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, WSN talked to Steinhardt student Natalie Diaz. Originally from Long Island, New York, Diaz transferred from Suffolk Community College to NYU in the fall of 2014. Diaz is a 21-year-old media, culture and communication major and will be graduating next month.
WSN: Can you talk about where you’re originally from and how it compares to New York?
Natalie Diaz: I was born in Los Angeles and then I moved out here when I was five. I lived on Long Island and was raised there and I live in Brooklyn now. New York is definitely a lot more outgoing. Everyone’s busy, everyone’s doing their own thing. Long Island’s just a bit submissive. Not a lot of people are out all the time. In the city, it’s so diverse. I really like that. It’s like my playground out here. I can do whatever I set my mind to.
WSN: What college did you go to previously and what was that experience like?
ND: On Long Island, I went to Suffolk Community College. I went there for two years after high school. The community college was a good stepping stone. I really dedicated myself the first semester there. I got into the honors program and I was on it for the rest of my Suffolk career. I was on the Dean’s List and really stepped up my game. And then, applying to colleges after my two years, I was like, ‘NYU’s my dream school.’ I always wanted to go here but my GPA was not good — like, it was good, but not good enough. I didn’t know if I should apply but everyone told me to. I didn’t hear anything for a while [from NYU], but I had gotten into Hunter, which was my second choice. I registered for classes and got a dorm. But late April or early May, I got accepted into NYU. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this changes everything.’
WSN: How did you adjust academically when you came to NYU?
ND: My first semester was pretty hard. It wasn’t the grades that I wanted. I was really trying to stay on top of everything, but I got lost very quickly. I was living on my own my first semester here. It was my first time away from home. I was not focusing on school. But whenever I buckled down and started doing a paper, I really, really tried. It was just not the best I could do. Now, I feel like I’m more adjusted. It definitely took my whole NYU career to get adapted.
WSN: What’s been the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make at NYU?
ND: I think my biggest adjustment would be my living situation. I’ve jumped from dorm to apartment to dorm to apartment. Adjusting to people and people’s needs and respecting their needs was huge for me. In Long Island, almost everyone’s the same. My friends are like me and we all just get along and relate to each other. I don’t really need to adjust to their needs because I’ve known them for so long. Once, I lived with two other people — one was from Massachusetts and the other was like, from Florida — and we all just have different standards and different ways of living. I definitely think that that was a huge adjustment. I think it helped me grow as a person.
WSN: What would you advise incoming students to do to adjust well to New York?
ND: Getting to know your classmates and getting their contact information in case you have questions about assignments. That was my biggest lifesaver. And definitely getting to know your professors. Last semester, what I did the first day was introduce myself to my professors so they could have a face to the name. I feel like the professors here are really helpful. They really want their students to succeed. That, and going out and exploring the city. Meet some outgoing people in your classes and go out for dinner or brunch. Or go to a party. There are plenty of opportunities to meet people here.
Note: the questions and answers in this interview have been edited for length and clarity purposes.
Email Jessica Martinez at [email protected]