I’m only a few weeks into my summer internship in Manhattan, but I can already say that it’s been a fun and interesting experience living and working in the city. I’m staying in a dorm at the New School, which is close to Union Square, and I’m very pleased with it–it’s in a great, bustling area! The adjustment to life in the greatest city in the world after 3 years spent in “ten square miles surrounded by reality” has certainly posed its difficulties, for sure, but its an experience that I’ve learned a lot from. Here are some really random thoughts that have popped into my mind as a Cornellian experiencing big city living for the first time, in no particular order.
- The “toilet paper” conspiracy. This might just be one of the pressing issues of our time. Moving into my NYC dorm for the first time and checking out the bathroom, I saw this:
I was taken aback. No toilet paper?! Having had ample experience with Cornell housing, I knew that Cornell’s usually very generous with their T.P. and expected that it would be the same here at the New School. Nu-uh. After further investigation to see if it was a “city vs. country thing”–meaning, talking with my friends at various other universities–it turns out that many of their colleges didn’t provide toilet paper for them either. I guess Cornell spoils us?
- Mastering the subway is much easier than mastering the TCAT. I originally came in worried about if I’d understand the NYC subway system, but it turns out that it’s incredibly easy. I take the 4 or 5 express trains uptown to Grand Central every morning; it’s a beautiful thing because they come extremely frequently, and I’m at work in a heartbeat. I’d argue that it’s easier to understand than some of the non-linear TCAT routes.
- The Cornell-NYC connection is very much there, and can definitely benefit you as a Cornellian. Okay, so you’re not seeing flashy Ithaca is Gorges ads in Times Square, but–particularly for students and young alums–there’s definitely a ton of people here. Get this: despite the enormous size of the city, I’ve already run into numerous Cornellians I know (around 8-10) in random spots in the city–on the subway, in Whole Foods, on street corners, etc. And I’ve only been here two weeks! The “Cornellians in NYC Summer 2013” Facebook group is semi-active, and the fact that there’s a bustling Cornell Club of NYC here is a comforting thought as well.
- The non-semester “Uhh, what do I do now?” feeling is there as well. Let’s set a (fairly typical) scene: it’s 6:00pm on a weekday, and I’ve just taken the 4 train back from work. If Cornell was in session and I had finished classes for the day, I would feel a need to study or do work–for that economics prelim in a week, that marketing project, or that pricing problem set. In the work world, particularly as an intern, there’s no “homework” once you’ve put in your hours…so I have lots of free time. Don’t worry, though–this time won’t be put to waste; I’ve been exploring NYC neighborhoods, museums, hotspots, and the like. (Let me know if you have suggestions!)
- People actually visit me here. Compared to Cornell in upstate New York, where I’ve gotten very few visitors (it’s a ~4.5 hour drive from Connecticut), NYC’s central location has allowed me to interact with lots of people I wouldn’t normally see in Ithaca….such as friends passing through, family that lives here, etc. Grand Central Terminal makes it ridiculously easy for people to get here, as well.
- The independent, go-getter mindset you develop at Cornell is also needed in the city. At Cornell, you’re given a list of 4,000 courses and 900 student organizations, and expected to make your own happiness with your own choices–there’s no hand holding. It’s kind of the same in the city; with seemingly millions of places to eat at and tons of things to do, you’ve got to be resourceful and carve your own path.
- Everything is efficient and fast-paced at both Cornell and in the city. If you arrive to a 7pm Cornell prelim at 7:05, you might find yourself at a distinct disadvantage, if you’re even allowed in–you gotta show up on time. But this also is similar to the NYC subway system, where if you’re late to a train by one second, you’re not getting on if the doors have shut.
Okay, so these are just some of the many observations I’ve had thus far…get in touch if you have suggestions or comments (or vehemently disagree with me on any of these)!