New York: A Candid Reflection on Settling In

This post was written during our first week in New York and just now I am confident enough to share it since the feelings have begun to subside and I have adopted new routines and settled comfortably into big city life.  So although the things I miss are still present on my heart, my excitement for this adventure and my immense love of what I am learning is now what prevails.  However, the road to get here took a little transitional time.  So here is a bit about that…


This post has been inspired, and in a sense commissioned by my dear friend Linh, who like me has uprooted her entire life from our mutual island home and left all that is familiar (including our mothers, who are also our best friends) to pursue graduate school far away.  She encouraged me to continue writing through the hard stuff in order to reflect, even though instinctually I hesitate to be vulnerable, in part because I feel like I should be feeling nothing but spine tickling excitement by living in Manhattan and commencing my studies at an historic, respected ivy league institution.

However, it hasn’t been a seamless, simple transition as part of heart is still on the west coast with those I cherish most.   My loving mentor teacher and beautiful sister have both reminded me that this is okay, that I am like them and that it takes some people more time than others to settle into new routines.  Then one of my best friends, Jacob, asked me to give him the gamete of things that were weighing on my heart in my most trying moments.

That list was easy to comprise: being away from my mom, how I have a group of very special friends who I do a book club (turned trashy TV watching) with and how much their silent and spoken weekly support grounds me, the comfort of working and teaching in a school district I know and love, being in a different timezone than my colleagues and best friends who I went through my teacher training with, craving simple things like the ocean, being across the continent on my nieces birthday or family dinners with the Jordan’s, butternut squash soup at fifth street with my dad and brother, feeling lost without the plethora of immediate family we have that weaves a little protective net around us, being absent for the births of children born to well loved friends when I already deeply love their newest additions from afar, the desire to walk through cook street village, that if I think too hard these several months away from all that I mentioned seems like an eternity, the wobbly confidence I have in myself on how to tackle the new obstacles of graduate school and the cruel, illogical self doubt that comes with considering if I am able at all.  After hammering it all out in a text his question and my answers only served to compile all the emotions to a pinnacle and made the world seem even heavier to carry.

Then he asked a follow up question: what was it that I was loving about my New York experience?  So that is where I am going to go today.  I am going in with full acceptance of the fact that it is okay to be homesick, it is okay to feel so overwhelmed in a SoHo clothing store that you have an overpowering urge to sit in the middle of the aisle to collect yourself,  it is okay to have a conversation about home with your husband in the middle of a bustling Starbucks outside of New York fashion week and well up with tears and it is okay to sit through a breathtaking church service with your emotions so raw that your eyes brim with tears for the entirety of the two hours.  It is all okay, first because you live in Manhattan and anyone who sees you is sure to encounter someone else doing something way crazier on their walk back home, and second because it will pass and the following is what you have to look forward to…

1. Challenging myself beyond my preconceived limits at Columbia

photo 4

Right now I am waiting on my work permit which gives me ample time to over think the graduate school experience, which can then in my weak moments turn my emotions in the wrong direction.  Then once I head to class my passion and fervor is renewed and I am excited to tackle the coming challenges through hard work and dedication, and to soak up every ounce of new learning from the adept minds and mentors in my program.  When I think of what I will have learned at the end of my time it excites me to know how I will be able to use the knowledge to serve the children in my future care.  It is that mental state that I need to remember.

2. Making new friends with the amazing people in my program and greater NYC

photo 2

We are not alone here.  We met a really remarkable couple from New York at a wedding last summer and I have already had the chance to meet many of the people I will be working and studying with over our time here.  I have to say so far all the people I have encountered are all bright, accomplished, fun, friendly, dynamic women and men.  I have had the chance to grab drinks, unwind at BBQ’s, study in the library, hunt down free food and apparel, do yoga in the park and carpool to complete the seemingly endless string of paperwork with these lovely ladies and gentlemen -and it is only the first week. So although it feels strange to be away from my support network, I am confident given time I will build, strong long lasting relationships with people here in NYC.

3. Exploring the vibrant, ever changing city of New York

photo 3-5

We have been here a week. Already we have taken in a free Friday night at the MoMa, cruised high line, sucked back organic smoothies in Washington Square, explored the crannies of Columbia University, viewed a movie at Lincholn Center, mastered (more or less) the subway system and people watched outside New York Fashion week.  We have ate at countless amazing eateries, ventured into Brooklyn in the pouring rain for a memorial day BBQ, taken a cruise (to ikea) past the Statue of Liberty, unwound with a coffee in SoHo, ran through Riverside Park and worshipped in utter awe at Riverside Church twice.  Then we shopped in Nolita before tucking in for the night to nurse a glass of white wine and applies on the floor of our Manhattan apartment.  We have walked through times square, explored our own neighbourhood, found three undeniably great coffee shops and one I could take or leave, and taken full advantage of living in the same city as a Trader Joes about 10 times.  So needless to say I do not think we will be bored in the coming 20 months.  Between the level of work of my program and the free access to museums and galleries that my Columbia I.D. affords I don’t think we will be lacking distractions.

4. Showing off that city and eccentricities to those back home come visit

photo 3-1

We have had lots of people express their interest in visiting us during our time in the city and the first of those will be my mom at the start of October (as you can tell I am only a tad bit excited), followed by my step dad near the end of the same month and then my step mom at thanksgiving.  I could not be more excited as we walk around our neighborhood I am keeping a mental and written note of the great things we are doing and seeing that I know each of them would enjoy.  So now I am just crossing my fingers more people will come out because our floor (complete with air bed) is always open.

5. Falling in love with Jay all over again

photo 2-5

We are setting up shop in a new city, in a new country across the continent from what we know and love.  I have already mentioned how this new life houses new, exciting challenges, an abundance of amazing new people and a whole gaggle of novel ways to spend our time.  But my favorite part thus far of setting up our new home is that for the first time in our married lives Jay is my most present, most remarkable, most unwavering nexus of support.  Due to our road trip and his site transitions we have had the pleasure  to spend every day together (shy of a few hours for runs here and there) for nearly a month and through all my roller coasting emotions he has stayed the same, loving, funny, caring man I fell in love with at 18.  It not as if I had forgotten, but now that we have this time just to ourselves once again my memory is being enlivened with all the reasons I had for choosing him to be my husband.  That man loves me very, very well.

4 thoughts on “New York: A Candid Reflection on Settling In

  1. Beautiful post, Renee. What an amazing adventure you are on! How long are you guys away for? And what specifically is your Masters on? Love the mention about falling in love with your husband again. When Joel and I traveled to South East Asia (now 6 years ago!) we spent every single moment together for four months…definitely an amazing experience for a relationship 🙂 Enjoy, Relish this experience – once in a lifetime, for sure! Sending much love from our island, xxk

    1. Karley! If I am a rockstar student and teacher we will be here for a little over a year in order for me to do my masters in special education and Jay to work. If I am not quite as on top of it or there is some serious learning that needs to still be done we will be back Christmas of 2014. My hope is that this experience will grown me as a person and also open up the doors to my full time dream job -middle school special ed. As it stands right now I learning to savor in the adventure and feeling that love from the island. Know it is being sent right back to you as you start up in your first full time position! I want to hear all the details of where and what and the like 🙂 I did a happy dance for you over here when I saw you update.

  2. Amazing blog Renee, I loved reading every bit of this, you are a fantastic writer, you should write a book sometime. I could envision everything you were describing and feeling. I too loved your little piece about falling in love with Jay all over again. I also believe you will be a rock star student and you will be there for the full time of your planned adventure and maybe more. I believe God has much in store for both of you, keep your heart open to His whispers! So excited for you both, enjoy the adventure of a lifetime together! Much love Linda

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s