First-Year Fears

Julia Saliba

Alyssa Kelly, Contributing Writer

Every college student remembers those exhilarating — yet daunting — few months leading up to their freshman year. For some, buying new bedding and making a first class schedule were exciting indications of impending freedom. But others found that the idea of starting a new life in an unfamiliar place generated more anxiety on top of the typical nerves that come with the transition to college life.

NYU’s non-traditional approach to the college experience can make getting the most out of your four years difficult. Steinhardt freshman Dan Bennett feared he wouldn’t make friends in a new city.

“It’s pretty nerve-racking to throw yourself into an entirely new situation, like moving to New York City, and not know anybody,” Bennett said.

For Bennett, getting involved in Welcome Week and residence hall events made all the difference.

“Before I got here, I applied to live on an Exploration Floor, and I would say that was probably one of the best decisions I made to alleviate the stress of making friends because we already had a common interest going into first semester,” Bennett said.

While New York City’s population of eight million might seem like a pool of potential friends at first, the reality of sifting through everyone to find a few great friends is very challenging.

Getting involved provides you with an environment of like-minded peers looking to reach a common goal. NYU offers an abundance of clubs and events through which students can engage in extracurricular outlets.

However, as in most academic settings, competition can be a driving force for many students in both coursework and outside activities.
CAS junior Alidia Findley was scared of going from the best in her class to just another face in the crowd.

“I guess my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be as successful here as I was in high school,” Findley said. “In high school I was a top student, but I was worried that, surrounded by so many other top students, I wouldn’t be able to stand out.”

If you’re concerned that every student at NYU has already created and sold their own startup or become Instagram famous, it’s easy to believe that you will never be the as successful. But whether it be in class, a sport or a club, NYU has a place for you to shine. University life provides a safe environment for students to explore all their interests in hopes of finding their paths in life.

In an effort to find that path and create a smaller community, many students take advantage of NYU’s global facilities for a chance to study abroad, like Steinhardt sophomore Natalie Burger, who studied at NYU Paris for her freshman year. Burger was present for the 2015 Parisien terror attacks. Luckily, she found solace within the NYU community.

“I was nervous about leaving home and living in a country thousands of miles away,” Burger said. “I think it was my new friends who helped [me] overcome these fears, after all we were all in the same boat. I think talking about it in my classes, too, was really helpful. One of my teachers spent a few classes talking about the events of November 13th and I think that took a lot of the fear out of the unknown.”

Whether abroad or on campus in New York City, NYU offers countless programs for all students to utilize that focus on health, homesickness and safety. The Wellness Center offers counseling and medical services and academic advisors aim to quell school and career anxieties. The stress of balancing a new environment, schoolwork and previous medical issues led LS freshman Jennie Whalen to some of NYU’s resources.

“I spoke with my advisor about my anxiety and two of my professors I was very close with, and they talked me through some of the stuff,” Whalen said. “And I did talk to my RA. I found everyone at NYU to be really accepting and helpful.”

College does not need to be a place of judgement and hardship. Your college experience depends on how you embrace the opportunities provided to you. Leaving home for the first time can be tough — and moving to New York City is tougher — but don’t let that fear of something new stop you from taking advantage of everything NYU has to offer.

Bennett believes that giving into certain preconceptions can detract from your overall experience.

“There was a part of me that expected both the school and the city to be this magical place that was instantly going to make my life interesting and cool,” Bennett said. “The truth of the matter is that you get out of this city what you put into it.”

Incoming students can make the most of their time at NYU by embracing the city and everything within it. Four years is a long time, but sometimes, it’s not long enough.

Email Alyssa Kelly at [email protected].