Monday, July 16, 2012

Beulah Agbabiaka

Hey ILC Family, Everybody tells you that college is really fun and that you should go, but they don't tell you so much about the less-than-fun parts so I want to give you a bit of advice on those parts so that you don't go in expecting what I did, a mix of "High School Musical IV-College Fun" and "Stomp the Yard" [Which if you can't imagine b/c you haven't seen either HSM or Stomp the Yard is literally an insane expectation of Columbia University.] My name is Beulah Agbabiaka and I'll be a sophomore at Columbia University in the fall. I'm so grateful to be there and I really appreciate the experience. There are many facets to Columbia and I got to explore a few this year. I'll start by telling you guys about dorm life. Dorm life is going to be what you make it. Fortunately this year, I got to have a single room as per my request because of my instruments and it was the perfect fit for me! My room was featured on Columbia's blog the Bwog but I didn't (and don't LoL) watch "The Princess and the Frog" as much as it says on the article. I got involved in a ton of extra curriculars and one of them was a pilot program geared towards making dorm life fun and I certainly did my best when I was involved in event planning in the events for my Residence Hall, John Jay, like the Halloween Dance, and the Finals Review Study Sessions where Professors came in to various first-year residence hall lounges to teach abridged lectures for finals prep and we (Residence Hall Leadership Organization/RHLO) provided milk and cookies. While the dynamics of my floor weren't always my favorite and I had to learn how to navigate situations like a gross communal bathroom, micro-aggressions from students on my floor, and extreme homesickness (think crying on the phone to your mom to come and get you right now), I did navigate them and so can you. Don't give up! Facet #2 Stresses of Classes: Stresses of classes can be really intense so managing your time is essential. I'm sure you've been well prepared by your WCCUSD education for rigorous academics, but when you've got 30 pages of college level writing (throw your notions of the 5-paragraph-essay as well as your ego out of the window right now) due on Thursday, it's Tuesday night, and roughly 5 pages are done, you've got a sticky situation on your hands. If you plan your time realistically, which means understanding that almost nothing really takes 30 minutes whether that's laundry or an outline for a paper, you'll be fine. It's so important to remember not to overload your schedule since you have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself--you already made it to a great school that's a good fit for you. Stack your deck for success by taking challenging courses but not more than two extremely rigorous courses per semester if you can help it, try to get GE requirements (for us those requirements are the Core) out of the way early on, and remember to have fun and put your health first. Do your best, ask for extensions if it comes down to it, and keep a study first play later attitude and you'll be successful. Facet #3 change in majors or academic interest: Was a very difficult challenge for me, since I had been telling myself I was a Poli-Sci major born and bred since the 8th grade and I just didn't quite mesh with the Poli-Sci program at Columbia. I was positive that I wasn't going to be the student who changes majors in college, and I was right about not changing from my Jazz Studies Concentration but I had to let Poli-Sci go. I had to come to terms with the fact that learning about myself in college meant that I would learn/explore other interests that I had. I am now a proud African-American studies major with a Political Science focus, and I'm still getting the Poli-Sci I came for but now it's more culturally grounded. I had to learn that it's all right to change majors in college for the right reason and that may be something you all learn as well. Facet #4 student body dynamics: This may be the hardest or the easiest challenge to overcome in college depending on the student. I love to talk and I'm pretty friendly, but it's really hard for me to make new friends so this challenge was harder for me. One thing I had to learn was that not everybody is going to want to be your friend or even know how to talk to you since people come from so many different backgrounds, so it's important to find your niche while being open to the whole of the student body. To find my niche I joined pretty much every club they had :-). Not really, but I did join several: the Double Discovery Center (where I tutored youth from local schools), John Jay RHLO, Students Against Mass Incarceration, the Black Student's Organization, the Black History Month Planning Committee, I took part in the Student's of Color Leadership Retreat, I'm a tour guide for the Undergraduate Recruitment Committee, I'm a member of the Multicultural Recruitment Committee, I took an extra poetry class, I was the bassist for two Jazz Bands, and I played bass for a couple of musicals. After all of those extracurriculars I found my place at Columbia and really started to have fun but it definitely took a while. I had a really hard time adjusting to being so far away from my family, but it was a good experience as were a lot of things I encountered at Columbia--hard to deal with, but very fruitful. I wish every body the best on their college journeys! Beulah Agbabiaka Columbia University 2015

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