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Challenge 13: Take Advantage of Living in a “College Town”


Through and through, I am a creature of habit. My planner is the most important purchase of the year and I thrive off my Sunday night organization session where I outline my upcoming week in multi-colored pens. I have certain habits for grocery shopping and laundry and when I like to study foreign languages.

These routines, much like running and writing, keep me grounded and focused. But at some point, routines can become too much. It isn’t until you’ve stepped outside of yourself for a day or a week that you notice how much you’ve missed. You know that feeling of taking a long weekend trip? Suddenly, Saturday seems to last forever as you forget about buying bananas and bread and focus on enjoying wherever you are.

All this is to say that while I appreciate some of the structures I’ve given my life, I can’t help but wonder what’s just outside the box. The new idea for Sunday blog posts is to write about one experience I had in the previous week that was out of routine, that wasn’t predictable, that made me think a little differently about myself and the world I live in.

Challenge 13: Take Advantage of Living in a “College Town”

As I’ve come to realize, most of this Sunday series really isn’t a “challenge” for me – more me trying to get in a better habit of saying “yes” even when I feel like I’m too tired or too busy for “the fun stuff.”

On Thursday, my friend asked what I was up to Friday night. Coming off a long week, all my exhausted mind wanted to do was immediately shut down whatever they were going to suggest. However, with this new mindset of “strategically saying yes,” I found myself with an adventure.

Friday rolled around and I was even more mopey and tired than I had been on Thursday. I dropped my work bag at my apartment, downed some hummus soaked carrots, and ran across the street to my friend’s apartment. We live near Columbia University in Manhattan and while I often cut through the campus on my way home, I typically don’t know what’s going on at the school. I have friends – like the one in this story – who are students. I’ve been to a couple basketball games, a rugby game, and a poetry slam, but other than that, I don’t follow the school too much.

I remember once talking with my mother about the perks of living in a college town and getting to go to concerts or sporting events or lectures. We both agreed that all of that sounded lovely. Yet here I sit, having lived a short stroll from the campus more or less since I moved to the city. When my friend asked if I wanted to go to some dance thing at Columbia on Friday night, I said yes.

Friday, March 30th was Tamasha, Club Zamana’s flagship event of the year. Held every spring, Tamasha attracts over 1000 undergraduates, graduates, alumni, and parents in a show is designed to promote South Asian culture and encourage campus unity.

I may have taken that directly from the event page. There were performances by the following groups: Raas, CU Bhangra, NYU Bhangra, Dhoomn, Taal, Sur, and Raaga. There was also a performance by the freshmen (Freshseg) and the seniors (Seniorseg).

Knowing very little – okay knowing absolutely nothing – before the show started made it that much more exciting. The dance groups were stunning. From the costumes to the choreography to the music, Tamasha was slick, smooth, and wildly entertaining.

At intermission, the emcees announced that through the doors on our left, they had a special treat for us. Enter: samosas. I was almost hitting a point of my carrots not quite cutting it and those samosas hit the spot and then some. I stood around the hallway of a Columbia student center building with my friend, eating samosas and talking about the groups we had seen perform thus far.

Watching the dancers (and the singers, shout out to the a cappella group) was a really humbling experience in many ways. Not only were they all supremely talented, but it made me realize how little I know of the world at large. It made me realize, in many ways, how small my own world is. I saw an entire culture of rich heritage come to life before my eyes. It was beautiful.

When people ask me what I love so much about New York City, I lead with two things. First, I walk (or take public transit) everywhere. Second, and more seriously, the world opens up to you here. There is so much diversity and culture and every day I have the opportunity to learn - in really authentic ways - more about worlds that seem so unknown.

Every time I go to an event at Columbia or hear about something the school is doing, I make a mental note to be more aware of what fun, educational, transformational things are happening. After Tamasha, I feel even luckier to have my own mini college town and a world of knowledge just down the street.

Love always,


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