A question I frequently get on my tours as well as from my friends from home is, “ Is there really a community at NYU?” I completely understand why this is such a frequent question; the campus is urban and “spread out” (in reality, most buildings are located between 4th Street and 14th Street), there are 20,000 undergraduate students, and such a wide array of majors. All of these factors may make someone think that community doesn’t exist at NYU. I would venture to say the contrary: community very much exists at NYU, and finding one (or more) is the same as finding it at any other college or university.
Don’t wait for friends to come to you
Even though this might sound like common sense, this is something I still think all prospective (and current) college students need to hear. I found that many people think that the moment they step onto campus, a swarm of friends will come rushing over and immediately everyone is BFFs. While this would be nice, it’s definitely not the case. Friendships are formed through effort, and effort means going out there and talking to people (something I will touch upon in the next section). Furthermore, friendships are formed through time. A relationship with an acquaintance won’t blossom into a friendship overnight. Many days (more like weeks) are needed to really change a relationship from a casual “Hey!” to late night heart-to-hearts.
Get involved in what you love
Going off of the last point, getting involved on campus is a great way to find community. As we like to say at NYU, we’re a “community of micro-communities;” our individual interests draw us to smaller groups, and these groups make up the university as a whole. I have made my best friends through residence hall council, student government, and my job as a tour guide. Others have found their communities through sports, Greek life, a capella groups, and so on. I am the type of person who likes to dive right in, so I think joining many groups my first semester helped my transition tremendously. For those who are a bit more introverted, even joining one club could be a good idea. You’re immediately drawn to people who share a common interest, and from there it is really easy to form relationships!
Speak to people
Again, this is another piece of common sense. And again, this is something students need to hear. I met one of my best friends here, Ali, in one of my classes. We sat next to each other in a writing class our first semester and hit it off. We ended up trying a juice bar together at the recommendation of our professor, and then started to hang out more frequently. Fast forward one year and I can call her one of my best friends, all because we spoke to each other in class. You never know who your next friend may be: your neighbor on your floor, the guy in front of you in your lecture, or the girl you always see in Starbucks when you get your afternoon pick-me-up. It may be nerve-wracking at first, but striking up a conversation is the only way to get to know someone better.
Community at college is a funny thing. It comes in all shapes and sizes, from a 30-person floor in a residence hall to an eight-person seminar class. College is the “best four years of your life,” or at least we are told so, and it is better to experience these times with others rather than alone. Keep these three points in mind when you walk into your next class or pass an acquaintance on the street – you never know where a conversation may lead.