Need a Study Break?

Finals are approaching, the weather is getting colder, and it’s getting darker earlier. BUT, check out this adorable post to brighten your day! When the stress is getting to me, looking at some adorable animals can make getting through the day a little easier. Check out the Buzzfeed post below if you like puppies, kittens, ducklings (a personal favorite of mine), and Patrick Stewart as a lobster in a bathtub.

Also, feel free to stop by the Well-Woman office to de-stress or just do your work with a cup of tea. I will probably see you there!

-Rachel Katz


And that kids is the story of how I met…. Part 2!

As the leaves finish falling, many of us head home to our hometowns to see old friends and family. Being reunited with the people we’ve known for so long may make us forget how long it took us to build such intimate relationships. In our last installment of “And that’s the story of how I met…” peer eds shared how they met their friends in college. But as graduating seniors know, life continues after college. It may seem daunting to have to make friends without the comfort of a shared living space or classroom struggles. Below a few Barnard staff share how they made their first “grown-up” friendships. Check back again next week to read more stories from staff members about how they met their friends!

Dean Grabiner, First-Year Class Dean and Dean for Academic Assistance

One way I’ve found to make friends post-college is to be my authentic self when I interact with people at work, to the extent that it’s professionally appropriate. For example, I was in a meeting some years ago where a topic came up that related to my own identity politics, and I made a comment that began, “As a gay woman, I….” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman at the far end of the table swivel her head over to look at me, and I saw a look of recognition on her face. The next time I ran into her, she made a point of coming up to me to talk about how she always attends the Michigan Women’s Music Festival and used to visit the West Village as a teenager from Long Island because it made her feel free. These moments of connection were the beginning of our friendship.

Mary Joan L. Murphy,Executive Director of Student Health and Wellness Programs
I would say that I made many of my post college friends from volunteering and graduate school.
Immediately after college, I worked for two yearsa as a teacher volunteer in Belize, Central America with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps-similiar to Peace Corps but much smaller and has some value components attached with it. I made a group of life long friends from that experience. I also joined the group Team and Training with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society when I moved back to NYC and completed a marathon and a couple triatholons with them and made a great group of friends through this. I also have a few friends (one of whom I just went out to dinner with last night) from my graduate work.
My advice would be to get involved with groups and topics you are interested in where you will find like minded people!

Jenna Freedman, Associate Director of Communications & Zine Librarian
My core group of non-professional friends are folks I worked with as a lighting technician at the Public Theater and Shakespeare in the Park. Long hours, hard work, danger and lots of fun build intense friendship.

I’m also close to a lot of librarians, online and in person, IMing daily with my BFF from grad school. You might be surprised at how social librarians are.

Over the last few years I’ve gotten back into letter-writing. I can spend an hour writing someone a letter and decorating the envelope. Doing that, and getting similarly crafted mail back makes me feel close to people, one of whom I’ve never met and probably never will.

I still consider my college roommate my lifelong bestie though she lives in Connecticut and I rarely see her.

Little Acts of Self Care

I’ve been thinking about self-care a lot lately, primarily because I’ve been feeling pretty constricted by midterms (shouldn’t those be over??), final papers, looming final exams, etc. I feel like my life is scheduled to the minute, and with a schedule like that, who has time to read a book (for fun) or take a bubble bath (or a place to take a bubble bath, for that matter)?

To solve this, I’ve been trying to think of little ways to take care of yourself. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

1) Eat. Okay, seriously. I hear people say almost every day that they didn’t have time to eat, which is so tragic. Personally, if I don’t eat, I get even more anxious and emotional, and am just a general mess. If you take care of your body, your brain will feel a whole lot better.

2) Along the same lines…sleep. Do your laundry. Clean up the pile of clothes that has been accumulating since you started studying for that test. Doing the little, mundane-feeling things can take a load off of your stress levels. Besides, doing somewhat mindless tasks gives your mind a chance to rest.

3) Breathe. Taking deep breaths is so easy and so calming. You can do it literally anywhere, from the middle of class to a subway platform. Taking a breath to put things into perspective is one of the most helpful things for me–especially because, after I take that breath, I realize I had been taking shallow, panicked breaths, thus continuing the cycle of panic (i.e. bad thing happens -> freak out -> stop breathing properly -> bodily response creates more panic -> feeling of panic escalates…etc.) Taking a second to breathe takes you away from the overwhelming stuff and into your own little safe space.

4) Listen. You know those songs that you just feel in your gut? The ones that you could be in the middle of a circus, but if that song comes on, it will get your attention? Well, those songs are the ones I want you to remember for moments when you’re feeling like you need a little love. In those moments, sit (or lie or whatever) down and just listen–not while you’re doing work, not while you’re in the gym, only when you force yourself to put the world on hold and listen.

5) Be an active participant in your life. Check in with yourself to make sure you’re doing things that you can handle and that you enjoy. It’s so easy to get caught up in life and stop paying attention to the way you feel or the things that you’re doing, but giving attention to these things is easy and can help you to make sure you’re living your life the way you want to. An easy way to do this is to create a gratitude log or a highs and lows log each day, detailing what you’re grateful for or what your best and worst moments were throughout the day. It will help you to be present and mindful in the everyday.

What little things do you do to take care of yourself? Share any ideas you have in the comments!

A college student walks into a doctor’s office…

In the spirit of taking care of personal health during the flu season I wanted to share some information which I think is a good step towards greater agency over personal health.

For many of us coming to college is the first time we are faced with making our own doctors appointments, dealing with insurance claims and all the other things that come with taking care of your own health without our parent’s help.

An important part of being able to understand your own health and advocate for yourself is to know your medical history. It can be helpful to know what you have and haven’t been vaccinated for, when your last physical was, or what medications you’re allergic to.

One way to access this information is through electronic health records (EHRs), which are available online. More and more doctors offices are switching from paper to electronic health records (83% of healthcare providers offer EHRs, according to and some even have smartphone apps where records are accessible. Not all doctors offer EHRs yet, but if yours does, it might be worth it to take a look and familiarize yourself with any important information.

Getting access to your EHRs is fairly simple, but the process can vary from doctor to doctor. Generally, you need to:

1) Contact the doctor(s) you have had in the past and ask if they offer online access to health records.

2) If they do, ask how to set up an account. Because medical information is protected by certain privacy laws you will generally be asked to sign a waiver allowing your records to become accessible through an online account and you may be required to physically go to your doctor’s office to sign the waiver form—although online, faxed or verbal consent is also accepted by some doctors).

3) Once the waiver is completed, your doctor will notify you when your EHR account has been activated, and you will be able to see your medical history online.

4) Many EHR portals are also available on smartphone apps such as “MyChart”, so that once you’ve created an EHR account you can also download an app to access your medical history on your phone. This can be especially useful when you are at the doctor’s office if need to answer a medical question on the spot and you can look up the answer on your phone.

Doctor’s offices and medical processes can be confusing and intimidating, and having a better understanding of your own medical history can help you have more agency over your own health.

To health and wellness!


Some Thoughts on Women & Suffering

*trigger warnings for sexual assault and self-harm*

Hey yall!

This semester (and throughout my time at Barnard, truth be told) I’ve been thinking a lot about women and wellness in the world, especially the relationship between women and suffering. I’m studying English lit and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality studies, so I end up spending a lot of time reading about both fictional and real women who suffer, and also thinking about the ways those different narratives influence us.

There’s a lot of really interesting, super relevant, non-academic reading around about this. I really like longform journalism, so I’m including a couple of articles I’ve read in the last year or two that are really interesting to read, especially as a student on this campus at this moment in time, when I think collectively a lot of us are considering gender and culture especially as they manifest in our generation.

1. The Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain, by Leslie Jamison

This is an essay from a really incredible book called The Empathy Exams. The book is about suffering, pain, medicine, gender, and the way we interact with and pathologize bodies. This essay takes into account so many interesting literary and contemporary examples of narratives and fetishizations of female pain, and the way culture sometimes poeticizes and worships the wounded woman. 

2. Your Friends and Rapists, by Sarah Nicole Prickett

This is a really striking, intimate essay on sexual assault and the cultivation of culture that permits it. It’s hard to read, but really thought-provoking, and really relevant to the crises and campaigns that many of us are involved in at Columbia.

3. Call It Rape, by Margot Singer

This is another super intimate and personal collection of stories about youth and sex and violence. It’s poetic and difficult and complicated. It includes some intriguing and heartbreaking conversations about what constitutes rape.

4. Where Are All The Women, by Sarah Nicole Prickett

The census, then, suggests that where there weren’t always girls, there are girls now, girls everywhere, girls who will celebrate a dozen 29th birthdays and still be girls… Girls are forever. Women, I know, are for life. This is another article by Sarah Nicole Prickett about girls and women, the word bitch as an identity, men, “ladies,” privilege, bodies. It’s personal and it’s quick and it’s snappy and relevant. You might like it.

These are hard but they’re also smart and worthwhile.

Happy fall break, friends.

Much love,