Senior Wisdom: Zak Dychtwald

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Bwog heard some prospies on the steps today debating the comparative merits of oral sex versus cheese. This means one thing—time for the annual handing down of wisdom. Senior wisdoms are back. We’re starting off with Bwog Weather‘s own, Zak Dychtwald. Nominate wise elders by emailing [email protected] with their name and a short note of recommendation. 

Name, Hometown, School: Zak Dychtwald, Orinda, California, CC.  English Lit major, Business concentration

Claim to Fame: Co-founded Columbia CHEATSHEET, co-everythinged BwogWeather with the fabulous Patrick Blute, and have been known to hustle 1st years on the pool tables in Hartley between classes.  I’ve never been to Baker field and could only ballpark (!) where it is.  I also first appeared on Bweather drunk, nude, and with a mustache.  That has sort of haunted me.

Where are you going: I’m moving to China.  Suzhou, Jiangsu, China.  It’s a small town (10 million) about 45 minutes west of Shanghai.  I’ll be teaching ESL to 8 year olds and writing for a publication on the side for the first little run, then after I’m not too sure.  It’s a one-way ticket sort of deal so I’ve got plenty of incentive to work it out.

But I’ll be in Berkeley this summer so get at me if you’re around!

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  1. Advisors do, in fact, give a shit. Also, professors aren’t toxic and need not be approached with caution.  Some of them even pick up the tab.
  2. Identifying with a 1st century philosopher king type is beyond possible.  Actually living up to that identification is, too, probably beyond possible, though in a much different sense.  Here’s lookin’ at you, Marcus Aurelius.
  3. There is never a good enough reason not to go abroad.  Unless there is, in which case consider a major change.  I really can’t say enough about this.

“Back in my day…” 1st years were freshmen and I didn’t know enough about gender studies to take issue.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I can’t, really.  I love my family and I get by with the help of my friends.  Once I won a rap battle against a drug dealer at Sarah Lawrence.

Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? The War on Fun never existed.  It’s a sort of blame fantasy we created.  I try to think of it as the War on Work, and I’m proud to say that after three and a half years I have finally taken the high ground.

My war is more often about small reclamations, victories of tiny, tiny increments.  I make an effort to slide down the railings from Butler 3 to 2 as often as possible.  It’s a symbolic gesture.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? “I will say that one instance of eating cheese has never made me as happy as one instance of oral sex,” opined my friend Henry.

I agree, Henry, but you’ve got to consider the sum total of happiness incurred by all of the instances of either oral sex or cheese.  I wrote out an equation before but that seemed overkill.  My conclusion based on this methodology: I’d give up oral sex.

“But both make good Chanukah presents,” my friend Jake pointed out.  Good point, Jake.

 Advice for the class of 2016? 

  • Do things.  The happiest I’ve been at Columbia has been when I’m doing things unrelated to school.  Oddly, they’ve also been the times when I’m getting the most from my classes.  That verges on being a life lesson.
  • Join a discussion group unrelated to your classes that talks about real and personal things. I’m not sure I’ve ever been or will ever be in a more concentrated space of interesting people, so it seems only natural to try to engage with them in meaningful ways.  These groups rest in the grey area between our uptight school lives and our informal social lives, and, for me, have provided some of the biggest “ah hah!” moments I’ve had since being here.
  • Get a bike.
  • Find your own way to be happy here.  That’s hard. I’ve seen a lot of people lose it over the years, myself included to a certain extent.  One doesn’t really happen upon happiness at Columbia.  You generally have to actively seek it out.  It’s around, though, don’t sweat it.
  • Too real?  My b.  Go to 1020, then, and play darts with a Hungarian dude named Yuri and say you’re friends with Zak.  Done.

Any regrets? I regret having to grow up and be here at the same time.  It’s tough trying to be angsty, drink, make friends, work, and commit heinous social missteps while taking advantage of all of the class offerings and opportunities at Columbia.  And there are a lot.  It took me until senior year to be smart enough and mature enough (not mature, mature enough) to appreciate all of the crazy stuff going on at this school.

Also, not playing more basketball.

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  1. heh  

    I met Zack freshman year and he still says hi to me even though we haven't really spoken/hung out since. This - one of the better senior wisdoms I've ever read - confirms what a cool dude he is (he gives credit to his friends for his oral sex / cheese bon mots! - si humble! si charmante! He actually imparts, you know, wisdom!) Basically, what I'm saying is: good for you, ZD. Sorry that I was drunk when I wrote this.

  2. Anonymous  

    failed because it never happened... though we tried! sad to see you go zak. sad we didn't hung out more. but happy that we've managed to exchange a word or two every now and then.
    truly the best way to start senior wisdom. well deserved. rock on and good luck with... everything? !!

  3. kinda  

    secretly been in love with this kid, but was expecting more from his wisdom.

  4. ok?  

    "Once I won a rap battle against a drug dealer"


  5. Anonymous  

    And the campus breathes a sigh of relief as Senior Wisdom season begins.

  6. Anonymous  

    well done Zak

  7. Anonymous

    I hate Zak Douchebag because he probably gets a lot of poon.

  8. Anonymous  

    This man is a genius.

  9. Anonymous  

    “Back in my day…” 1st years were freshmen and I didn’t know enough about gender studies to take issue.

    so simply put, without preaching but with a lot of meaning behind it.

    how is this man so amazing? and why isn't this the norm?

  10. Anonymous

    get over yourself.

  11. Anonymous  

    was in principles last semester. many a lecture was spent staring at him...

  12. i'm so sorry  

    but I keep reading his last name as dickwad...

  13. Zakkkkkk

    is one of the nicest people I have met during my time at Columbia. I am so thankful he came here and brought such a great energy to so many people and projects. YOU GO ZAK!!!!

  14. this is really thoughtful  

    and witty. great job

  15. (Optional)  


    fuck, I'm gonna miss yo ass.

  16. zak  

    is wonderful!

    i am very lucky to have gotten to know him over my time at columbia. he is incredibly genuine; in a sea of resume padders (of which i am also guilty), i admire that he always follows his interests and indulges his intellectual curiosity. having been in class with him, i know that zak pushes his peers to ask questions and think critically while also being fun to be around. this is a great senior wisdom, and columbia would be well served to have more like him.

  17. Anonymous  

    hard senior wisdom to follow you rok zak

  18. Anonymous  

    "I regret having to grow up and be here at the same time"

    dats the realest shit

  19. Anonymous  

    Any regrets? Not having sex with Zak

  20. Love this Kid  

    Just like his picture, Zak is a multi layered guy. His wisdom is hard earned and well received. Truly a unique and awesome talent. China is lucky to receive such a handsome bundle of goofy swag.

  21. Anonymous

    ahhh everyone is better than me

  22. 12  

    So i admit from the few interactions I've had with Zak he seemed like one of those arrogant, 'has it all' types that are so easy to hate on, but this senior wisdom was both humble and had some great advice to give. I'd say a lot of the same things if I had the chance to. Great job.

  23. Anonymous  

    i want to suck a dick for the five dorrer

  24. Anonymous  

    what was Jer's answer? perplexing photo choice btw..

  25. 2013

    I had a gigantic crush on Zak for years but always told myself he was probably a douche. Reading this Senior Wisdom and these comments changes everything…
    One negative of being abroad: not being able to look forward to seeing you around campus. You sound like a baller dude, sorry I never got to meet you.

  26. Anonymous  

    I had my P.E. basketball class with him. He's a really nice guy and pretty good at basketball too. I wish him the best of luck in China. The kids will love him!

  27. Anonymous  

    I always see this guy around campus ! I have the biggest crush on him, made even bigger by you bwog- but he's leaving... so this sucks... but maybe I'll be in Berkeley too this summer

  28. Evan Welber  

    I taught ESL in Suzhou! Where are you teaching???

  29. Anonymous  

    Zak, you are amazing. I am so glad I met you this semester. You are an inspiration!

  30. Anonymous

    Yes, Zak, you have a wonderful, dynamic personality, but it’s obvious that you are really fragile and insecure. You desperately seek attention from others to feed your starving ego—not out of compassion or genuine interest in anyone as an individual. Stop speaking and listen. Until you shake this selfishness, every word from your mouth will continue to be disingenuous and self-congratulatory.

    • Anonymous  

      These are the sort of Bwog comments that make me sad. It doesn't seem like you derived all of that from the article, so it sounds like you and Zak should discuss this privately?

  31. Ickle Anonymouse

    Zak(ary), in many of your conditional statements, you are MISSING a comma. How you will teach-y da English!?

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