Ending my college days: thoughts and feelings on graduation

New York, NY, USA
This week was my last week of school. Ever. I thought that the feeling of nostalgia from the beginning and that connection would be stronger, but then I remembered that we spent a year on Zoom during the pandemic. What fun times - spending all that money to be stuck at home and talking to students and professors through computer screens and DMs. I always wonder, looking back, if it's worth it; but at the same time, it gave me all the reason to savour the experiences and moments on campus and to take advantage of every resource and opportunities the university offers. Which is what I did. 

This past year since moving to New York City has been one hell of a journey: I moved homes at least 3 times, went through and had 3 jobs (working 2 simultaneously when I was taking summer classes), lived through a roach infestation, had COVID-19 twice (experiencing it the second time as I type this with a sniffly nose from my bed), and I've struggled and prevailed as we're going through one of the worst recession we've seen. And it was all in a span of 14 months. It's been one hell of a journey, but I lived through it all and still stand today (well, lay as I am still sick). 


Reflecting upon my past two years at The New School, my experiences were mellow. Half of it was fun, the half when I moved to New York City. My university is a great school to go to (although, there were times, during the semester I was a reporter for the college newspaper, that I got to witness the flawed system and administration of the school) and I did not regret my decision to come here - I just wished I had a better and more fuller college experience. It wasn't the fault of the university or New York: we were plundered into an unknown abyss, filled with depression and burnout and grief and fear as the coronavirus continued to linger on the streets, amidst the air we breathed. 

Despite circumstances, professors and other faculty tried their best to lead engaging classes. It's difficult to stay engaged when you're so comfortable in your own bed and haven't moved in a week - it made me lazy, taking those Zoom classes from the tropics of Florida and the warm, comfort food of my mother's cooking, and the quietness of my isolated, suburban community on the tops of the hillside. I had to get out. I had to go to the bustling hustle of city living. Florida was not the place for me. It was worth it, although I sometimes struggled, mentally and emotionally and financially when I first moved to the city. But in this past year since moving out of my parent's home I've learned so much and grown into someone stronger, more independent, and more sure of myself. 


THE EAST VILLAGE APARTMENT: WHERE IT STARTED


I found an apartment through Facebook for $650 - a COVID-19 price that was a deal I couldn't miss. With the help of my sister and parents, I took the offer, hopped on the plane, and moved to a tiny East Village apartment. I moved in February - the worst month to move in the city - so it was cold, the streets were scattered with dirty snow, and COVID-19 was at its peak. My experience the first few weeks were not the best, as I was stuck at home because one of the biggest snow storms had hit the city. I had no friends, nowhere to go or to do (except going to Zoom university) and was depressed. I only had one friend with whom I've been speaking with virtually, and who ended up becoming my roommate as the city got warmer. 

As the summer came around, I took this as an opportunity to explore the city more. My roommates and friends went bar hopping, karaoke, attended events, and explored the parks. It was my Hot Girl Summer as a single 20-something in New York City. Of course, it was also the summer I met my ex-boyfriend. Around this time, I was enrolled half-time and working two jobs - helping customers during the day and serving beer at night. It wasn't the best balance, so I ended up quitting serving beer and helping customers and got a job in health administration. 

BROOKLYN BABY


As my sublet ended, I got what I had hoped for: moving to Brooklyn. I moved into this renovated apartment next to the overhead M and J train lines on Broadway. It was a better apartment compared to the East Village one, which was an eight floor walk-up with barely any walking space or shared capacities where we once found a mouse eating our food in the cabinets. This Brooklyn apartment had new kitchen appliances and clean floors, and a bathroom that had a proper shower. Of course, my room had no windows - but no true New Yorker has not lived in a shitty apartment space. It wasn't until several months in when we found a roach infestation inside the walls, and we ended up moving again (*cue single tear drop emoji*). 

I remained in Brooklyn and moved into a beautiful apartment with exposed brick walls on a quiet street. It's one of my favorite parts of New York City, as it's more suburban and quiet yet not too far away from the hustle of Manhattan. Although it is slowly becoming gentrified with rising rent costs, it is still one of my favorite boroughs in New York. My commute is gorgeous, as I pass the Williamsburg bridge and witness the views the city. When I take the train at the right times, I get to see the beautiful sunset that hits the city skyline. 

THE COVID-19 MONSTER


I was unfortunate to catch COVID-19 in the most timely times. I caught it just before I was supposed to fly out back to Florida for Christmas and New Years, and I caught just before I am supposed to graduate. COVID-19 is testing me right now. The city uplifted the mask mandates, but even then I still kept myself safe and practiced social distancing (well, tried to). New York is one of the most congested and over-populated cities, and I know that traveling through the subways can be daunting (the F train between midtown and LES is a bloody nightmare) as we're squashed together in the same cars, holding and touching the same poles that have been touched by hundreds to thousands of people throughout the day, and people constantly traveling from other states. It's difficult to stay safe, when the city is always bustling and moving. 

These experiences I went through showed me how hard life really is. It showed me that good things don't get handed to you, and that you must work for it. I am privileged enough to get help from my parents on the occasion that I'm truly struggling, but this experience has humbled me and taught me many great lessons. 

My years at The New School has been an interesting journey to say the least, and I've enjoyed the moments and met some of the most interesting and talented people I've ever encountered. Not just in Lang, but at Parsons (where I'm minoring in Communication Design) there are so many creative students with incredible portfolios and backgrounds! It was exciting and fun to meet a community of open-minded intellectuals, most of whom have served as inspirations to me, or have become some of my closest friends. 

Now that my time has ended as a student and I'm entering "the real world", as I've been told, it's time for another new chapter in my life. I haven't made a plan yet, other than having a long rest as well as continuing on evolving my senior capstone project (I created a Substack and zine which you should definitely check out!). I'm uncertain of what the future will hold, but I have high prospects as I continue to evolve myself and my writing, build and continue building projects, pitching and publishing my pieces, and taking advantage of opportunities that fall in front of me. 

I want to say a huge congratulations to the class of 2022! You finally did it. You made it. You made your family and friends and people you love proud and, most importantly, you made yourself proud. You worked hard and you earned it. 

I look forward to what the future holds for us.

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