New to NYC?

There can be quite a large learning curve involved in getting acclimated to New York City if you have, like me, moved cross-country to enter your degree program. In this post, I’m not going to follow the cliché of telling you how expensive it is to live here, but rather some of the little tips, tricks, and sweet deals I’ve found in my 3 years of living here.

Things to consider for new students:

  • Most graduate students at the GC wind up living in neighborhoods in Brooklyn, such as Bedstuy, Crown Heights, Bushwick, as well as East Harlem in Manhattan, or even Astoria, Queens. The biggest challenges for many of us are figuring out the logistics of moving, but then where needed services are in our respective neighborhoods. If you’re like me, you may live in a food desert. It’s not that there aren’t plentiful grocery stores, but many of them lack quality meat and produce. For example, in my experience, it is not unusual to purchase meat that goes bad within 24 hours. This can be pretty disgusting. Besides incorporating more vegetarian meals into my diet, I’ve resorted to shopping when I happen to be near better grocery stores in Manhattan or even ordering food from online grocery services. This is expensive and makes me feel bad, but if planned right (and googling coupon codes) you can find more edible products.  For great recipes, tips on where to find ingredients, and a cost per meal calculator, check out the blog Not Eating Out in New York.
  • Most apartments don’t have onsite laundry, so you’ll have to find a laundromat in the neighborhood. Although I have many colleagues that use drop off services, I find this to be an unnecessary expenditure that I just cannot afford. I do my own laundry and it isn’t bad. Door-to-door it takes about an hour, the laundromat in my neighborhood has air conditioning and free wi-fi, so I’m able to get some of my reading done while I wait and it turns out to be fairly efficient.
  • Getting around in NYC can be challenging if you’re new.  Having a smart phone makes this so much easier!  Here’s Gothamist’s list of the best transit apps, another list from NYC GO (the city’s tourism and travel office) and finally, MTA’s comprehensive list of apps for the region.  New Jersey dwellers should know there are PATH train apps out there, as well as a New Jersey Transit app.
  • I recommend that new students get acquainted with the Doctoral Students’ Council. This is the student council for masters and PhD students at the Graduate Center. They help provide a number of services to students, such as yoga and pilates classes, discount movie tickets, and free legal consultations. The DSC also throws several social events for students during the year which include plenty of free adult beverages. And they usually hold a finals comfort station at the end of each semester that includes a free chair massage for students! Their website has tons of additional information to help students.
  • Register to vote and find out Who Represents Me?
  • There isn’t a lack of entertainment options in New York City, but on a graduate student budget, you have to play it smart. Some free options include checking out the Public Art Fund, the weekly Thursday night gallery hop in SoHo and Chelsea in the summer (most galleries usually offer free wine, but get there right when it opens because it disappears quickly), such as MoMA and the Whitney.  Other museums are open late one night a week and admission then is often free.  The GC’s around the corner neighbor, the Morgan Library and Museum, offers free admission from 7-9 PM on Fridays.

– Adam McMahon