Monday, August 7, 2017

The Difference Of a Smile in NYC




New York. I had declared this city my future home.

I no longer referred to my future saying "if" or "hopefully", instead  I say “when”. The last day before leaving, I went with my mother on self guided tour of Columbia University, a prestigious Ivy league university, and NYU, the one university I could not stop talking about since last February.


Before all of this, we toured Brooklyn via a food tour guide and once again I had fallen in love with this entire area. Chinatown as well as an Eastern European part of Brooklyn really shows the diversity of the city and I'm happy to say I was not shocked. This is what attracts me to this part of America. There is that struggle to make it and a sense of toughness, it doesn't matter if you grew up here or if you immigrated like I did. Change is fundamental to who I am as a person and New York fits that perfectly because there is always something new to try. Take the subway, Uber or even a cab and you can be anywhere. New York is the home to so many culture and is not just for a certain group of people, but open to everyone.
There is a stereotype that New Yorkers are rude. Behind every stereotype there is a bit of truth somehow no matter how twisted. Nevertheless, if you go through New York with a smile and never let anyone kill your positive energy, it rubs off on others and you will see that a smile can lighten up someone else's day. 
I was feeling pretty great on the ride from our hotel as I thought about me living in New York.

Our Uber pulls up to Columbia university

I had not expected much walking up; however, I completely stopped when I saw the entrance. my mom kept walking until she realized I was still outside looking at the main gate and the two on the side. the last time I felt like this was when I was nine and saw Princeton for the first time. I walked through the side gate, as though I was nine years old again listening to one of the Princeton professors telling me to go through the side gate because there is a superstition that you don't graduate if you go through the main door.
I just remember my heart beating so fast. I saw all these other students dressed nicely and I stood there in my black shorts, green tank top and backpack.
There are three situations in which I walk faster than usual. 1. I'm trying to get away from a uncomfortable/scary situation 2. I'm feeling very confident 3. I'm very excited and I want to run/jump/scream but I can't. That is what I felt walking into Columbia. This summer it finally hit me that in two year, when I'm 17,  I'm going to start at a university. I'm never the one to shy away from smiling so I walked all around with a steady smile on my face. I froze up once more when I saw the size of the library. The top was lined with the foundational philosophers. The only down part was that the library was not open.


At this point I was still in awe of the fact that I was in a university campus. I saw all these other families walking around. The daughters especially were wearing nice dresses, jewelry and being completely dressed up from head to toe. I stood there with my black backpack, black shorts and a green tank top and sandals that slightly resembled greek sandals. The only jewelry on me was a delicate little necklace that my best friend and I had bought for each other.
Nevertheless, I did not care because I knew that all of that did not matter right now.


Next stop was NYU

The school I had been talking about since the beginning of high school. The uber made U-turn and picked us up. The driver was very delightful to talk with and made the twenty minute drive fly by. He was a mix of many different cultures and ethnicities; he said he was Puerto Rican from Brooklyn. He was as big as his whole hearted laugh. I thought of all the times where movies and people say New Yorkers are rude. Yes, there are always rude people in one of the most metropolitan cities in the world, yet at the same time a smile goes a long way. What else do you expect from the city that has been in the spotlight for decades. People are bound to become agitated. Asking kindly and not being thrown of by someone else's bad attitude is the key in life. A few days before I had gone to a Mexican restaurant near Time Square, keep in mind that west coast will always have better Mexican food, the waiters were formal at first until I spoke a bit in Spanish. It was not much but I tried and the attitude of the workers changed dramatically. Smiles were genuine and they were much more kinder. A smile and some respect really does make a monumental difference in the way you experience life.


We arrive at NYU's main office

I see Washington Square Park out of the corner of my eye. I do not feel the same excitement, but rather a sense of calmness. Even in this deathly heat of more than 30 degrees Celsius the park looked wonderful with the fountain in the middle and the kids playing and blowing bubbles. The university has always had a preference for me. The energy at the campus is just so nice. It seems down to earth and very relaxed. I love that it is in the city and that you are immediately thrown into the world. I love not being surrounded by the same group of people. Living in the city allows you to constantly run into new people and explore the area. There is always something new to be seen and tried. After I returned I met a sophomore at NYU that lived down the street from me. We talked and bonded over the struggle of not really knowing much about college as well as my painting as she had come over while I was painting in my garage. Sororities and fraternities are apparently not too big of a deal and that makes NYU more appealing to me. I do not mind trying it, but the fact that the school is so diverse is a major plus. Diversity has always made me feel more at home. Diversity is not just race and gender but also in personality. Walking through the buildings of NYU, I immediately became accustomed to the street names and felt at home. I saw students studying in Starbucks and in the park and all I could imagine was how amazing it would be to go to this school and that is when my heart started racing and my smile grew wider and wider. Someday I thought. I thought no matter how crazy it is to believe you can go to a specific school, being that crazy that you do not doubt yourself will get me closer than if I ever doubt myself. I just have to keep doing my best and believe that I shine through my work.



It is fascinating that I have been in school for 10 years in a few days. I still remember the first day. The day I met my best friend. Although we are an ocean plus a continental America apart, we have survived and never been closer. Believing in something so blindly, is the only way to make sure something that crazy, as keeping your childhood best friend and growing closer to them over the past four years apart, is possible. If I can adapt and excel at English a language I did not understand that well four years ago. If I learned rock climbing within a year even if my surgery prevents me from getting better. If I skipped sixth grade and taught myself geometry in one summer. If I can take finals right after surgery and being on narcotics. If I can do that and everything else I have done and been through. I know that I can reach my dreams. 

Whether or not I am accepted at my dream school, I know that someday I will end up in New York.