Attending Columbia University from home

By Johnathon Bedasse

The past year has been an extraordinarily tumultuous ride, with all of us having to make significant changes to our lifestyles to fit COVID-19 restrictions.

College students are no exception to these adjustments, including myself. I’m a Dart Scholar attending my first year of Columbia University from the campus of my bedroom, the George Town Public Library and occasionally, a study spot in Camana Bay for some fresh air.

While online school comes with its challenges, including the difficulty of connecting with peers and professors, the lack of structure, Zoom fatigue, a heavy workload and missing out on my freshman university experience, I've still had a gratifying and rewarding academic year thus far.

I’ve been able to develop as a Dart Scholar in multiple ways. Last semester, I took a university writing class, which helped upgrade my writing skills to a college level. Receiving individual feedback from the professor was extremely valuable and I was able to improve and refine my process, which is a skill that will be useful for the foreseeable future.

Additionally, being at an Ivy League school means I’m constantly interacting with extremely intelligent and accomplished classmates, which has pushed, motivated and challenged me. Although it can be intimidating at times, I’ve gained valuable insight from talking with them and discussing the learning materials.

In addition to intelligent classmates, I’ve also had the opportunity of being taught by distinguished and experienced professors. My "Principles of Economics" professor from last semester, Prajit K. Dutta, was the author of the widely used college textbook on game theory, "Strategies and Games." Moreover, my professor for "Introduction to International Politics" worked with the White House National Security Council during George W. Bush’s presidency, as well as with the U.S. Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency. The experience that these professors bring to their teaching allows for a unique sense of insight with real-life applications to the subject.

Columbia’s core curriculum enables me to engage with a very diverse range of knowledge beyond economics, which is the subject of the degree I am pursuing. I’ve enjoyed reading and discussion in my "Literature Humanities" class, where a small class size and Zoom breakout rooms allow a sense of interaction and discussion. I’ve also enjoyed learning about special relativity in my "Frontiers of Science" class.

I am extremely grateful that being a Dart Scholar has allowed me to experience what I have so far, even if it was only through my computer screen. I look forward to what will come for the rest of the semester and hopefully will be able to be on campus this fall.

Johnathon Bedasse is the recipient of the 2020 William A. Dart Memorial University Scholarship.

This article originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of the Camana Bay Times.

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