College Corner: The New School, Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts

“Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School offers an experience designed for fiercely independent scholars. You will map out your own liberal arts curriculum. You will immerse yourself in primary texts rather than textbooks, engage in small seminars rather than large lectures, work closely with liberal arts school faculty, and be part of a community committed to social justice. At Lang, you will experience intellectual freedom and scholarly rigor in a university setting in New York City. Lang students ask the big questions, challenge assumptions, and study a range of disciplines at The New School. Learn more about the opportunities available to you at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts.”

Donghee Eim is currently a student at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, majoring in Journalism+Design. He is in the heart of Manhattan in Greenwich Village. His work in photography can be found on his Instagram and his website. Lithium writer Wen Hsiao virtually sat down with Don via e-mail to put you in the shoes of one of the most prestigious art school's students.  

Tell us about what you're studying!
Right now I'm working on several projects. One is a group project on the history of voicemail and how the human voice is a powerful way of documenting memories and emotions. Another is [about] the history of the Korean conflict and defining the role of the American-South Korean alliance on international policy. My senior capstone project [redefines] the term 'dessert' to show how it has become a systemic, socioeconomic, racial issue of food oppression in New York City.

All very intense and exciting stuff!

Tell us a little about yourself!
My friends call me Don, and as a dedicated visual storyteller, I am never without my camera! I'm currently in an elaborate love triangle with New York City and the rest of the world, and on 'calmer' days you'll find me anywhere where there is good coffee and company. I actually transferred to The New School two years ago. Before this I had taken sometime off from school rediscovering my interests, and before that I was studying biology at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. After graduating, I want become a international-conflict journalist and use my talents to tell more compelling stories though photo and video.

What do you think is the best part of studying at The New School?
I'd say the best part of studying here is that you're not really 'studying', but actually doing work that will go towards enhancing your portfolio and building your career. As an added bonus, you're working within a community of like minds and industry professionals who will help you expand your skill set, further develop your interests, and even help you realize what you want to pursue.

New York City, let's talk about it. What's the best and worst part of the city?
The worst part about New York is that the cost of living here is ridiculously expensive. The fictitious characters from Friends and How I Met Your Mother had set unrealistic expectations for what city life would actually be like for me. I should have known better, and living here really shattered some glass on the stark realities of adulting and living on your own.

My soul and ego definitely took a beating for the first few months of living here, but on that same note, the best part of living in New York is that this city will mold you into a smarter, tougher, more resilient individual. It took me some time, but I've mastered the art of thrifting, learned how to juggle school, work, and my social life without having to cry over my bank account, and most importantly, taught myself that being alone doesn't necessarily mean that I'm lonely.

If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

Was the whole process of getting into TNS pain free?
In retrospect, the whole college application process was a breeze. Believe me, I remember having to rush to meet application deadlines, struggling to get my portfolio together, and trying to get my essays as close to 'perfect' as I possibly could. I had to do it twice! And both times were equally stressful.

No matter what school you're applying to, the entire process is going to be tedious and nerve wracking, but it's honestly going to be easiest part of your college career!

What are the students at TNS like?
You will never find a more diverse, fantastically weird group of personalities anywhere else. We are a group of self-motivated, passionate individuals who have come together because of our interests in the arts, and are able to freely express our desires to design, create, be socially aware and have conversations about things that are important to us.

How are the professors?
All the professors at The New School are industry professionals in their respective fields. Teaching for them is just a side hustle; even though they have actual jobs outside of The New School, they choose to be here because they actually want to teach. I've had professors who work at The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Etsy, Politico, and Vox Media, and it's absolutely incredible that I get to work alongside people who I secretly nerd out to on a weekly basis.

Although I don't love every single professor I've ever had, the ones at this school are some of the most impassioned and dedicated individuals I will ever meet.

When I applied to the Journalism+Design program at Eugene Lang College at The New School, I wrote about my life story: How I went from studying biology and wanting to be a doctor, to dropping out after two years and not knowing what I wanted to do, and finally to how I became a visual creative who wanted to do something meaningful with his talents.

How is the social scene at TNS? Was it easy to ease in and make friends?
It's tough to find any sort of 'social scene' at The New School because it's a city school with no real campus. Unlike campus schools that have a quad or even an open space for students to gather, The New School just has the cafeteria and the sidewalk. It's because of this that making friends here isn't the easiest thing to do (unless you to live in on-campus housing). Everyone is always in a rush to get from class to class, form class to work, and from work back to his or her apartment.

This is why I think students should always dorm for at least one year (if they can afford it), because you'll be coming home to a very like-minded peers every day and it's never a boring community. Otherwise, you really do have to make an effort and put yourself out there by joining a club or going out to apartment parties. As a transfer student, I did have to try a little harder, but it's never impossible to find friends. Some of my closest friends at The New School are the ones I met in classes, also the ones who work with at the school paper.

What do you want to say to the upcoming students that may be applying to TNS?
Just do it. If you're applying here then you clearly have your mind set on pursuing something within the arts. The New School is a extremely open community, welcoming or all walks of live; no matter where you're from or what you're into, there is a place for you here.

In terms of academia, The New School will provide you with the same level of higher education as other schools, but you will be taught to approach everything with a creative lens. You'll think you know something one minute, and the next minute you'll begin to question if you ever knew it in the first place. Be prepared to be constantly challenged by your professors and your peers; it's one of the most frustrating feelings in the world, but I have learned to thrive from it.

What do you think is a stereotype for TNS students?
Honestly, we're too busy stereotyping ourselves in each division that we don't know what people think of New School students as a whole.

What I think is that people probably stereotype The New School as just Parsons, where all the cool, artsy, fashion students go; but this university is more than that. We've got other schools like Eugene Lang College, the College of Performing Arts, NSSR, and Milano, as well as other majors like graphic design, business, engineering, creative writing, jazz, architecture, journalism, photography, dance, illustration, and much, much more.

If anything, we should be stereotyped a collective of cool, artsy, and passionate nerds who are unafraid to pursue what we believe in.

How would you describe your experience at Parsons? 
Taking classes at Parsons has definitely enriched and enhanced the way I approach my work as a modern journalist. The experience is definitely different from what I am used to because the school wants you to think like a designer, and it is so refreshing to be around peers who all have the same interests as you, unlike high school.

I can honestly say, having had the opportunity to go to both a traditional campus school and The New School, I can't see myself graduating from anywhere else.

By Wen Hsiao

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