Whether you´re an American or international student moving to New York City for the first time, you better prepare yourself for a radical change. With a population of 20,464,000, New York is the 8th largest city (by population) in the world. Between the city´s major universities (NYU, Columbia and the CUNY schools, for example), over half a million students flood New York´s streets everyday. If you´re willing to take on the crowds and the hustle and bustle of the city life, you´ll see that the Big Apple is home to the country´s top museums, restaurants, music venues, theaters and much more! Life in the city is exhilarating, so go for it! – But before you do, ROOSTERGNN offers five tips on how to successfully navigate the colossal metropolis as a student.
1. Budget yourself
This first tip is the most important. In New York, your average cocktail costs $14, your daily cappuccino, $4.50, and your average dinner out at the local diner costs around $25. Not to mention the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is a barbarious $3,017. Budgeting is key to living in NYC in general, even more so if you´re a student.
First, find cheap housing. With all of the activities you have going on around you, you should save your money for the fun things and not invert everything you have on your tiny studio apartment. Look up student housing or residency options, for example those that EHS offers. You´ll find cheaper options and also get to know other students.
Additionally, try to not spend too much money on food. As I mentioned previously, any food or drink– from coffee to alcohol to café fare is insanely expensive in NYC. Invest in a coffee machine rather than going to Starbucks and head to your local grocery store rather than going out to eat. In order to not spend as much money when you go out at night, buy beer, wine or cocktail ingredients at the store and invite your friends over for drinks- you´ll all end up spending less and having just as much fun.
Lastly, take advantage of discount student tickets offered for theaters, concerts and movies. Visit StudentRush.org to check out some of the discounts available. You should also take advantage of the free activities available in the city – see RGNN´s list here.
2. Know your way around
It´s important to get to know your neighborhood and the city in general. Manhattan is designed on a grid plan, and you´ll find that it isn´t too difficult to navigate and have a sense of direction, as many of the avenues and streets correspond with numbers (South to North = ascending numbers, West to East = descending numbers). However, if you aren´t paying attention to the map, you may find yourself in a more dangerous neighborhood just by crossing the street. Be sure to research or ask around to inform yourself on the safer and more dangerous neighborhoods so that you don´t wind up lost in a seedy part of town.
A tip from my personal experience, if you´re new to the city, be sure to map out where you´re going on Google Maps before entering the subway. You rarely have cell service while underground and after exiting to the street again, it can be quite difficult to orient yourself. If you have a general idea of where you need to go and how to get there before entering and exiting the subway, you´ll be able to navigate around much more easily.
You should also attempt to get to know your neighborhood and the zones close to where you´re living and studying. This is where you´ll get to know your neighbors and find your favorite local hangout spots. Times Square and Midtown is fun to get to know when you first arrive, but you´ll soon realize that the real gems are right around the corner from where you´re living/studying- not tourist central. Living in such a huge city, you´ll feel more connected and at ease knowing one area of town really well.
3. Take advantage of study spots
Forget studying in Starbucks! Manhattan has around 50 public libraries where you can bring your own coffee and stay as long as you´d like. They have free wifi and offer quiet study spaces so that you can really focus and prepare for that big exam coming up. Visit the New York Public Library page to find library locations and search for the library closest to you. You can additionally check out this article on the blog Guest of a Guest to discover “8 hidden escapes perfect for studying and working in NYC.”
4. Keep calm and carry on
Life in New York can be very stressful. Don´t let the crazy crowds bring you down! Take a deep breath and enjoy your experience in the city. If you´re stressed out from all of the classes and work you have, take a stroll down the High Line or through one of New York´s many parks. You can also find peace at some serene spots around the city such as the United Nations Meditation Room or the garden at the Church of St. Luke in Greenwich Village. Take a “free” yoga class (donate as much as you´d like) at Yoga to the People or take part in one of the free fitness classes sponsored by NYC Parks. Or at the end of the day, go for that drink at the bar or out to dinner with friends. Treat yourself once in a while or go out to celebrate with friends after acing that big exam you had. Budgeting may be important, but happiness is so much more important to NYC living.