Tortellini-maker and Senior Staff Writer Andrew Wang wants you to resist reason and hold onto those good friends.
Name, School, Major, Hometown:
Andrew Wang, Columbia College, Sociology and African American Studies; Arcadia, CA
Claim to fame:
Signing an acting contract during a global pandemic. Hosting the best parties, from Zoom to Amsterdam Ave. Being in the same room as Beyoncé when she came to campus. Being in the middle of the Class of 2020 collage in the commencement email. Beating the reigning 800-meter world champion in a sprint across the Manhattan Bridge. Getting profiled in TIME Magazine, Insider, and GQ for making pasta. And it wasn’t just GQ; it was French GQ. Know the difference.
Where are you going?
Right now? On a run.
What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2024?
- When you find a good friend, hold on to them. Choose them over and over again. Sometimes, over yourself. I came to Columbia wanting to stand on the shoulders of giants. But I will leave having leaned on the shoulders of friends. Yeah. That sounds about right.
- A lot of us feel impostor syndrome, I think. Well, I did, and I still do. Networking events are hard for me. My smile is a little crooked, and there’s a little gap between my front teeth that I think too much about. I mince words. And I don’t like those thin cocktail glasses because they make my shaky hands more obvious. It’s funny because I ended up studying cultural sociology, and wrote a whole thesis on cocktail bars—the very places that terrify me. I would put on a face and get into every fancy bar in Manhattan by telling them I was a Columbia professor on a writing assignment. Yes, I lied, and what about it? But I promise you that the moment they sat me down, my leg would jiggle under the table. Own it, I’d say. Wear it like armor, as they say.
- Resist reason. Go to 1020 with that classmate who carries you on the problem sets. Keep signing up for P.E. soccer even though you finished the requirement three semesters ago. Write for Bwog. Stop by office hours even if you don’t have any questions. Try a backflip at some point, and commit to it, because 90% of it is confidence. Get a prestigious internship. Turn it down. Ok, maybe don’t turn it down if you truly need it. But afterward, try a 10k. Fail. Try a half marathon. Dance in the rain and dance in the snow. Dance, even if no one else is dancing. But don’t dance if it’s 5 pm and you’re packed like a sardine on the 1-train.
“Back in my day…”
I was here. Après moi, le déluge.
Favorite Columbia controversy?
This is an old one, but my English major friends can’t stop blabbering about him. In the ‘30s, a first-year on the football team quit after just one game. In his exit interview, he said, “Scrimmage my ass…I’m gonna sit here in this room and dig Beethoven, I’m gonna write noble words.” Then he went on some road or something. You could have been a football star, Jack!
Also this tweet.
What was your favorite class at Columbia?
Maybe that sociology class where we met atop The Vessel in Hudson Yards. Or the seminar with that famous Marxist philosopher. Perhaps the ethnography class where we studied immigration proceedings downtown. Maybe not the Friday class I took because the girl I liked was in it. Ok, I’ve decided. Contemporary Civilization with Professor Gal Katz. I’ll see you in Hungarian for office hours again one day. And I’ll pretend to have Arendt and Nietzsche down, if only so that you’ll show me another side to them. Crystals, you called them.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese?
Whom would you like to thank?
Julian Wilkinson from Public Safety. He and I both trace memories back to this little town called Mandeville, Jamaica, and our friendship makes this metropolis feel just a few degrees warmer. He’s seen me through all my ups and downs when no one else was watching: the dopamine-fueled sprints across campus, the late walks home in rain and darkness.
Julian: whenever I went on my runs, a part of me hoped I’d catch you. When I did, you’d always ask me the same old question: “How’s the running?” And I’d yell back, “Getting faster!” What I meant to say was that you were lifting my spirits. Telling me to keep my chin up and banish my worries. And when we let go of the worries that weigh us down, well, we fly.
One thing to do before graduating:
Respond to a handwritten letter from someone who means very much to me.
You know, I regret having felt like a lesser Columbia student because I transferred here. I got rejected the first time around by the way, and it used to really bother me that I had only three years here and not four. Doing Columbia on 1.25x made me feel guilty when I wasted a day procrastinating, and inadequate when I wasted a day feeling guilty about wasting a day procrastinating. When I accepted my experience for what it was, it became what it could be.
After all, there are great poems, great novels, and great epics. It was never about the length.
Andrew Wang via Andrew