There’s only a month left for this Spring season of the New York Arts Program, and the Fall semester will be here sooner than you think. A few of us current students thought we might take the time to offer some advice on how to make the most out of your experience! Whether you’ve already been accepted into next season’s program or are still considering whether you want to apply, we hope you find these insights encouraging and helpful!
I first spoke with Christine Gutierrez, a fellow Southwestern classmate and a Fine Arts student! Christine is interning with two different independent artists, Chitra Ganesh and Chris Doyle. She has some advice for Fine Arts-oriented students in particular. “I think it’s a good idea to visit museums and galleries and take note of what you see there, as well as what you don’t,” she says. “Are these spaces missing voices? What can you offer to fill that blank space? How can you contribute to the conversation?”
As for life in the city, Christine suggests keeping an eye out for ways to pursue your own interests. “There are so many wonderful things going on to take advantage of. My roommate and I have been using meetup.com to find clubs and groups that meet that pertain to our interests. I go to a couple of meetups a week to write or draw or talk about art, and I have met a ton of people.” There’s one show that she recommends in particular. “Additionally, if you’re looking for something fun over the weekend, the Uptown Citizens Brigade has improv shows every night (I think) and tickets are $15!
“Lastly,” she continues, “make good connections with your internship sponsors. And go to breakfast with the director! (Yes, it’s kinda early.) These people are valuable resources with lots of wisdom and you never know what will happen in the future!”
Fellow Media Arts student Konrad Rula has one major suggestion: Don’t sleep on this opportunity. “You’re only here for 4 months, you know? Like yeah, it’s a semester, but whether or not it’s difficult for you to adjust, I think it’s really important for you to take advantage of the time you have here because you don’t realize how much of that time flies by.”
According to Konrad, the best way to take the New York Arts Program by the horns is to step outside of your comfort zone as much as possible. “Finding yourself, finding out who your friends are, checking out the neighborhood--you always have to do that,” he says. “Push yourself to do the things you’re interested in. If you put yourself out there and try to stay out of your comfort zone as much as possible, you’ll be able to thrive anywhere.” If getting out of your comfort zone sounds a little daunting, Konrad to asks you to bear in mind that choosing to coming to New York City for a semester is already a huge transition! “You’ve already taken the step to put yourself in that uncomfortable situation of moving here, so why not push that a little bit more?”
I’ll close this out with a bit of advice from yours truly. Don’t be afraid to really explore the city, or at least the neighborhoods that you’ll be living and working in. Get outside and take a walk around the block, or venture down a few unfamiliar streets. Take a friend with you, or explore by yourself! Maybe duck into a few interesting-looking shops on the way. As long as your phone is charged, there’s no harm in getting a bit lost. I find that one of my favorite feelings is when I’m wandering someplace unfamiliar, and suddenly I look up and have that “Oh, I’ve been here before! I know where I am!” moment.
Some people think that New York City is too big and sprawling to get comfortable in, but I don’t think that’s the case. As long as you put the effort into familiarizing yourself with the landscape, it’ll quickly start to feel like home just like anywhere else. Besides, half the fun of the city is that there’s always somewhere new to explore!
The New York Arts Program has been a truly life-changing experience for all of us here, and we’re so excited for the students who have yet to embark on this phenomenal journey. However you decide to approach the semester, one thing’s for sure: you’ll be glad you came.
Written by: Sarah Beard