Name, School, Major, Hometown: Peter Bailinson, Columbia College, East Asian Languages & Cultures with an Econ Concentration, Cumberland, Maine
Where are you going? First, home to catch up with the Kardashians, and after to travel around southeast Asia for a few months. Then, to Chicago, to revisit my birth place and start work in consulting. Finally, back to school in a few years, hopefully to learn more about the wonderful world of non-profit management.
What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2020?
1) Try to learn whether people know what they’re talking about or not. They often don’t. Especially in CC seminars.
2) Resilience after failure is hard. While I feel I’ve had a lot of successes at Columbia, I’ve had failures too. Some of them were quite public, but luckily, most were fairly private, including a Varsity Show audition for which I’m very fortunate there’s no hyperlink. And while it sucks to fail, it’s crucially important to figure out how to move past it. Life is way too short to be defined by past failures, or to avoid seeing the upside afterward. And it definitely helps to have an amazing group of friends for your support system.
Relatedly, strive to listen to constructive criticism rather than the trolls and those without good intentions. I guess this sort of goes along with my first point.
3) Get off of your phone in class. This is one of those do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do pieces of advice, but I mean it. I can’t even begin to calculate how much time I’ve spent teaching myself material before exams that I would’ve just learned if I’d paid attention the first time (I could probably calculate it if I’d paid more attention in my math classes). Extreme circumstances notwithstanding, things will be alright if you just put your phone down for 75 minutes.
“Back in my day…” There were more comments, the Arts Initiative needed to be saved, I recognized more people in dining halls, all of campus waited with bated breath to see if Kristine cared about Robert as much as Robert cared about Kristine, fewer people defriended others on Facebook for holding different views, and we still didn’t have a Fall Bacchanal.
Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer. Taylor Swift was “impressed” by my creativity. Ivanka Trump has called me “intelligent.” I made a mural of 100 Minions in my EC suite. There must be some connection, right?
What was your favorite class at Columbia? Business Chinese, with Zhong Qi Shi. Now I’m not advocating that everyone should spend four years here studying Chinese, but there is something fantastic about upper-level language classes: they’re small, they’re personal, and they give you a great opportunity to learn more about a foreign culture than just a history class alone. Plus, any college course that spends multiple weeks studying KFC warrants a closer look.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? While neither is bad in moderation, I guess I’d have to give up the only one that’s bad in excess.
One thing to do before graduating: Go to a talk to hear a perspective you disagree with. This should be a fairly easy task on a campus that often feels like the site of a proxy war between Israel and Palestine. So many of the disagreements I’ve heard at Columbia, whether on council or among friends, involved people talking past each other and not even understanding the construction of the argument used by the other side. Taking an hour to sit and listen, without speaking, might not change your mind, but it will certainly help you to empathize. Besides, the people you disagree with–just like the Trump supporters after the election–aren’t going to go away, so you might as well learn how to interact with them cordially.
Any regrets? I regret buying enough beers to enter the brew crew rather than saving up for Hamilton tickets. I regret not buying Apple Care out of my hubris of never having dropped my phone before, and I regret not buying it after the first time I broke it. And I regret not learning the names of my residents fast enough either year (sorry Jae).
The man who will defend your right to Nutella via Peter Bailinson