Study Abroad: A Summer in the City

by Nicole Chin '08

Towering skyscrapers, enormous trees, and miles and miles of concrete. A mixture of sirens, loud honking, and street musicians stringing guitars or banging plastic buckets. This is New York City: you can stand in the middle of the street, run in front of a yellow taxi cab, get honked at, and no one bothers to look, curse, or laugh. It’s beautiful and bittersweet, and it’s what I’ve been calling my home for the last six weeks.

Why did I ever want to leave sunny, glorious California for cloudy, humid New York? The experience of life in a big city was so invitingly tasteful that in one bite I went for it all -- pitched it to my parents, signed up for classes at New York University, and two months later found myself on a five-hour plane ride to the buzzing Big Apple.

In the six weeks that I’ve been here the weather has changed dramatically –- I’ve nearly frozen from cold winds, been caught off guard and drenched without a rain jacket three times, and then suddenly found myself sweating so profusely that a shower didn’t seem like a reasonable option.

I only have class two days a week, but I spend most of those two days chipping away at a new draft or reading anthologies to grow in my craft as best as I can. But the work isn't nearly as tedious as it sounds – I’m in New York, after all.

Other days, I’ll grab my iPod and journey around the city. I’ve seen all the sights: Times Square, Broadway, the Hudson River, Yankee Stadium, Central Park, the Financial District, East Village, Greenwich Village, Brooklyn, and the list goes on. I’ve mastered the subways, been to a handful of concerts, heard some amazing musicians, spent long hours reading in the park, and had an amazing opportunity to trust God.

Being alone in New York City was one of the most difficult and amazing decisions I have made. A few friends from home have come and gone, but I decided in May to limit my contact with home. It was a difficult decision to make, but it has made an enormous difference in my experiences here.

Everyone in this city is alone. You might only know a handful of people, and whether you are traveling around the city, sitting in a coffee shop, or relaxing in the park, the strangers around you seem like your only friends. And it’s wonderful for me; being in the confines of a new place and knowing absolutely nothing and having to utterly trust God with everything – that’s what has made my experience valuable.