Required Reading
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Sachi Thomsen / Staff Illustrator

Congratulations on being accepted to Columbia University, and welcome to Days on Campus! All of us here at Spectator are so excited to meet you prospective Lions, and we hope that you have a fantastic time over these next couple days. In case you’re wondering what life here at Columbia is really like, without all the special programming, we here at Spectrum have decided to dish out the inside scoop. Here’s what my typical Wednesday looks like as a Columbia College first-year (with an econ major and an unfortunate 8:40 class).

8:00 a.m.

My alarm goes off, and I’m on the 13th floor of John Jay, so there’s plenty of natural light flooding in through my window. Nonetheless I’m still half asleep, so I hit snooze twice.

8:10 a.m.

I finally get out of bed. I’ve prepared my outfit and bag the night before, so I head to the bathroom to freshen up, quickly write myself a to-do list on a Post-it note, and head out.

8:25 a.m.

While waiting for the John Jay elevator (in the mornings it can take a while), I check my watch and do some quick calculations to determine whether I should grab breakfast in Ferris or JJ’s.

It’ll take about three minutes to walk over to Lerner, five to grab food, and another five to speed-walk to Havemeyer. Time will be tight, but *full disclosure* I’m addicted to Ferris’ avocado toast, so it wasn’t really a decision in the first place.

8:30 a.m.

I swipe into Ferris, fill my travel mug with coffee, grab a nice thick slice of rye, smear it with guac, top it with a hearty serving of bacon and sun-dried tomatoes, and dash out the door. What’s nice about having an 8:40 in an auditorium-style lecture hall is that I can always enjoy my breakfast in class.

8:39 a.m.

By the time I arrive, my professor is already standing at the front counting down the seconds to class. I quickly unpack, take out my iPad, and download the lecture slides from CourseWorks into Notability. For the first half of the semester, I tried taking notes by hand, but I wasn’t able to copy down everything, so I’ve since taken to supplementing the posted slides and recording lectures, so I can relisten to the audio for any concept I’m unsure about. The class is on the Cagan Model. I’m pretty tired and almost fall asleep at one point, so it’s good that I have a full pint of coffee on me.

9:55 a.m.

Class dismissed. I have Calculus 3 at 10:10 a.m., so I head directly to Mathematics, which is conveniently right next to Havemeyer, the building that my Intermediate Macroeconomics class is in. While having back-to-back morning classes can be a little brutal sometimes, I like my schedule, because it means I have most of the afternoon and evening to myself.

11:30 a.m.

I got out of calculus at 11:25, and Dodge, Colombia’s perpetually overpacked gymnasium, is about a two-minute walk from the math building. I haven’t been good about getting workouts in lately, so I’ve resorted to wearing gym clothes to my morning classes. Today was supposed to be a HIIT day, but I’m still recovering from a cold, so I resort to a three-mile jog on the indoor track. David, a good friend of mine, also likes to run after morning classes, so we work out together. We try to talk, but he’s a good bit faster than me, so I end up responding with grunts and one-word responses.

12:15 p.m.

We’re done with our run, and since Dodge is always kind of muggy, I’m drenched in sweat. I head back to John Jay to shower.

1:00 p.m.

Time for lunch! Since it’s Wednesday, Ferris has grilled cheese. Luckily lines aren’t that long, because we’ve evaded the noontime rush. My friend from SEAS introduces me to a few of her friends. Bacchanal is the upcoming weekend so we chat about our plans for the weekend and the headliners for the event.

2:00 p.m.

I’m cramming for my reading for Lit Hum at 4 p.m. and because my class is held in Pupin, the physics building, I head to Joe Coffee in NoCo, which is right next door to Pupin. Joe’s is the best coffee at Columbia, period. A mocha (my drink of choice) sets me back about $7 though, so I try not to go too frequently.

4:00 p.m.

What was meant to be a 10-minute study break turned into a half hour, so I’ve only gotten through about two-thirds of my reading. I skim the rest and head to Lit Hum, resolving to delete Reddit from my phone after class. Of course I forget.

4:10 p.m.

Class begins. We’re talking about how Satan is portrayed in the epic poem “Paradise Lost” compared to God, and I leave class resolutely on team Satan.

6:10 p.m.

I have a stock pitch for Smart Women Securities, an all-female finance club, at 8 p.m., but I need to rehearse with my group beforehand. I quickly change into a blazer, slacks, and pumps, and head over to Barnard to meet up with my group to edit our slides. The company that we’re presenting for this pitch is Shake Shack, so I want to make sure to do them justice.

8:00 p.m.

We walk over from Milstein to Milbank for the pitch, and I spend 15 minutes trying to make conversation with J.P. Morgan analysts. Other than that, the pitch goes well.

8:55 p.m.

Time to hit the books! I hurry back to my room, change into pajamas, and do half of my University Writing exercise for tomorrow.

10:00 p.m.

I call a client for the consulting company I work for.

11:30 p.m.

I wrap up the call and return to UWriting.

11:47 p.m.

Crap! I forgot to scan my stats problem set, which is due at 11:59 p.m. I remember Butler has scanners and run over. Thankfully, there’s no one in line so I’m able to scan in time. I turn in my problem set at 11:58 p.m.

12:05 a.m.

I return to John Jay, and get out my bed desk, finishing up my UWriting exercise from my twin XL bed.

12:45 a.m.

My friend on the 10th floor texts me. She tells me to come down to JJ’s, where she is with our other two mutual friends. Even though I should probably go to bed, I’m also pretty hungry, and it is right below me. I head down.

12:50 a.m.

JJ’s is usually pretty packed between 10 p.m. and midnight, but now that it’s near 1 a.m., the crowds are thinning out. I order a classic American midnight breakfast: two chocolate chip pancakes with over-easy eggs over toast.

1:00 a.m.

I get my food. We chat for a bit and watch an episode of “The Resident.”

2:00 a.m.

We head back up, and say goodbye for the night. I do my nightly routine and turn off the lights, ready to do it all again tomorrow morning!

If you are a newly accepted student and want to learn more about the Columbia/Barnard experience before you arrive in August, keep up with us through Required Reading! Required Reading is your crash course guide to Columbia that gives you a glimpse of what it’s like to be a student here, teaches you to live your best college life, and helps you make a decision on whether this is the place for you. Sign up here for tips, hacks, and answers to all your questions throughout the summer.

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

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