Senior Wisdom: Lia Friedman

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Lia Friedman

Lia Friedman

The wisdom just never ends: this time, on the morning of CC Class Day your CC valedictorian coaches you on all things Upper West Side.

Name, Hometown, School: Lia Friedman, Upper West Side, Columbia College

Claim to fame: If you knew my name before this April, you’ve probably gotten emails from me about worm bin composting. Before one of my closest friends and I met, our mutual friend would tell her stories about our CC class in which she referred to me as “the feminist.” That epithet flatters me.

Where are you going? I have no concrete plans! I’m headed to San Francisco in the fall to couch surf with extended family and see what opportunities present.

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  • 1. Interests aren’t the same thing as personality. The age of facebook profiles and extracurricular activity fairs encourages us to assess our compatibility on paper/screen, but academic interests, favorite bands, and shared causes don’t necessarily provide the common ground we might expect.
  • 2. You can trust your friends with a lot of things, but when it comes to classes or extracurriculars, go with what you enjoy. Recommendations from others can only get you so far. One of the most important things I’ve learned anywhere, not just at Columbia, is to completely trust my own reactions and preferences.
  • 3. Russian.

Back in my day…Well, I’ve lived in this neighborhood for almost 23 years, and I grew up playing hide-and-seek on the Columbia campus and swimming in the fountains on Low. Back in my day, you got your groceries at UFM or Mama Joy’s. West Side Market was a quarter of its current size, did not have the fabulous disco soundtrack or “Fresh Meat!” sign, and it shared the block with Columbia Bagels. Metrocards cost $1.50, the 9 train still existed and the 3 trains were red, not silver.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I was born on a toilet across the street from Columbia. My dad skipped his daily espresso to catch me. I’m still trying to make it up to him.

Write a CU Admirers post to anyone or anything at Columbia: Columbia Facilities in charge of landscaping: you put in so much work to make campus beautiful year-round. Every time I walk around campus, I notice the minute changes in the hedges and appreciate the hard work that goes into upkeep of all this land. When I worked alongside Facilities on the community garden a few years ago, I was so impressed with their knowledgeability and friendliness (especially Mr. Rivera’s).

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? “How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?” — Charles de Gaulle, 1962

One thing to do before graduating: Do something unrequired. Go to a class you’re not enrolled in, or a lecture series that sounds interesting. Don’t pigeonhole yourself academically—I majored in Russian, but I spent a summer working in a geochemistry lab for a professor I had my first year. It’s just as important to figure out what you don’t want to do long-term, and it’s a lot of fun along the way (although sometimes it involves crushing rocks alone in a basement lab). Also, you can always get a table and good beer at Amsterdam Tavern. You’re welcome.

Any regrets? Tons. None major.

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  1. WZ  

    Я люблю тебя!
    Je t'aime!
    Ich liebe dich!
    I love you!

    Enjoy life. Have fun. And keep in touch :) (I still have your Russian textbook)

  2. Axel

    I'd give up cheese with you anytime, Lia. All 246 varieties of it.

  3. New Yorker

    3 trains were never red (at least not since the mid-eighties). The redbirds ran on the 2 till 2000-something, but the 3 has had the same cars since ~1985.

  4. lia

    @New Yorker: Thanks for the correction! You're totally right.

    • Anonymous

      Haha, you're welcome. I feel like kind of a dick now for pointing out something so trivial -- more importantly, you seem like an awesome person, too bad I've never had the pleasure of meeting you!

  5. Эван  

    обожаю тебя))) я очень рад, что мы знакомились.

  6. Conscience of Columbia

    The valedictorian of Columbia College is going to move to San Francisco to "couch surf"?

    Typical Millennial.

    You should be working at a bank or going to law school.

    "Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brain." - Winston Churchill.


  7. A guy.

    I think I'm in love with this girl.

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