Like most Columbia students, Andrea Richards CC ‘17 was on track to spend her entire undergraduate career in Morningside Heights. Despite expressing a desire to see the city’s many museums in her Columbia application, Richards traveled below Chipotle for the first time last week, almost three years after starting college. But Richards didn’t make the descent to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art or to celebrate her 21st birthday at a trendy downtown bar. No, Richards just needed to catch that fucking Pikachu.
Richards downloaded Pokemon Go last week, but managed to restrict her exploration to Columbia’s quiet surroundings. She covered a great distance despite her limited radius. “I had to walk 40 laps around campus,” Richards said. “It was the only way to walk a 10k without acknowledging that I live in the greatest city in the world.”
But laps around campus couldn’t get her to 107th and Broadway, the location of a coveted Pikachu. Instead of just walking the quarter-mile from Broadway to the Pikachu, Richards initially tried to take the easy way out. “Since I’m a C.S. major, I tried hacking the app for 14-hours straight,” Richards told the Fed. “But apparently Nintendo’s security features are a lot more advanced than its piece-of-shit servers.”
Realizing she couldn’t code her way downtown, Richards made preparations for her journey. She changed into a Columbia sweatshirt to ensure commoners would recognize her Ivy League pedigree. Then, she texted her mom, telling her to alert the police if she didn’t call within two hours. Finally, she left her building and walked straight to the 116th subway station. After swiping her Columbia ID to no avail, Richards realized she’d have to buy a Metrocard for the first time. “I kept the Metrocard as a souvenir,” Richards said. “You never know when you’ll travel below 110th again.”
A few minutes after exiting the 103rd street subway station, Richards managed to capture the elusive Pikachu. But now she remembers little of her odyssey. “I saw a few homeless people, caught a glimpse of a Bank of America ATM, and took a snap with an Upper West Side geofilter. But obviously my head was down the whole time—I mean, gotta catch ’em all.”