When you’re not studying or hanging out with your friends, you’re spending your free time at the computer, playing video games, or watching Netflix.
But if you want to feel like a true nerd at Columbia, the university has you covered.
“There are so many things you can do to feel better, like study, get outside and play,” says Samantha Sussman, a student at the University of Washington.
“Just think of what you would do if you were in that same position, but in a more intimate setting.”
For Sussmann, a sophomore, that kind of bonding has become her biggest goal of the semester.
She has been studying up on the internet and reading books on capes and superheroes, and she’s decided to do the same for the college.
“I wanted to make sure I got to know the people I really wanted to be friends with,” she says.
“To me, this is a chance to be part of a group that I really care about, that’s going to make me feel good and secure.”
So, Sussmans capes are on.
They’re her only accessory, but they’ve become an important part of her social life.
They are a source of pride, she says, because she has friends that she is in awe of.
“When I’m out there, I think I am in awe,” she laughs.
“That’s a cool feeling.”
So what exactly is capes?
Capes are a group of people who identify as superheroes, but like the word itself, “cape” can also mean any sort of superhero.
They can be superheroes of the past, like the Green Lanterns, or the original Flash, or even more recent incarnations like the Spider-Man, who was the first Spider-Woman.
But the most popular superhero of all is Batman.
It’s the one who’s famous for being the vigilante and the one with a cap.
But he’s not the only one with capes.
Sussmen is one of those capes, which means she loves them.
“They are the ones who are out there and they have the most to say about the world,” she explains.
“We are not just superheroes, we are real people with real needs and real concerns.”
Capes have been around for a long time, but there is one big difference: capes today are mostly male.
That’s because in the early days, the idea of being a cape was more of a joke, Sommons capes have become a bit of a social commentary.
But as Sussmons social life has grown, she’s realized that being a cap means being able to talk to a lot of people.
She likes to socialize with other students, and the school has created a website for capes called capescoop, which allows students to share tips on how to be an effective social butterfly.
“The internet has really democratized communication, and now people want to share with one another,” Sussms tells Mashable.
“And I think this has really helped us as a society, because now there are so much more opportunities to do that, and you can see people who are just really enjoying it.”
In the meantime, Sams social life is still very much centered around her capes as much as possible.
She still reads comic books, watches shows like The Flash and Daredevil, and even helps out with the capes’ online club, Capes Anonymous.
“You can’t get away from the cap,” she jokes.
“It’s part of who you are.”