Farewell, Dear Barnard
When I started thinking about this last blog post, my plan was to reflect on my time at Barnard, to somehow sum it up. I thought that if I could make sense of why the last three years meant so much to me, I could tell you something about the essence of Barnard, about what it is that makes this school so special.
But it turns out that I can’t do anything as broad or sweeping as “reflecting on my time here” suggests. I could offer advice and pro-tips—go to office hours for every single class, stay till the end of every exam, figure out what you care about and stick unwaveringly to it, be shameless about spending your weekend nights exactly as you want—but those are just what worked for me. I could ramble on about the inspirational professors and the great dorm conversations I’ve had. But these all feel too abstract and too polished for these crazy three years. So instead I’m going to offer a simple list of the things I’m going to miss most here. This is my last Sunday night on campus, and it has hit me that many of these things, at least in the form I’ve known them, are over. So here we go. These aren’t ranked.
- Weekend mornings in Joe coffee, on the Columbia campus, overlooking the sunny corner of Broadway and 120th Drinking coffee, doing reading for classes. Drinking coffee, writing papers. With my dear roommate, by myself, before or after the gym. There’s something magical about doing work you enjoy on beautiful weekend mornings.
- The suite life. Living with five friends who can talk incessantly about dance classes, ballet shows, feminism, politics, and history. Who have all spent whole nights writing papers in the kitchen, who eat Ben & Jerry’s together at night, and make coffee together in the morning.
- Rallying for 8:40 ballet classes. For five out of the past six semesters, I’ve taken a hard, fast ballet class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and my approach to it has varied. Sometimes, I’d wake up at 6am and translate Latin before class, so that by 8:40, I was ready for a break. Sometimes, I’d roll out of bed at 8:15 and bring my coffee to class. Either way, sitting on the floor before class, dead tired and also excited to dance, chatting with friends and half-heartedly stretching has been an integral part of my life here.
- Late nights in the library, drinking crappy coffee, eating snacks purely for the sake of keeping myself working. Pausing to flip through books on the shelves, just for fun. Doing jumping jacks in the bathroom to stay awake. The sense of solidarity that arises, especially in the Barnard library, when the night has gone on for too long and everyone just wants to go to sleep. This picture was taken around 3:30 am, when I discovered that I was the last one left!
- Midnight provisioning runs to Morton Williams (the grocery store at 115th and Broadway). Buying ice cream and knowing that somehow or another the paper will get written and the translation made.
- Walking across campus in the evenings, when the sky is glowing and the buildings look majestic, with a backpack full of books. Becoming suddenly acutely aware of how lucky I am to be able to study something that I care about around the clock, in such a beautiful place, with constant support and encouragement from friends and classmates and professors and grad students.
Right now, I can’t imagine what my life is going to be without these things—but I’m excited to be able to pass them on to you. I realize that the reason leaving is so hard is because this is the first little life that I’ve ever made for myself; this is the first place in which I’ve been completely responsible for making things work for myself. I know that right now that prospect probably sounds a little terrifying to you all—thrilling, I’m sure, but also scary. But you’re going to be able to do it, one way or another, and it’s going to be amazing.
So on that note, I’m going to take my leave. I’m off to create a new life for myself somewhere else in New York (who knows where?), and you’re going to make your own on campus. Please keep me posted on how that goes, and continue to send your questions my way.