By: Kyle Lindenberger
When I received my admission letter to Teachers College, I immediately began to imagine myself immersed in the hustle and bustle of New York City’s busy streets. I’m originally from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, surrounded by cornfields, hay bales, and forests. The closest grocery store is 15 minutes away from my house. The closest shopping mall is 45 minutes away. The closest movie theater is 40 minutes away. The closest and most decent restaurant, other than fast-food, is 20 minutes away.
For the most part, home is incredibly quiet, and I only hear the occasional sound of a car passing or a distant train whistling. I have grown accustomed to the bites of mosquitoes and the sounds of annoying frogs in ponds and chirps from crickets in the night. I realized that I would be trading the sounds of insects for the jarring sounds of New York.
As I began my studies at Teachers College last Fall, I immediately noted the sounds of sirens that constantly ring all around the city. Back home, the sirens ring rapidly and are gone after the ambulance or police car roars past. In NYC, the siren ring is drawn out, slower, and plays for much longer as the emergency vehicles attempt to squeeze themselves between cars like Tetris pieces. To combat this noise, I’ve relied on a helpful white-noise machine which has helped me fall and remain asleep. Side note: No worries! You’ll get used to the horns, sirens, and pigeon talons scraping on your window sills! I’ve lived in NYC for almost a year now and I’ve realized how my ears have assimilated to the hum of the city. Now, when I visit home, I cannot fall asleep because it’s too quiet. I find that my ears ring from the sound of the now eerie silence.
With that said, NYC has quiet spots too! The main campus at Columbia is pretty quiet, and you can always relax in the many libraries we have. Columbia’s campus is conveniently squeezed between two parks: Riverside and Morningside Park. I enjoy Riverside Park the most because it is much larger and stretches alongside the Upper West Side. I tend to meet friends for a tennis match, watch volleyball, tan, read, or rollerskate. In Riverside Park you can also get a nice view of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge. From time to time, you only hear the water rustle, a child laugh, or distant horn. If you’re up for the quick train ride, you could always travel to Central Park or any other smaller parks of New York. I love taking the long train ride to Coney Island for a quiet day at the beach. Remember: an escape from any noise is only a walk or train ride away!
Living in NYC has been convenient because everything is in walking distance or can be delivered right to your door. I live across the street from a grocery store and can walk to many more within a five minute radius. I can walk to a Starbucks or any of the many awesome restaurants around Columbia’s campus. I can also have Dunkin Donuts, 7/11, Popeyes, or Taco Bell delivered to my doorstep. Yes, this is possible! You can also get more sophisticated restaurants to deliver to you too! Back home, I’m so used to having to plan when I can go somewhere based on the amount of gas in the tank or having to rely on someone to drive me someplace. Now, I can simply walk to my destination or hop on a train with my unlimited, monthly train pass.
Since I am an English teacher, I love browsing bookstores. In Maryland, the closest bookstore is a bargain one (my old place of employment!) and is 20 minutes away from my house. The closest Barnes & Noble is almost an hour away. In NYC, I can walk down the street to the quaint Book Culture or the many small, used bookstores on Broadway. I can also hop on the train to one of the many Barnes & Noble, Shakespeare & Company, or Amazon Bookstores. I’m a regular at the Strand Bookstore in Union Square. I recommend visiting on a weekday when it’s quiet. On the weekends, it’s a zoo!
If you are used to living in a rural area and choosing to now live in an urban, busy location like Manhattan, you have nothing to fear. Truly! You will be surprised to see how quickly you learn the train lines and best restaurants, and find your own favorite, secret spots. Whether it’s a museum, bookstore, park, or library, you will find your place of solace. If you originate from a quiet hometown like me, you might actually prefer the constant hum of the city! I sure do!
Whether you prefer a fast or slow-paced lifestyle, you will love New York City and your newfound home at Teachers College, Columbia University.