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5 things you should know about going to college in a big city

5 things you should know about going to college in a big city

Monday April 23, 2018,

5 min Read

According to Times Higher Education World University Rankings, these were the best university cities in 2017: Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong, Boston, Berlin, Beijing, New York, Chicago, Singapore, Atlanta, and Sydney. We’ll just stop the list there. What do we notice here? These are all big cities. 


In Los Angeles, for example, there are four major educational institutions that attract thousands of students per year:

The University of California, Los Angeles (with 39,279 students)

The University of Southern Carolina (with 38,380 students)

California Institute of Technology (with 2,209 students)

The University of California, Irvine (with 30,419 students)

In New York, as another important example, there are 594,000 students attending around 110 colleges and universities.

These numbers are impressive, but they also make sense. When a high-school graduate is about to go to college, they dream big. They want to experience life to the fullest. In that aspect, LA certainly seems like a more attractive option than Athens, Ohio.

The big city gives you life and energy. It’s like a machine that practically consumes you in its parts and makes you move. That’s exciting, but is it all you need to know before heading off to college in a big city? No. There are other, more important things you must know. We’ll list five of them.

1. Big cities smell bad

There’s a lot of population. That usually means a lot of noise. If you’re staying at a campus, maybe you’ll be able to isolate yourself from the noise on the big streets. If you’re living in an apartment, however, noise may be a huge issue.

There’s another thing about big cities that most people don’t anticipate: they are dirty and they smell bad. That comes as a side effect of the huge population. These cities have outgrown their capacity to remove waste. You’ll see piles of garbage around, and it has to be stored until removed.

During summer, in particular, the smell can be extreme. The greenhouse effect makes the city warmer and smellier at the same time.

Oh well; you’ll get used to it. Living in a big city means you have to make peace with the weird smells and constant noise. However, it gives tons of excitement in return.

2. Everything will be more expensive

A single person’s monthly costs in New York (without rent) are estimated at $1,151. These costs involve transportation, grocery shopping, utilities, restaurants, and more. Since you’re a student, you’ll also want an adventure through New York’s famous nightclubs. Well, that will cost a lot of money.

Memphis, Tennessee, as an example of a smaller city, comes with reasonably lower monthly costs; they are estimated at $854. The difference is almost $300 per month. Over the year, that difference adds up.

Of course, there’s a way around this issue. As a student, you’ll have benefits no matter what city you choose. Take a look at the restaurants and stores around campus, and you’ll find plenty of student deals. Online shopping can also be more affordable. You can get into most museums for free with your student identity card. Coupons and promo code are also a great option for saving money.

The point is: you’ll have to be smart with your budget when you choose to spend your college years in a big city.

3. You might feel alone

Big cities are busy. Everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere. You’re walking in the middle of a crowded street and no one even notices you. There are so many people around, and yet you’ll feel all alone. If you’re coming from a small place where everyone knows everyone, this may be an overwhelming scenario for you.

The good news is that the transition will be hard for all other students you meet on campus. Just connect with them. Make friends. Foreign students, in particular, are quite happy when someone approaches them. Urban universities offer so many opportunities for meeting new people, that you can’t allow yourself to feel alone.

4. The city never sleeps

It’s true: big cities never sleep.

If you come from a smaller place, where everyone is busy from 9 to 5 and rests at home after that, you’re in for a big surprise when you come to study in a super city. After 5 pm, business people don’t leave their offices to head home to their families. They usually stay overtime. Then, they go for a drink or two.

When you live in a big city, you become part of this crowd that never stops moving. You’ll be seeing people riding bikes in the middle of the night. Your entire lifestyle will change, and that means you’ll be having troubles to find the balance between studying and exploring everything the city has to offer.

5. The opportunities are countless

The big city gives you an experience like no other. There are countless of opportunities out there. This won’t be like the small-town campus, where students are so bored that they have nothing else to do but drink until they drop. Partying is an option, but it’s not the only one when you’re in a big city. There are plenty of things to do. You can go see a premiere of a blockbuster. You may go to the theatre. You may listen to alternative bands, enjoy modern art shows, or just get out there and see what opportunity meets you along the way.

You’ll also get more opportunities for internships and community work. Whatever cause you stand for, you’ll find an organization that fights for it.

The endless options may overwhelm you, but one thing is for sure: you’ll always have something to do with your time when you study in a big city. You’ll have so much to do that it will be hard to be disciplined when you have stayed in your room and study.

The megacity is a challenge. You have to be aware of all that awaits you there. This adventure will be frightening at first, but it will also be the most exciting experience of your life. 

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