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New York, New York

‘To Europe she was America, to America she was the gateway of the earth. But to tell the story of New York would be to write a social history of the world.’ – H.G. Wells

For such a small geographic area, New York has a long and fascinating history that extends back to when the local Indian tribes first inhabited this area. Today, virtually every culture is represented on the streets and in the cafes, allowing any international student to feel at home in ‘the city that never sleeps’.

Located on the East Atlantic Coast of the United States, New York stands at the mouth of the Hudson River, made up of five boroughs separated by waterways and connected by bridges or tunnels. Brooklyn and Queens occupy the western portion of Long Island, Staten Island and Manhattan are completely on their own land mass, while the Bronx, to the North, remains attached to New York State mainland.

By the time it had become the US capital in 1790 (admittedly for only a year!), New York had become the largest city in America. Mass immigration continued to swell this original ‘melting pot’, and after World War II, many African Americans from the South, Puerto Ricans and Latin Americans migrated to the city. Today, the boroughs of New York reflect this – for example, Brooklyn is a land of many neighborhoods, each with its own strong ethnic flavor. Queens has split itself into different ethnic areas that feel very much like the home countries of those who live there.

However, New York is far more than just the sum of its parts. Whether you are looking for a place to stay, a place to study or a place to shop, New York has everything you could wish for – and more.

When out and about in the city, there is much to see. The neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan are huddled so closely together than you can walk through them in an hour, but you won’t want to: a shoppers paradise, it also offers great entertainment, with its jazz cellars, coffee houses and boutiques. For international culinary delights, visit Little Italy or Chinatown; for cultural heritage, one of the many museums, such as the National Museum of the American Indian, or the Guggenheim. Alternatively, if you are determined to part with your hard-earned dollars, visit Fifth Avenue in the heart of Manhattan. When you think of business in the USA, the image of the World Trade Centre and Wall Street spring to mind - or visit Macy’s, the world’s largest department store, with its own Thanksgiving Day Parade. An urban centre for world-renowned entertainment, you can hear music from any tradition, from the latest chart-toppers at Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall or the Palladium, to jazz beat, rock and folk in the clubs of Greenwich Village.

Of course, there are also the universally famous sites: take an elevator to the top of the Empire State Building, overlooking the city; marvel at the pulsating neon of bustling Times Square; take a carriage ride around Central Park – and of course, see the majestic Statue of Liberty, symbol of hope to generations of Americans. There are many tours that encompass all of these major sites, travelling by either bus, subway or even helicopter!

The history of New York has been the focus of much study, and is the perfect place for students from around the world to continue in the same vein. There is perhaps the largest concentration of educational opportunities of any city in the world, with numerous colleges and universities offering undergraduate and graduate programs in every conceivable field, so it is certainly best to be sure of exactly what you wish to study before embarking on a journey to the ‘Big Apple’.

However, it must be said that living in New York can be tough. Because of the amount of people, it can seem like a shock to those coming to the city for the first time. New Yorkers can be both fast-talking and sarcastic, and it would perhaps be best to speak with friends or relatives in the area first, with even a preparatory visit to the city, in order to check what you are getting in to before moving there! No matter where you go, though, you will be certain to find others who have something in common with yourself – language, country, even home town – who can help you to fit in and become a New Yorker yourself.

It would take you a lifetime to see everything that New York has to offer, but that has never stopped the vast amounts of newcomers who visited and returned to stay. It is this fact that has made New York the vast metropolis that it is today.


 

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