The Manhattan Bubble

I recently finished my first year at college, and one question that keeps popping up is, “Do you regret not leaving New York for college?” This question can be interpreted in two different ways, both of which would have different answers from me.

The first way to interpret that would be, “Do you regret living at home and not dorming?” The answer to this will always be yes and no. Commuting is terrible in many ways. Throughout the year I have bitterly grumbled about the fact that I have to wake up at 6:30 am for an 8 am class, while my fellow dorming classmates can just roll out of bed 15 minutes before class and still make it on time. At the same time, I don’t have to experience the same homesickness or leave behind the people that I love for months on end. There will always be a small part of me that will regret not getting a chance to experience the dorming lifestyle, but living at home while in college is also a privilege.

The other way to interpret that question would be, “Do you regret not leaving the city for college?” The answer to this will always be absolutely 100% no. I love New York City. I have spent my entire life here and I want to continue to spend my life here, and I am so happy that I am attending a university in my city. A friend of mine once told me that in her college interviews she highlighted how much she just wanted to see grass, as she really wanted to leave the city. My application to NYU, on the other hand, was nearly entirely about how much I love this city and how much I would love to stay in the city for the rest of my life, having so much more to explore.

I have been living in New York City my entire life, and I’ve only just begun truly seeing the city. There are parts of Manhattan and Queens I’ve never set foot in, and I’ve barely touched Brooklyn and the Bronx. During my four years at NYU, I am determined to explore all of New York City and take in all this City has to offer.

That sentiment, however, is not necessarily shared by all of my classmates at NYU, at least those that are not native to NYU. A lot of my fellow NYU students are trapped in a Manhattan bubble. When they see New York City in movies and on TV, it’s always centered around Manhattan, any of the other boroughs being an afterthought. To the people who grew up with New York City on the big screen rather than it being the streets they roam, Manhattan seems to be all that really matters. To them, the city is just Manhattan.

What they don’t understand is how much more the rest of the city has to offer. To me, New York City is not just Manhattan. New York City is not just big buildings and Wall Street, not just the Empire State Building and shopping. New York City is street fairs on Memorial Day and the Astoria Park Carnival. New York City is the museums and history you can find throughout the city, from the Met in Manhattan to the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn to the Museum of Moving Image in Queens. New York City is a plethora of restaurants and cuisines that can be found everywhere. New York City is a city of opportunities and dreams, where just about anything can happen. New York City has so much to offer and that’s not just in Manhattan.

Did you know that the biggest park in New York City is not Central Park? It’s actually Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. In fact, Central Park is only the 5th largest park in New York City. Did you know that Queens is the largest borough by size and only second to Brooklyn in population? Manhattan is actually the smallest by size at 22.82 square miles (even smaller than the most overlooked borough Staten Island).

There is so much more for New York City to off than the flashing lights and Broadway plays of Manhattan. There are the museums in Queens, the parks in Brooklyn, and the diversity of culture and cuisine in Brooklyn. Get out of your Manhattan bubble and explore the real New York City.


By Raibena Raita

Raibena is a rising sophomore at NYU majoring in English on the Creative Writing track and minoring in Psychology. Ever since she was young, she has loved to read, which later in her life also blossomed into a love for writing. She writes everything from short stories to plays to creative nonfiction. She is an in-class tutor for elementary school children. She is also involved in NYU Students for Justice in Palestine, NYU DREAM Team, and NYU Muslims Students Association, and very vocal about her beliefs. 

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