Photo: Pedro Lastra on Unsplash
Moving from a small town to a big city for college can be a huge change, especially if it’s a major one like D.C., Boston, NYC, etc. You’re going to be walking through bustling streets filled with traffic jams, the occasional parade, and students just like yourself who will be desperately trying to find their academic buildings in a concrete jungle. It may seem intimidating, but big cities can be a great background for your college experience if you know how to maneuver them and take advantage of the opportunities they offer. Hold onto your campus map and take in these hot tips for going to school in a huge city:
Attend community events
If you’re planning on going to college in a big city, you have to take advantage of any community events near your school if you’re ever looking for something inexpensive or free to do. Communities in cities often have community boards, town halls, or websites where fun events are posted on a weekly basis and they’re always looking for you to participate! Almost everything in a big city is going to be expensive, so look locally before spending your entire paycheck just to have a good time out with your friends. Attending a community event could also help you academically if the event relates to your major—I’ve gone to plenty of local poetry and short story readings as an English major in order to get my work out in the open.
Take public transportation
Sometimes it’s just not worth it to bring your car with you to school if you’re planning on attending college in a city. You’ll constantly be fighting traffic jams and, unfortunately, other people just to find a parking spot. Most universities in cities don’t have any parking lots reserved for students, so you may find yourself late to your first class because you’re circling the block, looking for a spot you’ll probably have to parallel park in (yikes). Instead of worrying about parking spots, paying for parking garages, gas costs, and traffic, consider sticking to public transportation. Public transportation, like subways, trains, buses, and trams, is the best way to get around a huge city—don’t let this resource go to waste! Save yourself some time and money and use any transportation your city is offering.
Stay aware and stay safe
This should go without saying but if you’re going to a school in a large city, you’re going to need to stay aware and stay safe, especially if your classes run late at night. Be aware while you’re walking at night if you ever find yourself alone—I usually call someone while I walk to my car or the subway just so someone knows where I am. Some may call this tip “being overcautious,” but I think it’s just being smart and aware of your surroundings. You should also be alert in the daytime in case there’s ever an emergency in the city—just the other day I was in NYC and a big chunk of the city lost power, sending everything into chaos and I hopped on a train and got out of there!
It’s an amazing experience to go to college in a huge city like Washington D.C., Boston, NYC, and more, so make sure you explore and enjoy your time there while at school! Cities provide so many opportunities that students can benefit from, so do your research on the community you’ll be living in and use the city to your advantage while you’re there.
Sarah DeLena is currently studying for her masters in Publishing and Writing at Emerson College. She hopes to become an editor of YA literature, her favorite genre, own at least two golden retrievers, and further the legacy of the Oxford comma.