Editor’s note: Cassi Niedziela graduated in May as the valedictorian of the Glen Rose High School Class of 2017. She is attending New York University majoring in global public health and sociology, with a minor in social and public policy. She is writing for the Glen Rose Reporter about her experiences as a college freshman in New York.

NEW YORK — With my first semester of college almost under my belt, I think back on what has stood out to me the most during my time at New York University.

Glen Rose and New York City are obviously strikingly different, and while it hasn’t all been rainbows and butterflies, I am entirely confident that I made the right decision for continuing my education.

I knew I wanted to attend NYU since the summer before my junior year of high school, and finally getting my acceptance letter in the mail was surreal. The choice to move roughly 1,600 miles from home to a city with a population of 8.5 million was daunting, but filled with an odd mixture of excitement and apprehension, I packed my entire life into two suitcases and flew across the country.

Since first stepping foot in New York City, I knew this is where I was meant to be. The hustle and bustle of the streets, the ever-present coffee shops on every corner, and the world-famous pizza all add to the grandeur that surrounds the Big Apple.

Being all alone in the biggest city in America was difficult at first, but I quickly made many friends at NYU. We explored the city and NYU’s unofficial “campus” around Washington Square Park, conquered the subway system with multiple trips around Manhattan and Brooklyn, and met people from all over the world in just a few days.

NYU is located in Lower Manhattan in Greenwich Village, and my dorm overlooks Washington Square Park. When I open the windows in my dorm, I can hear musicians from the park playing jazz music, and I fall in love with the city all over again!

There is always something to do and something new to see, and NYU really encourages its students to pursue their passions and interests unapologetically. I feel like I have really been able to embrace who I am here in New York, and I am happier than ever!

There are so many vegetarian food options at local restaurants and NYU dining halls, and I really appreciate being able to eat foods other than grilled cheeses and French fries from fast food restaurants! I have been eating a lot of tofu, ramen and samosas from local establishments, and I have a newfound appreciation for bagels and cream cheese (an NYC favorite).

Transitioning from high school classes to college classes has been somewhat challenging, but I definitely feel like the skills I acquired at Glen Rose High School have helped me succeed at one of the best universities in the country! I am majoring in Global Public Health & Sociology with a minor in Social & Public Policy, and am taking 16 hours of college classes.

I have written dozens of pages of papers so far about multiple topics, and successfully finished my first round of midterms. Hopefully my finals in December will go well, too!

One of the things I miss the most about Texas is driving around aimlessly and listening to the radio! I walk everywhere, and I haven’t been in a car since August, so I miss my daily commutes to and from school. On the plus side, I have been getting a lot more exercise due to the constant walking, and I am able to explore the city in a more intimate way.

I also really miss looking at the stars because the city never sleeps, and the lights of the skyline are all I can see after dark. The city lights are beautiful, but I do miss seeing stars and constellations over open fields as opposed to a concrete jungle. However, I absolutely adore New York City, and I have come to appreciate the hum of sirens and the honking of cabs in the distance.

I am hoping to update this column monthly, so if you have any questions or topics you wish to know more about from an NYC perspective, please email me!