The Dual BA is mostly known among Trinity students as a vaguely American, slightly cult-like congregation that traverses the arts block in pack formation. As this year’s third-year Dual BA students now descend on Columbia for the second half of the programme, I am here to provide you with an Irish student’s experience of moving to New York City.
After having the comfort of my childhood home for the past two years of college, student accommodation has taken some getting used to, but my flatmates and I are turning it into a home one house plant at a time.
Being a new student and also a third-year, or “junior” as we are called at Columbia, is a strange experience. Despite being an “upperclassman”, I find myself wandering around campus like a lost first-year, while at the same time being already familiar with the administrative and academic aspects of Columbia. We were involved in discussions with our academic advisors throughout our time at Trinity and even had the opportunity to take online summer classes from Columbia.
Nonetheless, we attend orientation events designed for first-year students, which can be frustrating at times, but do always contain small tidbits of necessary information. Opportunities to interact with other students my age have been surprisingly limited thus far, and I am looking forward to getting to know others in the coming weeks.
The Dual BA is mostly known among Trinity students as a vaguely American, slightly cult-like congregation that traverses the arts block in pack formation
The academic side of the Dual BA is something I am as equally apprehensive as I am excited about. The orientation events I have attended so far have included a foreboding number of warnings to “avoid burnout”, and to “focus on your own path without getting intimidated or panicked by others”. I cannot lie, I am now wondering just what I have gotten myself into.
I have heard the words “internship” and “fellowship” more times this week than I have in my entire life, and I haven’t even set foot in a classroom yet. On top of that, I have heard threats of hundreds of pages of reading per class per week, which one student I overheard even likened it to hazing! With significant participation grades for most classes at Columbia, it seems that the days of silently letting the chatty people carry the discussion in tutorials will be over. Which, as an Irish student who often prefers to observe tutorials rather than talk, is quite daunting.
Despite the famously intimidating nature of Columbia classes, I am looking forward to using them as an opportunity to meet and connect with people from all across the Columbia community, something that everyone has been sorely lacking for the past year and a half. All classes from large lectures to tiny seminar groups are scheduled to be live and in-person at Columbia. It seems like a return to a truly immersive classroom experience is just on the horizon.
Although I can barely remember how to conduct myself in a class where I am not just a tiny box on a screen, sitting in my bedroom (or sometimes even my bed itself), I am assuming some kind of muscle memory will kick in and I will manage to refrain from foraging for snacks or looking for my cats mid-lecture.
Moving to a new city, on a new continent, in a completely new and wildly different university is a huge transition, especially for someone like myself who has never lived away from home until now. Doing so amidst a pandemic further complicates this transition. The past 18 months spent sitting in my bedroom have caused me to become a little too comfortable with and dependent on familiar surroundings.
I have heard the words “internship” and “fellowship” more times this week than I have in my entire life
Leaving home has been hard, and sometimes feels like more effort than it is worth. Yet simultaneously the monotony of pandemic life has also rendered me itching for change and excitement again following the difficulty of the past year and a half. Hopefully Columbia will provide just that.