New Kids on Campus: The Third Time’s the Charm

Art history major Marissa Nadeau transferred twice before ending up at NYU, where she has made an impact on student life as a transfer ambassador.

WSN’s Features Desk is investigating the lives of transfer students in a series we’re calling “New Kids on Campus.” Each piece will feature a Q&A with a transfer student at NYU about their past and present college experiences and how they’ve adjusted to New York City.

This week, we talked to CAS student Marissa Nadeau. Originally from Brookfield, Connecticut, Nadeau transferred from Furman University to Western Connecticut State University and then to NYU in spring 2014. Nadeau is an art history major who plans to graduate next month.

WSN: Can you talk about where you’re originally from and how it compares to New York?

MN: I’m from Connecticut — an hour and a half outside the city. I never came into the city when I was a kid or in high school. It’s different because I’m from the suburbs. Totally different in the respect that I would drive everywhere. There’s so much more opportunity here, more than anywhere else, but specifically for what I’m doing — I’m an art history major, so it’s perfect for what I want to do.

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WSN: What school did you go to previously and how does your experience compare to your experience at NYU?

MN: I actually transferred twice. My freshman year, I went to Furman University in South Carolina, which is a school of 3,000 kids. It was ranked like, No. 1 for its campus. It looks like a resort when you walk onto campus. It’s gorgeous, but it’s so small. If you didn’t have a car, which I didn’t, you couldn’t really go anywhere. They called it the “Furman Bubble.” I think it was good to get away from my home to realize what I wanted. It was just very different there. Being the only person from the New York State area was difficult. I could only go home once a semester. So, I ended up transferring to Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut. It’s about a 10-minute commute from my house. I ended up going there for the fall of my sophomore year. As soon as I started the semester, I was like, ‘This is not where I want to end up staying for the rest of my university career.’ With work and school, it was too much to apply to too many places, so it was NYU or bust. I worked on my application for two months, sent it in, got in, which is awesome, because I didn’t know what I would do if I didn’t get in. So then I transferred here in the spring of my sophomore year. It’s been great. I associated with the Transfer Student Association. I founded the blog for them. It was a really great way to get in with the transfer community. Currently, I’m a transfer ambassador, which goes to show that even if you’re a transfer student, you can really make an impact with what’s going on in student life.

WSN: How did you adjust academically when you came to NYU?

MN: I think it was good that I went to Furman first because they’re rigorous. It was really intense. And then I went to West Conn, and there I had a 4.0 for the one semester. And then I come here, and I’m like, ‘It’s back to this really tough schedule.’ It helped because I was taking classes I really liked for my major, and then I ended up taking classes that became my minors, which are Italian and Creative Writing. I definitely had a meltdown and called my mom every day and I was on the street crying. I think everyone has that meltdown and we always need to keep in mind that everyone else has had that meltdown. Guaranteed. If you haven’t, you’re a robot. It was definitely also about organization. I scheduled how many pages I was going to read per day and then my weekends were mostly free. It’s just like an adjustment for anything. You need to take it bite by bite and not go for the whole thing.

WSN: How was making friends for you when you came to NYU?

MN: It’s still always a struggle. The Transfer Student Association definitely helped. I met one of my roommates in TSA. When we studied abroad, she was in Paris [while I was in Florence], so we ended up traveling for two weeks after. I met people through study abroad. It’s still difficult. People have their groups. It’s always just about getting yourself out there, which no one wants to do. You’re just like, ‘Give me friends! That’s all I want!’ Through the activities I’ve done and through class, I’ve met people.

WSN: What’s been the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make here?

MN: The school versus internship situation. NYU is so career-based, which is awesome because it prepares you for graduation which is coming so soon for me, but it was almost scary to see how intense some people’s schedules could be. I’ve been lucky in that every semester I’ve been here, I’ve had an internship at a gallery, but I don’t think I would have known that if I hadn’t been exposed to people being like, ‘I have my internship this day and this day and class this day and this day and I juggle everything.’ It’s interesting that school is secondary. I know a lot of people who’ve already signed for a job in the fall. You have this intense school environment, but you also have this competitiveness to get a job before anyone else in your field. The workload was a big adjustment.

WSN: What would you advise incoming transfers to do?

MN: My biggest thing is to partake in every activity possible, even if you don’t know what it is. Just go and feel it out. I was a spring transfer, which is, I want to say, a little harder than a fall transfer. For my transfer ambassador position, I did fall Welcome Week and spring Welcome Week and I had never taken part in a fall Welcome Week before and I was like, ‘Wow. I wish I had this.’ Fall or spring, you should always take advantage of everything. Yeah, it’s awkward at first and intimidating and you don’t know if it’ll work out for you, but you should just put yourself out there.  

Note: the questions and answers in this interview have been edited for length and clarity purposes.

Email Jessica Martinez at [email protected]

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