Thursday, August 12, 2010
With few sports or extracurriculars that students actively, and collectively engage in, NYU leaves far more room for individual exploration. And by the end of Sophomore year, nearly every single friend I had from Freshman year was living off campus, working and interning and living a life seemingly entirely distinct from that of a typical college student. You will probably find Freshman students to be, generally, more friendly and open, eager with bright shining eyes and confused directions at the start. But after that golden period of ecstatic introduction passes, many settle into friend groups and routines that feel impossible to break into. Tisch students, especially, form very tight collective friend groups.
Friend groups tend to shift and alter with living location, personal interests and schedules, and though enthusiastic orientation staff will convince you that the friends you make Freshman year will be your FRIEND FOR LIFE, and though occasionally this does turn out to be the case, most likely your friends from Freshman year will fade into a slew of lukewarm acquaintances you’ll learn to want to avoid rather than embrace in later run-ins on campus.
Freshman year social life tend to include stereotypical NYU activities: falafels and dollar pizza from St. Mark’s, marveling at the beauty of Washington Square in the fall, attending 18 or 19+ college freshman oriented parties and clubs (though I’ve never actually gone to any), trips to the Brooklyn Bridge or the MET with a special misty eyed significance, staying up late playing board games in dorm rooms (this sounds impossible but actually, inexplicably, always happens). This dissolves into various individualized paths, from going after every obscure and bizarre event listed in Nonsense NYC to fixedly over studying and panicking, to desperate hunts for glamorous internships (that inevitably end up filled with long hours and endlessly refreshing Twitter until that blessed six o’clock release).
Then it’s all a blur of house parties in the East Village, Bushwick. Weekend brunch at a scattering of restaurants, weekend nights scouring bars that don’t card. Occasional performances and events (that probably won’t actually be attended out of laziness, night of), fewer day trips, long afternoons spent between napping and half hearted watching a TV show (here, the hip favored show is Skins, and on the other end, Gossip Girl). Shopping (of course), whether it’s hip designer boutiques or the bigger stores down Broadway. After Freshman year, except for the most enthusiastic, there tends to be a period of anti-social tendencies, when even the thought of meeting a friend for coffee becomes dreadful (or perhaps that was just me?). At some point there tends to be some sort of disillusion, frightful realizations of reality and people’s intentions that might not always be the best.
But really, social life at NYU is hard to categorize, and though I suspect many would find similar echoes as my experience (and conversations revealed the same), there are just as many happy giddy NYUers who never experience a moment of anxiety or self doubt in their life. Well, not true, but can dismiss the negativity enough to go on deliriously happy (these are the types of people who gets picked to be your grinning orientation leaders! And hence, a cotton candy, rather unrealistic and overly optimistic, presentation of the university.) What is absolutely integral is the ability to self initiate, for unless you get sucked into one of those constantly existing and buzzing social friend groups, without any effort on your part, you’ll probably end up spending most weekends alone in bed with FroYo and leftover pizza.