I’ve been thinking a lot about Saba’s Pizza…
Name, School, Major, Hometown: Chana (contrary to my name on the roster) T. (friends will tell you the T. is important to me) Fisch; Barnard College; Psychology major + Religion and Philosophy minors; The Other Side of Teaneck, NJ
Claim to fame: In the circles I frequent and some that I don’t, I’m most well-known for wearing rapidly disintegrating Naot sandals in all climates, regardless of the size of the snowflakes falling from the sky. Also for polluting everyone’s – current friends, elementary school acquaintances, high school friends’ exes – newsfeeds with my Facebook tags. Also for absconding with stacks on stacks of Saba’s pizza from events, back when there were events and food and places to abscond to and from. Also for making very low effort memes for highly niche audiences. Also for being too active in group chats. But I’d like to be known for being a warm presence in Hillel and around campus.
Where are you going?
To try to help people
To take a summer A class to fulfill my very last Mode of Thinking
To think about how it is that adults maintain friendships post-college – let me know if you have ideas!
What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2025?
- Call – and I cannot stress this enough – Nightline. They are a phenomenal bunch. I know this because I was them and I’ve trained a whole slew of them. You don’t need to be in crisis. You can just be in a bad mood. There are few things better than a middle-of-the-night vent.
- One of my favorite ways for a conversation to begin is when someone says “I’ve been thinking a lot about–” Meaningful conversations should be way more commonplace than they are. Small talk is sometimes useful but often a crutch, and conversations are much more memorable and friendships much stronger when you talk about the things you care about.
- Assume the best of others. You’ll be much happier.
- I also learned that the 3 in this question actually means 4? Well, here’s a bonus – make at least one friend in each of the undergraduate colleges. It’s both practically helpful for receiving emails with admin updates (more on this soon) and good for further diversifying the voices and perspectives in your life.
“Back in my day…” I’m pretty sure everyone is going to say “classes were in person! We all lived in dorms! We ate indoors in dining halls!” so I’ll try not to stray into that territory. Instead, I will acknowledge something that has improved – back in my day, the kosher section of Big Sub only had tuna, and they later added meats! Progress! Inclusion! One small step for Chartwells, one large step for the carnivorous kosher-eating Big Sub attendees who made it there between 6:00 and 6:03!
Favorite Columbia controversy? I’m generally oblivious, highly averse to publicly expressing hot takes, and afraid of controversy as a whole. “Favorite” is a hard word to apply here. Buuuuuuut it brought me a LOT of joy to finally be the one forwarding admin emails to my Columbia friends instead of the other way around when the world turned upside down in the pandemic and suddenly Barnard was receiving updates anywhere from one hour to one month before Columbia did. I would also like someone to settle the “are the birds in the tree outside Lerner real” thing once and for all.
What was your favorite class at Columbia? Oh wow, so many. I love school, to a fault, really. Here are a few:
- Educational Foundations with Rachel Throop – Professor Throop is unbelievably invested in her students’ success and genuinely knows how to teach. The content is so interesting, the papers super DIY, and you get to walk around critiquing all future classes saying, “well, as someone who took one education class, I really take issue with his pedagogy” – oh just me? Whoops.
- Religion Theory with Beth Berkowitz – This class changed my life, and if you are someone whose life has been touched by religion in any way, I would highly recommend it.
- Earth, Moon, and Planets with David Helfand – I took this class after doing no math for four full years. It was a weird call in that sense, because on the first day we were told it was the most math-heavy astronomy intro course. That said, everything I learned blew my mind and listening to Professor Helfand talk was the highlight of my day. Tl;dr, planets are so big and the climate is changing, y’all. Also, you would not *believe* how big and how small numbers can get. Real big. Real small. Love, a social science major whose numbers don’t exceed three digits + humanities double minor whose numbers come in the form of minimum page counts for papers.
- Abnormal Behavior with E’mett McCaskill – You know how people tell psych majors not to armchair diagnose? Not anymore! Professor McCaskill is a light in the lives of her students and possibly the kindest professor at this university.
- Philosophy of Law with Michele Moody–Adams – This is another class where you leave thinking you’re an expert even if you might not be. Guaranteed to give you strong opinions on all things law and to provoke policy conversations with your friends that they are way less interested in having than you are – oh just me again? Yikes.
- Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People with Rachel McDermott – Another kindhearted professor teaching another life-changing class.
Additionally, take every class you can take in the Barnard Religion department. I had to hold myself back from listing them all here. Seriously, you won’t regret it.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Google shomer negiah. I’m keeping cheese.
Whom would you like to thank?
My family for driving across the bridge enough to send all of E-ZPass’s employees on vacation for a year once this pandemic ends
Leora for always pushing me to make the funnier, friendlier, and less socially appropriate choice, for helping me fret not, and for facilitating a three-year-long improv musical in our living space (#votechanaandleoraforroommates)
Daniela for being my [pandemic] plus one
Marisa for being my floppiest, most eager email-writing buddy
Ben and Sarah for helping write a senior speech intro that was leagues funnier than I could ever hope to make this wisdom
All my friends who’ve given me hugs
All my male friends who haven’t given me hugs
Everyone who ate in the tents with me in <30 °F weather this year
Nightline staff for showering me with endless love and support
Yavneh for being my spiritual rock and for Hewitt chills
Hillel for being my home and source of 40% of my dinners from Fall 2018-March 2020 (and the 8% of my meals September 2020-April 2021 that consisted entirely of snacks)
Reverend Ian, Imamina, Rabbi Hain, Tessa, and last year’s Earl Multifaith cohort for giving me some of the most meaningful conversations I have had in my entire time on this campus
SVR for being some of the most generous advocates and educators I have had the pleasure to meet and for creating such a wholesome community
My advisor Kathleen Taylor for consistently believing in me a whole lot more than I did
The psych department for setting the foundation for my future, and the other Barnard Psych Thesis Crewmembers for making me laugh in class faster than I can quickly turn off my camera
The religion department for letting me pretend they were my major department
The philosophy department for making me argue with my friends all. the. time. about things that only I cared about. Cannot recommend that more, might be my only hobby.
Admissions, for both admitting and employing me, as well as for giving me the opportunity to interact with some of the greatest high schoolers I’ve ever met
The Barnard NSOP identi-tree
Yavneh’s daily minyan
Saba’s caramelized onion ricotta pizza
Milstein 2 & 3
One thing to do before graduating: Go to every campus show you can! I like to think that everyone in Third Wheel assumes everyone else in Third Wheel knows me, because I have gone to enough of their shows to have been the roommate who gets dragged there. Well Third Wheel, I have some news – I don’t know any of you. I just appreciate free/cheap entertainment. Same goes for Bhangra, all the acapella groups, and whoever else’s shows I have showed up to looking excited and out of place on a Thursday or Saturday night.
Any regrets? Not taking enough advantage of the city. Because I was graduating a year early, I spent a crazy amount of time doing schoolwork, and I envisioned senior year as full of Broadway shows (maybe I thought I’d get rich at some point in college? That clearly didn’t pan out) and city excursions and apparently not just my thesis? The pandemic really killed that vibe. But ending on a negative note is really not my brand and I’m not looking to reinvent myself right now, so I’d like to say that even though I didn’t get to go all over, I did have quite a time with friends in Milstein while we were “working” (for legal reasons, Milstein 2 is a collaborative workspace). So don’t underestimate the power of fun regardless of where or how it happens.
Portrait via Chana