Starting college

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“After 18” is an ongoing series written by graduates from the class of 2014. This week’s dispatch is the first from Jesse Herman.

I have been going to SUNY Albany for the past semester. It has been quite a ride. First, let me tell you about the city of Albany. To put this in perspective for a Vineyard resident, the city of Albany is the New Bedford of New York. I say this because I have looked up the statistics for both cities. They have virtually the same population, and the same crime rate. I chose Albany because I thought that it would be cool to live in the state capital, and that it was close to the real New York, and Boston (and I visited both twice). However, it is almost impossible to get to Martha’s Vineyard in one day from Albany. I’ve come back to Martha’s Vineyard four times; I have had to spend the night off-Island twice. SUNY Albany has a break that all Massachusetts schools don’t have, and that is for the Jewish high holidays. You get a break as long as the Thanksgiving break in Martha’s Vineyard Public School. I didn’t plan on going home, but even the non- Jews were going home so I went home too.

I have gotten good grades so far. I currently have a 3.25. I did drop a math class. Nonetheless, it is still a great GPA. I am planning on transferring, preferably to Florida. Therefore, I work harder. The classes have not been terribly difficult, except for one. Going to class made me realize something. Nowadays, the people who go to college don’t necessarily deserve to go to college. I once read my grandpa’s high school yearbook. The people who went to college were the people who got good grades and worked hard in high school, and they all ended up going to City College because it was free. Nowadays, if you have the money you can go to college. There is a college tailored to your intelligence, and your financial situation, somewhere in the country. There are so many kids in my lectures that will just play Candy Crush or go on Facebook during class — every class, too. I’ve been guilty of playing games in class sometimes; I know I’m not perfect. It just seems like most people don’t care about schoolwork. I’m sure my school is not special, I am sure most students at large public schools are apathetic about their schoolwork to some degree.

One of the great things about my school is the diversity. I have met every single kind of person. There are many different cultures, ethnicities, and religions at my school. It is very common to hear Chinese being spoken in my dorm. I live in a 21-floor tower, on the 19th floor. We have a beautiful view of the Albany skyline, which for a skyline is not terrible. There are nice people in my school, and there are people who are not nice. The school has 13,000 people. That’s more than four Edgartowns, and almost an entire Martha’s Vineyard. I do like the big-school feel, but I don’t like where the school is located.

The main problem with Albany is the crime. There is a police blotter in our school newspaper, identical to that of The MVTimes, with the same types of crimes listed. However, we also get crime alerts in our email. There was a mugging in a park. Then there were three days of crime: Tuesday, a city bus got shot at; Wednesday, someone was burning chairs in the uptown campus; and Thursday, there was a shooting near the uptown campus on Washington Avenue, a major thoroughfare. You have to be vigilant in Albany: It’s nothing like Martha’s Vineyard.

What I have learned is that upstate New York really is not the same thing as New York, N.Y. There isn’t much going on in upstate New York; it is cold and sad. I once took a video of myself walking down the street in Albany to show to my Martha’s Vineyard friends because they haven’t lived in a small city. They commented that the skies matched the sidewalks. Albany is city living to some degree, but it certainly is not city living at its finest. It is pretty much a third-rate New York City. I miss being safe all the time, and I miss the cleanliness. When I go back to Martha’s Vineyard, I notice that the people are even cleaner. To sum up: Albany is just 22 square miles of the alley behind Cumberland Farms.