Back to Barnard
After a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, I’m finally back at Barnard! Of course, Italy was incredible - the history, the Tuscan countryside, the food, the views, the weather, the people - but there were definitely certain aspects of Barnard that I missed and am happy to have back in my life.
Ok, so my campus in Italy was literally a bunch of resort-worthy villas on an olive grove. And yet, I still missed certain aspects of Barnard and Columbia’s campuses. I took the proximity of my dorm room to my classes for granted! In Italy, getting to campus took a good 25 - 40 minutes via public buses, which cost money and were always jam-packed! Now, I leave my dorm 10 minutes before my class and get there early. Aside from the physical campus, it was hard to be away for events such as Homecoming, Big Sub, and Midnight Breakfast. Especially as a part of the McIntosh Activities Council (which plans Big Sub and Midnight Breakfast), getting snapchats of everything going on made me nostalgic. Of course, this nostalgia was balanced with being in Amsterdam or Switzerland instead, but I’m glad to be back for campus events.
What no one tells you about going abroad (by yourself, at least) is that it’s kind of like starting college again. You meet hundreds of new people, new suitemates, new classmates, and new faculty. And let me tell you now, there is no place like Barnard. I found myself missing the diversity of cultures and perspectives at Barnard in such a culturally monotonous place like Italy. I missed the constant debate brought on by everyone’s unique backgrounds and experiences that always occurs in Barnard classes. And I of course missed my friends. Over the course of the semester, I made some good friends abroad, but there’s nothing like coming back to friends you’ve lived with and known for years. Getting back to our weekly John Jay dinner dates has made me feel right at home again. And coming back just in time to participate as a sister in sorority recruitment reminded me of what a large and supportive community I have here.
When you go abroad, you typically have a lot of free time, which is why my Instagram feed was flooded with pictures of my abroad friends going to a different country every weekend. Now, I can’t say that I’m thrilled to not be hopping around a different continent. But, I can say that I missed my extracurriculars like Orchesis - last semester was the longest I’d ever gone without dancing, and it’s so nice to be back to so many dance opportunities at Barnard. And even if I don’t have rehearsal or meetings, I love being able to just go grab food or coffee (that I can take away! This is not a thing in Italy, trust me) and run into friends along the way. Being in a smaller city also made me realize why Europeans thinks New York is so cool: we seriously have everything. Living elsewhere makes you miss the constant opportunities you have in New York, like seeing a show or concert whenever you want, going to practically any store you can think of, being able to buy ice cream at midnight, attending random events that pop up on Facebook, eating any type of food you want, having access to an efficient public transportation system, being able to feel safe at any time of day or night, etc. and so forth.
Overall, going abroad opened my eyes to not only life in another country, but what I perhaps took for granted back home. As they say, there’s no place like home, and Barnard has definitely become my home.
As always, feel free to reach out with comments and questions!
Deena Cohen ‘18