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Senior Wisdom: Erik Nook

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Erik Nook. I was born in Schaller, Iowa, but grew up in Durban, South Africa, and Perth, Western Australia, Columbia College, Psychology

Claim to Fame: I once brought my knitting to a Columbia football game.

I also coordinate Stressbusters, taught bartending, volunteered with Men’s Peer Education, facilitated for Under1Roof, played saxophone for the Wind Ensemble and competed with the Ballroom Dance Team.

Where are you going? Right now: to pick up a copy of The Places You’ll Go as a way to distract myself from my sadness of having to leave this place . Next year: to the West Coast! I’ll be managing a social neuroscience laboratory at Stanford. I’m super excited!! We’ll be doing research on the neural correlates of empathy and prosociality.

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  1. The smallest choices can have the largest effects. That random person you wave to by accident could turn out to be your best friend. That class you’re not sure about could end up being the first 3 credits of your major. That event you thought was only a place for free food could be the inspiration for ideas you later expound to others.
  2. We will survive! Even if it seems like everything is incrediblyoutofcontrollablyohmygodmakeitstop overwhelming, we will survive. Sometimes the most challenging situations are the ones that teach you the most. I’ve learned so much about how to manage my time, my emotions and my priorities. It’s incredible.
  3. Even (or especially?) when the going gets rough, it’s crucial that we remember to take care of ourselves. Spending an hour talking with friends when that paper deadline is approaching might just give you the boost that helps you write a better essay than if you didn’t take a break. On a more serious note, when I was feeling blue, I talked to people and got help. I don’t think I’d be graduating now if I hadn’t done that.

“Back in my day…”

  • The lawns were always closed.
  • Students didn’t swipe into Ferris or JJ’s Place.
  • I didn’t know “the ovaries” or the other incredible people who I now get to call my friends.
  • I didn’t understand this.

Justify your existence in 30 words or less: I believe people are infinite, every moment is worthwhile and wisdom is the path to love.

Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? I’m confused… Make love (or drinks), not war! Columbia’s always been exactly what I needed, and has usually blown my expectations out of the water. In my opinion, there’s plenty of fun here.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I once read a Go Ask Alice! question that said that cheese could raise your cholesterol levels. Given that I’ve never heard of oral sex causing such adverse effects on sanguineous lipid levels, I think my answer is clear.

Advice for the class of 2016:

  1. Find a balance, find yourself. Go out and do it all, but make sure that you also give yourself time to recharge. There’s SO MUCH to do, see, live, experience, eat, buy, give, donate, build, remember. Spend time experimenting with activities, events and classes so that you can find what suits you best. Don’t be afraid to take risks. However, with all the incredible adventuring you’re doing, don’t be afraid to resist the urge to stack on that extra commitment – if you feel warning bells about being overextended, cut back. From my own experience, I learned that it’s better to have a smaller set of projects that you can devote all your energy to than a large set that sap the energy out of you.
  2. Talk with people: everywhere! All the time! What are you doing right now? Stop reading Bwog and go talk to people!!! No, but seriously. Everyone has a story, and if you ask the right questions, you’ll learn so much from your peers. It’s incredible to me how humans can use conversation to experience vicariously all the worlds we haven’t had the chance to see. Push yourself out of your comfort zone by going to a cultural group’s meeting, and I’m sure you’ll walk away changed. All of you here at Columbia teach me so much every day, and I’m so grateful for that. You don’t just find education in classrooms.
  3. Do your best, nothing more, nothing less. Ugh, I know, I know, there’s a $%I# ton of reading assigned, but I promise that it’s all for good reason. Do your best to complete as much of it as you can. As you go along, you’ll pick up how to read “economically” in order to put in just as much time as you need to come away with the ideas of the text, but I’ve often come back to my readings after a semester and found so many things that I’ve missed. With your problems sets, papers and projects, the more you put in, the more you get out. Find a way to get what YOU want from your classes by chasing the leads that fuel your intellectual curiosity. This is a place where you can have fun with ideas and people will want to hear what you have to say.

Any regrets? My dad says that the goal of life is to live with no regrets, and I think it’s powerful to retrospectively look back on things and see the silver lining of everything that’s happened. So in that vein: yeah, even when I messed up, I still wouldn’t regret it. My only hope is that I’ve managed to give back a little bit to all the people who have given me so so so so much. I feel really lucky for all that the last four years have been.

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  • :) says:

    @:) Thank you, Erik

  • YES!!! says:

    @YES!!! Erik, congratulations! Superb.

  • What do you call says:

    @What do you call Erik at a nursing home?

    Nooks and grannies!

  • RNS says:

    @RNS I LOVE YOU ERIK!!!! Can’t wait for our west coast adventuresssss

  • :'( says:

    @:'( Awesome people like this sometimes make me feel super inadequate

  • Karen Smith says:

    @Karen Smith Wait a minute… If you’re from Africa, why are you white?

    1. Gretchen Wieners says:

      @Gretchen Wieners Oh my god, Karen, you can’t just ask people why they’re white.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous i love erik nook!! I didn’t realize he knits!

  • CC '15 says:

    @CC '15 i want to be Erik when I grow up!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Another person I find from Perth at Columbia! There are so many of us, relatively speaking

  • CC'14 says:

    @CC'14 I’d tap that so hard. SO HARD.

    1. Duuuude says:

      @Duuuude Don’t even. And his answer to the bjs and cheese question made my eyes glaze over.

      1. CC'14 again says:

        @CC'14 again Jesus. I had to come back to say this: everytime I scroll down Bwog and I stumble upon his photo, I let out a tiny gasp. I can’t. <3

  • Erik is a guy says:

    @Erik is a guy I could totally get behind. He’s so cool and nice!

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I would totally get behind Erik too ;)

      1. Heh says:

        @Heh Hehehe

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Erik, to this day our gig together was the best one I’ve had. And you give the best hugs outside EC at 2:00am!! Best of luck at Stanford – can’t wait to see where you end up. :)

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Eric is such an inspiring person. So thoughtful, too. He and I were always friendly but didn’t get to hang out very much…even with that said I would feel totally comfortable calling him out of the blue a year from now just to say hi.

  • CC'12 says:

    @CC'12 Hey Erik,

    I met you during a Stressbusters event and you were such a kind-hearted person. I was really happy to see you do a senior wisdom! I don’t know how you manage to be so happy all the time in this school, it’s amazing. You have such a positive attitude, it’s really inspiring. Thank you for making my time a little less stressful here, it meant so much.


  • Reading this says:

    @Reading this made me feel more whole.

  • =D says:

    @=D Erik, you are my hero and have had such a positive impact on my life and this campus as a whole over the past four years. You are an incredible person who has the ability to light up any room you walk into with your smile, enthusiasm, and positive energy.

    I can’t wait to see where you are in 10 years because I know you’ll be off saving the world somehow, and I’ll be able to tell people “Hey, Erik Nook, I once knew that guy. He gives killer back rubs.”

  • :) says:

    @:) So adorable. I want to carry him around in a wicker basket.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Hi Bwog! Loving the Senior Wisdoms this year. However, it would be nice to see the other three schools represented a little more!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous i like the photograph. so cute!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Erik is a genius

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Erik – you are one of the most beautiful human beings i have had the pleasure of knowing here. Good god, the love, maturity, intellect and mindfulness that you exude makes me strive to be a better person myself. I love you so much.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Also, go see him give his presentation on his honors thesis on Wednesday at 4:10 in 614 schermerhorn! Love you buddy.


    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous What a fabulous choice for senior wisdom. Go Erik!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Erik Nook is THE BEST

  • CC '12 says:

    @CC '12 Erik embodies my image of Glen Coco from “Mean Girls”. YOU GO, GLEN COCO!

    I can also report that he has gotten consistently spectacular reviews from all of his students in the Columbia Bartending Agency’s mixology classes :)

  • Alice! says:

    @Alice! Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~Leo Buscaglia

    Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless. ~Sherry Anderson

    We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future. ~Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back. ~Maya Angelou???

    If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito. ~Betty Reese

    To Erik, with love from Alice!

  • Corey says:

    @Corey Erik! You are so deserving of all your accomplishments. Every time I see you, you find a way to make my day even better! Much love!

  • Erik Fan says:

    @Erik Fan Thanks for all the massages. Thanks for spreading joy and love to everyone around you, friends and strangers alike.

  • EKG says:

    @EKG A wise woman once said,

    “My baby is a 10
    We dressing to the 9
    He pick me up we 8,
    Make me feel so lucky 7
    He kiss me in his 6
    We be making love at 5
    Still the one I do this 4
    I’m tryna make us 3
    From that 2
    He’s still the 1”

    I love you, my Aussie. Platonically yours.

  • I LOVE HIM TOO says:


  • he's hot says:

    @he's hot if i were a girl and not a dude, id do him…

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous lol hes gay, so go for it!

      1. Oh says:

        @Oh I thought all Aussies just spoke with a lisp…

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous erik is an incredible person. he has the biggest heart of anyone i know. his kindness and compassion is entirely genuine, and he brings bright light and happiness wherever he goes. not to mention, he is one of the brightest undergrads i’ve had the pleasure of getting to know at columbia. best of luck for a bright future ahead, erik!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Erik is the reason why Bwog does senior wisdoms at all :) Great advice!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous seriously though, if you gotta cute face and a cute butt facebook him! (he’s my friend, i promise. seriously)

    1. Eh? says:

      @Eh? Is he a top? Or are you a meddling female?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous erik, thank goodness for people like you! i’ll miss you!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Ha. Clearly his claim to fame is BEING AN INTERNATIONAL SOCCER SUPERSTAR:

    1. Damn says:

      @Damn I think that guy is hotter than Erik…

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