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Peer Adviser Posts

September 29, 2015

Life After Study Abroad: 6 Things to Consider
by Jessica Geddes CC'16

Whether, like me, you have returned from Study Abroad and are dealing with re-entry firsthand, or you are considering studying abroad in the future, here are some thoughts on what it’s like returning to Columbia after your travels.  

  1. After studying abroad, you may find that your sense of wanderlust has returned home with you. Don’t fret, because New York City is the perfect place to continue the adventure! After coming back, I’ve found myself being able to see New York City and Columbia University with fresh eyes, and find so much more joy in everyday life here. After spending a semester abroad balancing academics and sightseeing, I am eager to visit new neighborhoods and try new things in the city that I’ve called home the past few years. 
  2. Studying abroad can help you make academic realizations. I know Pre-Meds who have gone abroad and decided to completely change course and quit the Pre-Med track in favor of something in the Humanities. For me, I actually had the opposite experience. I didn’t take any science classes abroad, and I actually missed them! When I returned for the summer, I was ready to fully commit myself to my Pre-Med studies. I also took for the MCAT the summer after my return, and I felt that having the semester abroad actually helped with preparation, because I didn’t feel too burnt out from Spring Finals; instead, I was able to dive right in as soon as I got home. 
  3. The question of “Is it worth it?” will disappear. Before, and even during, my semester abroad, I was often stressed out with planning. Being a Pre-Med Biology major with a concentration in History, I really had to plan out every semester in order to make study abroad possible for me. More than once, I walked out of a meeting with an academic advisor asking myself if it was all going to be worth it, and during my semester abroad it was frustrating trying to work out campus housing from thousands of miles away. But, all these doubts and worries are now a distant memory. 
  4. Everyone will ask how your semester abroad was, but they don’t really want to hear EVERYTHING. I have found it helpful to have a few good anecdotes ready for those moments, and I try to limit my stories in other situations, to avoid being “that” person. Reflecting on your study abroad experience and picking out the important stuff can also be helpful in job interviews, classes, extracurriculars, etc, if you can apply what you’ve learned and the skills you’ve gained while abroad. Of course, everyone has a different experience, but many people find that they’ve become more confidence and mature while studying abroad, and these new attributes can benefit you for years to come. 
  5. Not everyone finds the readjustment period easy, even if you’ve had all of winter or summer break to adjust to life back in the States. This is okay! If you are finding the re-entry process stressful or overwhelming, there are several steps you can take. One is to talk to a friend who has also studied abroad, whether it’s a friend from Columbia or a friend from another school who was part of your study abroad program. Another good option is to go to the Office of Global Programs and meet with one of the Study Abroad Advisors! They always love chatting with students about their experience. 
  6. Your study abroad experience doesn’t have to be over. If you want to stay involved, you can volunteer at the Study Abroad Fair here at Columbia or even plan a trip back to your host country after graduation. If you want to continue the language, find a book in that language and read it for pleasure (crazy I know!) or try an app like Duolingo. Another option is to get off campus and go to a neighborhood like Spanish Harlem or Chinatown to converse in the language…you are you are in NYC after all- take advantage of it!
Thanks for reading and happy Study Abroad to all! 

September 22, 2015

How Healthy Are You?
by Dylan Cooper CC'18

Can you believe it? We’re already about a month deep into our classes, and it feels like the semester is whizzing by. If your schedule at all resembles mine, you’ll know that problem sets are beginning to pile on, labs and weekly quizzes are underway, and midterms are quietly creeping around the corner. Now seems like the perfect time to do a brief wellness check to assure yourself that you’re taking care of the most important thing on this campus – YOU.

Ask yourself these basic 5 questions:

  1. Are you getting enough sleep? Sleep deprivation can lead to a plethora of problems, such as increased risk of fatal diseases, loss of sex drive, and premature aging. Plus, no one wants to be that guy falling asleep in the middle of your Core class seminar. You know what they say: “When sleep is sound, health and happiness abound!”
  2. Are you eating healthy? Check out Columbia’s Guide for Healthier Eating, Barnard’s Well Woman, or reach out to the registered dietitian on campus, Christina Lee, by phone at 212-854-3353, to find a dietary plan that works for you!
  3. Are you feeling stressed out? That’s totally okay! Be sure to know the many resources Columbia has to offer to cope with overwhelming stress and other mental health issues. Ask Alice! is open from 9am-5pm on weekdays, and students are encouraged to call Nightline (212-854-7777) to anonymously and confidentially talk about any problem, large or small, from 10pm-3am. Also, one of the best moves you’ll make at Columbia is following the Stressbusters on Facebook to know how to fully take advantage of Melt Away Mondays, Wind Down Wednesdays, and all they have to offer. See here for a more comprehensive list of mental health resources.
  4. Are you exercising enough? You don’t need to lift, bro, or run a marathon to stay in shape! Grab a buddy and go on a breezy Morningside jog while the weather is still nice, or begin a routine on your own to boost energy and feel better about your body.
  5. Are you happy? A Columbia education may be challenging, but it should not be strictly all work and no play. Speak to friends about which activities they’re involved in, consider signing up for an intramural league before you miss the registration deadline, and don't forget to explore the City. And most importantly, speak to your Peer Advisers! We’re always down for new friends!

Peer Advisers' Tips for First-Years

  1. Professors are friendly- office hours are a good thing.
  2. No one expects you to figure everything out as soon as you get here.
  3. It’s not a competition on who can sleep the least or stress out the most.
  4. You’re not going to be a New Yorker in a day- it’s okay if you get off on the wrong subway stop.
  5. Find your library- try different study spaces.
  6. Student rush tickets and the TIC are good deals.
  7. College is just as much about figure out who you are, what you care about, and what makes you happy as it is about grades or anything else.
  8. Self-advocacy is essential here; use your voice to speak up about what you need.
  9. Everyone is here because they are extraordinary in some way; don’t let little things prevent you from seeing how remarkable your peers are.

Requesting a Tutor

If you are struggling in a course this term, you should make an appointment to speak with your CSA advisor about the resources available. You can also check out our Academic Support page to learn more. 

James H. and Christine Turk Berick Center for Student Advising


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