From the moment campus partially reopened with the start of Move-In Week on January 16, the excitement from students, particularly first-years, has been palpable. Francesca Fierro ’24 was one of those students. While New Yorkers were still encouraged to mask up and socially distance, Fierro found time and space to safely explore the City with classmates on an off-day. In this Day in the Life log, the Clifton, N.J., native offers a glimpse into how she started her day and everything that followed, from an outing that included tiny Swedish meatballs and the silliness that can ensue in an empty subway car to the joy of a midnight stroll across the steps of Columbia's Low Memorial Library.

While Fierro did visit campus last fall for a socially distanced meetup with friends, which included logging on remotely for a course, officially being on campus gave her the opportunity to get a henna hand tattoo and forge tighter bonds with her Barnard peers. “Barnard is truly made up of incredible students,” she said.

See below for the fun Fierro got into on a day off from coursework:


9 a.m.: Welcome! Today is going to be busy, so I naturally began things with some chocolate chip pancakes. I was feeling cute and made them with my roommates’ initials, but the chocolate later quickly melted into unrecognizable goo. It’s the thought that counts, right?


10:30 a.m.: A friend drew a temporary tattoo on my hand using freehand ink from Inkbox. It’s a koi fish, and while I think it came out really well, I’ll have to hide my hands from my mom on our FaceTime calls. It’s the price you pay.


12 noon: An extremely flattering shot of us as we wait for the bus to go to IKEA in Red Hook, Brooklyn. What else is a free day for, other than wandering this Swedish behemoth, where one can have swivel chair races and eat tiny meatballs to your heart’s delight? 


1:30 p.m.: We have arrived at IKEA and made a beeline for the restaurant. Clearly, we didn’t skimp: the iconic meatballs, mashed potatoes, a lox salad, lingonberry juice, cheesecake — and this is just what fit in the frame. Peep the bucket hat! 


2 p.m.:  It’s showroom time! We dream about what it’s like to furnish a place that isn’t the size of a broom closet. Manhattan real estate truly brings out the inner minimalist in all of us. 


6:30 p.m.: After hours of shopping and contemplating which of the 30-plus identical lightbulb models we want, we begin the trek home. At one point, we got the subway car to ourselves and decided to go a little crazy. Is this the “College Experience”?


12 midnight: Sometimes it’s late and you just need some juice. While walking back from the store, we stopped on the steps of Columbia's Low Memorial Library to snap this pic with the moon. This is what makes college in the city so special — these tiny moments of spontaneity and silliness.