Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mariana Zavala

Mr. Ramsey and the ILC, I recently finished my first year at New York University, and I can honestly say that without the ILC, I wouldn't be here today. When I first applied to the ILC program, I didn't have a clue where I wanted to go to college or how to get there, but with the ILC's help, I found my place in New York City. The first year of college can have a lot of unexpected challenges. I didn't know what to expect going in: I was attending a school across the country, in a massive city, with over ten thousand undergrads alone. How was I going to find my place, carve my mark into a city with thousands of students looking to do the same thing? NYU is great because a lot of the freshman dorms have themed floors, so you can be sure going in that you and your floormates will have at least one thing in common. I applied for the film floor, and I got in, so I made a lot of friends immediately in the same program as me (Cinema Studies- I'm officially declared as a major!). And I also made fast friends with most of my roommates, one of which I'm rooming with again next year! However, I wasn't entirely lucky in the room department. One of my roommates ended up being very disagreeable, and she eventually moved out of our room. My counselor was incredibly helpful in helping me pick classes for my first semester, finding me classes that fulfilled both my requirements and my interests, and while the first few weeks were awkward and nerve-wracking, I eventually made friends everywhere. If you're going to a big school like me, the best advice I can give is to not be shy, and to involve yourself in as many activities that catch your interest as possible. You make different kinds of friends in different classes, and you can't be shy. For example, one of my best friends now I made in my Elementary German I class. We began talking when our teacher began the class by speaking German and only German, so I leaned over and said, "What the hell is going on?" and he replied with terrified eyes: "I have no idea." So I demanded his phone number, and while our friendship started off just working on homework together and sneaking the use of Google Translate in class together, we soon found out how much we had in common, and he's rooming a couple doors down from me in the fall. It can be really intimidating, the whole "little fish in a pig pond" dynamic, but I promise, if you want to make your mark, it's not impossible. There will still be professors in huge lectures who never even learn your name, but there are small classes at big schools as well, and you just have to put yourself out there. For example, the German department at NYU is very close, so my classmates and I frequented the parties that the department threw, and we made sure to stop in at our professor's office hours every couple weeks, and I can safely say that without becoming closer to my German professor, I wouldn't be nearly as good at the language I am now. The familiarity between us let him know where I struggled and where I excelled, so he made sure to work with me when I needed it. For those who are shy or quiet, a big school is a challenge, because people tend not to reach out to you. You have to be the one in control of your life and your friendships. It's truly a test of independence. And it wasn't without its tests. You honestly never know what can happen, and I actually had two family members pass away while I was in New York City. To be so far away from my family during such tragic times, to not be able to afford an emergency plane ticket home really tested me. But the friends I made proved true, and they supported me while I went through everything. I never thought I could be as independent as I am now. I made a drastic change, but it truly paid off. I am immersed in my film and writing classes, I have close friends already, and I'm looking forward to the fall with eager arms. If anybody is going to a big school or big city and is worried about the change, has a roommate problem and doesn't know how to deal with it, or has any interest in film or writing programs, I am available for advice and conversation. I actually have a blog in which I talk about my college experiences and answer questions that hopefuls have, and it gets a lot of responses, and I've helped a lot of people already, so please email me if you'd like to talk or if you want the link to my blog. Thank you, Mariana Zavala, incoming sophomore at NYU

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