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Victoria Panzella, FIT students in masks
Original photo by Victoria Panzella

Campus Life In New York City During A Pandemic

As a student of FIT, I know that some students are living in New York City, and distance learning has taken quite a toll on everyone at home. Most of us sit in our rooms, scroll through social media for hours, checking their Instagram stories about the city, and living through the fear of missing out. I started to question whether I made the right decision staying home during this time, worried I’m missing out on opportunities that NYC could’ve presented me.

However, I kept reminding myself that what you see online isn’t always the full picture. The posts and videos you see of everyone on social media are the best versions of what they’re experiencing. I was curious about what it was like living in the city during the middle of a pandemic. It bothered me wondering if it was anything like what everyone was online. I had countless questions and needed answers, as I’m sure most of you are feeling the same way. After finding FIT students living in New York, I reached out and interviewed them to explore the truth about living in the city during COVID.

Her Campus FIT: Is it hard to focus on school remotely from your dorm or apartment knowing there is a whole city out there in front of you?

Victoria Panzella (VP): It’s hard to focus on school remotely, but not for that reason. Honestly, I find it difficult because home is supposed to be the place you come to at the end of the day to relax. Now, combining my work and relaxation space just has me often distracted, unfocused, and unmotivated.

Victoria Stack (VS): No, the hardest part is getting myself to sit down and concentrate, and then I’m good to go. The city doesn’t change anything for me because it’s always out there and not going anywhere.

HCFIT: Has it been hard to make friends and connections with other students either from or outside of FIT?

VP: A bit, since I’m a sophomore, fortunately, I did make some friends in my first year at FIT. However, due to the pandemic, most of them have returned home. With the current circumstances, it’s challenging to get out there and meet new people. 

VS: It depends on what you’re looking for. On one hand, with dating apps, it’s easier to find people to hang out with. On the other hand, making real friends can be challenging. 

Victoria Panzella, FIT students in masks
Original photo by Victoria Panzella

HCFIT: How isolated are you from other people? Does it ever feel overwhelming and lonely at times? 

VP: Oh absolutely! I’m a fine arts major and mostly the only person from my program that uses the studios at FIT. It’s lonely without all of my friends here. I feel overwhelmed and frustrated when I’m working on a project and need the help of a professor who can’t be there with me in real-time.

VS: You can choose how to isolate yourself. If I want to be around people I will, it’s really up to you. However, sometimes it does become overwhelming and lonely, and I can easily go days without leaving the dorm or interacting. 

HCFIT: What does an everyday night out look like?

VP: Nonexistent honestly. My roommate and I both have tough majors, so we’re constantly working around the clock. When we do have free time, it consists of watching Netflix and going on day trips with our close friends to get fresh air. We don’t have nights outs like we did last year since a lot of our friends are back home. Also, we may increase the spread of COVID when we go to restaurants, we don’t want to add to the issue. 

VS: On the weeknights, I’m usually at my friend’s apartment where we make dinner and study until late. On weekends, we sometimes explore the city and participate in small get-togethers. 

Victoria Stack
Original photo by Victoria Stack

HCFIT: How much money do you spend in a week being in the city?

VP: Depends if any bills are due that week. If not, I spend roughly $20-$30 on groceries and anywhere from $20-$40 on laundry, supplies for school, shopping for myself, etc. To stay on track of finances, I set a budget for the month on this app called Mint that allows you to set up and track your spending in all types of categories.

VS: It all depends on the week, most activities with friends are free, but the cost is mainly food and necessities. I usually spend $60-$75 a week and I try to avoid eating out.

HCFIT: Has dating been on your radar? If so, what does that look like during this time?

VP: Not for me, but for my friends it definitely has been a little bit. I had to help answer a lot of Tinder and Bumble chats, but they never went anywhere.

VS: Dating apps! It’s been pretty relaxed with very laid-back dates.

Victoria Panzella
Original photo by Victoria Panzella

Her Campus FIT: Do you have advice for students that are planning to come on campus or to the city? 

VP: Coming to campus during COVID is very different from last year, but I would get creative and try to make the most out of it. I see a lot of people hiding in Kaufman Hall feeling lonely, and it makes me sad since I had such a fun time during my first year. Join a club and go to their Zoom meetings, slide your socials on a piece of paper under someone’s door, or plan outings with a small group. This way, you can get to know each other while experiencing new things in the city (wearing masks of course!). You have to push yourself to get involved or you’ll feel like you’re falling into a massive rut.

VS: You have to be outgoing; the experience is what you make of it. It’s going to be a lot harder than you expected, but it gets easier once a routine is devolved!


My name is Emily Gilbert and I'm a freshman at the Fashion Institute of Technology. My major is Advertising and Marketing Communications. I love putting together trendy outfits and posting unique photos to my Instagram. In my free time, I love to read, go shopping of course, and binge watch Gilmore Girls!
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