Diamond Naga Siu

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I don’t believe in regrets. This mentality perhaps attributes some compulsive, awkward or callous actions, but it has lead me to a literal dream come true.

Sinatra sang it, Steinbeck claimed it and I loaded it with so much reverence that it scared me: New York City- home to geeks, fanatics, lovers, artists and moguls, but most importantly, home to dreamers. A dreamer myself, I listened to Alicia Keys laud the city while longingly staring at the pictures, a reality one hundred thousand odd miles away. The Big Apple was simply too immense to grasp.

While researching colleges, New York City pictures and sagas were hidden to allow impeccable Ivy League statistics flood the screen.  However, as personal issues plagued my intellectual and emotional stability at high school’s onset, that idealistic schooling seemed increasingly unattainable.

When my valedictorian chance was demolished and interpersonal relationships suffered, perfectionism stabbed me with every failing grade and terminated friendship. But the worst was an omnipresent fear of “My Future”.

I took solace in the idea of a city much larger than myself, then it occurred to me that amidst this Utopia, there could be learning institutions.  Famous New York colleges had crossed my mind, but not until I researched New York City schools did I realize some subsided in the concrete jungle.  This epiphany restored my college excitement and helped me pinpoint New York University- so much rode on this one school.  Its study abroad program was unparalleled, the student diversity was almost intimidating, and its undergraduate journalists work with graduate professors. With a motto of “in and of the city”, it was perfect, and I would do everything possible to get in.

When application season approached, I had perused every bit of recruiting material, analyzed accepted student patterns and even learned about the admissions team- one could definitely call me obsessed.  But as I read “NYU is global, urban, inspired, smart, connected and bold. What can NYU offer you, and what can you offer NYU?” I was stumped.

I already knew their gems, but what could I offer them?  Dissecting every word, I finally submitted my application for their November 1 deadline on November 1 at 4:50 AM.

Trying to make other colleges want me, I could not help thinking that I did not yearn for them quite as much as I did for NYU.  The next month and a half were agony.

But December 15th became a countdown from days to hours, and anticipation turned into a paranoid frenzy. I received Shanghai’s admission first (I was desperate to just get my foot in NYU’s door- I was willing to go to Shanghai, major in public services, and even study science). Squirming in physics- sorry Mr. Warren for being on my phone that entire period- I showed a friend the email, but it only made me antsier for New York’s dream making or breaking judgment. I remember the panic when there was no service in the classroom and the delirious moment of my acceptance. But I most vividly remember the tears of uncomparable ecstasy and unforeseen terror that followed, this unknown wonderland was now contractually bound as my future.

A more subdued numinous resulted after committing, but the unanticipated fear still lingered.

While everybody heard from schools, I panicked that NYU might not have been the right choice. When all the admitted NYU students discussed Starbucks, debt and the Sprouse twins, I sat in bewilderment, wondering if this was truly the right fit.

I eventually visited The City during “Welcome Weekend” but was in near desperation to enjoy the environment, to like the city and to love the school.

Landing in the morning, I knew this was the place for my aspirations: at 3:00 AM, personalities, workers and the city itself stayed invigorated, and the energy was magnetic. Relief tinged my heart.

An unparalleled aura firmly established itself on my walk to NYU. From pictures, this could just be another big city, but the vibrancy was incomparable from Los Angeles’ beach trance, my hometown’s country allure and even to Hong Kong’s metropolitan mentality.

As a compulsively early soul, I arrived there 45 minutes early, yet there was already a line around the block. Intuition buzzed NYU’s perfection as I scanned the line of future classmates.

Throughout the day, I met aspiring business moguls, writers, dancers, neurologists and humanitarians who all shared the city dream, and this city had everything.

There were farmers’ market stalls along the dorm room trek, food carts bedecking the streets and buildings galore.  Situated in Greenwich Village’s heart, every corner brought another wonder and a postcard worthy photo to capture, but the best curiosities appeared near my visit’s end.

Before entering the Bobst Library, I touched the stucco/velcro-like wall and remember how the copper orange was even richer in person than in the pictures but what inside was even more entrancing. It was difficult listening to the tour guide, because the 12 stories of glistening metal glory tantalized curious eyes. The guide coaxed us out like children on a playground, the thought of returning in four months comforted me.

With every step, I fell increasingly in love, but Washington Square Park made me never want to leave. The “NYU Arch” which adorned my phone screen materialized, and I walked under it to enter a human sea. Crowds ringed the performance pit, pedestrians peered at performers, children chased bubbles, and every corner housed something new- some passion- to display.

Meandering it with awe, I slowly returned to the hotel as glowing serenity and bursting contentment enveloped my thoughts. I could not wait to start at my future school but still remembered Palos Verdes High School. Without its foundation, this dream would not have been possible, and in retrospect I can proudly affirm no regrets- only many, many lessons- through my transient Sea King life.


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