Required Reading
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Lula O'Donnell / Columbia Daily Spectator

Congratulations on being accepted to Barnard College! Everyone here at Spectator is so excited for you and, of course, hope that you join us next semester as a member of Barnard’s class of 2023. However, despite the excitement surrounding college acceptance letters, I’m sure many of you still have a lot of unanswered questions and, therefore, are still nervous about choosing a college. To help you all decide if Barnard is the right fit for you, here is a day in my life as a Barnard student. I am currently a Barnard sophomore who is undeclared (even though the major declaration deadline was March 1) and currently on the pre-med track. In addition to pursuing pre-med, I am a ballet dancer and, obviously, a writer for Spectator. So, prepare yourself to get the lowdown of what a typical Monday in my life here at Barnard looks like. Disclaimer: I have been told that my life in particular is extremely busy.


8 a.m.: My alarm begins going off. I am most certainly not a morning person and normal alarms that beep have never worked for me. So, I have an alarm that shakes my entire bed every five minutes. However, I am extremely stubborn and like sleeping so it still takes me a while to actually wake up and get out of bed.

8:30 a.m.: I actually get out of bed and begin to get ready for my day. The first thing I do is check the weather either on my iPhone or by simply looking through the huge windows of my double on the third floor of 600 West 116th St. I get dressed and then I head to the bathroom in my seven-person suite to freshen up. Half the time though, one of my suitemates is taking her normal extremely long shower and I have to use the sink in the kitchen.

8:55 a.m.: Since I live across the street from Barnard and Barnard’s campus is tiny, I run out the door at the very last minute, quickly go down three flights of stairs, walk to Barnard Hall, check my email while waiting for the elevator, and then head on up to my first class located on the third floor of Barnard Hall.

9 a.m.: My first class, Intro to Cell and Molecular Biology class with Professor Jonathan Snow (yes, I have a professor with the same name as a “Game of Thrones” character), begins. It’s an over 200-person lecture class. I normally take notes on my computer because I like to put the pictures from the slides in my notes and am not the quickest handwriter. So, I pull up Google Docs, make a new document, copy the outline posted on CourseWorks, pull up the slides for that day which are also posted on CourseWorks, and then prepare myself to learn more about cellular respiration.

9:50 a.m.: My biology class ends. Since I haven’t had breakfast yet and am pretty hungry, I quickly pack up and run out the door in order to beat the lines in the Diana Center.

9:53 a.m.: I grab my daily breakfast which consists of a small cafe mocha from Liz’s Place and a breakfast sandwich from the Diana Center Café. After grabbing food and coffee, I sit down in Diana and wait for my friends to show up for breakfast.

10:17 a.m.: My friends finally show up. While eating breakfast, we chat about everything from how our week is going to what movie we should watch Friday night. If we have exams the following day, our conversations tend to be pretty short but don’t worry, we have breakfast together two to three times a week so we’re not being as antisocial as you may think.

10:55 a.m.: I pack up my things and head to my next class located in 202 Altschul Hall. If it’s cold or raining, I’ll go to Lower Level 1 of the Diana Center and use the tunnels, which allow students to go across all of Barnard’s campus without going outside, to get to Altschul. Normally I have to wait for all the Organic Chemistry II students to exit out of the classroom. However, once I enter the room, I quickly take my seat, hand in my problem set which is due every Monday at the start of class, and wait for my teacher to figure out the projector which works only about 50 percent of the time.

11 a.m.: My second class of the day, General Chemistry IV with Dr. Jacob Alexander (aka Dr. J), begins. There are about 45 students in the class and the classroom is a huge auditorium style classroom with enough seats for over 200 students. When I started the chemistry track at Barnard, it was difficult to find a seat, but the number of students has dwindled so much that now the classroom looks awkwardly empty. In class, we are currently studying ionic equilibria which is pretty complex so I really have to make sure I’m paying close attention to everything that my teacher is saying. For this class, computers aren’t allowed so I normally print out the lecture slides the day before and annotate them as we go through them in lecture.

11:50 a.m.: Chem IV finishes. I go find one of my friends in the class and we both head up to the fifth floor for Chem IV office hours with Dr. J. A rule of thumb with chemistry especially at Barnard is that you absolutely need to go to office hours. I probably go to five office hours per week just for Chem IV.

1 p.m.: Chem IV office hours end. By this point of the day, my brain is normally pretty tired since two straight hours of chemistry is a lot for me. So, I head back to my dorm room and take a quick 15-minute power nap.

1:30 p.m.: I wake up from my power nap and force myself to start being productive. Normally, I’ll study for French, which entails doing a worksheet or reading a short story. Afterward, I’ll get ready for my ballet classes later that day which means changing into tights and a leotard, putting my hair into a bun, and packing my pointe shoes and other dance necessities.

2:30 p.m.: I leave my dorm room and head to my next class, Intermediate French II with Professor Santos Da Silva, which is located in Diana Center 203. As I walk to class, I see a large group of students basking in the sun on the Barnard lawn and am instantly jealous because I have class until 7 p.m. and by then the sun is going to be down.

2:35 p.m.: I reach Diana and walk into my French classroom. Normally, I’ll talk with some of my friends in the class about how the weekend went.

2:40pm: My French class begins. There are only 11 students in class which means you get a lot of opportunities to practice your French speaking abilities and to ask questions. Every class begins with my teacher having a casual conversation with the entire class about our weekends, the weather, and if there are any events happening in the upcoming week. Today, however, we talked about how the Notre Dame Cathedral was on fire. After that, we jumped straight into reviewing for the upcoming exam.

3:55 p.m.: My French class ends right on time. I pack up as quickly as possible and run to my next class in Barnard Hall.

4 p.m.: I arrive at Barnard Hall and head up to the third floor. I go to the bathroom where I finish getting ready for my next class, which is Ballet IV with Marjorie Folkman. I then head into Studio 305 where I start stretching and warming up while catching up with my friends.

4:10 p.m.: Our professor, Marjorie, walks in so we take out the ballet barres and start class. Every ballet class starts with pliés, then tendus, then dégagés, and we continue to progress to harder things throughout bar ending with grand battements. Afterwards, we take away the barres, get water, stretch for a bit, and then start center with an adagio followed by turns and jumps.

5:25 p.m.: Ballet ends and we all say thank you to Marjorie and the pianist, Robert Boston. I refill my water bottle, grab all of my things, say goodbye to my friends, and then use the secret stairwell that connects Studio 305 to the Barnard Annex to get to my next class.

5:30 p.m.: By the time I arrive at Streng Studio in the Barnard Annex, my teacher for my next dance class, Ashley Tuttle, is already there as well as some of the other students in my Classical Variations class. We simultaneously stretch and put our pointe shoes on while gossiping about anything and everything. Today, we talked about Columbia University Ballet Ensemble’s upcoming production of “Don Quixote.”

5:40 p.m.: The pianist walks in and class begins. Every semester, Ashley teaches us about eight ballet variations, each of which we work on for a couple of classes. We are currently working on the Giselle Act 1 Variation and preparing for Barnard Dance Department’s end of the year showcase. This class is by far one of my favorite classes thus far because we get to learn ballet variations from Ashley who is a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre and actually performed these variations with ABT at the Metropolitan Opera House. We get a lot of invaluable one-on-one time, receive tips and tricks from Ashley that she used when she was dancing the roles, and also get to hear amazing stories about her career as a professional dancer.

6:55 p.m.: Variations ends right on time and, because our feet hurt, we all quickly take off our pointe shoes. I leisurely pack up my things and stretch a little bit more before meeting my roommate for dinner at Ferris Booth Commons. We are supposed to meet at 7 p.m., but both of us are all always late.

7:15 p.m.: I walk over to Ferris and wait for my roommate to arrive.

7:20 p.m.: My roommate arrives and we swipe into Ferris. I head straight for the fountain drink dispenser and get a lemon-lime fizzy water. Since I absolutely love pasta, I then wait in line at the pasta station line to get some whole wheat pasta with mushrooms, artichokes, onions, meatballs, and marinara sauce. Once we all get our food, we head upstairs to eat dinner. We talk about our day and then proceed to look at dog videos on Instagram. After we finish our food, we go get a slice of cheesecake to share.

7:53 p.m.: Once we finish dinner and our desert, we head down to Café East to get some bubble tea. We both get boba so often that it’s fair to say that both of us are addicted. I always get a medium Thai iced tea with boba.

8:00 p.m.: Since I only have an hour before rehearsal for CUBE’s “Don Quixote,” I decide to head back to my dorm room. I try to be productive by reading the background for Biology Lab tomorrow morning and studying for the pre-lab quiz given at the beginning of every class.

8:50 p.m.: I grab my things and head over to Barnard Hall Studio 1 for my rehearsal with CUBE. CUBE is an all-inclusive ballet group on campus that produces a full-length ballet every semester. I am currently preparing to perform the role of Queen of the Dryads in the comedic ballet “Don Quixote.” Once I get there, I put on my pointe shoes and start going over the choreography.

9 p.m.: Rehearsal for CUBE begins. Since the performances are this weekend, we spend our time running and cleaning the dances to make sure the show is ready.

10 p.m.: Rehearsal ends. One of my friends in CUBE and I walk back to the dorms together and I quickly change into normal clothes before heading to Milstein Library for the remainder of the night.

10:12 p.m.: I arrive at Milstein where I meet up with a friend in my Chem IV class. We work on our homework and study for a couple of hours and then I start to write this Spec article while she does her Russian homework.

1 a.m.: I finish up my work and head back to my dorm room. I take a shower, get ready for bed, and my roommate and I procrastinate going to bed by making fun of how awful “Riverdale” is and how particularly cringy the writing is.

2 a.m.: My roommate and I turn off the overhead light and fairy lights. I scroll through the news app on my iphone and then go to bed.

Spectrum staff writer Tian Griffin can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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