Posts Tagged ‘First Year’

Chapter One: Welcome Week

Friday, August 13th, 2021

I love flying into New York City at night. I always choose the aisle seat on airplanes because of my motion sickness, but I can never resist peeking through the plane’s windows in my periphery; one of my favorite views is that of the glittering lights beneath New York City’s night sky.

Bird's eye view of NYC at night
Bird’s eye view of NYC at night

In August of 2016, I flew from Colorado to New York in order to get settled in prior to beginning my college career. Once the plane landed, my stomach flipped over in excitement. My mom had come with me to help me move and I couldn’t believe that my dream of attending NYU had become a reality. 

Of course, I was also terrified. I knew that no one else from my high school class would be coming to NYU, and after my mom left I had no choice but to confront my newfound alone-ness. I sardonically thought to myself, “Well, welcome to Welcome Week.” 

I felt like a failure and my first semester had not even begun. One of my assigned roommates, whose name was also Anna, was a drama student in the Tisch School of the Arts. Off the bat, Tisch’s performing arts medium provides a tight-knit cohort community you’ll know for years, and I did not have that luxury as a Media, Culture, and Communication student since we were not placed into cohorts. I really liked the other Anna, and we made plans to hang out at one of NYU’s Welcome Week events: Drag Bingo, which featured contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race. It seemed cool, and I nostalgically wished that one of my closest high-school friends was there because he would’ve loved it. He even made up his own drag name in honor of the show: “Shaneeda Bronze” (as in, “She needs a bronze.”). 

While I wallowed in nostalgia and loneliness on the second night of Welcome Week, I knew I needed to play a more active role in my own life. Unfortunately, I arrived at Drag Bingo well after the other Anna, and there were no more seats available near her (and no one was allowed to save seats). At that point, I was still standing in a stairwell in a line (or on a line for all the “real” New Yorkers) spanning across multiple floors. When I reached one of the landings, I noticed a pair of tan double doors to my right as someone threw them open to go through. I wondered aloud to the two girls standing in front of me, “Do you think we could go up that way?” They both shrugged and we continued standing in line. I stood with the girls at the back of the room during the event, and afterward they invited me over to their shared dorm. And that is how I met my best friends.

It was serendipitous as much as it was the effort we put in to socialize with other students and get to know our college community at various events. Certainly don’t hesitate asking your roommate(s) to hang out, and seeing if you can be friends! 

Playbill at Sunday in the Park with George. (Before we knew Jake Gyllenhaal “doesn’t shower often.”)

Since we are required to live in dorms for our first year, I wanted to make the most of my dorming experience as well. NYU offers “Themed Engagement Communities,” wherein specific floors in respective dormitory buildings will schedule activities pertaining to that theme. When I applied for housing I threw my hat in the ring for the “Laughing Matters” comedy-themed fourth floor of the Weinstein building. I have loved comedy since I was in elementary school, and decided to study Media because of my reverence for political satire. Applying to the special interest floor gave me wonderful (cost-saving) opportunities to view an array of Broadway performances for $10 each. We went to see plays including Avenue Q, Sunday in the Park with George, and Dear Evan Hansen, as well as professional improvisation shows. 

Regrettably, I only joined a club, College Democrats, in senior year. I regret having waited that long to be more involved in the clubs on campus, especially because my senior year ended up being truncated due to COVID-19. NYU, like many colleges, hosts a Club Fest in both the fall and the spring, and trust me, there is no shortage of clubs to choose from, whether it’s political, athletic, improv, or food-related, etc. 

Of course, the college experience and New York City are two of the most overly-romanticized notions you may hear about. I still cried myself to sleep during those first few nights as I second-guessed my abilities to make friends. Yet, you are drawn to whatever city you end up in for a reason. You don’t have to figure it out right away. Find solace in your comfort mechanisms, like comedy is for me, and in the meantime, don’t be a passenger in your own life.

We encountered this sign outside of a restaurant (Gran Electrica) in Dumbo

Beginning your freshman year, I recommend you:

  • Do research about special dorming opportunities while selecting a dorm. Mine was the cheapest and we got to go see Br’dway shows for $10! (kudos if you get that reference)
  • Look for activities to do that are hosted by your school (after you cry a little bit because you’re overwhelmed and alone)
  • Get to know your roommates!
  • Have some adventures with said roommates. Even if it means accidentally ending up in Far Rockaway because you missed your subway stop. (I get lost nearly every day of my life; I call it sightseeing.)

By: Anna Matefy

Anna Matefy recently graduated from NYU with a Bachelor’s in Media, Culture, and Communication. She has been working in politics for the past few years, and wants to transition into a career in media entertainment/comedy. She will be attending NYU as a graduate student in Media beginning in 2021.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


Chambers of Solitude: the October Schlump

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Big Apple

New York City: you don't have to see all of it in a month

About a month into the fall semester, a phenomenon occurs that I refer to as the October Schlump. It’s easy to recognize: first-year students, (who every night up till then have turned Washington Square into a giant social playground,) suddenly disappear. For a few weeks they are conspicuously absent, and then slowly, as Halloween approaches, they begin to tentatively reemerge from their dorms. What happened?

I know, because I went through it. For students new to this amazing city, that first month is like a dream. So many wonderful things to see and do that were never available before; new friends to make, new places to go, new things to discover. But it really feels like a dream: there’s a constant sense that this is illusory, that at any moment you will wake up and this opportunity you worked so hard for will dissolve around you. When a new friend invites you to go to this party at their friend’s place in Brooklyn, you think, Brooklyn! When else will I get to see Brooklyn?! When you read about a new exhibit at the MoMA, you think, the MoMA! When else will I be able to visit the MoMA?! When you pass a new Mexican restaurant in the Village offering a two-for-one Margarita special, you think . . .  well, you get the idea.

This lifestyle is, of course, impossible to maintain. About a month in, you wake up one day, maybe around 5 PM, and think, what day is it? You realize that you slept through an entire day of classes. See, you meant to just take a short nap – it was 3 AM, you’d just gotten back from a party at a friend’s – Happy Wednesday! – and you realized you didn’t have any clean clothes, so what a perfect time to do laundry! You threw a load in the washer, and then came back up to finish that essay on Socrates – that’s what New York’s about, multitasking! – and about two pages in thought, I’ll just take a quick nap – an hour or two, tops. After all, you haven’t slept in two days, so it’s about time to give the body a little refresher. Now here you are, essay not finished, classes missed, your load of laundry having been removed from the washer and scattered aimlessly all over the laundry room floor by some jerk. And even after sleeping twelve hours, you still feel tired. Or not tired, more than tired – exhausted. Your resources have been depleted; nothing in you wants to get out of bed, go anywhere, do anything. The momentum is gone.

This is the October Schlump. Although skipping meals and missing sleep are major contributing factors, the Schlump is not a disease, at least not physically. It’s the mental state that settles in when you realize that you barely have any idea what you did in the past month. You were in constant motion, you went and saw and did a million amazing things, but you can barely remember any of them. Some of them you liked, some of them you didn’t, but which were which?

So, for about a week, you don’t go out. You stay inside, do homework, get lots of sleep, eat right, and figure out what to do next. In that time, you realize that New York City isn’t going anywhere. It won’t disappear under your feet one day; it will be there the next day when you wake up, and the day after that, and the day after that. You will have at least four years, at most the rest of your life, to explore. So after that week, when friends call you up and invite you to this or that, you can say no, not tonight, rain-check. You don’t even need to give a reason. You can (in fact, you must) spend a night in now and then. And you must do is reflect. You are swimming in a sea of new experiences, new stimuli, new ideas, and some are good for you and some are not. You can have all these experiences but if you never stop to reflect on what they mean, they are – literally – meaningless.

As anyone who’s lived in a dorm can attest, dorms can be a lot of fun, but they aren’t really the best places for quiet reflection. After my October Schlump, I began to seek out places I could go to be by myself, to think and ponder, to reflect and debate. I can’t give you the answers to the big questions of life that all college students confront during those four years – I don’t have them. But I can share with you come places I think will provide the stillness, the solitude, within the bustling metropolis that we call home, to find some of these answers. And I will call them Chambers of Solitude. More to come.

And in the meantime, if you need to a moment of calm and some advice on chill-axing, (sorry, I won’t use that word again,) go here.

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