March 7, 2022

Tisch Center students Nicole Schwartz and Martin Ma: Our Freshman Experience

Nicole Schwartz and Martin Ma (both majoring in Hotel and Tourism Management) are freshmen at the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality. In this post, they tell us about their freshmen year experience and how they decided on NYU.

Where are you both from?

Nicole: I’m from just outside of Toronto, Canada.

Martin: I’m from Qingdao, China, but I went to high school in New Jersey, so not too far from the city.

Can you tell us a little bit about your first year at NYU? How different was it from high school, and was it what you expected?

Martin: For me, it’s not as different as I imagined it to be. I did a tour of NYU when I was in high school and I got the impression that it was a very inclusive place where I’d get to meet a lot of different kinds of people. When I got here, it proved me right! I was able to connect with a lot of people right off the bat, sharing my passions both inside and outside the classroom.

Nicole: I think the stereotype “the city is your campus” lives up to being true. It feels like you can have a certain independence in the city, but also being surrounded by people who are going through the same transition as you are gives me more of that campus feel.  There really is quite a sense of community. I thought coming from a small school, that NYU would feel massive, and sometimes it does. However, being in the School of Professional Studies helps me to feel like I have more of a community and I love that.  Don’t be discouraged by it being a big school!

What is it really like going to school in New York City?

Nicole: It can be cold and it snows, but I’m pretty used to that! Transportation is really efficient, everyone always has amazing food recommendations, and networking is huge; you really can meet people everywhere. There are always connections…you will know someone through something, especially because the city is so full of NYU students and alumni.  There’s never a shortage of things to see, things to do, people to meet, and food to try!

Martin: I agree with Nicole. There are so many pros about living in New York City—Broadway shows, museums, and the food! There are so many places to explore, being in a city so rich in culture and history. It’s a great place to figure out where your interests lie and what your passions really are, because there really are endless opportunities. And of course, the food…being a Hotel and Tourism Management major I have a special interest in this area; you name the type of food and I have a great place you can go. 

How did you decide on your major?

Nicole: This is one of the most fascinating industries. It’s always changing… and that’s something I love.  There’s always a possibility for innovation, and that was a huge driving factor for me. Throughout my life, whenever I’d travel, I would always want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at hotels, restaurants, etc., so I started to learn more about the hospitality industry. I love working with others and it really is so teamwork oriented.  You can also go anywhere with your work, which is amazing.

Martin: I developed an interest in the hospitality industry when I was a kid because I was inspired by my grandma, who is an amazing, female entrepreneur in the hospitality industry in China. I remember how her diligence and ideas about teamwork really inspired me and made me develop an interest in the industry. I love the idea of serving others—I aspire to always put others’ needs in front of my own and I believe that’s what the Hotel and Tourism Industry is striving for.

What are some of your favorite classes?

Martin: The first one that jumps out to me is Tourism Impacts and Issues with Dr. Lynn Minnaert.  Coming into my first class with her, I knew this was the place I wanted to be. 

Nicole: I agree! That was one of my favorites, along with Lodging Industry Structures and Strategies with Dr. Bjorn Hanson. Getting that first little taste of feeling like this is the right place was a really awesome feeling. Every class, I would just find myself in awe and falling more and more in love with this industry, even though they were just intro classes!

Any advice you'd give to high school seniors deciding on if they want to come to NYU?

Martin: I’d say two things. 1. It’s New York City! You can’t go wrong! And 2. This is one of the most diverse communities I’ve ever been involved in.  Just by talking to people, you get to learn all about their views of the world and benefit from it.

Nicole: I’m a very logical person, so I think it’s important to consider all the facts when you’re choosing a school. But at the end of the day, don’t forget to put your emotion into it, and listen to your gut! NYU was definitely the right choice for me.

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