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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.