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How My Newhouse NYC Semester Taught Me About Independence

 By: Lydia Chan, MAG senior 

As my Newhouse NYC semester winds down, it’s kind of amazing to look back at all the experiences I’ve had in this city. As an international student from Malaysia, coming to Syracuse University was a big deal but living in New York City has been an adventure on its own! The Newhouse NYC semester was always something I knew I wanted to do and in a way, it seems rather apt that I’m capping off my time at Syracuse University with the semester I’ve always dreamed of. However, sometimes, reality can skew slightly different than your expectations. Yet, as our brilliant social media professor, Ariana Finlayson once said to me: “Not every challenge is a change, but every change is a challenge.” My semester in the city has definitely been a huge change from anything I’ve ever had to deal with but despite the little speed bumps, ultimately, it’s been one of the best learning experiences and here’s why.

It Taught Me How To Be Alone
In a city of roughly 8 million people, it still is possible to feel very much alone. As someone who considers herself an extrovert and am always surrounded by family and friends, being in NYC alone was like culture shock all over again (and keep in mind, the first time I came to America was when I came to S.U. just two years ago!). Back on campus in ‘Cuse, I had the security of my friends and my staff at Jerk, the on-campus publication I worked on, and coming to the city was a lonely excursion. I missed campus and while there were bouts of homesickness, eventually, I accepted the situation and faced it head on. It definitely helped that I had the wonderful support of my fellow Newhouse NYC friends but with everyone’s different internship schedules and personal lives, sometimes I was forced to do things on my own. I hated having to go solo grocery shopping back in ‘Cuse, but over this semester, I’ve surprised myself with how comfortable I am going places on my own. Museums, cafes, walks in Central Park and exploring different areas of the city—I learned that sometimes you’re all the company you need.

It Taught Me How To Step Out Of My Comfort Zone
I’ve always admired anyone who could go to the movies by themselves or attend a concert solo. Heck, I used to hate even having to eat by myself at the dining hall! This semester definitely changed that. For the first time ever, I was going to attend a concert on my own! What would usually give me an anxiety attack, I kind of looked forward to seeing a Drake show on my own. Sadly, the concert got postponed but I’ve still had many amazing opportunities like going to AOL Build talks by myself where I got to be in the same room as Kings of Leon, Ewan McGregor, Dakota Fanning, and Nina Garcia!

It Taught Me The Value Of Money
While my parents might debate with you on this one, living in the city definitely taught me how to budget. With the abundance of cool restaurants, concerts and just so many NYC-only experiences, your money tends to go really quickly. I’ll admit that I’ve gone a little over-budget for the most part but at the end of the day, I knew when to splurge and when to save. Budgeting is step one of adulthood and this semester gave me a not-so-sweet but very necessary taste of that reality.

It Taught Me To Take Initiative
There are so many perks to the Newhouse NYC semester and besides the amazing resources like our insightful professors and Director Franklin, being in the city also means you’re surrounded by tons of Newhouse alumni. For any senior who has access to the Newhouse Network, it’s imperative to utilize this resource and meet up with as many people as possible. I knew that this was one of the many privileges of being a Newhouse student and in my spare time, I met up with many Newhouse alum and got such invaluable advice. Whether it was getting lunch with my Newhouse NYC mentor (and Newhouse Magazine alumna!) at the Hearst building or going the extra mile and sending out cold emails to writers who I admired, I made full use of my being in the city and networked, networked, networked.

Besides the opportunities I’ve had from interning at Martha Stewart Weddings and the knowledge I’ve gained from my Newhouse classes, my Newhouse NYC semester really taught me so many things outside of the office and the classroom. In the wise words of Alicia Keys, “Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do”— New York City, and especially the Newhouse NYC program really can be how you find yourself and learn something that no class or book could ever teach you.

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