Despite being freshmen, there is no freshers. In its place lies its politer transatlantic cousin "Welcome Week". This five day festival of school pride contains over five hundred events ultimately designed to create mingling environments, and ease us all into university and city life.
Perhaps I should retract my earlier statement of being "eased" into university life, since our first day's orientation began at 8.30AM. My school, The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), under the wider umbrella of NYU, had a separate schedule for its students to follow. This began with a Cohort Welcome & Registration. The college had divided all of its incoming undergraduates into smaller groups of around 30, and these were to be our cohorts for the year. Somehow having managed to navigate my way to the desired building, I was fortunate to find a fellow cohort member struggling to find the entrance. Having overcome this hurdle, we arrived in a classroom filled with totally new and unrecognizable faces all wearing variations of the same nervous expression. Introductions were made through the usual ritual of standing up and stating your name and hometown with the additional gem of revealing an item of significance from your wallet. Although I considered flashing some British money, I decided that this was too tacky and instead plumped for my fully completed MilkShack Card to demonstrate my true adoration of milkshakes.
The ice having somewhat thawed, we headed to our next event; the CAS Convocation. Staged in a huge hall, we were serenaded by Tisch students as we awaited the speakers. Listening to the Deans and professors speak was a surreal experience - it was so oddly difficult to comprehend that this was reality, that here I was sitting in New York, a member of NYU, being told that this was the beginning of something, and truly feeling that it was. The convocation culminated in what I can only assume was a pep rally; a conclusion of passionate whooping, cheering and applause.
Having raced through half a day, we daringly tried a new dining hall outside our dorm selection. Sitting on the balcony of Kimmel, lunch was supplied with a beautiful view overlooking Washington Square Park. The surrounding greenery reminded me of England, and if not for the American accents, it felt as if it could have been.
The afternoon was reserved for the presidential welcome and the reality show. Along with the rest of the students on my floor, we took the subway to Madison Square Garden where we queued in anticipation of what was to come, and in wonder at the surroundings. The welcome itself was built together from a number of various speeches, which proved a little too much for my neighbor who fell asleep midway and attempted to rest his lolling head on me. Our university president, John Sexton, then greeted us, but the real stars of the show were the Tisch students who put together the Reality Show. This is a musical dramedy hosted every year intended to convey some important lessons that all students would ignore if told via a droning list of dos and do-nots. Instead, an incredibly talented troupe of performers sing, dance and regale us with entertaining songs of the perils of ignorant racial stereotypes, safe sex and the availability counseling services.
Finishing on such a high, the roasting subway held no appeal and so I walked back to our dorm with a few friends and we reveled in the fact that here we were, strolling back from a concert in Madison Square Garden to our new home.
Yet, the day did not end there. Instead, NYU had scheduled optional events that ran on into the night. This included a brilliant hypnotist show in which we watched in wonder as contestants lost complete control of their faculties, forgetting their names and abilities to count or read.
Indeed, in the same way the hypnotist rendered his victims speechless, so too was I left following my first day. Although a blur, I had loved the intensity and the pace of it, and the vitality the school and the city seemed to thrive on.