This semester, with students away from campus due to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, many are no longer able to access Columbia’s libraries and other resources in person. The University has made plans to accommodate international students through its Columbia Global Centers, traditionally international research outposts, which now provide an option for students who need a safe, communal working space outside of their homes.
Global Centers are located in Paris, Beijing, Istanbul, Amman, Nairobi, Santiago, and Tunis, with Mumbai and Rio providing virtual support. In addition, Columbia has also partnered with WeWork, a workspace rental service, to provide free Columbia-dedicated workspaces or all-access passes in 65 other cities with a high density of Columbia students.
These Global Centers are open and waiting for students to fill their halls once more, a long-awaited option for international students living abroad this semester. In the past, the centers have partnered with local universities, governmental bodies, NGOs, and companies to provide their students and partners with new experiences in the form of public engagement, education programs, and research projects. Although the spaces were initially opened for seminars and conferences, they’ve now expanded to provide for and accommodate socially distanced study spaces. Each of the centers will also be hosting events for students to meet others from their cities, which may be especially useful for students new to the University.
The Columbia-dedicated WeWork workspaces have been opened in locations with the highest demand: Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore, and London. In these seven cities, a specific floor at a WeWork location has been set aside for Columbia students to collaborate, study, or just hang out 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Alternate plans have been made for students outside of these cities; the Columbia-WeWork partnership is providing students in another 48 cities with all-access passes to any WeWork site that they can use from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. While Columbia students will be sharing these spaces with the general public, it’s still a great option for students who need a change of pace and free unlimited Wi-Fi and printing.
At the various WeWork sites, Columbia students receive a fully paid membership, which allows them access to all of the location’s amenities. If you have a meeting or conference call with others, each site has meeting rooms and calling booths that you can book on their app. The app also provides access to both color and black and white printing completely free of charge—though if you have a lot to print, make sure to check with the staff that there aren’t others waiting to print as well.
If you’re feeling tired, you can always grab a quick coffee at the provided coffee machine, or store food to last you a long day of work in the shared cooling space provided. Additionally, if some of the Columbia-dedicated space facilities are less than optimal, both the University and the company will work to provide the necessary accommodations. For example, in Singapore, students requested for air conditioning to be available past 6 p.m. and it was recently announced that its availability would be extended to 9 p.m.
Staff Writer Swethaa Suresh is currently located in Singapore, and is making good use of the Global Centers for a nice change of pace. She can be contacted at email@example.com. Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.