I'm sitting on a bed next to one of my closest friends, Giselle Pena, talking about everything at 3 a.m. It is just a typical night for us when we get together, especially after not seeing each other in a while. In the midst of conversation, I get the grand idea to write an interview for this article. Giselle is a tall girl with beautiful curls taking on the city, the Big Apple to be exact. She is finished with her first semester at Columbia University. Giselle is someone to watch and admire, a girl who's working on getting her bachelors degree and then pursuing a career in law.
Here is how she's taking on the city and working not to just survive in her new home, but thrive.
Q: Tell me a little about yourself.
A: I am from Union City, New Jersey. I also love extreme couponing. There is never a deal I don't get. I am a Columbia engineering student in NYC. I'm 18 years old and trying to find myself.
Q: Why did you choose Columbia?
A: It was a place I knew I would be challenged and have great resources. I am also close to family, but enough distance to be independent New York is a great place to be an engineer so definitely will allow me to get great job opportunities.
Q: What are you studying?
A: I study civil engineering, going on a pre-law track. I love the stem field and love public speaking.
Q: Is there anything you would tell your younger self, one that hadn't started college yet?
A: I wouldn't. The lessons I learned have lead me to the place I am. I am content. Even though it would be nice to be a more knowledgeable me, it wouldn't lead me to a wiser me. Honesty, it would may me overthink everything more than I already do.
Q: How was your first semester?
A: Rough. Competing with my peers who had a better education was hard but I knew that shouldn't be a reason why I should not work hard. That was the playing field. I just had to climb over the mountain many had already climbed.
Q: What did you learn about yourself in that time?
A: I have anxiety and not to overwhelm myself. That it is okay to take a breath and deal with everything one step at a time.
Q: How did you combat your anxiety and what would you tell someone in a similar position?
A: Breath. I did yoga and made sure I was surrounded by good friends who were there when I needed a laugh and a shoulder to lean on. It is also important to not be so critical of yourself. And it's easier said, but done. I believe self-care is key and it is important to remember to always believe in yourself.
Q: Is there anything that has surprised you being in the city?
A: To always have a mean face so, as a girl, you can get through the city with ease. And to always be open-minded, the city is a place of diversity and you have the unique opportunity to be around numerous cultures.
Q: What is your advice to anyone trying to navigate a new area?
A: Be nice and knowledgeable. Plus, Google Maps has saved my life on more than one occasion.
Q: Can you share your favorite spot in the city?
A: Koronet. Love that pizza place, on 110th, their garlic knots.
Q: What do you love to do in the city?
A: Independence. I love traveling around and enjoying food. Just being able to go around.