Dear College-Touring Bella: From a College Sophomore to her High School Self

Join me in this quick #tbt to senior year and observe this real life footage of me in my prime:

Wow. College applications are coming up and eh… you’re freaking out. Probably shouldn’t have pushed off touring ‘till senior year (yikes #classicBella).

Some quick context: Like a lot of the Admissions Ambassadors, I’m a fairly outgoing person. There’s a constant stream of chatter flowing from me and meeting people on my way across campus and stopping to catch up is probably one of the best parts of my days. Senior year however, I totally shut down and bubbly Bella stopped being bubbly altogether. I freaked out and stopped being the outgoing self I am as I tried to piece together far too many college applications in far too little time. College tours were just another stop on this Hot Mess Express and the thought of even interacting with these ~college kids~ that were inevitably cooler, better and smarter than me was unthinkable. I toured schools in total silence and got to the point where I would make my parents ask questions – which is fine, but…not really the point. I was so incredibly nervous to make this next step towards independence that I didn’t get to enjoy my school visits as much as I could have.

So in lieu of open house season, here are few tips that’ll help you make the most out of your visit:

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When should I send in supporting materials?

Wait…

Sending in your documents before you submit your application can actually lead to it taking longer for your file to complete.

But don’t wait too long…

Every year applications are still incomplete on decision day because people wait too long to send in materials. Your best bet is to submit your application on or before the deadline and send all your supporting materials within one week of submitting.

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Eating Alone (and Loving It)

When most high-schoolers think of eating alone, they think of something like this:

Now that my first year at NYU has swiftly come to an end, I can conclusively assure that your mindset on this subject will change drastically in college. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that eating alone can be one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself in the middle of a hectic and busy day. Let me give you some backstory.

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Being British at NYU

NYU has an amazing number of international students.

Wherever you walk around campus, on any given day, you will probably bump into one. Within my main group of friends, 3 out of 6 are international, and the other three are from New Jersey (equally, if not more common than the international student). Being international and coming to university in America allows you to look at experiences in a completely different light. Although I can’t speak for all international students I can try and speak for us British ones.

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Does the email you choose for your application account matter?

In general… no, but there are a few important things to keep in mind.

 

1. Use an email address that you check frequently.

(or set to forward to an account that you check frequently)

 

The admissions process is fast paced. There is time sensitive information sent via email throughout the process so you need to check your email frequently and respond promptly as needed.

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Chin Up: Your First Day Doesn’t Define You

Days and weeks and months and years of anticipation had led up to this moment. I woke up abruptly with a lump in my chest at around 6:30 AM and my excitement was the only thing capable of overpowering my nervousness. Either way, sleep was no longer a viable option. It was time to start college. For real.

The day was off to a sweaty start as I dragged all four of my heavy suitcases down five flights of stairs. Naturally, my parents decided that an Airbnb without an elevator was our best bet—“classic New York charm,” they said. Bless their souls. By the time I got in the cab, I was ready to conk out. Observe this real-life footage of me tripping on my way down:

We pulled up in front of Brittany, my first-year residence hall, and I couldn’t help but beam. Not even the humidity could bring me down. Its location on 10th and Broadway was incredible. The world-famous Strand Bookstore was in sight and my school, Gallatin, was just a few blocks away. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect place to start my life in New York.

Checking in went smoothly, and everyone that I spoke to was friendly and inviting. We were all united by a mutual rush of adrenaline—none of us could really fathom what was happening. My roommates and their families were lovely and easy to talk to, and I spent a few hours putting up pictures and posters on my wall with my parents by my side. I was relieved because everything was going as I’d hoped it would. Or so I thought.

After a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond for some last minute necessities and a delicious lunch at a nearby pizzeria, my parents and I walked over to the Kimmel Center for one of the university welcome events. As we walked from one vibrant booth to the next, some showcasing Study Away and others highlighting the forthcoming Clubfest, an unexpected sense of anxiety began to creep over me right as the sun was beginning to set.

I will never forget stopping in the middle of the crowded room and looking around at the endless sea of people that enveloped me. Everything was strikingly unfamiliar—each face, each wall, each window. Sure, my parents were with me, but I was acutely aware of the fact that they would be up and away within just a few hours. No amount of time could have prepared me for that visceral sensation of uncertainty. Nothing that surrounded me truly belonged to me yet, and after years of performing the same routine, I hadn’t truly comprehended that it was time to start over whether I liked it or not. My future had never felt so intangible. A million questions raced through my head. Who can I turn to for companionship? Where am I going to spend my time? What am I even going to do tomorrow/next week/next month? Am I completely crazy?

I tried so hard to shake the panic, but I just couldn’t. As we walked back to Brittany for my first floor meeting of the year, I kept up a facade, smiling as I shook new people’s hands and reassuring my parents that I was just fine. I walked into my room to find one of my roommates surrounded by a group of people that he had gotten to know at an NYU summer program the year before. My heart sank. He already had his friends. I felt as though I didn’t have anyone.

As my parents got ready to leave in front of the building, I came clean to them about my apprehension, and they did their very best to convince me that everything would turn out fine. According to them, most everyone was probably feeling the same way that I did. Everyone seemed just cheery to me, but I suppose that I probably appeared the same way to others as well. Watching them leave was significantly harder than I thought it would be. I am by no means a crier, but I held back tears. I made them promise to call every night.

I spent my entire floor meeting pondering existential dilemmas, using every fiber of my being to conceal my discomfort from my new floormates. This was not at all what I had imagined for my long awaited first day. Everyone in my life knew how elated I was to come to NYU, my absolute dream school. I was extroverted, outgoing, ambitious; it was the perfect fit! How could I possibly feel so incredibly out of place? What is wrong with me?

During a mixer that night in our recreation room, I plucked up the courage to walk up to a group of people and ask if I could join them for dinner along with one of my roommates. I was still feeling very anxious, but I knew I had to give myself a shot. They seamlessly agreed, and we headed to a dining hall and then to a mutual friend’s room in the Third North residence hall.

It turns out my parents were right. I wasn’t alone in my fears and concerns. Over a few card games and playful small talk, it became clear that each of us was in the same boat. As night turned to early morning, a sense of relief entered my consciousness as I sat with my newfound…friends?

All in all, that first day was an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. It wasn’t horrible and it wasn’t great, but it certainly kept me on my toes. Either way, I did all that I could to make sure that my initial experience didn’t discourage me.

This year has turned out to be the most important and wonderful one of my life so far. One of the people that I nervously asked to hang out with on that fateful first day remains to be one of my best friends to date. I have adored my nuanced range of classes and professors and successfully formed a group of friends that I can count on a daily basis. My extracurriculars have ranged far and wide, from an a capella choir, to a few creative writing clubs, to the incredible Ambassadors program. Essentially, all of the expectations that I had built up for my first year were indeed fulfilled during my jam-packed first year. I’m not sure why I expected them all to come to fruition on Day 1!

Your first day is just that: your first day. You don’t have to get everything right. You’re not going to be able to predict what happens, no matter how much you try. A bad first day does not translate to a bad college experience, and you are so much more than your first few hours in a new environment.  People tend to place so much emphasis on the beginning of your new journey that sometimes it’s hard to remember that there’s also going to be a middle and an end. Keep your chin up! You have so much time!

Today, if I were to walk into that same room in Kimmel, I would see a mosaic of mostly familiar faces, walls and windows. My future remains to be completely tangible and it probably never will be—but I’d say I’m off to a pretty good start.

How to Tackle the Dreaded Move-in-Day

Move-in-day can be a stressful time. It’s the thing that you’ve been thinking about ever since you accepted NYU’s offer. How do you start? What can you expect? What are some pro tips to help make the day even smoother? Well, don’t you worry; as a first year, move-in-day in August 2016 is still engrained in my mind. Be prepared for a breakdown of the day and amazing tips to help your move-in experience go smoothly.

1.  Get in contact with your roommate.

You will receive their NYU email address so that’s a good way to start communication. However, if you class yourself an amazing social media stalker like myself, you can find their Facebook. Once you’ve got introductions out of the way, then get into the good stuff. Who is buying the microwave/fridge? Who is going to buy the mirror? Do you want to share cleaning supplies?

All of this stuff is super important to get out of the way–you don’t want to arrive and have 2 microwaves but no fridge. If you can’t get in contact with them, don’t panic–you don’t need a fridge or a microwave on the first day and you can always wait until Bed, Bath and Beyond Night to grab it!

2. Buy what you can before the big day.

This is a little hard if you’re an international student like I am, because trying to fit everything you need for a year into one suitcase is tricky. However, I stocked up on my favourite makeup remover, toothpaste and all that good stuff before I flew over there just so I didn’t have to worry about that as well as settling in.

If this isn’t a possibility for you due to limited space, then try and get to NYC a day or so before move-in-day. You can spend the extra day buying bedding, desk lights, shower caddies and trash cans, and then on the actual day you can focus on making your room yours. Now, this leads me nicely onto the actual day.

3. Timing.

My pro-tip is get to your residence hall as early as possible and coordinate with your roommate so that you arrive at different times. This made my move-in so easy, since I got to move in first, leaving my roommate the time and space to move in at her own leisure. However, while timing is important, so is what you actually will do with your time before you start making the room feel like home…

4. Clean the room.

I cannot stress this tip enough. Clean the room before you do anything else! The room isn’t going to be disgusting or anything, but it will be dusty and probably not up to your mum’s usual standards. Get out those cleaning supplies and give the room a quick ‘once-over’ just so you feel more comfortable there. If you move all of your things into a dusty, messy room it will never feel like home and that first night might not be a comfy one.

5. Move things around.

Just because the beds and desks are in a certain space when you first open your door, doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. Take the initiative and put your bed and desk where you want it to be. The room will feel more like your own, which is a great feeling.

My roommate was the best at this. She moved her bed and desk, leaving us with a little nook we now use for our fridge, microwave, and snack supply–something which I will be forever grateful for.

6. Make your bed.

Once your bed is made it will make you feel ten times better about the first night. Even if everything else remains unpacked you still have a comfy bed to look forward to. My mum made my bed for me as soon as we got there and it just relaxed me so much. If your bed is as important to you as my bed is to me, then this is the best thing to do.

7. Put everything in it’s place.

Pick which drawers are going to be dedicated to what things, how they’re going to be organised, and put them there. The more things have their place, the tidier your room will be; and in a residence hall you want everything to be tidy so your stuff doesn’t take up too much room. Then hang up your clothes and put your chargers where you need them to be. The more organisation, the more room you have!

8. Decorate.

There are guidelines and rules in regards to decoration but as long as you’re not putting holes in the walls or drawing on them then you’re good. Before I came I got a polaroid camera and took leaving photos with all my friends and put them on my wall. My best friend printed off loads of photos of us together so I put them all over my wall as well. I also have a big poster of the Queen (I’m British, I have to) and some other cute little posters. The more you add to your room to make it your own, the more it will feel homely. And when you’re homesick you know you have another home to go to.

9. Extras…

After living in your room for a week or so, you’ll realise you’ll be missing certain things which is where Amazon comes in. I bought some more storage units to house the endless amount of chocolates and sweet I had brought over from home, and because I’m a chocolate fiend I also bought a hot chocolate machine (the best thing in the world).

10. Live!

Your residence hall is your home away from home for a year and comfort is so important. You want to be able to feel happy in your bed and relaxed when you’re winding down at night. Make the space so nice that spending a lazy Sunday without leaving your room sounds like a good idea. Although I have days where I miss home, I know that my room is a safe place for me to go to to relax and spend hours working or just doing nothing.

Now you’ve seen my pro tips and hopefully I’ve been (somewhat helpful), here are pictures of my residence hall before and after move-in to give you an idea!

Before

After

My view (can you spot the Empire State Building?)

All moved in

Updates to NYU’s Standardized Testing Policy

As of August 1st, students applying to artistic programs in the Tisch School of the Arts and the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development which require either an audition or creative portfolio are no longer required to submit standardized testing in order to be considered for admission. Moving forward, our evaluation will focus on either the audition or creative portfolio, along with a student’s academic record, extracurricular engagement, recommendations, and essays.

Our updated standardized testing policy along with further details can be found online, here.

6 Ways to Make Your Residence Hall Your Home

As my parents hugged me goodbye and the elevator doors closed on them, I was overcome by fear, loneliness, and anxiety. I looked at my empty new room, and couldn’t help but wonder if I could ever feel as comfortable here as I did in my room back home in Washington D.C.

Moving away from home can feel lonely and overwhelming, especially on your first day in a brand new place. You’re not alone in feeling this–I certainly wasn’t. Here are some tips that have helped me make my residence hall feel like my new home during my first year at NYU.

1. Make your room your own
Don’t let those empty white walls get you down! Fill them with memories, creativity, encouragements, you name it! I made my side of the room completely my own by adding some cute twinkle lights, and memories from home as well as New York to make my side feel more like me. Having a personalized space to retreat to really helped when I felt overwhelmed by all of the exciting new opportunities, and bringing some pieces from my old room to my new room, helped bridge the gap and make it feel just a little bit cozier.

Get to know:
2. …your roommate(s)!
Find out what you have in common–at NYU, roommates are matched based on geographic diversity, but you guys will surely have common interests, passions, or hobbies. Stirring up conversation will not only break the awkward silence that may be hanging after you’ve both said goodbye to your families, it will also enable you to direct your attention to the exciting things ahead. For me, this was a great way for my roommate and me to learn about each other’s cultures, as well as bond over our love for the same tv shows.

3. …your RA
My RA has been my rock during my first year at NYU. She’s helped listen to and resolve roommate issues and family troubles, and she’s also been my personal cheerleader, celebrating every exciting thing that has happened during my first year. She was there to swoop in on move-in day as she distracted me from the sadness of saying goodbye to my family, and focused my attention on how I was going to avoid having FOMO with all the cool events going on during Welcome Week.
Be sure to make use of your RA’s as a resource in adapting to life at college and life in NYC! That’s what they’re there for.

4. …your floormates!
Not only are these the people that you’ll be seeing at hall snacks, game nights, and other floor bonding activities, they’re also the people that’ll pull through with a free bathroom when your roommate is spending a little too long on their #treatyoself night.

5. Join events and activities
See “Waitress” on Broadway, talk out what’s been keeping you down at “Pancakes and Feelings”, watch the Yankees, Rangers, Knicks, you name it; all for free or at a very low co-pay through your residence hall! Not only do you get to experience awesome things that your budget may not otherwise leave room for, but you’ll also be able to meet other people from your res-hall this way. Prefer staying in? Check out Fall Fest, Oscars event, Winter Wonderland, the prelims for NYU’s talent contest, Ultra Violet Live, and more awesome events hosted in your residence hall’s lounges and lobby!

6. Join Hall Council
Be it Brittany’s “BOSS”, Founders’ “FAB”, or Third North’s “TAG”, just to name a few, one of the ways that’s helped me the most in making my res-hall fell like home is by joining hall council. Whether you want to be part of the general assembly, or run for the e-board, hall council promotes advocacy, inclusion and involvement. Being able to help organize events and activities has not only helped me meet a great group of people that I get to call my friends, it’s also enabled me to truly make my res-hall feel like a place where I want to be. Organizing trips to the see the tree lighting at Rockefeller Plaza, working together to pull off the prelims for Ultra Violet Live, and creating a Taste of Founders video to rule them all, has helped me meet many of the over 700 Founders residents, making it a place that I want to call, and that feels like, home.

What’s Your Story: 5 Welcome Week Questions and Why They’re Important

According to my careful calculations, Welcome Week is just 3 short months away. While that may seem like an eternity of time, the reality of the situation is that those weeks are going to #flyby. If you’re anything like the hyper-vigilant freshman I was, chances are, some of you are wondering what Welcome Week at NYU will be like and how best to prepare for it. Please see below for the 5 questions that will dominate your first week on campus and how to answer them while maintaining your sanity.

 

Question 1: WHAT’S YOUR NAME?

Ok I know what you’re thinking. This question seems unbelievably straightforward. But your name is just as much a part of your identity as anything else, and since college is a time of #reinvention, people like to try out new names all the time. One of the first friends I made had just decided to go by his middle name in college, another friend made up a different nickname, a floormate of mine thought names were a social construct. The list goes on. The point is that you can be whoever you want to be, and that starts with a name; so by the evening of move-in day when you have already said your name 9,000,000 times and are So. Done, it is very important that YOU DO NOT MAKE UP A FAKE NAME. You will forget what it is, you will not respond when called, and you will miss out on a potential #newfrand. Trust me, I am wise.

 

Question 2: WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

I’ll be honest, this is my favorite question because I have a lot of hometown pride for my beautiful city, San Francisco. However, this might not be the case for everyone. NYU is unique and diverse with many students coming from different living situations quite literally across the globe. My freshman roommate was from a teeny tiny town in upstate New York, and she could not wait to cut ties with the place, so she said she was from New York and left it at that. You don’t have to love where you’re from, and you don’t have to dwell on it if you’re looking for a #freshstart. As much as I love being from California, we are all coming to NYU for a reason, a chance to learn and a chance to grow in a new place. So go ahead and tell people about where you’re from and why it is or isn’t important to you, it’s a great starter conversation, and if you run into a native New Yorker, go ahead and ask for some restaurant recs, you won’t regret it. And for those of you city kids who constantly meet people saying that they too, are “from San Francisco” or “from Philadelphia” or any major city, they are likely using a geographic tool in place of their distantly located suburb, forgive them, they really do mean well.

 

Question 3: WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

This is quite possibly the best question for making friends, setting up coffee dates, and building your social circle up. With 10 First Year Residence Halls (FYREs), most of the first years on NYU’s campus will likely be in residential life. Floor mates, roommates and suitemates  are a built-in way to meet new people ands learn more about NYU’s large social network. Plus, location is important. Students living in 3rd North and Founders will have a longer walk to campus than students at Lipton and Goddard; it’s always nice to have friends along for an early morning commute to class or a weeknight trip to a dining hall. Know your space, and know the people who live in and around it. The commuter lounge in Kimmel is another great place to meet students traveling a bit further to campus every day, and they often have an insider scoop on the city if they live close enough. #FINDYOURPEOPLE

 

Question 4: WHAT SCHOOL ARE YOU IN?

Oh yes, the one question you’ll never shake during your freshman year. With 11 undergraduate schools and colleges, your friends will be coming from a #RANGE of programs. My freshman suite featured Steinhardt, Tisch, CAS and Liberal Studies in one space. We always had tons to talk about academically, especially during those first few months of settling in. Many schools will have first-year specific programs and classes to help y’all settle in like the CAS and Stern Cohorts, Steinhardt New Student Seminars and mass-Tisch plenary lectures. I met a bunch of new faces through my first semester classes which happened in and out of my actual school (I started off CAS and transferred to Steinhardt for my sophomore year). Classes happen all over campus and are often open to non-majors. Asking people about what they came to NYU for is a great way to get the ball rolling for a good first convo.

 

Question 5: WHAT ARE YOU STUDYING?

Perhaps the most important question of them all. What are you studying? Why is it important to you? What made you so obsessed with this subject that you came all the way to NYU just to learn more about it? I have made so many friends in my major of Media, Culture and Communication this way, as we’re all united under the same common interest. But I’ve also made friends studying also many other things–from recorded music in Tisch, to computer science at Tandon, to Finance at Stern–and it’s nice to be able to share so much as an NYU student but have so much academic variety across our large urban campus. NYU students are notoriously passionate about their studies and interests, and it’s always gratifying to get to talk to your peers about what you’re learning and why. Take a leap, ask a question, make a friend it’s as simple as that.

 

Have a great summer friends! We’ll see you at Welcome Week in the fall!