Choosing my school
Before deciding to apply to universities in the United States, the idea of a women’s college was foreign to me. I was unaware of how many there were and was puzzled as to why anyone would want to attend an institution that only admitted women.
But in April 2016, I was introduced to Barnard, and knew from then that it was where I needed to be. A liberal arts school in the heart of New York City that just happened to be a women’s college – what more could you want!
I applied to Barnard in the early decision round of the US admissions process. This is basically an early opportunity to apply to your favourite institution, allowing for the college or university to acknowledge that they are your top choice.
I chose this unique institution for the inspiring, supportive environment it breeds. Here, speaking up is encouraged; your voice is not only heard but is recognised and respected. Barnard is a place where I know that I’ll be supported and acknowledged, and I know that it’s a place I will ultimately thrive in.
After deciding that Barnard was my top choice, I soon realised that it wasn’t just a matter of applying. The lengthy process featured an alumni interview, multiple essay submissions, an arts supplement and far too many standardised tests. Then finally the day arrived. On Tuesday 13th December 2016, I opened the long-awaited email to see the word “Congratulations”. I was both elated and confused. I hadn't expected good news, so found it hard to comprehend my acceptance.
After eight months of planning the next four years of university and making a list of things I want to do in New York, I packed up and left Dundee and headed straight for the Big City.
Having been in New York for just over a month, I'm continuously finding new things that surprise me.
The heavy workload of each of my classes has meant that sometimes it is difficult to explore the city. It’s easy to be caught up in the bubble of university life but I try to get off campus at least once a week.
Being in the city was one of the main reasons why I was so eager to come to Barnard College; every single one of my classes has the city of New York integrated into the syllabus.
My architecture class features an assignment requiring me to visit numerous buildings in every borough, my jazz history class asks me to attend several concerts in and around the city and write about the performances. In order to fulfil my PE requirement, I am asked to go on morning runs down the Hudson River.
Recently, I won a free ticket for a tour of the Empire State Building through Columbia’s Urban Lottery – a programme offering undergraduates the chance to attend a selection of Broadway shows, sporting events and free admission to other city attractions. In my first few days of being on campus, the entire Class of 2021 were given free tickets to a Yankees versus Red Sox Game. I didn't have a clue what was going on but the atmosphere was incredible and this was my first experience of US sporting culture.
Another advantage of living in New York City is the regular visits from friends and family. My participation in the Sutton Trust US Programme means I have a number of close friends dotted all over the US, with many of them located within an hour or so away. Acting as a tour guide for the weekend and showing them the exciting and eclectic neighbourhoods of New York is something I really enjoy.
Recently a friend visited from Massachusetts and we cycled down Broadway into Central Park and spent the afternoon exploring Chinatown and Little Italy. When another friend visits soon we will be heading to a concert on a rooftop in Brooklyn.
Having access to New York City and all that it offers is still such a novelty. As my workload intensifies and the temperature drops to conditions similar to home in Dundee, it will become harder to get off campus. However, having the heart of the city only a subway ride away will hopefully make that a lot easier.
Recently, I rode the subway downtown and hopped on to a boat to Ellis Island to learn more about the various immigrants who came to New York for my ethnicity and social transformation seminar.
Attending a liberal arts college creates this type of varied academic opportunity as well as fostering close-knit relationships that I think I would struggle to develop anywhere else.
With 600 students in my class year, interaction with staff is second to none. Small class sizes allow for greater academic and social relations; it’s not uncommon for a professor to take their class out for dinner or to invite them to their apartment after class.
Attending a liberal arts college is something that I aim to make the most of throughout my time here. Grasping each opportunity, whether it be in relation to a class that I’m taking or a book that I’m reading, is what will make my experience in New York even more worthwhile. I look forward to seeing where the next four years will take me