Barnard College is an amazing school. From the classes to the community, it is the place to be. Even though I'm a first year, I've already discovered some awesome classes that you should be sure to take next semester if you're at Barnard or Columbia (Spoiler alert, this is literally a list of the classes I'm taking. Because all the classes here are great).
1. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and the English Novel: For those of you who didn't know, I'm a literature buff - but this class attracts everyone, even people who aren't that into reading. The professor, Liza Knapp, is crazy in the intelligent, awesome way you've always imagined professors to be. She swoops around the class as she lectures and shrieks dramatically when something exciting happens in one of the books she's talking about. No one ever falls asleep in this class, trust me. Half the time we're too busy laughing. The other half, we're sitting there with our minds blown going "Whoa...that's so cool!" I just got back from an optional discussion session lead by the teacher's assistant. This was an opportunity for me and about ten other people who are presumably book nerds too to meet and talk more about what we've been reading, just for fun, in a smaller setting. I had a great time.
2. Hebrew Texts: This is another literature class (yay!), but it also fulfills a language requirement. Twice a week, for two hours at a time, I get to sit in a classroom and speak in Hebrew. Coming off of last year, when I was immersed in Hebrew all day long, the opportunity to keep speaking the language means a lot to me. The whole class is basically an ongoing discussion about a few Hebrew stories that we've read for homework. The professor, Naama Harel, guides us - and we talk. She knows that every word we say improves our Hebrew skills, and all we have to do is sit around and talk about the great stories she gives us. My classmates always manage to come up with ideas about the stories that I never would have thought of, and I love to hear them. Overall, great class.
3. Intro to Psychology: Okay, this is my least favorite class, but it's still good. It's a lot of biology so far - neurons and axons and all that. A little science is probably good for my brain, so it doesn't get stuck in literature mode forever. Also the professor, Ari Shachter, promises that as soon as we have the basics down, we can start talking about more exciting stuff. I'm looking forward to that.
4. The Americas: Another literature class! (I kid you not - I'm not even sure how I got away with this but it's great). This is my First Year Seminar, a requirement for freshman - a very small, relaxed class that's supposed to introduce us to the rudiments of college-level reading and writing. The subject matter: comparing literature in North and South America throughout history. I just read the Declaration of Independence (the pre-edited version by Thomas Jefferson) for the first time. It was great. I love seeing the passions and struggles of the people who built (and broke) our country. Also the professor, Jennifer Rosenthal, is one of the nicest people I have ever met. She's already doing a great job of teaching our class how to read and write like the real-life honest-to-goodness college students we are.
5. Fiction and Personal Narrative: A creative writing class! There are only ten students, all of whom had to apply to get in (no pressure, right). The best part of this class is reading other people's stories. I would bet serious money that a person in this class is going to win the Nobel Prize for Literature sometime in the next thirty years. They are all incredible. The only problem is that we're supposed to be telling each other how to improve our works, and some of the stories I've read are so good that I have nothing to say...hopefully it will all work out.
I hope you've enjoyed reading about some of the wonderful classes that Barnard College and Columbia University have to offer! I already can't wait to see what I'll be taking next semester.