Year in J-School (Part 2)–The First Day

Columbia Subway Stop

I awoke this morning drenched in sweat and feeling very apprehensive about orientation, but after a cold shower and a cup of strong coffee I felt ready to hop on the 1 train and head off to 116th and Broadway–Columbia University.

As I made my way up to the lecture hall on the third floor it became all too apparent to me that I am not nearly as outgoing as many of my classmates, but nonetheless, I met some pretty interesting people from all over the country and the world.

Dean Lemann welcomed us with dry humor and a bit of history about the J-School…Many Joseph Pulitzer jokes were made and I instantly relax. Sarcasm is a language I more than understand. Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” spoke to us and she had a lot of wisdom about the industry especially being a woman in what’s largely been a man’s world. We learned all about the inner workings of the school.

I spent our lunch hour being anti-social. I ate at Pinnacle on 15th and Broadway feeling exhausted from telling my life story a million times. I needed some quiet. I kind of felt bad about secluding myself, but given the rest of the afternoon I’m glad I did…

Most of the rest of the afternoon was spent meeting with our Reporting & Writing 1 (RW1) class–the infamous class at Columbia J-School known to make even the most strong-willed cry for their moms. Let’s just say I left the session feeling very tired and very overwhelmed but very excited. My professor, LynNell Hancock, reminds me a lot of The Gazette’s Managing Editor Judy Patrick, which means I am going to love her.

The class meets from 9-5 every week day in August and after Labor Day only on Tuesdays, but all other days are for reporting on our beat. My class is delving into The Bronx. We’re all going to get specific neighborhoods and maintain (so keep an eye out). On Friday we’re going on a bus tour of the area, but in the mean time I have A LOT of research to do.

I actually feel like I have so much to do and no time to do it. I have to become an expert on the Bronx, go down to City Hall to get a listing of city officials and offices, register for career services online, order textbooks, order a student advantage card and do my first few RW1 assignments.

I’m going to spend tonight getting my life together and perusing The Bronx on the Internet.

I feel really good about myself for the first time in a long time though. I got here all by myself–on my own merit. I know it’s going to be tough and throw me COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone, but I’m ready to push myself beyond my limits and learn everything I can. I want J-School to be worth it, and I think know it will be. I feel scared but confident and I think that’s a good thing–so my head doesn’t get too big.

(I even may have developed a teeny, tiny, innocent crush on a fellow student).

I’m ready to work hard and have fun.

Tomorrow brings some computer classes, a campus tour, Student Government info (SPJ) and a happy hour at the Amsterdam Cafe.

Bring it, J-School.



  1. Deb Cullen · August 11, 2010

    being out of one’s comfort zone is a good thing….maybe even a GREAT thing!
    Success has followed you this far…I am sure it is not going anywhere.

  2. Mazarine · August 13, 2010

    You can do it Caitlin!

    I’m so proud of you!



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