploration.

Staff writer Michelle Zhuang can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

Freshman First-years Questions Academic Lifestyle Tunnels Roof Ferris Cheap Library CLIO
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