In a blink of an eye, my exchange semester has officially ended today, and I'll be moving out of the place I've called home for the past 4 months. I've decided to create a series of posts to record the precious moments I have spent in New York City. This post will primarily focus on where I lived
Lafayette Hall, NYU.
Oh boy, where do I start.
I came to the decision to live on campus because I figured it would be the best way to meet people, and to immerse myself in the culture of NYU, and I am glad to say, I have no regrets. If you followed me on Snapchat, you might have seen my major dilemma on which dorm to apply for. My first preferences were Othmer and Clarke, both located in Brooklyn, right by NYU's engineering campus. I also applied for a single room with a private bathroom, because I've had my fair share of bad housemates, and preferred to not have to go through any drama while I'm on exchange.
I was devastated to find out right before my flight to New York, that I was assigned to Lafayette Hall. A hall I didn't even include in my preferences. I've done my research and I knew, Lafayette was a much hated dorm for being so far from main campus (20 minute walk #fwp). It is also located next to a homeless shelter, a block away from where all the knockoff goods are sold in Chinatown, and also had a cockroach infestation at some point in the past. Oh did I mention that it is also the location that a student snap-chatted himself burning his friend who was asleep in bed? As a cherry on top, I was assigned to a 3 person's room. Yes, I was devastated.
I remember paying a visit to the dorm before my scheduled move in date (my third day in NYC). I was swarmed by vendors at the subway station chanting "Rolex? Gucci? Chanel? Handbag watches? Handbag watches?", as they tried to persuade me into buying some of their goods. "Get them before the police does", one man chimed. Maybe I looked too much like a tourist. One block before my dorm was a homeless shelter, where I was cat-called by the homeless people standing outside the shelter. I sped past them and arrived at Laf.
It is a beautiful neo-gothic building built in 1915, once housed a printing firm, with tall ceilings to accomodate the heavy equipment. Over the years, the building has housed government offices, The Department of consumer Affairs, the Union Dental Centre as well as the child Welfare Administration.
Sure, what does all this history has to do with me. Doesn't change the fact that there are cockroaches roaming somewhere in there. It was still one of the worst dorms in NYU. I mean, I googled "worst dorm in NYU" and "Lafayette Hall-NYU" shows up on the 2nd page off my google search. Some websites that rated NYU dorms didn't even bother to include Lafayette.
However, tonight as I sit in my bed for the second last time, looking out at the glistening midtown lights and the Empire State Building lit up in green in honour of the Robin Hood Foundation, I know that this hall was a blessing in disguise.
I live in an apartment with two rooms, one of which was a single, and the other is our triplet. On the day I moved on, all my other roommates had already settled down. I was left with the corner by the window. Not complaining, I wouldn't have chosen any of the other beds. We had high ceilings and wooden floor boards. Each of us had our own study desk, as well as drawers. Our room had a balcony, which were off limits but whatever, I snuck out. My view is amazing.
Although Laf is "far" from main campus, (quotation marks because pls, 20 minutes is not far, and there's even a free shuttle bus that picks main campus kids from Laf #fwp), it was only a 15 minutes bus ride to Tandon, Brooklyn, the engineering campus - the forgotten campus - of NYU (if you are lucky to actually catch the bus). The free NYU shuttle is a great initiative, but it has odd timings. For example, there is a shuttle at 6.40pm from Tandon to Laf. If you do miss that one, your next shuttle is at 8.45pm. Nevertheless, Tandon is a 40 minute walk (its really not that far) over the Manhattan Bridge. During my semester I regularly walked the bridge because it offers the best views of Brooklyn Bridge and the Financial District. Oh and I never have to wrestle with tourists and angry cyclists like I would have to on the Brooklyn Bridge.
The location was perfect for me too. Located on the border of several exciting NYC neighbourhoods, - Chinatown, SoHo, Tribeca, Lower East Side, FiDi, Little Italy, I get the best of every neighbourhood. Cheap comfort food in Chinatown, desserts and fancier meal options in Little Italy, cute brunch places in the Lower East Side, trendy SoHo where all the celebrities hangout, everything is within walking distance. In fact, you can say I live on the same street as Gigi Hadid (fact), although I can't say that we live relatively close to each other, or that I've seen her around :((( My favourite coffee shops - Office and Prologue are only 2 blocks away, and cheap groceries are everywhere in Chinatown. I've also got several subway lines within a 10 minute radius - N, Q, R, W, 6, A, C, E, J, Z just to name a few.
Over the few months, I've also slowly gotten used to the homeless people loitering outside Laf. I've walked home alone at 4am in the morning, and none of them (even the drunk and high ones) has ever bothered me. The most I received was a "you're beautiful". None of the Canal st vendors approach me anymore. It's almost like I've assimilated enough, to show that I'm not a foreigner.
Community and events
I wouldn't say I've met heaps of people at Laf. My roommates were extremely nice, and always allowed me to use their appliances but despite living together, we don't talk too much. I did meet people on the shuttle, such as Becca, an NYU student who went to University of Melbourne for a semester abroad. There are over 1,000 students living in Laf, and the layout of the rooms aren't the most conducive for meeting people. I live next to a pair of elevators, one of which has been broken the whole semester. Nobody ever walks past my apartment to take the elevators, so I rarely bump into people while leaving my apartment.
Nevertheless, one of the best thing about living in Laf is the events they host throughout the year. Apparently the Lafayette hall council, SOLID, has the largest budget of all of the NYU dorms. I wanted to participate in most of the events but there were weeks that I just didn't have time. Some of the events I've came across:
- Sunday brunches with faculty members. Several faculty members live in the building and they hosts events throughout the semester. I've been to a few sunday brunches hosted by a faculty member. She lives in a beautiful apartment in the same building, with stretching views of uptown Manhattan. She hosts Sunday brunches with Dough doughnuts. Did I also mention she has a dog? It's called the Laf dog, and students could sign up to walk him at the end of the semester
- Food events. Dimsum on a Tuesday, fancy Italian restaurants during restaurant week, and even free brunch after yoga lessons. I love all things free.
- Museums and attractions. I participated in the scavenger hunt at the American Natural History museum. Laf Hall won first place! We even got a medal. The event came with free Shake Shack. Come on, that itself is worth it. There were also events to Coney Island, Washington D.C during Black History Month, and ski trips etc.
- Movies. The Laft, is a common area where everyone can study/watch movies/chillout in. There were regular movie screenings during the semester, and my favourite, Sundaes with John Oliver every Sunday night.
Typing this just made me realise how much I've done, but also how much I've missed out.
Who am I kidding, I love Lafayette Hall, its broken elevators and all. I have yet seen a cockroach too. As I pack up all my belongings and prepare my goodbyes to this place I've called home, I know that God put me here because he knew that I would fit right in, and that I would experience the most here. Like, come on, it must be fate that the next street from my dorm is Franklin Street (I live on the same street in Melbourne). I will miss having to run after the bus at 7.27am, and the feeling of living in a large community.
Lafayette, you have my heart. I will miss you terribly.
I am glad that I went through the devastation of being sorted into this hall.