When you are in grad school, or even in undergrad, it is very easy to get wrapped up in completing your work and studying. Sometimes you even have a part-time, or full-time, job and you barely have time to sleep. However, when you are in an intensive program such as one at TC, it is very important to keep self-care and fun activities in your schedule. My first semester of school I was working and in class and commuting and I mistakenly did not leave a free-day in my schedule. This backfired quickly. I was always tired and it was very hard for me to focus on anything! I decided to join a church choir to get involved in something I enjoyed, but it ended up adding even more stress to my life. Then, at the beginning of this school-year, I decided to go back to something I really enjoyed in college. I decided to search for an a cappella group.

A cappella was my life in college. It was my “fun” time. At least five hours a week I would get together with my girls for rehearsal and sometimes we would hang out even more for performances or just dinner. The experience made me feel like I belonged at my school very quickly and I still maintain the friendships I gained from my group. A cappella is one of those things that is very popular in college but hard to find afterward. Luckily, NYC is a prime location for aspiring performers and so it wasn’t too hard for me to find a few groups that were seeking singers. I sent out an email to each explaining my background and quickly received one back from a more nontraditional group. They rehearsed once a week for two hours, had a slightly older group of people than I was used to, and sometimes they included guitars or other instruments in their songs. I went to audition the following week and the vibe clicked for me.

Rehearsal makes my weeks a little bit longer, as do performances and sometimes hang out outside of practice. But honestly, what I lose in time I gain in clarity. I am in a much better place than I was before I brought singing back into my life. I am making close friends with people who I never would have met beforehand, and I even find myself making time for other things I love, like exercising and reading. School has been much more manageable now that I balance schoolwork with activities outside of school. If you are looking for something to add to your already busy schedule – you don’t have to search as far as I did. The TC classifieds always have information for new groups that are meeting or events that are happening around campus. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a classmate or professor that has been here awhile too – chances are they can pass on some valuable information and resources. Also, don’t hesitate to email me with any questions, any time: cca2124@tc.columbia.edu.

(Caitlin Aymong is a second year student in the School Psychology program at TC.)

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