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Margarita Cordova

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Margarita Cordova (She/Her/Ella) - Stanford in New York

Majors: Communications and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity

College year while abroad: Sophomore

About the photo: This was taken at the Summit One Vanderbilt! We all went as a program activity and it was a great start to the quarter! We all took great pictures and bonded with each other. I really enjoyed this activity because I love looking at the skyline and with this view, it seemed like everything within your reach.


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Why did you choose to study off campus in New York?

I choose New York City for three main reasons, 1. I had always lived in a small town and wanted to see if I could eventually live in a huge city (the answer is yes, I will definitely be living here) 2. I wanted to grant myself and my family the opportunity they never got, receiving an education while gaining professional experience. A lot of my drive comes from wanting to give back to my parents for all their hard work, I saw NYC as an opportunity to get connected and be able to have a steady life after college while already knowing how the “real world works.” Lastly, I wanted to have fun, these are the years when we are young and in many ways free of obligations, and what better way to spend them than in a city that never sleeps?

What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in New York?

I honestly expected this experience to be a lonely one because I didn’t really know anyone going into it but I was mistaken. Even though none of us really knew each other, there was still this underlying fact of most of us being in a city we had never experienced before. In addition to the programming that was made to bring us together, the cohort found additional ways to get to know one another and truly connect. I quickly realized that although we were mostly strangers when we started we would leave becoming lifelong friends regardless of how cheesy that sounds, it is the truth.

What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in New York?

I can not emphasize enough how amazing and unique the professors are! They are truly so passionate, knowledgeable, and experienced in their course material that it brings a new perspective into the classroom. Oftentimes the professors/course instructors are working full-time in other jobs which allows them to connect you with people within their industry. What you learn through these professors/course instructors and their connections is a game changer in ways you never could have imagined.

What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?

Oddly enough I learned that I love spending time with myself. On campus, I was always with my friends, which I love but rarely got to spend time with myself. Through this program I discovered it was really important for me to enjoy fun hobbies like reading a book, taking myself on little dates, or even studying at a coffee shop by myself to unwind and reset. Although the city is categorized to be very lonely, despite the amount of people, I think it’s lonely in a beautiful way.

What was the most challenging experience you encountered while you were off-campus and what did you learn from it?

The most challenging experience I encountered was definitely during the internship component. Navigating a new environment is hard, especially when you have never been in a similar one before. Learning how to draw boundaries when it comes to work time and personal time is difficult, specifically when you want to make a good impression and receive a great review. However, saying yes to your boss for every work-related task at any given moment is not healthy in the sense that you aren’t giving yourself a break. I overcame this challenge by asking for advice from my fellow peers and program directors. I learned that building up the courage to communicate boundaries, while difficult, is vital to a healthy lifestyle.

What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?

I come from a small rural town where more often than not everyone knows everyone or has a mutual person in common making it easy to help those around you. Unfortunately, NYC is one of those places that has really high extremes and really low extremes as well so it’s impossible to always help those around you. I had to learn that you can’t always lend a hand or provide assistance, no matter how much you want to.

What was your favorite part of your everyday life in New York?

Looking at the skyline, filled not just with tall buildings but with opportunity.

What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in New York?

The most memorable experience I had while I was in New York City was when I ran into a famous TikToker. I know this sounds silly, but it was so unexpected, I mean New York City is so big how do you randomly bump into someone at the store who inspired you to want to come to this city? The Tiktoker I ran into makes simple content about everyday life in NYC, she has a large following and I have been watching her content for a little over a year. Because she shows all the amazing parts of the city, her videos were actually one of the reasons I chose to do this program.

What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?

Vital for growth and breathtaking.

What was your favorite food you had in New York?

THIS IS THE HARDEST QUESTION EVER. OMG NYC has to have some of the best food in this country, without a doubt. I was lucky enough to try an enormous amount of food from different cultures, making it hard to pinpoint my favorite one. That being said my mind takes me to Pho Avenue where I had the best pork spring rolls in my entire life thus far. I can shamelessly say, I did go and eat there by myself more than once.

What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?

I would have to say that my handy dandy hydro flask was the most valuable item I could have taken to this program, besides my phone, obviously. I carried my little emotional support bottle everywhere I went, occasionally banging it around but I never found myself thirsty without water! It also came in handy Sunday morning after a long weekend ;)

What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in New York?

I vividly remember being in the bathroom at a restaurant and hearing a song from my childhood… load and behold it was Devuelveme Mi Chica. Although I knew Spanish Rock was iconic music, I had forgotten the way it made me feel. Hearing this song on a random Friday night opened the door to my rediscovery of Spanish Rock and in some ways reconnected me to a part of my Latine identity.