My Experience Studying Abroad in New York City

I moved to the US to study abroad because I had recently obtained a Green Card through a family member, and decided to settle in New York because of its unique international position and its proximity to some of the most exciting job opportunities. I studied Sports Management at New York University for four years and it was the most amazing experience I could have hoped for. Read this blog to hear about my experience studying in the Big Apple.

My Living Situation

NYU is well located at the heart of Greenwich Village at the end of 5th Avenue. All of the freshman dorms are located next to Washington Square Park. Although single rooms are an option, 90% of students share accommodation in their freshman year. This can include a shared room and bathroom or multiple shared rooms with a living space and bathroom.

Freshman dorms are great to meet new people, enjoy catered food and live in an otherwise unaffordable location. However, you have to be comfortable with living in close quarters with a stranger. Despite that, I would recommend dorms to any freshman as it fully immerses you in the student experience.

For my Sophomore, Junior and Senior year, I lived in off-campus housing. I lived in a three bedroom and two bathroom apartment, in Alphabet City for one year and Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the other. While living off-campus is more expensive ($1,500/month) than in upper-classman dorms, which are available until your final year, I found the flexibility on noise, guests and food more agreeable. However, students decide to stay in upper-classman dorms for financial convenience in the more central locations.

"Most of the student haunts are found around Washington Square Park and the East Village, although my favorite places are located around Williamsburg in Brooklyn."

Where I partied

As a Brit moving to America for college, the lower drinking age is something to consider. With a legal drinking age of 21, the freshman experience is unlike the British one, with universities providing alcohol-free activities and only a handful of student bars. As you get older, you get to enjoy the benefits of the New York nightlife, unless you use a fake ID, which is common. Although dorm and apartment parties exist, the experience doesn’t match the quirky nightlife of New York City. A unique experience being a student in New York is getting to enjoy the many rooftop parties that replace many night clubbing experiences.

Once you’re legally allowed to drink you get to enjoy the thousands of bars, pubs, speakeasies, clubs and other venues across the city. Most of the student haunts are found around Washington Square Park and the East Village, although my favorite places are located around Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

How I got around

New Yorkers love to walk – it’s the best way to learn about the city. When walking isn’t an option, most people would use the Subway as they are conveniently placed across the five boroughs, no more than a 20 minute walk away from anywhere. Download the subway map app and you’ll learn the difference between Uptown & Queens and Downtown & Brooklyn, allowing the subway to become a vital part of your New York experience. As you would expect, most students use Uber or Lyft service at times where the Subway isn’t convenient or at night.

Apart from subway and Uber/Lyft, you can use the 24 hour bus service as well as the CitiBikes found around the city. Both options are cheap, fast ways to get around. If you find yourself wanting to cross the water in style or take a quick trip to Ikea, there boat and ferry terminals with routes across the Hudson and the East Rivers.

"One of the most popular and high-paying jobs as a non-citizen is babysitting."

Essentials

The weather in New York changes from scorching hot to freezing cold, so clothes for all occasions are required. One thing you will need all year round is comfy shoes. Despite the multiple transport options, you realistically walk or stand on the subway for long periods of the day. Whether that be walking on concrete floors, climbing hundreds of stairs or standing on the subway, you don’t want to find yourself wearing heels in these moments.

The Green Dollar

There’s no denying that New York is an expensive city. New York University offers scholarships and grants to those in certain brackets, as well as on-campus employment for international students. One of the most popular and high-paying jobs as a non-citizen is babysitting. With the average rent for a room in a shared apartment at $1,500/month, lunch costing between $9 and $18 and a coffee costing around $6/7. Needless to say, you must find a way to budget. Many international students use a travel debit-card or prepaid card around New York in order to save money on tax and the exchange rate.

Outside of the Apple

You can travel anywhere within New York City and find somewhere different from the next. It is a city of diversity and variety, but it’s important to escape it’s chaos. Take the train to the Rockaway Beach as it is more secluded and peaceful, or head to the touristy Coney Island with it’s own amusement park. You can travel past these and head to the end of Long Island to the Hamptons – a beautiful but expensive beach area. From the city, you can take a ferry to the gorgeous Jersey beach town where you can hang out at the Jersey Shores.

Upstate New York is a short train ride from Grand Central Station. It’s a great place to go for a weekend trip skiing or hiking, immersing yourself in nature that is not available in the city. There are so many things to see and places to go in and around New York City, but if you find yourself in this city you’re a short step away from the rest of America and so you should try and see as much of it as you can.

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