In 1981, a 20-year-old Barack Obama, commonly known as Barry, arrives in New York City to attend Columbia University as a transfer student from Occidental College. Unable to contact his expected roommate, Will, Barry spends the night in the streets. The next day, Barry succeeds in contacting Saleem, a man he met at a party a few months back, who welcomes him in his apartment. Later, Barry meets his roommate Will and they both begin to live in their off-campus apartment on 109th street. As they are walking to class, Barry meets his neighbors when one of them asks for a cigarette. In class, Barry is engaged as a student and participates in classroom debates about philosophy and American society. While in New York, he behaves as a man apart from everyone, not sure of what he has to do to feel accepted. During his political science class, Barry meets Charlotte, a nice girl who seems to have an interest for debates. When he is not in class, Barry is playing basketball.