By Sam Colman
So you want to live in New York? I’m talking to YOU, d.tech juniors, who may be contemplating moving to the city that never sleeps for college. Here are five things you should know first.
- It’s loud. Like, always.
So says 16 year old David Kestin, who has lived in New York his whole life, “It can be super draining and distracting.” He goes on to say that it really never stops. At night, there are still just as many people out as in the day, just a different crowd. The car horns honking in the early morning hours can drive someone crazy (you might want to invest in double thick windows or an apartment on the inside of a building, not facing the street). That said, you also run into some interesting things, for example I once walked in on an acapella choir practicing in the middle of Washington Square Park at 10:30 at night (I think it’s worth mentioning that it wasn’t a college group; the members were all middle-aged men).
- There is always something to do.
As you’d expect in a city with 8.5 million inhabitants, there’s no shortage of ways to keep busy. Kestin goes on to talk about the flip side of #1, stating that “If you like a place with tons of action and energy that just won’t quit, then New York is the best place in the world.” You can go out at 3:00 in the morning for some Chinese food and comedy. Or maybe you feel like joining the acapella group in Washington Square Park (they’re likely accepting newcomers). Whatever you want to do, you can. One thing I love about New York is the proximity of everything, that lets you pack two days into one. For instance, you can go to a wedding, play laser tag, and then go play a game of pickup basketball with strangers, all in a long afternoon. For those with “FOMO” (fear of missing out) syndrome, New York offers a cure – or, now that I think about it, perhaps just cause for more intense FOMO.
- Most people are actually pretty cool.
Don’t expect to see much of the movie stereotype of the hard-hearted and crusty New Yorker. Jack Moore, a 23-year old barista at Think Coffee, who just moved to New York after finishing college in Michigan, thought that people were going to be rude and angry – the stereotype of abrasive New Yorkers. “When I got here, I was really surprised by how many people were not only sympathetic to someone who had just moved here, but just really cool in general.”
I lived in New York for a year in 5th grade, and when I first moved there, I would get lost fairly often. But I was never scared. I was completely comfortable going up to a stranger and asking for directions, and everyone was more than happy to help. Still in my cynical 11-year old mind, I thought that people were only being nice because I was new to town (and 11). Nope. I made a bunch of friends with people whom I met just off the street. For example, I’m still friends with a kid named Harrison, who was going to a high school near where I lived. He and I ran into each other a lot just walking down the street, and eventually we became friends. That’s one of the advantages about living in a place where almost everyone travels on foot. Even now, when I visit New York, I often leave with a new friend or two.
- NYU and Columbia aren’t the only schools to choose from. There are plenty of other options that might be right for you.
According to New York State official listings, there are over 50 four-year colleges in New York City’s five boroughs! Karen Ludwig, who has worked as a teacher at both the NYU school of Film and the New School, says there are tons of choices in Manhattan alone. “I’ve lived here long enough to know that whatever you want to do, there’s a place for it here. And that applies to schools, too.” There are fashion schools, performing arts schools, business schools and more. There are even schools that specialize in modern research surrounding religion. Everybody is different, so everyone looks for different things in colleges, and New York acknowledges and addresses that.
- “If you don’t know what you want to do, [New York] is the perfect place to find out.”
On the flip side of #4, you might not have a clue what you want to do. In that case, Bill Kestin (David’s father) advises you to jump in and see what sticks: “People used to say that if you’re from Boston you’re probably a fisherman, but if you’re from New York you’re more like the fish: flopping around until you find something to hook onto.” Because of how much is going on at any given time, you can always find something new to try. Say one day, you quit your job and you don’t know what to do. Well, you might want to try something weird. Why not head down to FarmOne for some indoor hydroponics classes, right in the heart of downtown, on Liberty Street? Maybe you want to help dogs reach their maximum style potential. In that case, you could get a job at one of the many dog boutiques no more than 20 minutes away from wherever you live in the city. Where there’s never a shortage of new experiences, it’s easy to find something you’re passionate about trying.