How I’m Adjusting to College Life After a Co-op in NYC

Being a Drexel University student, co-op truly teaches you how to work as a young urban professional in a real life-working environment. What I personally found an even stranger experience was when I came back to Drexel University's city campus after working in New York City for around seven months, almost five days a week. I commuted from my home in Long Island, New York for seven months and got to know New York City inside and out - the subway system, the amount of time it would take to get from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to Midtown, the best on-the-go coffee spots, the best lunch places, my favorite daily playlists and much more real-life experience Manhattan offers you just by being there. New York is hard to tackle and leaves you feeling exhausted like you’ve been at war all day and then you do it all again the next day. After feeling like I fought off a dragon for seven months straight, arriving back on campus left me feeling beyond weird. For once, I wasn’t literally running through subway turnstiles to make a train or to get to a client by a certain time. 

Everything was so still on campus with college students strolling and talking amongst each other on the way to class or to meet friends. The first night back in Philadelphia after my parents moved me back to school, I walked around on Drexel and UPenn’s campuses by myself listening to music. I was trying to comprehend the strange feeling of not feeling like I had to run somewhere. I was trying to understand this forgotten calm of just walking and being with myself with no goal or time to adhere to. I was trying to understand the odd quiet and of bugs chirping, student footsteps, people talking quietly and sounds of mediocre traffic passing by. The oddest feeling was walking and listening to music for fun, looking around and not feeling great anxiety or stress. Of course, college is stressful with tests, projects and deadlines, but working in Manhattan from 9 am to 6 pm, commuting in and out every day is very different from having around two or three classes a day. Coming back to college, I had the sudden thought of how much free time I had on my hands. I realized the amount of hours I had available to me to do things I wanted to do that I didn’t have when I was working straight through the day, five days a week. 

I texted a few friends with a joking statement saying, “College: binge-watching Netflix and pretending random stuff is important.” This was said in a half-joking way, half not. Before co-op, it felt like college was much more stressful and that I had no time in the day to do what I needed, but after working for a company in which almost all hours of the day were made up of my job’s daily tasks and long-term goals that needed to be completed, I now appreciate the time I do have to do other things. Co-op taught me to appreciate college while I was here. It taught me to love being 20 years old (a time when you have somewhat important responsibilities that are seemingly more important than they actually are). It taught me to appreciate having the hours in the day to achieve what I would like to instead of just thinking about doing it. It taught me how to be confident in my thoughts and listen to my intuition about certain situations. It taught me to not take life so seriously and that things will work themselves out in time. It taught me to believe in my skills and my ability. It taught me that it's okay to not always have a plan. It taught me to use college as a time to figure out what I really want to do, what I want out of life and what I would like to walk away from college with other than the degree I am here for. It taught me personal growth is just as important as professional growth. And lastly, it taught me college is a time of simultaneous freedom and responsibility that you only have once that you can’t get back and to make the most of opportunities, learning experiences, creative freedom, ideas and yourself.