Photos courtesy of Garman Xu

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Garman Xu, ’23, studies design, media at New York University

Garman Xu, ’23, is majoring in Integrated Design and Media at New York University (NYU).

Q: Why did you choose NYU?

A: I’m majoring in Integrated Design Media (IDM), and it’s an NYU-specific major that deals with combining technology with art, especially VR (virtual reality) technology, so I was really interested in that when I was applying. That’s why I applied here.

Also, I applied early decision in November. That was because the location, New York City, is really exciting. Unlike other places, you don’t necessarily need to drive, so you can just take the subway and get to all your classes and you can also go have fun and make connections. Especially because I’m also interested in pursuing music, so there are a lot of connections here.

Q: What classes are you taking this semester?

A: I’m taking some of the prerequisites for IDM, so I’m basically taking a visual design class where we’re learning InDesign and developing designs. And then we’ve also learned visual foundation. We first learned the history of graphic design from Bauhaus, which is like a German graphic design school that revolutionized the modern approach to design in the 1900s, and then we also did some design projects.    

I’m also taking other classes that are more like actual engineering. So we have a prototyping class, and we also have an Innovation and Technology Forum lecture, so I’ve been doing that.

I’m taking this music production class where we learn how to make music using Ableton. Ableton is what we call a digital audio workstation. You compose and arrange music and digital instruments in the software, it’s been really fun. The assignment for every week is to make a song, and then the final exam is to make an album. We have to present our concept and the style or what we’re doing for it, and then we have to make it for our final grade. So that’s really exciting.

 I have one more class, and it’s the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholars Seminar, which is a scholarship program I got into. It’s something you can apply to on the Common App, and it’s focused on civil justice and learning about the legacy of Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement. Every Monday and Friday, I have classes in Washington Square Park, which is in Manhattan, and I have to go there to learn and discuss. 

It’s really cool because right now David Kedem, ’23, and I live in Tandon, which is the engineering school in Brooklyn. I make the commute from here to Washington Square almost every day. 

Q: What’s your favorite class? 

A: Honestly, probably the Ableton class. That’s because I’ve already been a musician for so long, but mainly classical, and I’ve always wanted to learn modern pop and how to actually make music. Taking a class was a good excuse to learn it. 

Q: What’s the biggest and smallest class that you take at NYU?

A: Since my major is really small, most of my classes are pretty small — like Country Day size, honestly. 

My smallest is probably English, which is 13 people, and my other classes are around 15-18 people.

Q: Are you participating in any clubs?

A: I’m part of a piano club, so it’s basically just people that meet up.  Last week we went to Carnegie Hall for a tour. They also gave us $10 tickets to Carnegie Hall concerts, and that’s really cool because usually they’re really expensive. We just hang out and play piano.

Mock trial has been a lot because I literally go to mock trial more than I go to my classes. We have three practices a week, usually on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, from 7-10 p.m. So, it’s  nine hours of practice a week. 

Q: Have you struggled with anything during this transition to college?

A: I would say probably just finding time to go out and make more friends when you have so much work to do. In addition to my work, I also do a lot of things for mock trial, and that’s a really big time commitment.

Q: What is it like having a spread-out campus?

A: I think it’s a pro and a con. A con, obviously, is that the school spirit here is just not really existent because there are just people roaming around, but they are just part of the city. So I guess for some people, it’s a little harder because you have to really put yourself out there to make friends. But honestly, if you’re just talking to people in your classes, it shouldn’t be that hard. 

But the pro, which I think far outweighs the con, is that you’re in the city, where you can just do whatever you want. Like, as opposed to being on a campus, if you don’t have a car and you really can’t just leave, here you can just do whatever you want. You can also make friends outside the university. I know a lot of people who have friends from other universities in the New York area, so they just come by.

Q: How is the dining scene at NYU?

A: There are definitely a lot of places. I don’t think we have tried out that many since we have been super busy and freshmen are required to be on a meal plan. So we mostly eat at the dining hall here. The food is okay, but it gets cold really quickly, and it’s overpriced. Because we already paid for it, we have to use it because it expires after the semester. 

We have tried some places like Hot Pot and Bonchon which were pretty good. Chinatown definitely has really good dim sum.

Q: Do you miss home-cooked meals?

A: Yeah, I would say so. The dorm food is not bad compared to some of my other friends’ food, I would say that our food honestly is at mid-tier, like a solid six point five out of 10. It’s not too bad — it’s edible. It’s just that when you are eating the same thing every day, it’s like ‘damn, I wish I had home-cooked food.’ David has recently been asking to eat out every day, and I’m like, “Bro, I’m on a budget.”

Q: Do you have a favorite spot to hang out at in New York?

A: I don’t know. I’ve been to a couple of cool places. I’ve been to Chinatown and the food there is good, I’ve been to Dumbo which is right off Brooklyn, and I’ve been to Chelsea Market a couple of times, they have good food there. 

I mean like, all these places are really fun, but I think one thing is that I don’t think I’ve taken advantage of the city enough yet, and that’s because I’m just like, really busy with schoolwork. So I only have like, a couple hours on the weekends. I’m still slowly trying to get through everything. 

Q: How is adjusting to college life?

A: I think it was really good for me, and maybe it’s because my roommate is David, and I have known him for, like, forever. So it wasn’t that big of a transition, and I would say I was pretty independent before, so I feel like it’s just a matter of organizing and making sure you set days for laundry and things like that, and then getting on top of your work. I didn’t really have a problem with that in high school, so it’s more or less the same thing. 

But one thing that was cool is when I was enrolling in classes, I kind of got to choose and plan my day, so I could choose a morning class or evening classes. So I guess that was a change.

Q: Have you been able to make any new friends in New York or at NYU?

A: Yeah, quite a bit honestly. A couple in my major, who are also interested in design stuff, and then a couple of friends I met during Welcome Week, which was the first week we were here. The entire week was events and having fun and making friends. So I actually made quite a bit of friends on the Washington Square campus instead of here, and that’s because I have interests in music, photography and filmmaking, so I met a couple of people there.

Q: Has the transition to college affected your mental health in any way?

A: I wouldn’t say it impacted me that much, and maybe it’s because I was able to find quite a bit of friends quickly, so it wasn’t that bad. I personally call home almost every night and my grandparents as well. I don’t think I’ve gotten homesick, and I don’t think I will. I guess I’m just focused on myself here.

I don’t miss Garrett at all, and he doesn’t miss me at all either. I’m still really close with Garrett, and I still send him a lot of Instagram reels. 

By Jesse Dizon

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