A Concrete Jungle Playground: Yeshiva University’s Campus Beyond

By: Avery Horovitz  |  October 16, 2018

By Avery Horovitz

New York City is one like no other. The quintessential concrete jungle is a hub for art, sport, culture- you name it.  Over the course of the coming years that one will spend at Yeshiva University, New York becomes the apparatus for exploration; a giant playground that extends beyond the few blocks between 184th Street and 187th Street or Midtown’s Murray Hill Neighborhood. I would argue that it would be a disservice to oneself as a student to fail to take advantage of the opportunities that exist in the Big Apple outside the bounds of a palpable campus.  

I must be bluntly honest. As a student at Yeshiva University, I have at times found myself lacking the motivation and inspiration necessary to move forward with my studies at various points in my YU career to date. Sometimes, it can seem as though the bland, sterile walls of Furst Hall are closing inwards on oneself, especially during a particularly long, yawn-inducing lecture.  This became no reason to fret, however; I came to the realization that I am actually living in one of the most exciting metropolises on the face of the planet! “What about my next class?” one may ask. Don’t worry about it! Get out there and make the effort to invest in some experiential learning to reignite your passion for learning. I have a distinct memory of exiting a history lecture feeling lost and demoralized.  The lesson made no sense, and at one point the professor started to sound like the adults in the Peanuts cartoons. Rather than let these negative sentiments linger, I decided to make my way downtown, as a sort of impromptu escape. I ended up on Canal Street, which turned out to be a fascinating cultural experience.  It happened to be that in our history course that day, we were discussing immigration to New York City that occurred towards the end of the nineteenth century. I thought about the implications of such a collaborative and rich history of diversity on modern-day New York City. The Big Apple truly exemplifies America as The Melting Pot, fusing cultures from across the world within each block and neighborhood.

Upon exiting the subway station, I was immediately surrounded by a conglomerate of different cultures. Various languages, sophisticated art pieces and food products filled my surrounding environment. I was abruptly thrust into another world, the one beyond the more homogenous bubble of Yeshiva University. It was as if my seemingly boring history lecture from earlier in the day had come to life, as I interacted with the world of New York newcomers. This epiphany occurred simply as a result of choosing to take advantage of my wider surroundings.

The adventure outlined above was exceptional and integral in contributing towards my studies as a Yeshiva University scholar who is committed to academic excellence. Perhaps one need not travel particularly far to profit from all that being a student in “The City That Never Sleeps” has to offer. Standing perched on the corner of Broadway and 165th on the other side of our very own Washington Heights, is the notorious former Audubon Ballroom. The venue’s legacy was forever sealed in infamy when controversial political activist Malcolm X was assassinated at the site in 1965. It doesn’t take a history master to understand the considerable impact that Malcolm X had on the movement for civil justice. Fittingly, X had a lot to say on the topic of education as well.  In his personal essay entitled “Learning to Read”, Malcolm X describes his fascinating path of transformation from an illiterate convict to a self-taught worldly mastermind. “Anyone who has read a great deal can imagine the new world that opened,” X expresses as he relates his newfound joy in literacy. All this I was struck by from a simple walk outside in this incredible city filled with potential for education and inspiration.

As I implore all those who find themselves garnering less than enthusiastic motivation for their academic studies to engage New York City to its fullest, I would liken this exploration to a form of literacy as well. Many books can be studied and analyzed in a classroom setting, but the experiential arena for teaching that is New York is one that is unique. Whether it’s in the form of a hard rock concert at Madison Square Garden, a stroll down the colorful Canal Street, or simply discovering the hidden historical significance of your very own neighborhood, perhaps others too can develop this exclusive literal sense and harness it to enhance and uplift your time at Yeshiva University, like I’ve succeeded in doing so far.