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The Power of Initiative: Advice for Transfer Students

When I transferred to NYU this January, I arrived in New York City not knowing a soul. I felt overwhelmed by uncertainty, excitement, anticipation and a high expectation to immediately find my place. I was thrilled to start at NYU, but it was also daunting to be in a new place with so much uncertainty for my future. At the start of the semester, the Welcome Team provided an amazing range of opportunities for transfer students to get involved in the NYU community. I was so excited about all the events and groups but knew I couldn’t reasonably commit to everything I saw. After some trial and error, I was eventually able to find a good balance of activities to help me to adjust to NYU, make fulfilling friendships, and allow New York to feel like home.  

Over the past three months, I have settled into my daily life in the city, and I am on the right path to finding my place. I knew in my gut that despite how scary it was, transferring from a state school and moving to New York was the right decision for me. It seemed crazy at the time, but it has been the most rewarding risk I have ever taken. I still have ups and downs, and it would be unnatural if I didn’t, but based on my three short months of experience, I have some advice for those who are thinking of making the leap, but unsure if it is worth the risk. 

Join two organizations on campus that fit your interests and attend meetings at least once a week.

You might be excited to get involved on campus, but overcommitting to clubs and organizations can create unnecessary stress. Feel free to join more than two, but I found that narrowing down my commitments to two active organizations has helped me meet people and immerse myself in the community without feeling overwhelmed. I joined a sorority that has helped me meet amazing friends, and I became a member of the Smart Women Securities club that meets once a week for personal investing lessons. The NYU Engage website is a great way to find clubs and organizations, but it is best to make sure that the group is active and meets regularly.

Establish a routine.

Having daily rituals has helped me find comfort when stressed over the large changes that I have encountered as a transfer student. I suggest building a comfortable routine around a class schedule. Whether it is grabbing coffee at the same spot each morning (my favorite is Stumptown) or watching a comforting show before bed each night, establishing a daily routine can help you adjust to a new environment. 

Keep in touch with your support system. 

I find it helpful to have at least one person that you can call to talk about thoughts and feelings that come up during periods of change and adjustment. This could be a parent, friend from home, sibling, or anyone that you trust. Having a supportive person to discuss the good and the bad with allows for personal growth and reflection. Keeping emotions bottled up and hidden may feel exhausting, so it can be helpful to have an external outlet that provides healthy mental support to confide in.

Become a regular.

I studied abroad in Italy last semester, and when I arrived in New York, I was on the hunt for the best Italian café. I get my best work done in a café environment, so finding Sogno Tuscano in the West Village was a dream for me. Every time I walk into this tiny Italian café, I am transported back to Florence, and am filled with joy and fond memories. Finding a spot, whether it is a restaurant, café, or park bench that feels comforting is essential. I now do most, if not all, of my homework at Sogno Tuscano, and it has become part of my daily routine. Having a favorite place to frequent can provide you with a sense of belonging and help make New York feel like home. 

Know your limits.

Know when you need to be alone. Some of my fondest memories since moving here have been things I have done independently. Putting yourself out there can be exhausting, and it is important to know when you need a break. New York is the best city to be independent in, and you should never feel bad about taking a day for yourself. Listen to your brain and body when it says you need a break, and give yourself grace during your alone time. 

Strive to be your strongest advocate. 

It can be hard to go against the grain, but you know yourself best. I’ve found that setting goals and problem-solving can be empowering processes that allow for tremendous self-growth. 

Reflecting on my recent start at NYU, I realized the hardest and most daunting part of the transfer experience is deciding to start the process in the first place. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to make these life-altering decisions, but taking the first leap of faith is such a rewarding feeling. The most important thing I have learned is the power of taking initiative for your happiness and advocating for yourself. I have heard countless stories of students who are unhappy but remain at their schools due to fear of the unknown. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, but my recent experiences have taught me good things only happen if you make them happen. 

Sophomore at New York University
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