Ranked: Quintessential NYU experiences

Because they do exist!

Our Managing Editor, Trace Miller, did not believe we could make a list of quintessential NYU experiences  — he’s a philosophy bro. We’ll leave it for you to decide.

12. Listening to “Empire State of Mind” and “Welcome to New York” while walking through New York City 

Joey + Sabrina: We all did this sometime during our first-year fall, but not immediately, because we didn’t want to feel basic.

11. Taking that one picture at DUMBO

J + S: Behold:

10. NYU campus traditions

The Bobst atrium at night: formally dressed ball attendee dancing in the foreground; a DJ stand blasting purple light beams in the background.
The V100 ball in the Bobst Library. (Staff Photo by Sam Tu)

J: The only time I raved about NYU campus traditions was during my college essay LOL. I hopped onto the NYU website and raved about Strawberry Fest or whatever it’s called. Did I go? No. I went to one Welcome Week event, got like 20 other first-years’ Instagram accounts, never hung out with any of them after that, but ran into them four years later. 

S: The traditions that NYU advertises are generally underwhelming, but they’re nice. I went to Strawberry Festival as a first-year, ate some of the famously long strawberry shortcake and bought a sticker from my friend’s art booth. It was cute, I just expected a little more from one of the selling points of campus life. Now, returning from the pandemic, I felt like everyone attending the Violet Gala and Ball really wanted to be there because it was the first opportunity to go in two years. The ball was exactly as awkward as you’d expect dancing in a library to be, and the DJ made some confusing choices, but the novelty of having fun in Bobst before you graduate is worth the $10 price of admission.

9. Seeing Alec Baldwin

S: When I first got to NYU, upperclassmen guaranteed that I would see Alec Baldwin before I graduated. Maybe it’s because I lived in Brittany Hall, so we were neighbors. I remember the news vans parked all along East 10th Street that one time in 2018 he got arrested for punching someone in a parking lot, but I doubted that our paths would ever cross. Then one day, I was walking to class and passed his building and there he was, standing in the doorway, casually chatting with someone. I had to do a double-take because my brain was catching up to my eyes. So yes, you probably will see Alec Baldwin while at NYU. 

8. Judging people by their favorite floor of Bobst

An image of Bobst Library, looking down on the ground-floor atrium. On each level, metal screens run from the floor to the ceiling.
Bobst Library. (Staff Photo by Luca Richman)

J: I like LL2 — this sounds really weird, but I like that there are so many bathroom stalls (but not in a weird way) — and the eighth floor for the big windows of course.

S: My go-to are the north-facing rooms on the 4th floor. I know the view gets better the higher up you go, but I like the wheely chairs. 

7. Trying drugs

A yellow bag, rolling papers, an orange lighter, a dollar bill, and a small green grinder on top of a red bag.
Drugs! (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

J: Many of us had our first puff in first-year dorms, carried a vape around for a few months thinking you looked super cool, got turned away from bars because our fake IDs looked too fake — IDGod, we’re looking at you — and bumped into things in club bathrooms and hallways. A couple of those experiences were amazing, some were outright insane, most were underwhelming and others you just wish to forget. One time during my first year, I swear I saw God calling me to heaven while greened out in a Founders Hall bathroom — shoutout to Founders whooo — and I promised Them I’d never smoke weed again if They would just let me live. Well … anyways.

6. Going to Tompkins Square Bagels just in case you bump into Timmy

A picture of a scrambled eggs and cream cheese bagel cut in half against a white background. Behind it a brown bag with a receipt that reads “Sabrina.” Next to the bagel is a plastic cup of coffee.
When you order at Tompkins Square Bagels but have to take it to go because you got sad that you didn’t see Timmy. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

J: Have you run into Timothée Chalamet? I haven’t, but I do have a friend of a friend who is friends with Lily-Rose Depp who used to date him which means I’m only four degrees of separation from him. It’s super funny — I feel like so many NYU kids casually know dirt about the celebrities and/or celebrities’ kids that go to our school and just keep going about our day. Omg, they’re just like us fr (‘:

S: OK I’ll admit, this was in the back of my mind the first time I went to Tompkins Square Bagels at 12:30 p.m. on a Sunday with a line wrapped all the way around the store. Peak celebrity sighting hours. He was not there, but I swear I did see him in Washington Square Park once. Someone spotted him there and it was all over social media. My roommate and I didn’t want to be Those Girls™️, but we couldn’t just sit in our dorm and miss the excitement. So we went to the park and a giant pack of teenage girls swarmed around someone who turned out not to be Timothée Chalamet (classic), then I turned around and saw someone with a suspiciously similar haircut smirk while watching them like he had a secret. We were all wearing masks so I couldn’t be certain. All I’m saying is that if I were a celebrity, I might hide in plain sight, too. 

5. Slowly watching your friends turn into people who look like they should live in Williamsburg, listen to Mitski and have tattoos on their arms

J + S: One of us lives in Williamsburg, the other has arm tats and neither of us listens to Mitski, therefore this doesn’t apply to us. If this applies to you, you know who you are. 

4. Rooftop parties

A nighttime view of the midtown Manhattan skyline.
A rooftop in Midtown. (Staff Photo by Camila Ceballos)

J: The best view of Manhattan I’ve ever had was from the 64th floor of a FiDi apartment on Dutch Street. I’m not saying you should make friends with people who have rooftops just because they have rooftops, but you should, and you should invite me while you’re at it (Instagram @joeyalison hmu).

S: It’s summer or early fall. It’s a warm night. You’re on a friend’s rooftop, or your own if you’re lucky. You may or may not have permission to be there. You’re happy, and you’re surrounded by other people in a good mood and you’re staring at the New York City skyline thinking, ‘Wow, I really get to be a college student here.’ 

3. Late-night food outings

The exterior facade of a red brick building with a Joe's Pizza sign and patio cover. A customer eats at the outside table.
Joe’s Pizza in Union Square. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

J: It’s the way that I did the late-night Joe’s Pizza run with my suitemate, UberEated Sticky’s and Insomnia at 2 a.m., and got halal on 14th Street in front of Palladium Hall — you know the one — then headed to Carlyle Court to smoke and stay up all night. Truly a first-year experience. We used to wander the city all night or park ourselves on the stairs of someone’s home until 8 a.m. and then head to our respective classes. But I can no longer casually pull all-nighters — is that just me? If I don’t get eight hours of solid sleep at night, I don’t function properly for the rest of the day. The other day I was walking home around 1 a.m. and my body told me, “Joey you can’t keep doing this :\\\”, emoji included. Shoutouts to Veselka, Ray’s Pizza & Bagel Café, Ray’s Candy Store, McDonald’s and all the delis in the East Village for staying open 24/7 and soaking up whatever was in my stomach.

S: Going out at 11 p.m. with my friends to the Union Square halal carts was the essence of my first year. We used to carry cash in increments of $6 so we could get halal at a moment’s notice. If it wasn’t halal, it was 2 Bros Pizza. One of us would pick up a pie on our way home from work, then we’d all hang out in one of our rooms to eat and play Super Smash Bros. Now that’s what I call a Friday night. 

2. Having a class with an influencer/celebrity/celebrity’s kid/prince

J: I have not had a class with a celebrity, celebrity’s kid and much less the Prince of Greece. Has anyone had class with the Prince? I have yet to see him watching the skaters in Washington Square Park. However, I am currently in a class with an influencer who was tracking her follower count on an actual Excel spreadsheet instead of paying attention to the lecture. Girlboss, gatekeep, gaslight — you dance for that TikTok baby! 🕺 

S: I’ve only had one Zoom class with one influencer. One the first day, the professor put us into breakout rooms and had us play two truths and a lie as an icebreaker. Someone in my group told me who she was and apparently, she told the other group as one of her truths. I searched her Instagram and she had an absurd number of followers. That was fun.

1. Building a relationship with WSP

A student walks past the fountain in Washington Square Park. Behind the fountain are green trees with lots of foliage. It is a sunny day with a bright blue sky full of clouds. The fountain in the center of the park is on.
Washington Square Park on a sunny fall day. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

J: I was trying to find lyrics about Washington Square Park to be deep but I couldn’t find any. I will now proceed to write a haiku:

Potheads in the park

Walked over here from St. Marks

MacDougal Street next

https://as.nyu.edu/departments/cwp.html — Catch me here January 2023 ✌️👑 

But in all seriousness, I’ll miss watching the skater boys fall on their faces in the park, people watching with friends and running into random filmings. I have no intentions of coming back to the park, but I’ll miss the stress of having to walk through it everyday. Oh yeah — attending the NYU Creative Writing Program in January 2023 was a lie. My talents extend beyond the program as you can see by Sabrina and my to-be-award-winning haiku.

S: Hanging out in Washington Square Park had to be on this list somewhere, somehow. It could have been picnicking with friends on that first warm day of spring. It could have been sitting on a bench, people-watching until they close the gates and kick you out at midnight. It could have been daring your friend to jump in the fountain. My favorite Washington Square Park memory is hands down popping champagne on the grass the night that Joe Biden’s presidential win was announced. So it’s true — at NYU, you get to spend your college years building a personal relationship with this historic place. And that’s pretty cool.

Honorable mentions:

• First-year bars: Phebe’s Tavern & Grill, Josie Woods Pub, any bar on St. Marks Place

• SeekingArrangement — the girls that get it, get it.

• Joining a million clubs during club fest and then never going to any of them (but staying on the mailing lists)

• Being late to class because your daily walk turned into a film set

• Going to the Upper East Side just for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Flushing just for the food

• Awkwardly not talking to your Marriage Pact match

• And finally, collectively roasting Sternies and Tischies — like why is the Prince studying acting??!?!1?

Hope this helps! 

Contact Joey Hung at [email protected] and Sabrina Choudhary at [email protected]