When people back home or out of state learn that I go to school in New York City, I always get bombarded by a bunch of blanket statements and questions.
Your life must be so fabulous.
I bet you’ve been to like, every museum.
Do you go shopping in SoHo on the weekends?
Clubbing every Friday must be so great!
You’ve probably never even been to the same restaurant twice.
Everybody must dress really nicely for class.
Do you take the subway every day?
First of all, nobody here calls it “the subway." We take the train. Secondly, just because I go to school in one of the five boroughs, doesn’t mean that I’m not at university to do the same thing as everybody else: learn. Many of us who don't live in the Big Apple come to New York with a fantasy in our heads as to this ultra- luxurious life that we would have after class and on weekends. Unfortunately, that is just not the case most of the time. We have way more going on in our lives than just the call of the City That Never Sleeps.
School on the weekdays leaves you too drained most of the time to even consider putting on “real clothes”(which trust me, we don’t do unless we absolutely have to), walking to the bus stop, transferring to the train and going anywhere. This happens every once in while. The whole process takes time, dedication, and a whole lot of patience, as the only thing you can rely on the MTA for is being unreliable. Always. A 45- minute trip can easily be an hour and a half to three hours. During rush hour or when trains are going locally? Forget about it! In addition, subway fare just recently went from $2.50 one- way to $2.75. Most of us put anywhere from $10- 20 dollars on our MetroCards each time we refill it. You put anything more than that on it and you lose your Metro, you might as well have lost a $20 bill. Furthermore, that extra quarter makes a difference each time you swipe. A very expensive difference, especially if you accidentally get on the wrong side of the track and have to re- enter the subway and swipe at the turnstile. Again. That’s a mistake you will make, especially if you are exhausted from a long day at school or of being out and about. I’ve been taking the train all my life and I still do it- ask my boyfriend.
Before even showing up anywhere you could easily blow hours of time and close to $10 on fare alone. You’re exhausted before you even make it to your destination, which is also most likely expensive. You pay money to go out, you go out to spend money. You even had to set apart time to get ready. Most us college kids will just stay in and order Chinese in our pjs, go to the movies, go to a local apartment or house party- anything less expensive or time consuming. Once you’re out in the city, you’re committed. Committed to buying the tickets and all the walking and having to pay for the pricey food. If you choose a hot tourist spot over the weekend(which, let’s face it, you will do more often than not), you’ll have to commit yourself to the crowds, too. Tourist traps will both appeal to you and become the bane of your existence as a college student. Museums, the Statue of Liberty, Chick- Fil- A- all of it is somewhat of a people- packed hellhole to visit.(Ask for student discounts everywhere, just saying.)
Going out to shop is futile and tiring since there are only hundreds of places all over the City. You have to choose a place or two or three, and SoHo is a once in a while super- rare treat unless you’re Daddy Warbucks or trying to class up your Instagram. Once you’re there, you have to try on all the clothes. I mean, you did go all the way out there. Shopping is expensive, and if you do it you have to be willing to maybe be that person with a million bags loading themselves onto a crowded train. Or you have to be willing to take the long journey home empty- handed. Being either of those people sucks.
Clubs? Getting dressed up, paying a cover charge and for drinks, food, etc. inside are so. Much. Work. I went to Pacha one time and walked out deaf, sweaty and blinded by strobe lights. If you’re not 21 yet, it’s a hunt for a place 18+. If you are 21, get ready to spend a pretty penny on your Long Island Iced Teas. It’s as simple as that. Heels on the subway are always a bad idea. If you love your friends you'll tell them NOT TO. I did it once. At 4 am In a snowstorm. And a skirt. BAD IDEA. You have to bring a purse for your heels/ flats on the train if you do't take an Uber, most places don’t get good until like 11 pm, and you end up coming home at 3- 4 am. By that point, forget about the MTA being unreliable- the MTA is virtually dead. A bus or train will come so sporadically that you’ll get tired of standing and waiting. Get ready to spend money on a super early morning cab that will quite possible take the most congested, longest, slowest route possible. And leave the meter running. $$$$$$$
Basically, after getting up really early or leaving really late, spending 6+ hours just getting there and doing what you planned on doing, you now have to brace yourself for an equally long and expensive trip back. You’ll be tired, maybe sweaty, and possibly hungry because let’s face it: nobody can really afford to eat out for two whole meals a day. It’s virtually impossible. So you drag yourself back home so beat you have to debate whether you want to stand up any longer to even shower.
All of this might happen, spur of the moment or meditated upon, if you even have time outside of class, work, clubs, commuting, etc. School in and of itself is an undertaking. Don’t get me wrong; New York City is the most diverse, intricate and stimulating city on earth. Even so, college here ain’t all glamorous.
We just like to make you think it is.