This is my third year attending Stern, and so I’ve met most of the different types of people around here, and one thing I’ve realized about much of the student body is this: They do not take advantage of the excitement and adventures New York City has to offer. It’s no secret that every first semester on the Stern campus is a difficult adjustment, whether you’re coming from Harova, Bar Ilan, or straight from high school. You come with expectations of a “college experience,” complete with a sprawling campus and frisbee playing. You expect a ton of diversity set against an equally unique background. Not to mention that the boys campus is on the other tip of Manhattan, which makes it even harder to meet them and make friends. But though we may lack some of the more typical college campus elements, something that I always remind newcomers about is our wonderful location. “But we live in New York City! There is so much to do around here.” Usually, the response is, “I always hear that, but what is there to actually do?” or, “Yeah, but I don’t really know how to get around.” At this point, I usually show them my Instagram to explain all the fun activities that my life has to offer and they follow me. But the student doesn’t really leave with anything really useful other than my (shameless plug) beautiful avocado toast ‘gram. It is for all these new arrivals that I want to share how New York City can be both exciting and accessible to everyone.
When I first joined the Stern community, my mom presented me with Inside New York, a tourist book that featured the various neighborhoods and landmarks in my new home away from home. My friends and I leafed through it one Shabbat afternoon, and discovered just how much there is to do. It seems like for every neighborhood, there is a park, museum, and restaurant. The Upper West Side has Central Park, Amsterdam Burger, and the Museum of Natural History. The Flatiron District has Madison Square Park, Juice Press, and Baked by Melissa. Even Harlem, a closer destination to Wilf campus, has the beautiful Riverside Park, and lots of nice coffee shops to study in. One of my friend’s favorites is called The Chipped Cup. Ultimately, it’s worth it to buy Inside New York or a similar book in order to fully understand the value the city offers.
Your social media outlets are also a great place to find fun things to do. Facebook is all about showcasing events right now and it’s very easy to search for them. If you look on the left column of the home page, there’s a tab called “Events” and you can look at everything happening in and around your area, and even filter results for different types of events and locations. Facebook will notify you both a week and a day before the event so that you can plan accordingly. My friends know all too well my love for bombarding their newsfeeds with events I’ve found on Facebook.
There are plenty of websites and articles that update daily with fun events that you wouldn’t otherwise hear about. Theskint.com is a great example, with multiple events per hour, absolutely filled to the brim with stand up comedy, tours, movie marathons, flea markets, and more. You can also just search “fun things to do this weekend” on Google and you’ll get tons of articles to choose from. Really, try it!
A lot of the options are even cost effective. ThePitNYC is a comedy studio just a 15 minute walk from the Beren Campus that has shows on the weekends and tickets for students that are only $1 with a student ID. If you venture a bit further downtown, The Uncommons is a board game cafe where you can drink tea and play Settlers with your friends for $10. Near the Meatpacking District there’s a puppy store called Citipups Chelsea, with tons of adorable puppies. If you see a dog that you like, the workers will take it out for you so can play with it—and it’s free!
But many of my best adventures have actually come about through mere exploring. I love leaving my dorm, choosing a direction, and just walking to see what I can find. The people here are so different and interesting, and you always end up running into a street dance group, a cute set of pets, or a beautiful park. One Sunday, a friend and I were walking downtown, and saw a really cool looking lobby with sculptures inside and walked in. The man at the desk told us that the building was a hotel and there was a nice rooftop too. We asked to see it, and he kindly led us to the elevator and pressed the top button, opening up to the coolest decorated restaurant, with a beautiful view and a pool. Turns out, hotels often let non-guests visit during the daytime just to see the roof. This one was in the Lower East side and called Hotel Indigo. A closer option I would recommend would be the Gansevoort Hotel near Schottenstein, which has a great view of the Empire State Building.
I spend a lot of time on all these avenues, whether it be screenshotting places to eat for brunch next, hitting “interested” to all those Facebook events around town, or scrolling through edmtrain.com for tickets to a concert. These sources have truly bettered my experience here at Stern and I urge all new-comers (and oldtimers) to at least check out one of them, because this city is filled with tourists from all over the world and we are lucky enough to call it our home for four sweet years.