“I’m really sorry, but I can’t go out tonight. I have class until eight, two tests tomorrow, and four papers to write,” I apologize to my friend, overwhelmed by a sense of deja vu. “Tomorrow?” she asks. More of the same. When can we go out? Not while class is in session. “Okay… your Reading Week?” I am incredulous, indignant, horrified at the suggestion. I have to study! Finals week? Is she kidding now? After finals? I’m going straight home, of course. And then the cycle starts over.
Why don’t my non-YU friends get it? I’m busy! Classes, tests, reports, and presentations…and on top of that, play rehearsal, writing, sending out emails for internships, and dealing with my too-imminent future. How could I possibly “take a night off” to “go see the City?!” I try my best to make time for for nightly phone calls with my friends so that I’m not entirely neglecting them, to remind them that I do care and they are important. But to give up an entire night to go out? Though my roommate has been persistently reminding me that I owe her a Broadway night, the best I have been able to manage to give her was a study “date night” at Tiberius. Pathetic, I know. But school is my priority, and that’s an acceptable excuse…Right?
A friend recently reminded me that it was time to refocus. But I don’t have time, I told her, defending why I hadn’t so much as stepped into a poetry cafe in my six months living in the heart of New York City. I don’t have time. “Don’t say that all the way through graduation, Liorah Rubenstein (yes, you deserve a shoutout) warned me sagely. “This place has so much to offer, and we’re only here for so long.”
I spent my night reflecting on those words. When I came to New York City from Chicago for my Stern Honors Day in twelfth grade, I was here for three days, and I saw three Broadway shows. I envisioned a glamorous life in Manhattan: shopping on Fifth on Friday mornings, improv shows on Saturday nights, art museums and shows every Sunday. Strolls through the parks, Starbucks dates, and discovering adorable hidden cafes during each break. How accurate was my imagination? I think that the introduction to this article can attest to my shameful lack of cultural explorations in college so far. To be fair, I made a friend drag me to the Met one Sunday morning–on my birthday.
The New Year is a time to make resolutions that will optimize life. Though January First is not a particularly Jewish date, I think the beginning of the Gregorian calendar year is as good a time as any to decide to change.
Some of you may be wondering, What does New York City have to offer? Once you make time in your crazy Yeshiva University schedule, how should you spend it? My answer: What doesn’t New York City have to offer? If you don’t want to bother with a few easy clicks of research, I don’t blame you. So here are just a few personal suggestions:
If you like performing arts…
- Madison Square Garden has concerts all the time! Just a few coming up are Billy Joel, Shakira, and The Killers. There are also sports games there, so I hear, if that’s more up your alley. Located on 34th and 8th, just past Penn Station, it’s a quick walk or Uber from the Beren Campus.
- Lincoln Center is renowned for its tasteful, beautiful array of performances. From ballet to opera, film to theatre, there is no lack of options at this Upper West Side venue. Though some events are on the pricier side, there are plenty of free shows if you look online!
- The P.I.T., People’s Improv Theater, is an amazing choice for anyone on a college budget who just wants a night of fun. Shows usually range from five to ten dollars, for an hour and a half of hilarious improvisation. (Side note: If you want to get in on the improv action, The P.I.T. actually offers low-fare classes!)
- Of course, the best for last…Broadway! The best actors and shows in the world of musical theatre are only a twenty-minute walk from Brookdale. How lucky are we–amirite?! If you have the time or patience to wait in a line by TKTS before the show, you can get really lucky with discounts. Either way, this is a cultural experience that you just cannot miss out on, no matter the cost!
If you’re more into studio art…
- The Met(ropolitan Museum of Art) has more art than it is possible to peruse properly in a month without sleeping. From modern American History paintings to remade old-time French bedrooms, The Met has an insane variety of pieces and collections–and there are new exhibits constantly. Though there is a suggested donation fee, it’s essentially “pay as much as you want to.” Even though Art History classes may turn The Met into an annoying assignment obligation, don’t forget that its beauty is found when you go voluntarily.
- The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) is another extraordinary studio art museum located in Midtown itself. It boasts of Van Gogh’s possibly most famous work, “Starry Night,” and Rousseau’s “The Sleeping Gypsy.” Admission to the first floor is free, but there is a $25 fee for the second and third levels. It’s definitely worth the money if you want the full experience, but if you don’t have so much time, the free section has a lot to see.
- The American Folk Art Museum is still on my personal bucket list. Another Upper West Side find, it is specifically dedicated to folk art and self-taught artists. Though you won’t find too many big names in art there, you may find some unique inspiration… I certainly hope to, when I finally get there!
For the bookworm intellectuals…
- The New York Public Library is the fourth largest public library in the world! Between the lions, a whole world of information is ready at your knowledge-greedy fingertips. I suggest going in with a specific agenda of something you want to learn about, since you’ll definitely be overwhelmed by potential otherwise. The library is blissfully organized with a system that will make the OCD inside you shudder with happiness. Beginning your search on the computers or with one of the librarians, you will quickly have any book you want shuttled to you on a conveyor belt. Besides being a fantastic school resource, you can stimulate your academic extracurricular drives with a New York Public Library trip.
- The Morgan Library and Museum is basically on the Beren Campus. Located on Madison and 36th, this library is a venue for all kinds of events, including historical and literary lectures and discussions. Many of these are connected to the time of year, like the Ides of March discussion that only occurs in–you guessed it, I hope–April. No, joking, it was March. There are lectures on books, poems, art, and ideas. The kicker: Every event is $15, most are $10 for members, but all are free for students! Yay for free knowledge!
If you just want a really good photo op…
- Central Park, or any big NYC park, really, is a beautiful walk to take, with plenty of stunning backdrops for your new Insta post. Go with a date, or a really good friend who will take as many shots as necessary to get that perfect pose. Bonus: It’s free! When the weather is nice, it’s the ideal picnic spot, too.
- Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum is a great opportunity to meet every celebrity you’ve ever dreamed of. Want a picture with Ed Sheeran? Katy Perry? The British royal family? They got you covered. Your idol—Einstein, Fitzgerald, Earhart—is no longer alive? No problem. Want to be on the Jimmy Fallon show? You betchya. If any of these are worth $35 to you, Madame Tussaud’s is the place to go. Oh, and for the VIP fee, you can clap President Donald Trump on the back. Or spit in his face. (Hey, this article is open-politic.)
- Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, right next door to Madame Tussaud’s, uses the opportunities for unique pictures as one of its principal selling points. Besides the virtual reality that you experience, you can also feign alternate realities in creative picture poses. Ripley’s offers a chance to show yourself off safely hanging from the Empire State Building, or with your head in a jar. Don’t want to be covered in live cockroaches? Me, neither. But see if your friends believe your wild pictures or not!
- The Red Stairs, located by Times Square, offers a view of NYC like no other. Though there are only so many angles to take your mini photoshoot from, you can also grab a bag of chocolate from M&M World across the street, sit on The Red Stairs, and watch the bustling night life of the City with a friend–and a warm jacket!
- Any store during Christmas season! Enough said! No? Besides the famous Macy’s display, so many stores go all out with decorations! This year, Saks Fifth Avenue had an enthralling Snow White and the Seven Dwarves moving window display, stretching the entire block of Saks. And right across from it is, of course, the renowned Rockefeller Center tree. Of course we don’t believe in Christmas, but lights are magical and make a spectacular background.
For people more mathematically or scientifically inclined…
Okay, I don’t actually know anything that can help you there. But get up and find what there is to do! What I can guarantee is that there is no lack of options!
These are your years. You’re in school, in Washington Heights with a free shuttle downtown, or in freaking Midtown! Don’t let any more time pass you by. Make a bucket list. Use some of these suggestions, ask others, look online… How many years too late is it to say? YOLO!