Memoirs of a NYU Freshman

By Sarah Jackson on August 16, 2017

Image by aolin via Wikimedia Commons

Dear NYU,

I hope we are close enough that I can justifiably refer to you colloquially as “NYU.” It has been a year, after all. But, let’s be honest — even strangers to your tantalizing promises don’t call you “New York University.” No, that would be too formal a moniker for the violet beacon of opportunity you represent to the thousands of adoring high-school students, my former self included, who consistently rank you in their Top 10 Dream Colleges.

I’m not quite sure how to begin this letter. I only know that, in just one short year, I have already learned a lot from you and gained experiences I could not have had elsewhere. Having the chance to attend and write about a New York Fashion Week show for our newspaper, for one, was an absolutely enthralling experience.

Even before that, I still remember my eager anticipation for my first Washington Square News article to be published online; I searched my name on our newspaper’s website countless times every day until, finally, the umpteenth search that week turned up a published article with my name on it for the first time ever. I remember the pangs of discomfort that immediately overtook me when I read what I had written. It was like drinking lemon juice. Still, those lemons were the fruits of my labor; I had borne them, and now I had to bear them. Somehow, they were both stale and alarmingly novel, almost alien. I had written these words just weeks earlier, but seeing them now as imprints on my phone’s screen stripped them of their cozy familiarity.

I was suddenly a stranger to my own thoughts. Yet, with each new article I sent out into the world, those nauseating waves gradually began to subside. I guess I’m trying to say thank you for giving me this opportunity to voice my thoughts and, more importantly, to confront this unease and to begin to alleviate it; it has, in many ways, been a rite of passage.

Writing occupied much of my time, of course, but certainly not all of it. In my down time, I couldn’t help but indulge in the standard tourist activities. There was the time in November I went ice skating with my friends in Central Park and, to put the icing on the tourist cake, took a double-decker bus to get there and back. If, sitting on the upper level of the bus, I thought I could touch the trees and traffic lights (indeed, the minor head injury sustained by one girl who stood up at the wrong time proved we were certainly within reach), then I must have been in heaven, gazing down on the bustle and beauty of the city, on the 100th floor of the One World Trade Center.

And, how could any respectable tourist miss out on the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve? I remember taking my place in the uncomfortable shoulder-to-shoulder configuration of shivering bodies frozen on tippy toes as I tried to catch a glimpse of already-peripheral fireworks that, from my distant point of view, were simply glorified sparklers. That is still one of my fondest memories. Yes, the most clichéd adventures were some of my favorites. I suppose they aren’t clichés anymore though. They were clichés until I lived them, until I made them my own; after that, they simply became memories. Of course, many of these experiences were sweeter because they were on your dime although that’s technically my dime. (I should hope my $70k a year covers the cost of some outings. A large chunk of my tuition, I’ve come to assume, fuels the epicurean wonderland that is Sunday brunch at Palladium. For a pseudo-bougie experience in the comfort of sweatpants, though, I’m not complaining.)

As we speak, I’m sitting at home, basking in the deep orange glow of the California sun as it sets, thinking of how glad I am that our obligatory seasonal hiatus is almost over. You can’t imagine how dearly I miss the sun in New York, scaling up skyscrapers as it rose. Part of me wishes for the sun, its light teleporting from one side of my grubby dorm window to the next, to wake me up again, even if it sounds earlier than my phone’s alarm and invariably alerts me to the cacophony of car horns outside my window. I know the sun rises in the East, but I’m even surer that it goes down in the West. I suppose that’s a big part of why I was drawn to the city — and to you. Too often for me, things end in my hometown. Opportunities come to a screeching halt in my cul-de-sac to avoid producing what would actually be the rather serendipitous collision between chance and chances so that, having followed them, I was then alone at a dead end. That was never the case with you.

By this point, you’ve probably noticed there is one rather important subject I still haven’t broached: my classes. They have been the sun to my dormant neurons, the unanticipated yet vital wake-up call about real world issues, my obliviousness to these matters, and myself. It was, after all, my Writing the Essay class that revealed to me how much I valued writing and subsequently willed me to change my major quite drastically.

Though there is so much more I could say, there is nothing more I need to say. Really, that was true from the beginning. Jogging this memory marathon was more for me than it was for you, and I’m content ending here. I could regale you with fantastical stories of my not-so-fantastic roommate, or with accounts of unspeakably awkward elevator encounters, or with any number of other minor grievances, but I think these stories would fall on deaf ears, not because you aren’t listening but because you already know what I’m going to say. I’ve already shared these experiences with you as they happened.

Perhaps this was a selfish letter; I wrote not so much to thank you (although I sincerely do) for the countless opportunities you’ve presented to me but to document this year in review, to put the first keepsake in my college time capsule. So, I will stop writing now, not because the Bluebook is full, or because my pen is out of ink, or because the test is over, but because I am writing a paper that has already been written — and read.

Thanks for reading,


Hi there! My name is Sarah, and I'm majoring in Journalism and English at NYU. In my spare time, I like to play the violin, explore the city, and discover more indie rock bands.

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