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last minute decision making: LA or NYC?


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I apologize if I am posting this in the wrong forum, but this is rather urgent and I would appreciate any kind of insight. Thank you for reading in advance, guys. 


I had decided to attend USC School of Cinematic Arts for the critical studies program. They have offered me a TA-ship that is pretty much renewable every semester until I graduate. This includes tuition remission, a stipend (not great but very helpful), and insurance. 


I recently got a call from NYU Tisch; I did get the official admission letter, but the scholarship that they had offered then was not good enough for me, so I kind of forgot about it. The director called me the other day and told me that I am now getting a full tuition remission fellowship. I only have a couple of days to decide. 


Obviously the deal that I am getting from USC is so generous, so great. Moving to LA seems so daunting to me. Moving to NYC, not as much, or at least not in the same way. I am an international student based in Chicago, and I don't drive (I don't plan to either). I know that people do manage without a car in LA but the lifestyle change is a really scary one to think about. Also the general culture of filmmaking and the arts there in my head are just linked to Hollywood and heavily commercialized. These are bad excuses but to simply put it, the bottom line is, I don't feel comfortable moving to LA. Although I am going to be in a critical studies / film studies program, I hope to be making shorts on my own -- my work has been experimental political documentaries, and I feel like I will find the NYC folks and culture more suited for the kind of things I want to do. 


Attending Tisch is such an attractive option, and so is living in NYC. I have a good network of friends and acquaintances in NYC so it feels more familiar. But having very little funding available, especially when another great school from another great city (despite what I've written above, LA must still be an awesome city and awesome people live there too) is paying me, NYC just seems not affordable. If I do go, I'll have to manage by working my way through waitressing and babysitting -- which is at the very least difficult and probably nearly impossible, no?


So.. is NYC/ NYU Tisch worth the 2 years of busting my ass? Is it worth giving up USC?

OR will LA/USC work out for me?  


Deep down I think going to LA makes more sense at this point, because it still really is a great city. A part of me wishes I never heard from Tisch about the new offer… 


Thanks for reading everyone. Any insight would be very. much. appreciated. 

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I encountered a similar scenario a few months ago when deciding where to attend. For my undergrad, my decisions were what I call more "emotional" so I made myself pick the "rational" choice for grad school (which included better funding & more affordable living), and I'm so happy that I did! 


Your situation seems a little similar, so I'm inclined to say LA. The wording of your post seems to be leaning that way even though you are still undecided. 


Best of luck to you! :)

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I'd go where the funding is - particularly if you need the time to shoot and edit films, it's probably not doable if you're working part-time as well.


It's true, LA is a series of interconnected cities and villages, and not having a car will limit your ability to move from one to another easily. On the other hand, traffic sucks, and there are certain disadvantages to owning a car and having a daily commute. I'd offer different advice if you were going to UCLA, but USC is closer to downtown, has a rail line connected it to downtown and, so far, one part of West LA. I know a lot of international students who survive in LA, and even flourish, without owning a car: there's buses everywhere that make the sprawl somewhat manageable, there's zipcars and cheap car rentals for weekends or important trips, and there's lyft and uber as well. People who don't drive make the effort to find apartments in more walkable areas like Silverlake, Midcity, Hollywood, even Chinatown. I admit that biking isn't what it should be, compared to other cities, but it's getting better, there are more lanes and bike routes than before.


I can't speak too much about the film scene, but LA has a great art scene, so it's not completely commercialized by Hollywood. And undoubtedly there will be more connections to independent film and documentaries through USC.


Good luck with whichever program you choose. I just wanted to provide a counterpoint for LA, it's a great city once you get a feel for it. :)

Edited by bakalamba
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Not having money, especially in NYC is a big problem. My sister goes to NYU and my parents yell at her every month about the credit card bills and all she can say is "New York is too f****** expensive." If USC is giving you money to live comfortably while attending a great program, then go to LA.

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