Admissions Blog

Before I Graduate, I have to:

By Reena Mensingh '24
Posted Mar 26 2024

Life gets busy, and there’s so much to do. But as I embark on my last semester of graduate school, I thought it might be useful to avoid FOMO and compile a bucket list: before I graduate from SIPA, I have to visit these spots.

Columbia University has been around for a long time.

Back when it was known as King’s College, Columbia University served as the old stomping grounds for founding father, Alexander Hamilton. Before he was the 34th US President, President Dwight Eisenhower was the school’s 13th president. With an advanced particle accelerator in the basement of Pupin Hall, Columbia University is linked to the Manhattan Project. Much later, armed with his undergraduate degree in political science at Columbia, the US gained their 44th President, President Barack Obama. 

It’s easy to focus solely on the Columbia legacies and values that do not align with mine, especially when it comes to foreign affairs. However, this school is also home to some true wonders.

My scholarly hero, Professor Edward W. Said, was a faculty member at Columbia University until 2003. 6 years following his passing, the university honored his legacy with the Edward Said Archival Collection. Professor Said’s personal library and archives can be found in one of Butler Library’s reading rooms, in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. 

I read Professor Said’s work on post-colonialism as an undergraduate student and it was transformative for me. I learned about my own misunderstandings of my heritage and how that can contribute to internalized racism. 

Visiting Professor Said’s Archives to honour his legacy is my first priority. 

Professors Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Rashid Khalidi are also two of my scholarly heroes. I read their work during my undergraduate studies and discovered that they are both professors at Columbia University! I hope to meet them in person at school, pick their brains, and maybe ask for autographs before I graduate. I was so busy re-reading and applying what they’ve written about to my own understanding of politics that I didn’t know they taught here until recently. Learning this was humbling and empowering, and made me feel very grateful to call myself a Columbia student.

It’s cold outside, and inside, depending on the efficiency of your apartment radiator! I don’t know about you but that means I’m far less likely to get those steps in. Well, the first floor of Gottesman Library at Teachers College has got us covered with treadmill desks! That’s definitely a step up (ha-ha) from sit-stand desks!

While doing some research for this blog, I came across a gorgeous library on Tiktok! No, not the one you’re thinking of (Avery!)... Starr Library is similar to Avery and some halls in Butler, but it also has a beautiful stained glass window in the Tibetan Studies Collection. The library is home to collections for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, and East Asian Studies, as well as a section dedicated to Rare Books, Special Collections, and Archives. 

Another discovery during my research is Barnard College’s Arthur Ross Greenhouse, managed by their Department of Biology. The greenhouse is located on the roof of Millbank Hall, with growing spaces for different species of plants in a climate controlled environment. 

I’ve only indulged a few times so far, but along the Broadway entrance to campus walk, you’ll find lots of food trucks. From Tibetan momo dumplings, to Halal carts, and Greek and Mexican foods, there are a broad variety of options to choose from. I’m hoping to try something from each truck before May rolls around. These meal deals are usually under $10. Just remember to come with cash!

Finally, one thing I am really intent on before I graduate from SIPA, is going on an official campus tour. As an international Dual Degree student who also has a knack for going in the wrong direction, I have to say, there is way too much about this campus that I’m only slowly discovering. I found a comprehensive self-guided walking tour for a sunny day. But the university also offers historical and architectural tours of the campus! Maybe I’ll get my bearings around here before graduation, but in the meantime I look forward to discovering more about the campus and checking items off this list!