A massive swarm of bodies outside of the Kimmel Center for University Life seems out of place so early on a Saturday morning. But on Oct. 20, NYU’s Parents’ Weekend festivities drew a large and eager audience of parents to the area — asking directions to the “Square,” striking up conversations with the “Do you know my daughter?” question and trying to figure out if Alec Baldwin was scheduled to speak. Although the vision makes for a comical backdrop to the weekend morning scene, the impact of parents on a budding undergraduate’s new life strikes a chord that hits uncannily close to home.
Parents’ Weekend offers students the feeling that they are on a family vacation — homework is left untouched until Sunday night, parents pay for restaurant meals and, once again, students see the city through the eyes of a tourist. Parents’ pride and curiosity in all that their children are accomplishing at school is also a huge boost in confidence, for students have a now sympathetic audience for their first successes and failures at college. After a rough start to the semester, it feels good to have them around.
After witnessing firsthand the process of my freshman sister assimilating into the riotous lifestyle of a college student in New York City, our nuclear family’s reunion became the first time that we spent time together as four adults. I gave my dad sports bar recommendations, my sister told stories of yelling at hecklers in the street, and my mother allowed her daughters to take over the job of hailing cabs. It was odd to suddenly be more knowledgeable about an area than those who showed us the world. Even stranger was how we realized that we belonged to a life that was our own creation; for the first time, our parents hadn’t shown us the way.
With Parents’ Weekend comes a newfound and unshakeable awareness of autonomy. Through the eyes of their parents, students can see themselves shift from the child they once were to the young adult they have started to become.
But is this jarring sensation of being uprooted beneficial or detrimental to assimilating back into the college routine once parents return home?
The presence of parents is a double-edged sword. Undergraduates are thrust back into childhood — stuffed uncomfortably into a character he or she forgot how to play. They may find themselves scolded for what now seems trite or uncontrollably irritated by those whom they love most. The swift arrival and departure is unsettling, leaving the students feeling lonely, disoriented and unprepared for life without their parents.
In a sense, the idea of adulthood is terrifying. Responsibility, loneliness, financial crises — these and other anxieties are left to consider after waving farewell. Home seems like a distant dream that you will only partially occupy on visits, as if on vacation from your new and faraway adult life. Seeing parents in a school setting can be a distracting, depressing setback to education. Though home may remain the same and welcome you with open arms, you will be inconceivably different.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Oct. 24 print edition. Sasha Leshner is a staff columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full-time faculty of the Gallatin School of Individualized Study has passed a vote of no confidence in NYU President John Sexton. Based on the statement below, 23 voted in favor, 21 voted against and 6 abstained. “We, the full-time …Read More »
- Weekend Roam: Little Germany
- WSN Editorial Board reflects on spring semester events
- Strawberry Festival promises delicious, intergalactic fun
- Clive Davis Institute collaborates with DJ Swivel
- Best places to dine on dumplings
- 'Heroes' is not super enough for Xbox Live film program launch
- NYU SLAM sees victory through 'badidas' campaign
- Victoria Ettore elected student council president
- Hester Street Fair hosts diverse vendors, delicious food