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Living a Post-Grad Life a Year too Early: This is What I’ve Learned

About three weeks ago, I packed up my mom’s Volkswagon to the brim and drove down to Brooklyn Heights, the new place I am calling home for the next 4 months. I am spending the semester working as a full-time Marketing intern at a luxury fashion company for Holy Cross’s NYC Semester Away program.

But yes, it’s only been three weeks. In the grand scheme of things, that really isn’t long enough to completely get a grasp on a new city, a new job, and a totally new lifestyle. However, these three weeks have been so incredibly educational for me, and have given me a glimpse into what a post-grad, corporate life looks like. And let me tell you, I’ve learned a few things that I never thought I’d know before graduating. However, they’re really eye-opening and valuable, and I want those who are not getting this experience to learn them too.

So, here’s my no bullshit list of things I’ve learned since living in NYC, as a ‘premature’ graduate.

1. IT’S GOING TO FEEL LONELY AF.

This semester, the HC NYC Semester Away program only has a total of eight Holy Cross students. And to be totally honest, I only really knew two of them. While I have been told I’m a social butterfly, something about entering a new city knowing only my roomie (shoutout to you Shan!) was terrifying. Especially since I work in an office cubicle and have an hour roundtrip minute roundtrip commute on the subway daily, life can feel especially lonely. Compared to being in the small community we have at HC, living in a city where no one knows who you are, or what Montserrat you were in freshman year, was very hard to adjust to. When I see my friends back at Holy Cross posting in one another’s dorms and chatting away until the late hours of the night, I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out on something I shouldn’t be. But, I’ve slowly learned to become more comfortable learning to enjoy my own company during those commuting hours and walks to the office, and with more time, I know it’ll become second nature.

2. City living is expensive.

Let me tell you, they do not LIE when they say that city prices are astronomically higher than normal. The first week I worked in the office, I made the (seemingly dumb) decision to try all of the lunch locations around my office during my breaks. I ended up dropping way more cash on food and coffee than I needed to. Let me know why a small cappuccino costs me $6!

If that isn’t terrible enough, if you like to go out on the weekends, be prepared to drop hundreds on drinks and food. My two friends and I stupidly spent almost $300 in one night at a bar in Greenwich Village, and it creeped up on us for sure. Be sure to take advantage of all of the rewards programs you can for food and drink deals, for things like coffee or Chipotle. Secondly, be sure to do your research on the cheapest spots for you and your friends to get Sunday bottomless brunch. TikTok and Yelp have become my best friends for this very reason!

3. it is not as glamorous as you think.

I have gotten countless texts and calls from my family and friends asking me about the “magical” and “glamorous” and “juicy” life I’ve been living in NYC. While NYC is definitely such a fabulous city to live in when you’re young, when you work a 9-5 like the rest of the world, that glamour definitely subsides. By the time I get off of work, I am tired from sitting in a cubicle on a computer all day, and honestly want to eat dinner, watch some Netflix and sleep. While our favorite shows like Gossip Girl and Sex and the City make living in New York seem like an endless spectacle of clubbing with the girls, hot dates with rich finance boys, and endless shopping sprees, I’ve learned that reality is incredibly far from it.

Most people are doing the same thing as me on a daily basis. Catching a subway to work, sitting in a desk for 8 hours a day just to make ends meet, finding their way home in the midst of rush hour, and then do it all over again until the weekend. Of course, not everyone is miserably living this existence. For me, I’ve started to love my internship and have slowly adjusted to the seemingly ‘boring’ life I’m living this semester. While I have been able to catch a Broadway show after work here, and grab some drinks at happy hour there, my days on average look nearly identical, and that’s okay.

4. Don’t take college for granted, ever.

I have literally written articles for HerCampus complaining about college, and how so much is expected of college students on a daily basis. My friends and I always fanaticize about life post-graduation, with a stable adult income and our own roof over our heads. But let me tell you, college is a very unique thing, and it should never be taken for granted.

When will you ever have the opportunity to live in a tight-knit, walkable community, with all of your best friends less than a 5 minute walk from you? When else will you be able to sneak into Kimball dining hall right before closing to snag some soft serve ice cream and sprinkles, technically free of charge? After you graduate, you’ll never be able to step down into a sweaty sports house basement and dance with your girls to “Doses & Mimosas.” There are so many things about college living that we don’t appreciate, and I know for a fact that the second I step back on Mount St. James this fall, I am going to be living every day to the fullest.

Of course this sounds so negative, and I promise I’m not trying to be. I have really started to appreciate my new schedule this semester. But, I do think it really made me open my eyes to the beautiful things that I am lucky enough to experience in college.

5. take care of yourself, in every way possible.

This lesson can be explained in a variety of ways. For starters, living on your own means you are accountable for your own health. You go grocery shopping and make meals for yourself. You have to make the time to prioritize a work-life balance. You have to fit the time in your schedule to go to the gym if you want to. Physically, you’re on your own. And it’s HARD.

Secondly, I want to bring up safety. As a woman in a big city, it is so incredibly important to make sure that you are doing all you can to keep yourself safe. The world is a scary place, and once you get outside of your little bubble, it is so important to do all you can to watch out for yourself. I know a lot of my NYC friends have mini pepper sprays on their keychains, or even little panic buttons that make noise when you press them. Whatever you do to stay safe will help you. Don’t stand close to the edge of subway platforms, only keep one airpod in your ear, etc. etc. As a woman alone in NYC, you hear these reminders a lot, and it is so important to listen to them.

Conclusion

Overall, I have really started to learn to appreciate the post-graduate lifestyle for what it is. If I didn’t have this experience, I wouldn’t have learned how much I need to appreciate my last year of college next year. I am so grateful to be surrounded by kind people in this program, and through it I’ve made so many friends in addition to the ones I came here with. For anyone interested in participating in one of Holy Cross’s semester away programs, I highly recommend it. You will get such fabulous experience interning, but also learning the in’s and out’s of a new city and lifestyle a year early than you normally would, and it’s going to prepare you in the long run.

Cassie Smith is a current Psychology major with a minor in Rhetoric & Composition at Holy Cross. When she'd not spending her time working for HerCampus, she's catching up with friends, graphic designing on her iPad, or perfectly organizing her Pinterest boards and Spotify playlists.
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