Never a Foreigner in New York

Ambition. Diversity. Belonging. For hundreds of years, New York City has been the embodiment of these values. The city takes pride in the fact that there are no more differences in color, language or culture here — there are only New Yorkers. As one of the most iconic universities in this city, NYU is the epitome of the diverse New York spirit, sporting the largest international student body in both number and proportion in the country. As Violets, we share the ambition to excel, embrace the diversity of the school, the city and the country and bond over our fierce love for this vibrant city.

As the adage goes, “If you make it here, you can make it anywhere.” New York City, by any standard, is an incredibly hard city to live in. Yet it is also a city with all kinds of possibilities. Be it international students or local students, young people flood into this city with the hopes to fulfill their wildest dreams. NYU students share the aspiration to write their own stories and have their 15 minutes of fame. The only difference between international students and local students is that international students’ homes are further away and their stakes are higher.

As an international student, my relationship with New York was love at first sight. When I came to New York for a conference five years ago. I vowed to myself that I would return someday. I gave up offers to work at prestigious companies closer to home and scholarship offers from the other universities and moved to New York City two years ago.

Naturally, it was a hard city to transition to. In Taipei, the subway is always clean and stable; on the other hand, MTA is never reliable. It’s also harder for me than it is for my American classmates to find an internship. International students cannot get paid until they have finished a whole academic year, and because of that, most reputable companies will not hire an international student. After going to tons of interviews, I started to wonder whether I was failing. I was so afraid to tell my parents any bad news that I kept telling them New York was great, even when it wasn’t.

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However, I cannot give up. I love this city. I love to meet interesting people who are doing interesting things. One of my friends recently once told me that she is part of the World Trade Center Construction Team and she was excited to show me the details of different buildings. New York City is always full of surprises, and as long as you are resilient, it is a great place for dreamers to meet like-minded people.

At first glance, every NYU student represents a certain culture in their own way, and the gap between those cultures may seem to be huge. However, living in the Big Apple means sharing a bond that highlights our similarities: dreams of success, an appreciation of dynamic cultures and a passion for this city. We are all members of this enormous community that celebrates diversity and equal opportunities. Our differences should not divide us; instead, being united can make us stronger together.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 6 print edition. 

Email Phoebe Kuo at [email protected] 

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