When I received the acceptance email into the Hurricane Maria Assistance Program, I promised myself that I would make the most out of the opportunity, but I never imagined it would take a toll on me. Students who are considering NYU should know that the city and university can be vibrant places, but that they can also feel as far away as skyscrapers.
I remember sitting down on my first day of class and enthusiastically talking to the stranger on my left, who skeptically followed my conversation. As we walked to the park after class, he smiled and jokingly said that he felt social anxiety at the beginning of our talk — that speaking to random classmates at NYU was uncommon. When I got to my apartment that night, after telling my roommate that story, she kindly responded that she felt NYU had no sense of community. While some would have thought these were omens, I shrugged them off.
However, I soon learned that they weren’t completely wrong. Adjusting to the city, making friends and getting involved didn’t prove to be impossible, but it was harder than I thought. In the first weeks, I joined four organizations, I completed all my readings, I emailed activist groups in the city and I tried to master small talk. But as I felt overworked by activities, isolated in student organizations, as I received very late responses to my emails and realized that small talk wasn’t leading to more profound conversations, I quickly grew tired. Mid-semester, I realized I needed room to breathe. I dropped some organizations, acknowledged that I needed to sleep in the city that never did and decided to be grateful for the friends I did have in whatever shape they took.
The city is full of lights, but it can suck the light out of you, especially in seemingly eternal winter. In no way do I regret my experience, and I will always be aware of my privilege, but I lacked focus and preparation in a very fast-moving atmosphere. Students should be aware of the benefits and hardships of the city so that they can be prepared when they step foot in it.
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Email Ignangeli Salinas-Muñiz at [email protected].