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.
I am from the Northern part of England, which already makes me a rarity seeming as most British people at NYU come from the South of England (*boo*). I say things that not even other English people understand, and my obsession with meat pies and gravy is confusing to many.
When I first came to NYU I tried to legitimise myself by making myself sound “more British” which to me meant “less Northern”. You see, us Northerners have a completely different type of accent and I didn’t want the issue of getting asked “Are you Irish/Australian/European?” or more simply, “Wow, your accent is weird, where are you from?” In reality I ended up sounding like a mix of the Queen and one of the members of Oasis. Also, when I spoke fast my inner Northerner came out and I would just get blank stares or a confused “What?”
Then came my tea problem. I don’t like tea that much, which is shocking, I know. I went along with all the English tea jokes people threw at me whilst questioning myself internally. In the end, I went out to get tea bags in attempt to force myself to like it. It didn’t work. Now I have tea bags in my room purely for decorative purposes.
By the end of my first semester, I’d gathered up a significant amount of stories about my time in NYC as a Northern British girl. These stories include that time when someone asked me whether we have ketchup in England (spoiler: we do) and how it didn’t matter how many times I told someone I was from Manchester they’d still ask me, “What’s the weather like in London this time of year?” Or the times when it rains and I am completely baffled at why people wear wellies (rain boots). To me, wellies are for mud not a few small puddles.
When I went home over winter break and told all my mates back at home these stories, they found them hilarious. They found them funny whilst I felt totally stuck in the middle of two seemingly different worlds. It made me realise that rather than being upset that people wear wellies, finding a meat pie is hard and no one understands what I say sometimes, I should embrace this double life that I lead.
I remember texting one of my close friends here at NYU over winter break and telling him how I’m going to be like James Bond; leading a double life, an international woman of mystery.
NYU gives you a space where you can experience all of these cultures whilst also embracing your own and for that I am so thankful. What other place in the world can you meet people from all these different countries on the same floor as you in a residence hall, laugh at your differences, and bond over your similarities?
Needless to say, my true Northerner is very much present, but my New Yorker is definitely growing.