If I had one piece of advice to share with newly admitted students to Teachers College it would be to live a little! We all know how hard you have worked to get into Teachers College, Columbia University and you will probably want to ace all your classes, but it is also important to remember that you are in New York City, the capital of the world. You will have the chance to meet people from countries you didn’t even know existed and have a different fun activity to do every single day. So striking a healthy balance between work and play is definitely something to strive for while you are here at TC.
When you are stressing about that five-page reflection paper, think about how lucky you are to be here (in an Ivy League university none the less), studying what you love! When you are freaking out because your group project doesn’t seem to move as fast as you want it to, remember that you are surrounded by the most amazingly diverse group of people and everyone marches to the beat of their own drum. Be patient and learn about how others work and how you can be a better team player than before. When you feel like you will pass out from sitting in front of the computer for eight hours straight while you’re trying to bang out that final paper, step back, take a breath and go for a stroll through beautiful Central Park, while you clutch a delicious cup of Joe’s coffee. Look around you, soak it all in, and never forget how blessed you are. Before you know it, grad school will be over and the routine of working full-time will hit you faster than you had ever expected.
I know it seems easier said-than-done but this is something I tell myself every single day that I feel overwhelmed, flustered, or in full-blown panic mode. I pause, go out, and open my eyes to the reality that I’m in. We are privileged to be able to pursue graduate studies in a world where education has become a luxury. We are blessed to have families that support us and are proud of us no matter what, either here in the States or far away at home, where the heart is. We are lucky to make new friends at an age where interpersonal relationships are on the brink of extinction. And for all of this we should be grateful. So better yet, don’t just live a little; live to the fullest!
(Lucia Caumont is an international student from Uruguay. She is currently in the first year of the Master of Arts in Comparative and International Education, with a concentration in anthropology.)