Classes That Defined Our First Year
My first year was defined by JJ’s, crying on the subway, and Riverside Park. I, however, also went to class. Here are the classes that made (or broke) our first year.
- Principles of Econ: Just don’t take it. Trust me.
- French Language, Society, and Culture through Paris: It made me want to become a French major and move to France. Prof. Borer is the sweetest professor ever. If you have a background in French, this is a really chill class to take during your first year.
- Poverty, Race, and Gender: Made me realize that I don’t care about capitalism and economics. It looked at wealth through a historical lens, instead of through a capitalist one. It was also really helpful as a first-generation/low-income student who hadn’t really seen a huge amount of wealth before. It forced me to grapple with these issues, and how wealth was accumulated. Also, the readings are amazing!
- Getting the Mafia: super interesting class, blew my mind. I learned too much about the Sicilian mafia.
- Montaigne Descartes Pascal: Like lithum second semester but on steroids and also in French.
- Poetry as Neurosis: I don’t know if this class is still offered and it’s also a latin course so kind of a niche rec. If you like gross descriptions of what snake venom does to your body and neurotic romans, this class is for you.
- Advanced Language through Culture: Carribean Identities & Hispanic Cultures I: The reason(s) I am no longer a Hispanic Studies major. The professors were genuinely awful and didn’t help me grow at all as a Spanish speaker or writer. Also, the latter should not be a Global Core class because, aside from maybe two classes on the colonization of the Americas, we just talked about Spain the whole time.
- Carribean Diaspora Literature: I was exposed to literature written by amazing authors across the diaspora I wish I’d been exposed to growing up. This is the class that taught me what colonialism is, made me think critically about my racial and ethnic identity, and gave words to feelings I’d had all my life. This class is the reason I’m both an English and Race and Ethnicity Studies major and has proved foundational to basically all my academic interests. I can’t recommend it or Professor Negron-Muntaner enough.
- The Americas II (First Year Seminar): Basically confirmed that I wanted to study English. After having a shitty professor for FYW I tried to sell out and try Econ (which was a mistake). Turns out I actually don’t write like garbage which was basically what my FYW professor told me. This class had great field trips, discussions, and the reading list was very enjoyable. Also, Barbara Morris is great!
- 20th Century Britain or anything with Susan Pedersen: I can honestly say I learned more in this class than any other class I took at Barnard/Columbia
- Life in the Universe: This class was fun and enjoyable, a soft science class that can help you with the Science requirement for Foundations. (I would warn that if you haven’t taken physics in high school, this course might be a bit challenging.)
- The Social World: Adam Reich was absolutely fantastic, he’s SUCH an engaging prof and made me love sociology. Also he’s lowkey daddy so that’s always a plus.
- Introduction to Psych: The bane of my existence. I took it with Kathleen Taylor at 8:40am. She’s a wonderful woman, but her exams were several pages long with all written responses, opposed to the other intro to psych profs’ exams who only do mult choice. They were the hardest fucking exams simply due to the insane amount of memorization that had to go into studying for them. 0/10, would p/d/f to avoid GPA devastation.The moral of the story is: choose your classes wisely! You only get to take so many classes at Barnard and Columbia, so make them count. If you’re not a language person, stick with a language you’re familiar with. College is a great time to try new things, but you will have a lot going on your first year, and sometimes it’s not the wisest to take on learning something that you’re not really passionate about (especially when you could’ve just taken a different class/sequence). We’ve all learned this lesson the hard way, whether it be taking Principles of Econ, German instead of Spanish, or any other class where we ignored the reviews.