Cecilia studies Immobilienwirtschaft (B.A.) at Hochschule Fresenius Berlin and spent a semester abroad in New York City. Here`s a first-hand account of her experiences.
This stay abroad gave me the most instructive and exciting experiences I have ever had ever experienced in my educational career. I was able to do both professionally and personally develop enormously, which will definitely have a positive impact on my future career. My stay abroad began on March 28, 2022 in New York City. At first I was a bit intimidated by the huge skyscrapers, huge crowds and the hustle and bustle. Nevertheless, after a short time I knew that I would feel very comfortable in the city that never sleeps. Now I can say that I have found a second home in New York City that I want to return to as soon as possible.
I can confirm all these nicknames. New York City is just a great 24/7 city. NYC is divided into five boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island. Since I lived in Manhattan and actually spent most of my time there, I can mainly tell you something about this part of town. Basically, Manhattan is a very safe part of NYC. One reason for this is the fact that there are police officers stationed every 20 meters. Of course, there are also parts (e.g. Harlem at night) that you should avoid as the crime rate is very high. Basically, I always felt very safe. New York City is a multicultural city with people from all parts of the world. Because of this, different cultures, religions, ways of thinking etc. flow together, which makes this city something very special. The people are all very friendly and courteous and very open and helpful to strangers. For example, you do not need to ask for help when you’re looking for the right path, because when Americans see you can’t find the right path, they offer their help completely without prompting. Actually, it happened to me every day that complete strangers wished me a wonderful day on my way to Pace University. That is what makes the United States so special and, in my opinion, very different from Germany. In the USA, a pronounced patriotism can be observed. This shows up in the frequent appearance of US flags and symbols. They are proud of products “Made in the USA” and prefer them to foreign products.
I lived in a dormitory for international students and interns, which is only for women. The residence is located in Midtown Manhattan (419 West 34th Street, NY 10001) and therefore has a very central and great location. In general, it is of course very expensive to live directly in Manhattan. I paid $285 per week which included breakfast and dinner. I had an approximately 11m² room with a bed, desk, armchair, chest of drawers, closet, 2 mirrors and a sink. Toilets and showers were in the corridor and therefore have to be shared with the other residents. I’m very glad I stayed there as the location is excellent and I felt very safe. There is security staff 24 hours a day to ensure that only actual residents enter the dormitory. In any case, life in New York City is much more expensive than in Germany. I noticed the enormous price difference compared to Germany, especially for cosmetic items (cotton pads, toothbrushes, make-up items, etc.). Furthermore, there are of course also various activities that you can do in your free time. While there are countless gyms (membership is relatively expensive), I preferred to work out in Central Park. There are separate routes for joggers and runners and you also have the option of renting a bike. I saw you guys watch a basketball game at Madison Square Garden. I prefer to spend my free time with cultural activities. If you are interested in art, architecture or history, you must definitely visit the great museums (MoMA, Guggenheim Museum, American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, etc.). Nonetheless, I spent most of my free time with my newfound friends. Since there is always something to see in NYC, we invested a lot of time in sightseeing. Another favorite activity of my friends and I was definitely shopping and NYC is of course ideal for that.
It was very interesting to experience the differences between the United States and Germany in terms of everyday university life. I was able to learn a lot of interesting things about American campus life. Campus life at Pace University is very interactive. There are themed days every week, which the students organize. There will be food, music and small games for entertainment. After going back to class, the seriousness of life begins again. The teaching at Pace University is very different from our teaching life in Germany. At the end of the semester you don’t have any big exams as we know it, but you have weekly written assignments which are then added together to form a grade at the end. I don’t think the American principle is that bad at all, because I think that constant repetition helps me remember things better in the long run. In addition, you can still explore NYC at the end of the semester without feeling too much pressure.
Personally, I believe that the experiences I gained while living abroad are priceless. I had the opportunity to get to know a foreign country and living in a great city that offers so many opportunities, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I was also able to make so many new friends with people from different countries. So I had the chance to get to know different cultures, which definitely made me more open and open to strangers. I have experienced so many great things that I will remember for the rest of my life and that have definitely developed me personally. Basically, I had time during my semester abroad to think about my future and my expectations of my future. I was able to distance myself from my everyday life in Berlin and thereby learned to appreciate Germany and my home more. I definitely became more independent because I had to take care of everything myself. In summary, I can say that this stay abroad was an incredible and great experience and therefore certainly not my last stay abroad.
Thank you very much for your support in realizing what I personally consider to be a very valuable and impressive stay abroad!