A collection of short narratives that give an insight into the lives of transfer students, discussing the concepts of transferring from another university or another school within NYU, where it is often difficult to situate in.
May 8, 2020
Journal Entry #1
By Ashley Wu
Admitting that I was lonely felt like defeat. When I transferred to NYU in the fall of my sophomore year, I ignored all the warnings from my friends and relatives. “New York is the loneliest city,” they said, their eyes narrowed in preemptive worry. I reassured myself while lugging all of my belongings from the suburbs of Georgia to my new apartment in the Lower East Side.
The week before school started, I spent my days trekking all the way from Avenue A to Midtown, stopping at bookstores along the way. My social anxiety rendered me too shy to go into other stores alone. I shuffled past store windows drawn out like theater sets, looked into windows displaying cardigans with walnut buttons and sequined evening dresses. Clothing stores and restaurants were intimidating. They were filled with chattering people who clustered around one another.
Bookstores, on the other hand, were quiet, except for the shifting of pages. I sought refuge in them whenever I could. I found comfort in the painted blue skies on the walls of Rizzoli. I found nirvana in the big Taschen books stacked on tables in The Strand. When the heat smogged up the pavement, I’d spend the whole day reading blurbs on the back of novels. Since all of my books were still back at my parent’s house in Georgia, I restarted my collection. Then, before I knew it, school had started.
Everyone seemed to be stuck in their own bubble of ambition. As I grew more attuned to my own desires, I yearned for more friends to go into bookstores with, to share my ideas and stories. Acquainting myself with the city and its inhabitants was bloodletting. But eventually, I found myself standing in bookstore aisles across from other smiling faces.
Journal Entry #2
By Brooke LaMantia
When I write a list of the things that make me Brooke, being a transfer student always ends up on it. That title, a transfer, doesn’t feel like a huge part of my identity, but sometimes it is my whole one.
I transferred after my first semester of college, from a school an hour away from my home in Texas, to NYU. I was so lonely in Texas, despite being surrounded by people I knew really well, and I wanted to go somewhere and start over completely. I really wanted to build a new identity, and I didn’t realize that decision would affect how I would look at myself in the future.
I think I’m braver now because I transferred. I am less afraid of taking risks. I cared a lot in high school about what everyone thought, which was part of the reason I decided to go to the University of Texas and not take a risk initially, but I realized people were giving me advice based off of the person I presented, not the one I wanted to be. I’m the person I want to be now, and I’m really thankful for that.
It was hard at first, but less so now. I have made great friends through the transfer community and studying abroad, but for a while I felt inferior to everyone who had been here from the beginning. But I met so many people who took so many different paths to get to NYU, who had their first semesters abroad, who traveled or modeled before, and it makes me feel less alone.
To me, NYU is the perfect place to transfer to because there is no mold for what makes an NYU student an NYU student. It’s a part of all of our identities, no matter when we get here.
Journal Entry #3
By Jake Capriotti
Students at my high school were all about comparing each other, mainly on our academic achievements. The main factor that determined our success was the college we would be attending. While we had our shining stars such as the Cornell National Merit Scholar, the MIT perfect ACT and the Stanford homecoming queen, a majority of us were bound to the Honors College at Arizona State, which was by no means an easy feat. However, the lowest rung on the ladder were the community college-bound: Chandler-Gilbert Community College to be more precise.
I was the one at the bottom of the ladder. To be honest, I went there because I had wanted to come to NYU since my first year but didn’t have the credentials to even hope for admission, much less the finances. Transferring from community college was a gamble, but I tried nonetheless.
I dedicated the first two years of my college life to nothing but my academics, earning straight As almost every semester (with one loathsome B in math) and polishing my resume and portfolio to perfection. After two years of hard work and dedication, I was accepted to Tisch to study Film and TV.
Upon arriving in New York, I would come to understand that there is a certain level of anxiety that comes from moving 2,000 miles away from home. In spite of this anxiety, I became rather well adjusted to my new circumstances. I found my favorite pizza place, figured out the subway line, developed a loathing of tourists and more or less felt like I was finally at home. I was surrounded by people who shared common interests and aspirations to me. I was excited to go home for my first winter break to share my experiences with my hometown friends.
Upon my arrival, however, most of the relationships I had at home seemed to have disappeared and the crushing loneliness I expected to feel in New York was waiting for me in Phoenix. It was heartbreaking, but when I came to New York, I knew I had found my niche in Washington Square.
Journal Entry #4
By Kylie Smith
My first year of college was spent at a large Southern state school. In high school, I wanted the big name, winning football team and a traditional, campus-centric college experience. Spoiler alert: I ended up wanting the exact opposite. I truly don’t think we know what type of environment we have the ability to flourish in if we aren’t wholly thrown into it. By December of my first year, I knew that I wanted to transfer schools. This was not a well-timed decision — I made the conscious decision to transfer two weeks after spring semester transfer applications had closed. So I waited it out.
Upon transferring to NYU, I was unpreparedly thrown into many situations: dorming with three other girls who already knew each other, navigating the subway system and, decidedly worst of all, learning how the dining plan worked (I truly don’t know why the dining plan system startled me as much as it did). The nature of New York City tends to consume you. I don’t think anything can prepare you for this city. It takes time, but once you’re on the same page with the city, everything becomes second nature.
To be a transfer student is to recognize discontent with your life and be strong enough to change it. When I meet another transfer student, I might not know anything about them, but on some level I can relate to them over this shared experience which can feel eerily similar for many of us. I once considered being a transfer student as one of the many hats that I wore. Daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, transfer student. Now, after almost two years at NYU, I have assimilated to the cultures of New York City and NYU a bit more, but being a transfer student is something that will always be important to my story. If I wasn’t a transfer student and hadn’t known anything other than NYU, I would have never known exactly how inexplicably right NYU was for me.
Journal Entry #5
By Rebekah Nelson
New York began as a pipe dream in Florida, where I grew up. Before NYU, I went to a small community college in Tampa, which lacked both journalism classes and a newspaper. As an aspiring reporter, it started to feel like transferring was my only option. I turned in several applications after my second year, and eventually settled on NYU, convinced I would live out the plot of a quirky Olsen twins movie. Plus, with two years of college experience, I figured it would be an easy transition.
But, no, I didn’t live like Mary-Kate and Ashley, and of course the transition wasn’t easy. The first week of classes introduced a few problems: never in my life had I lived away from my family or navigated a school without a campus. I realized I didn’t know where or how to meet people. No one warned me that, as a transfer, I would feel like I was perpetually catching up. Everyone was already involved in their established friend groups from their first year, and transfer student events proved fruitless when there was a severe lack of attendance.
Suddenly, I felt the weight of everything I was missing. Unable to deal with the overwhelming loneliness, I laid in bed at night and sobbed silently, afraid to wake my roommate. I called my boyfriend back home every hour, terrified of the mess I made of my life. Even so, out of sheer determination (or stubbornness, maybe), I refused to go back on my decision. It was through a series of acts that I grew more comfortable with the city. I became a regular at my neighborhood coffee shop, and from there, learned my subway stops by heart. When my anxiety got bad, I figured out that Hudson River Park was the best place to go. Through it all, it was as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, until the fear eventually disappeared. Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
See you never, Florida.
Journal Entry #6
By Tricia Phillips
Transferring to NYU was chaotic, to say the least. I transferred from NYU Shanghai and was dropped into the center of another big city with little to guide me. As a transfer, I wasn’t new enough for someone to hold my hand through the process, but I was still new enough to get lost four times on my way to class. People on the streets moved too fast for me to stop and catch my breath and talked too quickly for me to understand them. Every single time I began to get my footing, I felt like the rug was ripped out from under me.
I was overwhelmed. It reached a point where I spent all of my time in the safety of my room where nothing unfamiliar could touch me. I was too scared to venture out farther than a block or two from the dorm in fear of getting turned around or swept up into the ever-moving crowd. Instead, I watched everyone else from inside and told myself I was satisfied seeing the Empire State Building from my dorm window.
It took a few months for me to finally crack and admit that I wanted more than just the safety of my dorm. I decided to step out of the safe boundaries I set for myself to see New York up close. It took time — lots and lots of time — but slowly, I found my way around the streets of Manhattan. Transferring to NYU was a slow, confusing process, but soon I was no longer struggling to keep up with the pace on the sidewalk. I was the one setting it.
Email Ashley Wu at [email protected], Jake Capriotti at [email protected], Mandie Montes at [email protected] and Jessica Fiorella at [email protected] Email Brooke LaMantia, Kylie Smith, Rebekah Nelson, and Tricia Phillips at [email protected] A version of this article appears in the Friday, May 8, 2020, print edition. Read more from Washington Square News’ “While You Were Here 2020.”