Goodbye NYC Dorm

This is my last week of grad school at Teachers College, Columbia University. Unless, of course, I fail any of my finals. In which case, I will be returning next semester! But I’m pretty sure that will not happen.

Nevertheless, let’s keep our fingers crossed. And toes. And any other anatomical parts that can be entwined with each other to make sure that I do indeed pass everything and can officially call this the last week of my formal education.

With my last week of grad school comes my last week of living here in my dorm room. I’ve started the packing process and boy, oh boy, do I have a lot of stuff. When I came down here in January, I was able to jam-pack everything (including Tom and I) into Tom’s teeny tiny Honda Prelude, with room to see through the back window. Safety first, right?

Sweaty/sleepy Tom

I know this is very cliché but it seriously feels like I moved in only a couple months ago, not 11! And I didn’t realize just how much I have made this room my own until I started packing and taking inventory of all that I will have to squeeze into the still-tiny car.

As I took down my collage of pictures and the multi-colored Christmas lights that have been hanging all year, my room has become very bare, blah, and un-me. So much so that it actually seems too big now. A dorm room in NYC that seems too big?! I know, crazy.

heart picture collage

I remember the first time I had unlocked the door to my new home back in January and was extremely surprised at how small it was. I mean, me and my belongings were packed into 215 square feet; where would everything go? I was so used to having a whole house to myself back home, so coming here was like being confined to my bedroom with a bathroom squeezed in. Little did I know, this is how Manhattan is; unless you are able to pay an arm and a leg and your first born child, this is considered normal for the size and price.

Although my room came with a refrigerator/microwave combo, the actual kitchen was conveniently located right across the hall from my room, which was nice if I actually needed a toaster or stove top. But holy cow, how was my body and all of my stuff supposed to fit in such a tiny space?!

Living in NYC, you realize just how valuable storage is. Thank God for the armoire with two shoe drawers at the bottom, hanging space in the middle, and a cubby space at the top. Oh, and the 5-drawer dresser. And the cabinet above the fridge/microwave for my food. And the three drawers under my bed. And the little wheel-y drawer thing that fit under my desk. And the bookshelf. And the cabinet under the sink in my bathroom. After a couple weeks in the room, I realized just how adequate this space was – I had room for everything, and I didn’t need anything else.my apartment

As you can see, my “apartment” was located right next to the elevator, which was surprisingly unnoticeable. I was kind of worried seeing as my first dorm room at Geneseo was right next to the garbage room. The custodian was not concerned about our wanting to sleep past 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings, as we usually were woken up by the clanging of the metal cans.

But I digress.

You may also notice that my room is the smallest – I think all of the other rooms had an extra closet or something. It also seems like they all have bath tubs, whereas the X in my bathroom represents the stand-up shower. But that’s fine with me because I didn’t end up needing another closet. And, seriously, who has time for baths anymore?

Also, because I got a corner room, my room has two windows! The one looks upon the south end of the building, so there isn’t much a view when sitting on my bed. But the other window looks out upon East Harlem, so I’ve gotten to see some pretty amazing sunrises.

Like this one:

sunrise 1

And this one:sunrise 2

And some pretty cool storm clouds, too.storm

Overall, my time living in Manhattan has been good. Sure, there were lonely times in that little room, as nothing around me was familiar, I didn’t know anyone, and I tried to stay away from spending money when I didn’t have a job. I definitely will not miss that bed as it was very uncomfortable. I will not miss the brownish water from the sink; luckily I got a Brita pitcher, but still, that’s gross. And having to wait for the shower to heat up in the morning…sometimes it wasn’t until I was washing my face (the last step in my shower routine) that the water would become bearable.

And, as is the case everywhere in NYC, the heat/air conditioningwas such a pain in the arse. See, here in the city, it’s pretty much all or nothing. From October 1st through May 31st is considered “heat season,” so nothing but heat comes out of the units. The rest of the year, the units are air conditioners. And there is no control over the temperature – it’s either on or off – so you just turn it on when you get cold (or hot between May 31st and October 1st), then turn it off when it gets to a comfortable temperature. So needless to say I’ve fallen asleep many a nights in a chilly room since, if I left the heat going when I fell asleep, I would wake up sweating.

So anyways, this week I’ll be slowly packing stuff up, as they are kicking everyone out by 11 a.m. on Saturday the 21st. Even though finals don’t end until Thursday evening. I mean, I have work in Brooklyn every day, then a final exam Monday evening, a 10ish-page paper due Tuesday evening, class Wednesday evening (we got a take-home final for that class, thank goodness), and a final exam Thursday evening. Luckily I have a half day of work on Friday, so Tom’s coming into the city with his car and hopefully we’ll get everything packed into his car and we’ll get going that evening.

I’m off to live at Tom’s parents’ house for the time being; they have a guest bedroom that I always stay in when I’m there anyways, so they’ve been calling it my room for awhile now, anyway. Since I have my job in Brooklyn until June, I looked at getting a room in Brooklyn, but rent is just too damn high. So yeah, with the wedding coming up in about 8 months (yay!!), student loan payments in 6, my Invisalign, and whatever else I need (food, maybe?), I figure saving $800/month might be a good idea. The commute is going to be annoyingly long, but I’ll get a lot of reading done on the train. And hopefully some sleep.

Halfway There

So I have not written a post in a couple of weeks. I have a good reason, I promise. Just hear me out!

I started graduate school this past January at Teachers College, Columbia University. And just an hour ago I finished my last final for the semester. I survived a semester of graduate school in New York City!

Up until about 2 weeks ago, I had planned on getting my degree next May. However, 2 weeks ago, I realized something. I am only 1 credit shy of being halfway done with my Masters requirements. What the what?! After crunching and re-crunching the numbers, reading and rereading the requirements, I spoke with my advisor just to make sure I was not overlooking something. Sure enough he confirmed that this is more than doable.

I kid you not, the clouds opened, the angels sang, and God said, “Holliday, you shall finish in December.” So that’s what I plan to do.

How awesome will it be to save a whole semester worth of housing and credits and the God-forsaken ‘College fee’ that is mandatory but no one knows what it is used for. Oh, maybe to supply us with those goofy ‘Student Senate’ plastic Ray-Ban wannabes. And our 20 “free” printed pages per week.

Anyways, so saving money will be fantastic. Except then reality hit:

“I will be done in December. That means I have to be an adult that much sooner. I will need somewhere to live. I will need a job to support myself. Not to mention, student loans will kick in that much sooner. Gah, what did I get myself into?!”

But, in all honesty, I am excited to see what will happen. I am over the moon that I get to start my “real-world” life sooner. I have been exploring careers outside of the typical ‘math teacher’ realm; coming to TC has really opened my eyes to the possibilities outside of the classroom.

funny_math_teacher_womens_light_tshirt

I am not completely abandoning the idea of becoming a classroom teacher (especially because I totally want that shirt!), but it is exciting what new and improving technology is creating in terms of jobs and experiences.

So the point of this post was:

1.  To apologize for not posting in awhile. I’ve been a good girl, telling myself that instead of writing a blog post I should be studying and doing homework.

2.  To let out some built-up fear and excitement for the future.

3.  To share this journey and hopefully help others who may be going through or will go through similar situations and may have similar decisions to make.

So what are your thoughts? Any ideas about what future endeavors a Masters in Mathematics Education could possibly explore? What do you hope to do by the end of this year?

Yes, Virginia (and everyone else), I live in New York City

So for those of you who did not know, I have been living in the City That Never Sleeps.

Yes, Virginia, I have been living in New York City for two and a half months now…and I forgot how many people I didn’t tell. I guess maybe they thought I was just working as a substitute teacher and glamorous Walmart supervisor for these last few months. Others, well, either don’t care to know my whereabouts or thought I fell off the face of the earth?

I was actually accepted into Teachers College, Columbia University back in August last year, but coming in the fall was too soon to get everything prepared to leave home. That’s a whole other complicated story (AKA: my life), so maybe one day you’ll hear about it. I’ve always been told that my life would make a good book; I think I should get better at blogging first, then I’ll consider it.

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I applied for two schools: University at Buffalo and Teachers College. I had already been admitted into UB’s Math Education graduate program, and was planning on starting in the fall, so I had a fallback plan if TC didn’t accept me. I honestly didn’t think I had a chance of getting into TC; I mean, come on, it’s affiliated with Columbia! I’m just this small-town girl (though, technically, Batavia is a city), I never received huge awards from high school or college, my grades were good but they could definitely find better people to take my place. It was quite a stressful summer waiting to hear from TC.

And then, on an August evening, I got an email from TC directing me to the ‘decision’ page of my application. This was it. I mentally prepared myself to read, “We are sorry to inform you…” or something along those lines. So when I read, “We are happy to inform you…” I just about wet my pants. I think I screamed.

As excited as I was, the idea of moving in only a month was terrifying. Like I said, it wasn’t going to be as easy as students who move away to college freshman year with parents to take care of all the messy details: house, transportation, the actual moving process, etc. So I knew that if I accepted admittance into TC, I would be deferring to the spring semester to allow me more time to prepare myself mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially.

I only told a select few because I didn’t want to announce it publicly over Facebook that I was leaving town to go to NYC. There are multiple reasons, but one of the bigger ones was due to self-doubt and pride.

Okay, sure, I got accepted into this crazy awesome graduate school, but…What if I can’t hack it in the city? What if I come back after a semester because I hate it there? What if I fail my classes, living far from home, life in general?

And when I did tell people, I would make it seem like I was prepared to fail. That way, if I didn’t like it or ended up not doing well, I would be willing to come home without making a huge scene, reapplying to Walmart (that would make 5 stints there), and assume my old life back home.

If I hate it, no big deal – I’ll just come home.

It was definitely a defense mechanism but, looking back, it was only defense from myself. Everyone I told was nothing but excited and supportive; we were all people living in a small city in western New York, so just thinking and talking about going to and living in a huge city like NYC was thrilling.

Absolutely everyone was pumped for me. Everyone but myself. It’s not that I wasn’t excited. The problem was that I was so excited I was afraid I would overlook the possibilities of failure and end up getting clotheslined by life.

Why do we do this to ourselves? If any of my friends came and told me they got accepted into a prestigious college and/or were moving somewhere, I would be ecstatic for them! A couple of my friends have done this actually (not for school but for jobs) and I couldn’t be happier. And I’m so glad they told me so that I can be excited for them and support them! But when it came to myself, I was so bent out of shape about the negative possibilities, doubting my ability to do well in school or survive a new city, that I wasn’t willing to share it with anyone but those I was closest to.NYC skyline

So to those of you whom I didn’t tell, I really apologize. I was afraid that if I told everyone and made this huge hype, it would blow up in my face and I would end up falling flat on my tush. Then I wouldn’t just be letting myself down, but I would feel as though I failed all the people I told, all the people that believed in me. I felt as though my failure would extinguish any fire in the hearts of those coming from a small city and wanting to explore living in a bigger city. If I couldn’t do it, I know it would discourage me, but would that also discourage others?

I’m glad to say that I love it here. These past two+ months have been exciting, challenging, eye-opening, and amazing. I’ve been wanting to write about my experiences here, but there was still such an uneasiness with letting people know and actually knowing myself whether I liked it here enough to stay. I plan on being here for the next year, and after that, who knows? Maybe I’ll love it enough to find a job here for a few years before I settle down and start a family; I don’t really want my future kids growing up in such a huge, overwhelming city. Or maybe I’ll find a job in another great city. Maybe a different country. Who knows? I do know, now that the cat is out of the bag, that I’m excited to write about anything that may come up.