Two weeks after my touchdown in JFK, the postgrad life of being a twenty-something in NYC officially begins. This is my last idle summer before the big scary “real-world” finally arrives, and all this free time has left me with some questions.
1. Living in NYC (again)
It’d be different, being a grad student in the city. Four years of undergrad in Ithaca was great, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t crave the energy of the city. Ithaca is a quiet, lively little place and NYC is a huge, sprawling epicenter of… well, everything. I have no idea what grad student life would be like or what kind of people I’d meet in and out of school. Almost exclusively my friends during college were from Cornell, maybe that would change when the net widens beyond just Columbia?
2. The “Real World”?
Granted, being a grad student doesn’t really mean real world just yet. Even the term “real-world” seemed steely and intimidating when in college, as if the moment we toss our caps at graduation, the “real-world” swoops in and tramples over all our dreams. Still. What did it even mean? Does “real world” mean making the rent and bills, or the dating scene? Was it more about people no longer coddling you like professors supposedly did, or did it mean not all people you meet are going to be sweet as pie? Maybe it just meant something as monotonous as life not being about meeting friends after class for homework but more about trying to squeeze on the 1 train during rush hour.
3. “The Best Days Are Over?”
“The best days are when you’re in high school!” “The best days are the college days.” I never understood the whole “best days” thing. Maybe it was because I moved around so much before college that I never really settled anywhere. Maybe it was because people loved the crowd they hung out with in high school or college. While I do love my friends, I don’t feel nostalgia towards any particular period of my life. Maybe people only made the postgrad world out to be less desirable than college life because postgrad was more about being your own person and college life still meant you were with your crowd all the time if you wanted.
For the time being, I’ve limited myself to guessing and wondering. Would my life in NYC look more like How I Met Your Mother – it would help to have a big yellow umbrella, you never know – or is it more of a 30 Rock kind of thing? Whenever I try to guess what it would all be like, I either see myself darting out of Absolute Bagels off 108th with a last minute breakfast and sprinting to class, or sitting roadside in some bar or late night restaurant with people I know or are about to know.
You can contact Sally Gao at firstname.lastname@example.org.