Former Bwog Sports Editor Abby Rubel remembers a time when JJ’s mozzarella sticks tasted like they do in Italy.

Name, School, Major, Hometown:
Abby Rubel, CC, English/History, Chatham, NY

Claim to fame:
As Bwog’s sports editor, I was the only person on staff for a whole year who could tell you how the men’s and women’s soccer teams were doing.

Where are you going?
To finally get my driver’s license.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2023?

  1. Make friends with upperclassmen. Some of the wisest advice I got as a freshman and sophomore was from people a year or two or three ahead of me. Just swipe them into JJ’s when they ask—nothing goes better with emotional support than French Fries.
  2. Thinking about a thesis? Consider doing an independent study instead. You have so much more freedom, the chance to work closely with a professor is awesome, and you can set whatever deadlines you want. But more importantly, doing an independent study helps you do all that work for yourself, not because of external pressures. It makes the whole experience more fulfilling. And, depending on the department, you can even still submit it for honors.
  3. Nikko is a great restaurant on 123 and Amsterdam. They do sushi and hibachi, but I’ve only ever had the sushi. Go for their lunch deal—it’s $11 for three rolls, plus miso soup or a salad.

“Back in my day…” 
JJ’s had mozzarella sticks made of actual cheese and I had to swipe my Barnard friends in so we could eat them together, but it was ok because I could complain about it on Bored@Butler while sitting on Mudd roof.

Favorite Columbia controversy?
The dining hall wars. My personal order is Diana>JJ’s>John Jay>Ferris>Hewitt.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer:
I once pulled an all-nighter to knit planets, and the morning after was the only time I’ve ever had a cup of coffee.

What was your favorite class at Columbia?
My favorite classes have been ones that make me think in different ways. A short list: Corporate Behavior and Public Health with David Rosner, Shakespeare II with Peter Platt, the Black Radical Tradition with Craig Wilder, and Human Origins and Evolution with Jill Shapiro.

The one that stands out, though, is British Literature with Edward Mendelson. Mendelson taught me that literature is a “risk-free way of experimenting with life” (yes, that’s a direct quote, I checked my sophomore year notes), which has always stuck with me as a good way of justifying my English major. But more importantly, his ideas about individuality have shaped the way I think about other people, myself, and Virginia Woolf.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese?
“Hey, Ian, should I give up oral sex or cheese?”

“Do you have to give up giving or receiving?”

“Both, I think.”

“You should give up cheese.”

Whom would you like to thank?
My mom, for her boundless empathy (and for teaching me how to do laundry). My dad, for his sense of humor (and for teaching me how to cook). Ross, for always listening and encouraging me. Sara, for knowing exactly what kind of fire to light under my ass. Ian, for helping me stand up for myself. Betsy, for being the master of the quickie writing conference and dealing with the recycling for two years running. Austin Graham, for taking on my independent study. Quentin, for being my teammate. And my grandparents, for passing on the ability to follow eight conversations at once.

One thing to do before graduating:
Order enough sandwiches at Hamdel that I can fill up my gold card and get one last free sub. (It’ll be a Betsy, of course.)

Any regrets?
Not taking a class with John McWhorter or Margaret Vandenberg. Wasting time feeling guilty for not doing more work. Not joining Bwog earlier.