Falling for New York City

 Guest author and fellow urbanista Nicole Carroll gives an honest, relatable, and inspiring look into her experience moving from Maryland/DC to NYC to pursue grad school and a new career. Although not always easy, Nicole portrays how rewarding it is to decide to live a life more aligned with your visions and dreams. 

By Nicole Carroll:

I came to New York with a suitcase, little money in my account, and no place to stay. Poor planned and precarious, but I didn’t care. I also had an acceptance letter from my grad school and the fellowship of my dreams, so New York it was.

To say I was intimidated undermines the gut-wrenching feeling I felt on the four hour commute from the DMV to NYC. Who did I think I was? I was leaving my home, my job, my family, and my boyfriend for a dream so far-fetched that I get nervous every night even thinking about it.

I had heard horror stories about people coming to the big city with wide eyes full of expectations just to be shut out and forced to come back home. I simply could not afford to be one of those people. 

Let’s rewind. A bit about me: I am not a risk taker; taking risks gives me anxiety attacks, seriously. Everything I have done up to this point in my life has been what was safe and expected. I went to the University of Maryland and majored in public relations; because it was safer to find a job in that field despite my passion for journalism. After I graduated, I landed a job at a PR firm in DC and stayed a year. I hated every moment of it, but I was still too nervous to leave. My life felt stagnant. I was suffocated by the monotony of my job and even the DMV itself.  

Finally, I applied to grad school and started searching for fellowships. I was accepted into my program with scholarship money and not long after, I received an offer at the National Urban League, basically my dream non-profit (they’re tight), which ultimately brought me to New York.


So far, I have found a new home in Brooklyn for an unbelievable price (thanks to my manager), and I am absolutely in LOVE with my fellowship.

It hasn’t been easy; I slept on my best friend’s couch for three entire weeks and spent days where I cried looking at my depleted bank account, but I think I’m making it, slowly but surely.

How am I liking New York, you ask? It’s expensive as all Hell. I paid $9.00 for a chicken burrito bowl from Chipotle; that hurt my feelings. I also CLEARLY don’t know my way around this confusing city. People will tell me to meet them somewhere, and I’m just like, “wait, what?” Oh, and it is so dirty that I cringe sometimes. Look on the train tracks, and you’ll see trash plastered everywhere along with rats running around like the subway is their personal playground…but despite all of that, I love this city. The openness to creativity, drunken day parties and happy hours, my journeys from one borough to another, and the excitement of people who came to the city to pursue their dreams, just like me. I read an article that discussed the ineffability of the city, and it makes so much more sense to me now than ever.

To explain my newfound love for this place would be in vain. Just know that I will always love a city where hustle and hard work are appreciated, regardless of where you came from.

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of? We’ll see. 

Nicole enjoys reading, brunching, and exploring NYC. She is currently pursuing her Master's in International Affairs. With her degree, Nicole hopes to one day expand humanitarian efforts across the globe and help lead education reform to benefit students in underserved communities.

Connect with Nicole!

via email: nicolecterp@gmail.com

Instagram: @Colayyy