The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

DI Voices | A move to Manhattan

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Amartya Nalluri

Since I’ve gotten to the University of Illinois, I’ve answered a plethora of icebreakers: What’s my major? Where do I live? What’s my favorite food?

But one of the questions that often stumps me is simple: Where are you from?

Over the summer, I moved from Naperville, Illinois to Manhattan — a drastic yet exciting change. Naperville is, for better or worse, extremely simple. It’s a safe community, and the fairly large number of Asian families meant that I never felt excluded or isolated. 

But if you’re from Illinois, you know of Naperville for different reasons. The residents are often wealthy, arrogant and, worst of all, tell others that they’re from Chicago (Naperville being an hour southwest of the city does little to deter the commonplace nature of this statement among Napervillians).

Even Bob Odenkirk, Saul Goodman himself, disliked his time in Naperville as a teen.

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I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to live in Naperville, but there has always been a part of me that hoped for more. So a move to the heart of one of the biggest cities in the world seemed like a leap in the right direction.

But I quickly found myself struggling to fit in the city’s rhythm. On my first full day in New York City, I set out to a dessert cafe in Hell’s Kitchen called Bibble & Sip, which I definitely recommend if you ever get the chance. I walked about 15 blocks to get there and took the food 15 blocks back to our apartment.

While I enjoyed the walk, I wasn’t prepared for the loneliness I was suddenly experiencing. Leaving behind my friends was a painful experience and my new environment surprisingly did little to comfort it. While I was surrounded by thousands of people, constantly moving in a sea of sounds, sights and colors, I was still my own individual within the noise, which felt isolating.

I still find myself telling people that I’m from Naperville, just because it seems right. I went to high school there, I know a lot of the people there and most of my memories are there too. But I worry that by doing so, I also limit my ability to enjoy New York to the fullest.

I’m still stuck in another city just because of memories when I can make new ones here as well.

While I still struggle with loneliness, I’ve learned to spend more time with my family and try to enjoy what experiences I have, rather than lamenting those I have lost. If I spend all my time in the city thinking about my friends back home, I lose the benefit that the city brings with it: a fresh start.

Moving is tough, no matter the circumstances. But taking advantage of the time you have is more important than lamenting that which you’ve lost. I’m looking forward to my future in New York, and I hope that I’ll be able to truly experience it to the fullest.

 

Amartya is a freshman in LAS.

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