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Studying in New York City

You’ve probably heard New York City referred to as ‘the Big Apple’, the place where you can ‘do it your way’, and ‘the city that never sleeps’. Well, a recent education supplement to the New York Times was headlined ‘New York City: The City Where Education Never Stops’ - nothing could be more true!

If you choose to study in New York, you’ve made a great choice. This capital of the world is itself one huge university-without-walls. Walk down almost any street, and you may hear fifteen different languages spoken. Sit at the counter in any of the city’s thousands of coffee shops and you’ll meet people from all walks of life – the woman eating a croissant beurre next to you might be a constructional worker, the man smearing his bagel with cream cheese might be a medieval scholar, and your waiter might be a performance artist. If you decide on a Thursday night that you want to go to the opera, then listen to some live rap music, and later dance to some Brazilian samba, it’s all there for you. Admire some of the world’s greatest art seven days a week, join the thousands of in-line skaters in Central Park after class, chant with Tibetan monks on weekends, go to the beach, watch the sunset from 105 floors above the ground - in New York City, ‘your way’ can be almost any way.

Of course, let’s not forget about the serious stuff. Studying in New York is not all about running down to Chinatown at four in the morning for dumplings, or shopping until you drop at Bloomingdale’s. New York offers perhaps the widest and most concentrated array of educational opportunities that you’ll find anywhere in the world. There are numerous colleges and universities with undergraduate and graduate programs in every field, community or junior colleges, professional institutes, and continuing education programs. As elsewhere in the United States, there are state and city public schools, as well as private schools; public schools are considerably less expensive, but you may need to meet certain residence requirements to attend them.

Where and what you decide to study in New York depends on your educational needs and goals. With so many schools to choose from, it’s a good idea to speak to someone who has studied in NYC to get some recommendations. Another source of information is Peterson’s guide to Four Year Colleges and ‘An Overview of Graduate and Professional Programs’. These huge books give you information on every aspect of study throughout the United States, with understandably huge sections on New York area schools. Ask at your local library.

Naturally, many foreign students need to improve their English before entering college. Three of the best programs in New York are the Hunter College International English Language Institute, located on Manhattan’s fashionable upper East Side (www.hunter.cuny.edu/ieli), New York University’s American Language Institute in the trendy East Village (www.sce.nyu/ali), and Columbia University’s American Language Program set in the literary and artsy Upper West Side (www.columbia.edu/cu/ssp/alp). You should also investigate English studies at schools of special interest for your future career, such as the Fashion Institute of Technology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Baruch College (for business), or the School of Visual Arts.

Just as studying in New York is not all fun and games, it’s also not all about academics. There are various practical realities you’ll need to deal with, including finding a place to live, health-care, safety, negotiating the subways, and general ‘culture shock’. New York is certainly exciting, but it can also be a tough place in which to live. New Yorkers are generally very helpful, but they also have a reputation of being quite fast and – yes, as a native New Yorker, I admit it – sarcastic. This may take a little getting used to at first. New York is now considered one of the safest cities in the US, but the adage ‘better safe than sorry’ is always good to bear in mind here. Health care can be costly, and finding a place to live may be difficult and expensive. A studio apartment in Manhattan may cost $800-1000 per month, and even then you may look out onto a brick wall. Most students choose to live with roommates, or in some of the other neighbourhoods outside of Manhattan such as Astoria, Queens, or Brooklyn. Again, it’s best to speak with a friend or relative who knows the city. You’ll also find that at whatever school you choose to attend, there will be helpful international student advisors to walk you through all the ins and outs of life and study in the Big Apple.

While you’re at it, you might want to check out the website: http://www.newyork.sidewalk.com where you can find out everything about current movies, restaurants, events, arts and music, places to go, and sports. You can even arrange tickets to a Broadway show, ready and waiting for you on that first night in New York city - a night I’m sure you’ll never forget.

Don Linder
Assistant Director
IELI, Hunter College


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