On the Agenda

Sunday, June 01, 2008

If I can make it here

Welcome to New York. More specifically, welcome to the small desk in the small bedroom of the decidedly dorm-scented apartment that I will call home for the next six weeks. It's getting a little homey already, now that we've put us maps on the wall in place of any sort of real poster that costs money.

I arrived in New York this morning after an altogether uneventful trip, which is the good kind, there's just not much to say about it. The most interesting thing that happened is that I had to call my car service to ask where they were and I couldn't understand my driver over the phone at all. Once in the car, though, there were no problems and I safely arrived at the Palladium Residence Hall, home to almost 1,000 student-aged persons, some of whom are taking classes and some of whom are doing other things. (It's also right on top/next to a Trader Joe's.)

My apartment is made up of two double bedrooms, each about the size of a rear South Campus room, but plus the luxury of a small walk-in closet. Furnishings are what one would expect: extra-long twin bed, desk (with shelves), desk chair and a dresser (with inexplicably shallow drawers). In between the two bedrooms is a small sitting room with one of those ridiculously uncomfortable wood-framed couches with weird stains and a matching chair. There is a small dining table and four more desk-type chairs, again with the weird stains. On one side of the main door is our bathroom, which is fairly spacious given the size of the bedroom, and our small kitchen, complete with sink, gas stove and a smallish fridge/freezer combo. No microwave, which means we might actually need to invest in some cookware before this is all over.

Given nine months or so, one could make this space pretty nice, with some carpet and posters and nice lamps, but for six weeks it will be mostly white and fluorescent-lit with good ol' tile floor (nice and dusty) and stained upholstery. It's really not bad, though.

After I arrived this morning and retrieved my student ID (with the classy photo I took using my laptop) I dropped my things upstairs and met my roommate, JS, who is from outside Philly and is really great. We seem to have a lot in common. Just before I left to run some errands, I met LR, one of the girls in the other bedroom, who is from Dallas. The final suitemate showed up after shopping, JK, who is from Eugene, OR.

If I leave my building and turn left, I am walking toward Union Square, and within two blocks or so, I pretty much pass any store I could need or want, including Walgreen's, Whole Foods, Circuit City, Starbucks (of course), Virgin music, Staples, you name it. I'm set. I went to Filene's Basement this afternoon to find linens that I wasn't able to pack, and it was a decent experience, though partly ruined by the awkwardness of carrying home a huge fluffy bed pillow. The giant windows in the front of Filene's look out over Union Square, which was full of people lounging on towels in the grass and vendors selling all sorts of things. It was really quite beautiful.

This afternoon we took a walking tour of the neighborhood and the main NYU campus, most of which is down in the Washington Square area, but it really just made me more confused. There's really now way to give a tour to 25 people in a crowded city. It just doesn't work. When we arrived at the Woolworth Building, where all of my class sessions will be, we recieved the obligatory nametage, a messenger bag with a BIG (can't say huge, because I've experienced the Eats binder) binder of magazine section info, and a bag lunch, which was really quite delicious. (A plus: I get to walk past the Brooklyn Bridge every day, and there are TWO Starbucks between the subway stop and the class building.)

The course is 92 people = 87 gals and five guys, and it will be intense. There are five UNC grads
here, none of whom I expected to be here (apart from myself, of course), and two of whom I actually know. Weird. Anyway, tonight was a general introduction to everything, including a personal introduction from almost all the students. There are people here from some 26 states and four or five foreign countries, and it seems like a good group.

After orientation my suite found our way back on the subway (thanks to the express trains it's only one stop away), and we did a little minor grocery shopping at the Whole Foods. It's amazing how congested the store was, made even worse by the fact that it was three stories in a fairly narrow space. But hopefully now I won't starve, or stuff my face with pretzels from street carts.

So far New York is really beautiful in the summer. I'm sure it will get hot—thankfully the subway is air conditioned—and I'm sure I will be even more tired and overwhelmed than I am now. But all the program directors are very encouraging, and I feel like it's an excellent opportunity to hone my networking skills and actually make some great connections.

For now I will take my swiveling fluorescent desk lamp around to my bed, complete with a brand new Wamsutta Egyptian cotton blanket and jumbo Ralph Lauren synthetic-stuffed pillow, both a bargain from the place the brings you the running of the brides. Peace.

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