About the author: Born and raised in Northern California, now studying at New York University, Daniel is majoring in Business with a concentration in Accounting and Information Systems with a Minor in Computer Science and Mathematics. After gaining three job opportunities and extensively volunteering in Brooklyn over the past year, here is Daniel’s reflection of his first year of college:
As a native Californian, the idea of an underground train system sounded like an alien concept. Naturally, the question, “Why can’t you just drive there?” would enter my mind. A system of many connecting lines that can take me anywhere was an inconceivable dream.
Once I started school at New York University and began working fifty blocks north of my dorm, I was confronted with the fact that I was dependent on this underground train system called the subway. Taking part in the ritual of riding the subway to work made me feel a lot more a part of the city. I felt like a true city dweller with New York as my home. Seeing the multitude of faces everyday, with the train’s increasing population and decreasing comfortability with each stop, made me realize just how many people live in this city. Although we were together on the train, the atmosphere never led to close personal interaction. With the amount of life and experience in a single car, I’m sure I would have had an eye-opening exchange with each and every rider. But it was too early in the morning and naturally, we were tired, so we rode in silence.
What most fascinates me is that in each individual’s journey, the subway is the one point in which that journey is shared with others. After this point, everyone continues to speed-walk or bike by their lonesome. The subway is the point in the day in which New Yorkers are forced to share such an intimate space together, whether they like it or not.
This experience made me think of the other times in my life in which I would be forced to make close connections with others so intimately. The first that came to my mind was my current stage in life: attending college.
Over my first year, I’ve seen many different types of people, each with different experiences that define them and goals that they wish to achieve. Everyone is in the same stage of their lives, but all have different origins and took different routes to get where they are now.
In this transitional time period, from young-adulthood to “proper” adulthood, we’re all learning how to survive on our own. This education in survival does not solely contain guidance in the classroom, but also enlightenment from my peers – the same people who are in this subway car with me. Learning in this time means to be fully immersed in each other’s experiences and philosophies. This involves leaving our comfort zone. This period of life isn’t high school; college is supposed to feel radically different – because it is. Don’t stop talking and don’t stop moving. Join that club, say hi to that person waiting in line with you, go to that event, and stay up doing your work. Being stretched thin is what college is about – it’s taking everything in and becoming who you are. This is the time to be moving. You can look at your reflection in the mirror later, because this isn’t the time for anybody, including yourself, to judge you.
Although I did spend a lot of my time helping those in need within the city of New York by repairing homes or canvassing for voting registration, I feel that I didn’t get involved enough with my more immediate community. Last year, I only had the motivation to take the flyer for the event but not to walk to it. At a university like NYU, my interests are certainly welcome, but I need to be motivated to better grow my passions within my community. Whether it’s related to technology, entrepreneurship, finance, politics, filmmaking, basketball, or music, I need to immerse myself in my own interests. And I will! I intend to stretch myself as thin as you have to be to fit on a subway train at rush hour – in perfect harmony with everyone else surrounding me and uncomfortably happy to be moving so quickly.
Each journey is different and unique for every individual. There can be no comparison to anybody else’s journey to success. There will always be different routes and methods used to get to our destinations; it’s just that now, we’re all at the same place at the same time. Of all the groups of people that I would have ended up with, this is my community.
At the beginning of Daniel’s New York University experience, his mother, Rocio, shared these thoughts: Knowledge is Power