Dani Lyle - Stanford in New York
Major: Film and Media Studies
College year while abroad: Sophomore
About the photo: Me chilling in this cute part of the subway that I thought was pretty, wearing crocs (which I dont recommend wearing in NYC if you like your feet arches!)!
Questions and Answers with Dani
Why did you choose to study off campus in New York?
I chose to study in New York because I've always wanted to move there after college, see what being an artist in the big city is like, and this was my chance to test drive that. I knew that the New York program also gave students the opportunity to intern for credit. This allowed me to take classes I needed to graduate and add to my resume at the same time.
What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in New York
I expected that I would live life like a student, but have the added perks of working and seeing the city as a side gig. For me, it felt very much the opposite. I felt like a real resident of the city, a real comic in the comedy scene, a real employee in the workforce, and the amazing school part of the program was kind of secondary to the amazing life I had started. I made so many friends from other colleges living in the EHS dorm and through my internship, and it opened my eyes to how many things I can take advantage of while being a student. The city itself is so vast and full of culture that I couldn't even get a total understanding of what it's like to live there. But I did get a taste and that was enough to get me hooked.
What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in New York?
The field trips were amazing. One of the classes I took was about the politicization of art and we got to go to professional art fairs, student galleries, exhibitions, world class museums and more! In the VR class, we traveled to the Tribeca film festival to see the latest in VR storytelling. Stanford is so wildly connected to alumni and resources in the city that I was blown away by every opportunity. We saw broadway shows and national landmarks as a part of our New York class, and we always had time to discuss our lessons with the group afterwards.
What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?
I learned that I am a lot more capable of taking care of myself than I think I am, all I have to do is dive in. The New York program offers a lot of opportunities, but it also encourages you to venture out independently. I spent many nights exploring on my own, getting lost, making new random friends. It was an incredible pause from campus where I got to see how my post-grad self would operate. In my quarters after New York, I've been much less anxious about graduating because I already know that I'll be able to navigate just fine.
What was the most challenging experience you encountered while you were off-campus and what did you learn from it?
The most challenging experience was definitely learning to juggle work, class, and everyday life. There's so much to do in the city, but you also have to learn to take care of yourself after a long day of class or work. The pressure to see everything and do everything exists in every study abroad program, but it feels especially pertinent in NYC where the entire city is moving so fast anyways. I learned that, in order to enjoy yourself and actually get value out of your time in New York, you need to take time to breathe and reflect. Otherwise it all rushes past in a blur. A night out on the town followed by brunch the next day is great, but you know what else is? Relaxing in your dorm and watching the New York sunset out of your window. Making time for yourself in NYC is something everyone does there, and only makes the sweet, fast-pace moments all the sweeter.
What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?
The speed of the people. They walk fast, order fast, expect fast results and fast-learning. Coming from California where the vibe is a lot chiller, this was an adjustment. I just learned to adapt after awhile. By the end of my time, California felt so slow to me. As for the culture in the city itself, it may be very American (it is of course in America) but it's also home to a large population of people from around the world. It wasn't really an adjustment for me personally, but it was a cool new atmosphere to witness.
What was your favorite part of your everyday life in New York?
My favorite part was taking the subway to work and then walking that final 10 minutes through Central Park to work. because New York is such a huge cultural phenomenon in popular media, it always felt somewhat cinematic to me, getting to be a part of the hustle and bustle. I really romanticized everything about New York: the views, the people, even the subway. It's extremely easy to do.
My other favorite thing was the independence. If someone wanted to do something I didn't want to do in the program, I just didn't do it. There was a whole other city of options, of people I'd met, of family I had in town. I could hop on the subway and be anywhere in the city easily with no help. I think that transportation and the need to stick with your program group are some of the limitations of other programs, but Stanford in New York really allows you to do whatever you want, no fear.
What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in New York?
I did a lot of stand-up mics while in New York and made a whole new group of friends in the city, separate from everyone in the program, in my internship, and in my circle of college friends. One of my shows went particularly well, and I had a lot of people coming up to me at the end and telling me that they thought I was working with cool material. Feeling like I could be funny in New York city was really big for me, and I don't think I'd still be pursuing comedy right now if I hadn't had that experience.
What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?
Independent, freeing, reassuring, inspiring, cinematic.
What was your favorite food you had in New York?
What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?
My Dr. Scholl's gel inserts (your feet will never forgive you if you don't bring good shoes)
What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in New York?
Myles Cameron! My family-friend is an up and coming singer and I got to go to his first sold out concert in Brooklyn!