You heard recently about the benefits of living on campus. It’s easy to see that the NYU Law dorms are comfortable and convenient—but when I moved here from San Francisco to start school again after three years out of college, I knew that returning to dorm life was not for me.
I arrived in New York two weeks before orientation, and before a week elapsed I signed a lease in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighborhood. Yes, sometimes I called a real estate agent about a posting that had been up for 15 minutes only to find that the apartment had already been rented. Yes, broker fees are ridiculous. And yes, it’s stressful to move across the country, find an apartment in a new city, and start law school…all in under a month.
But I’m thankful every day that I did it.
The reason boils down to this: when I’m at school, I’m on, but when I’m not at school, I am truly off. The physical separation is absolutely key—law school can be a stressful place, but very little of that follows me home. Each day, when I walk up the steps out of the subway and emerge into my beautiful tree-lined neighborhood, I breathe a little more deeply and feel my shoulders relax.
When I get home, I can often look out my living room window and see squirrels asleep on the fire escape, sometimes two to a planter. With the spire of the Empire State Building twinkling in the distance, far beyond the backyard trees that are currently a brilliant shade of yellow, I feel totally insulated from the concrete jungle.
This sense of relaxation is multiplied on weekends. I live right by Prospect Park, where I run and go to the farmers’ market just about every Saturday. I love being dual-boroughed; since I’m moving back to California after graduation, my time to explore New York is limited. Going to school in Manhattan but living in Brooklyn sets me up that much better to take advantage of my time here.
It’s not polite dinner table conversation, but I’m also saving a ton of money. NYU Law is located in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in New York City, and the dorm prices, while totally reasonable for the area, reflect that. Being under budget on rent frees me to spend a little more on trying a restaurant or seeing a play—experiences that are essential to my exploration goal.
The mechanics of my commute are simple. I walk about half a mile to the B line at 7th Avenue, and I take that straight to the West 4th Street stop right by school. On a great day, it takes me 30 minutes. On an average day, it’s more like 35 or 40. But I’ve never once been late to class due to subway delays, and I’m guaranteed to get at least a little exercise each day.
I use my commute time to read magazines or novels; I almost never study. Commuting is my “me” time, and if I’m in the middle of a particularly good article, I’m sometimes even sad when the trip ends!
Far from wasted hours, my commute also means that I make efficient use of my time at school. With no option of crossing the street to D’Ag for a quick nap, I treat law school like a 9-to-5 job. Between classes, you can often find me studying in a windowsill on the second floor of Vanderbilt. I can chat with friends who pass by, watch the seasons change in the courtyard below, and get my work done, too.
If, like me, you feel the dorm stage of your life is fully in the past, rest assured that you will be able to find what you are looking for in New York City—and at NYU Law—just like I did.