How moving 4,000 miles away from home allowed me to get in touch with my culture more than ever
NYU Is a Global Home
NYU is famous among the global community for having more international students than any other university in the world. That’s one of the many I ended up here. As a student born in Germany and raised across London, Zurich, and Frankfurt, I often find myself identifying with the characteristics of the third-culture kid. Attending an international school all that time prepared me for the diverse and inspiring community I encountered at NYU. What’s more, I have always loved exploring new cultures. But my attention was divided between learning new things and experiencing what I already knew. With all of this in my background, I was excited to move to New York City and start something new.
From Frankfurt to New York
My first couple weeks at NYU were a whirlwind. Fun events and programs like Welcome Week and adjusting to my classes kept me busy. Settling in included setting up regular phone calls with my mom back in Frankfurt as a six-hour time difference required some planning. During these calls, we went through all sorts of updates from both sides. For example, I told her about my classes, my professors, and all the exciting things I planned to do in New York City. She told me about the events in my hometown, like the new farmers market and preparations for the German holidays, and the latest updates on our family. Those calls made me realize that, within all the events in the past few weeks at NYU, I had not made time to connect with my roots.
After voicing this concern to my friends, they convinced me to attend Club Fest, the exhibition of all the clubs at NYU. I was immediately surprised by how many clubs and organizations there really are here. Going there with the mission of connecting more with my cultural roots, I quickly found the table for the European Society. Within two minutes, I met members from four different countries and was yearning for more. That’s how my journey with the European Society began.
Joining the European Society
The European Society has weekly events with their members and sometimes even collaborates with other clubs. I was quite nervous to go to the first event. So I convinced a friend to come with me even though she is not European. But there was no reason to be nervous. Everyone was incredibly welcoming, and we bonded over Belgian french fries in a matter of minutes. From then on, I attended every European Society event that followed. For example, I went to student mixers, trivia nights, and collaborations with other clubs. The European Society Thanksgiving is my personal favorite. It’s a potluck dinner where everyone brings their favorite homemade European food. I hadn’t cooked anything from my culture all semester long, and eating everyone else’s Ukrainian, British, Belgian, and Spanish—you name it—plates was an incredible experience.
However, while the food was great, the members really made me stay. They seemed to get me: my occasional feelings of homesickness, the trials of adjusting to US culture, and the yearning for little European traditions. I felt understood and validated. The members slowly became my friends, and now I cannot imagine my life without them. We started spending time together outside of the weekly meetings. Attending each other’s birthday celebrations, going on European food crawls, and having little picnics to celebrate our successes all contributed to these former strangers turning into my little overseas European family.
The European Society Has an Impact
While my path to membership wasn’t the straightest, the European Society turned out to be one of the most formative experiences of my NYU career. Over the past four years, time has flown by and many things have changed, but the European Society still remains. Today, I am the European Society’s vice president. I develop events for students who, like me four years ago, are searching for their cultural community.
In the end I realized I missed my culture the most when it was not right on my doorstep. New York City is a big city, but the European Society helped me make it accessible. I walked through one door and found my own little version of Europe.