Everyone’s journey to New York University is different. Growing up, I went to an international school in Frankfurt, Germany, for my entire school career. In a way, I always knew I wanted to go to college in the US. I was just looking for the right fit to make my dreams a reality.

NYU Stern School of Business had two main values I was seeking: a global education and the opportunity to be pushed outside of my comfort zone. Still, picking a college 4,000 miles away was intimidating! At first, I was more scared of moving and settling in during my first year. But, I was also going from a small graduating class of 60 to my NYU Stern class year with 10 times as many students. And beyond that—my class year at NYU was about 100 times bigger! 

Settling In at NYU

Knowing the transition might be scary, my mom flew with me to New York. She helped me move into my residence hall before I attended Welcome Week events. To be proactive about getting homesick halfway around the world, I brought little pieces of home with me. These included a scarf for my favorite football (sorry…soccer!) team and pictures of my hometown and family. When Welcome Week ended, my mom headed back to Germany with a heavy heart. I’m an only child who is close with her family. And now I was going to spend the next four years six time zones apart. I knew I would miss them.

An auditorium view of a projection screen with Welcome on a purple background.
Welcome Week for NYU Stern Class of 2023 students
A bed against a wall with sparkling lights and photo collage.
My Weinstein Hall room with a photo collage and my favorite bedding

My first few weeks of school were a whirlwind: lots of changes and learning. Transitioning to college meant having a lot more responsibility, including taking care of myself for the first time all by myself; figuring out the American education system with things like office hours, recitations, grading, and homework assignments; and somehow communicating with my family and parents.

But a lot of my high school friends chose to stay closer to home. They were enjoying their time in Amsterdam, London, and Berlin. They quickly slipped into the right habits! They seemed to have it all figured out!

Why did I feel so behind? 

Shifting My Perspective

Thankfully, one of the first resources I learned about at NYU turned out to be the most valuable: my resident assistant (RA). An RA is an NYU upperclass student who lives on your residence hall floor. They’re there to help you with all of your concerns and questions. My RA was awesome! She also happened to be an international student from South America.

I was able to have a candid conversation and share all of my thoughts with her, while she offered her experience and insights on similar issues. At the end of our nearly two hour long conversation, she had helped me remind myself why I chose NYU in the first place. I concluded that it was time to realize my potential and capitalize on the opportunities I had moved here for.

Making NYU Home

After this revelation, I sprung into action to make New York City feel more like home.

On the one hand, I made a more conscious effort to communicate with my parents and family back home. I scheduled weekly calls and sent regular updates. It was a nice way to stay in touch more consistently and hear about everything that was going on back home. On the other hand, I also made an effort to join organizations for a new perspective of NYU and the city in general. A few that connected me to home were European Society, a high school club, and the international student support initiative.

Joining Clubs!
  • European Society: Here I was able to share my sentiments and my struggles about the transition to living in New York City, meeting students who were affiliated with Europe similarly and differently from me. I also could share all the things I love about the city.
  • An old high school club: A charity at my high school expanded. I was lucky to still be involved and spearhead initiatives as a member of the global board. It was a great way to stay in touch with some old school contacts.
  • International Student Support Initiative (ISSI): ISSI sends emails to all international students, detailing interesting events to attend and ways to meet fellow international students. They were in my inbox pretty much every week. All I had to do was open an email and take advantage of the presented opportunities!
  • Greek Life: I became a member of both a social sorority and a preprofessional fraternity. These clubs give me some vocational guidance and important in-person connections in the city, but they also provided me with a loving community and opportunities to get involved in philanthropy, which is something I’m passionate about. 
  • 180 Degrees Consulting: I participated in this social impact consulting club based at NYU Stern. It allows consultants to complete tangible projects that have a real-world impact. The club was a nice professional connection that also served as a great support system.
Two girls sitting at a desk smiling with a 'European Society' flyer behind them.
Fellow members of European Society
A man and a woman posing on steps sitting in business attire.
Me and a professional fraternity friend!
Looking Back to the Beginning

Most of the organizations I became involved with I am still a part of to this day. As a senior, I am now able to see the other end of things, giving back through mentorship, advice, and guidance. No matter where you go for college, the transition can be tough. Still, know that everything happens for a reason—remind yourself why you wanted to come to NYU in the first place and find all the great ways to enjoy the University. 

NYU has so many great opportunities! If there is one thing I learned throughout this process, it’s to put yourself out there! The good thing about being at such a big university is that you will always find someone in your niche to explore with.

You’ll go from homesick to feeling at home in no time!

Annabelle is a Senior at the Stern School of Business concentrating in Finance and Computing & Data Science. Born in Germany, Annabelle has spent time all over Europe in Switzerland and England, which makes the US the fourth country she is taking on in her lifelong adventure. When she is not giving tours, you will be able to find her people watching in Washington Square Park or trying the newest bakery around campus. Annabelle is involved in NYU’s Greek Life through a Panhellenic Sorority and a professional Fraternity, as well a social-impact consulting club, 180-Degrees Consulting. Throughout the last 3 years, she has learned to make NYU her home and aims to help others find theirs.