1. Everyone knows that my favorite motto is “If it’s free, it’s for me.” Although New York is generally an expensive city to live in, there is also an abundance of free things that you can do in the city. As a graduate student, it’s especially nice to be able to have fun in New York for the price of the subway ticket to get there.

    So here it is, my New York City [Free] Bucket List:

    Utilize Columbia’s Passport to the Arts

    One of the nice things about being a Columbia student is that we get free admission to over 30 museums throughout the city. I’ve been a huge Van Gogh fan ever since I visited his museum in Amsterdam so I decided to visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) when my artist friend was in town. I have to admit it felt great to skip the line but it felt even better to skip the $25.00 admission fee. Once inside the MoMa, I was amazed at how unique each floor felt and the diversity of the art that was displayed. Don’t forget to take advantage of the free audio tours! Honestly, if you love modern or contemporary art, the MoMa is a must see and I highly recommend it.

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    The Highline

    As an avid walker, I love The Highline which is an old railroad track turned into a park. The juxtaposition between the natural environment and the surrounding urban area makes for a very unique experience. The Highline features art, food, and great people watching. If this is your first time visiting, I recommend going on a Tuesday because they have a free guided tour and stargazing at night. This is another excellent spot to spend an afternoon (or evening) on a budget. 

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    Central Park

    My favorite place in New York is Central Park. Hands down. If you live on campus like I do, the park is only 10 blocks away. What I love about Central Park is that the landscape changes depending on the section of the park that you are in. Where I decide to go really depends on what I’m in the mood to do. For people watching, the area by 59th Street/Columbus circle is great because it’s always packed with tourists. My secluded homework spot is around 102nd street and sports spectacular views of The Pool. For live music, I like to set up shop outside of Rumsey Playfield which is where SummerStage is located. When I want to have a picnic or play sports, I go to this open grassy area near the Belvedere Castle. The only things I don’t like about Central Park are the rock hard ice cream sandwiches. Everything else, I can’t get enough of.

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    Bike riding in the City

    Perhaps my favorite activity to do in the city is riding my bicycle Ruzovy (or Rue for short). Ruzovy means pink in Czech which is a befitting name for my bike since she is hot pink. Rue is also a folding bike so she’s the perfect size for my room on campus. Although I was originally hesitant to ride in NYC, I eventually conquered my fear and took the plunge into city riding. I would rather utilize the City’s many bike paths as opposed to riding on the streets, but when I do need to ride with traffic I always make use of the Ride the City website for the safest route. So far, my favorite routes have been the Central Park Loop (which has car-free hours) and the bike path that runs along the Hudson River.

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    Nightlife on the Hudson River

    Sometimes it’s nice to be able to stay in the neighborhood and have a good time. Thursdays are a particularly good night to go out in the Morningside Heights/Harlem area for three reasons – food, karaoke, and mechanical bull riding. One of the best places to eat in the area is Dinosaur BBQ located on 125th by the Hudson River. This is simply the best BBQ in the area and people know it. It can get pretty crowded on the weekends., but this restaurant has takeout so you can pick up your food and enjoy delicious BBQ ribs, Mac-N-Cheese, and Cole Slaw in the location of your choice. After dinner, the best spot to go for drinks and karaoke is Covo, which is a few blocks up on 135th and 12th street. My friends and I like this place because of the all-night happy hour specials and good selection of up-to-date music. This spot is perfect for first time karaokeers because it’s pretty intimate and has a nice vibe. Finally, on our walk home, we like to stop by the Hudson River Café for dancing and mechanical bull riding (no cover on Thursday nights). All in all, I have a great time at these local spots.

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    Ferry riding

    Another favorite free time activity of mine is to go down to the pier and hop on a ferry. The Staten Island ferry is perhaps the most famous ferry in the area due to the fact that it’s FREE and has magnificent views of the NYC skyline and the Statue of Liberty. Did you know that the Statue of Liberty has a copper exterior and was originally the color of a penny? Although the Staten Island ferry is good start, I also recommend taking the Ikea water taxi (free on Saturdays and Sundays) for an afternoon of modern style home furnishing shopping followed by dinner and drinks in this charming Brooklyn neighborhood situated on the waterfront. This weekend, while I was down at the pier, I also found out that there are free rides to Governors Island at select times on the weekend so that’ll be my next ferry destination! 

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    Next up on my Free NYC Bucket List:

    - Monday Night Movies in Bryant Park

    - Brooklyn Flea’s Smorgasburg

    - Shakespeare in Central Park

    - Wednesdays at the Bronx Zoo

    Asha is a second year Ph.D. student in the Social-Organizational Psychology program. In her spare time, Asha enjoys riding her bike, exploring New York’s many parks, listening to live music, attending Broadway shows, playing basketball, and making homemade costumes. 

  2. Spring break has come and gone, but the weather is yet to follow. Although we had a few pleasant days during the week off, it was undoubtedly a dismal start to the season. A whimper, rather than a bang. Not that I should be complaining, with overcast skies and bustling winds setting the optimal mood for me to stay in and write – last March I went back home for the break, but the demands of being a second year student meant that I did not stray far from my apartment this year.

    While I would have loved to get away from the frozen tundra and head somewhere warm, it was crunch time for my Integrative Project. The first draft was due at the end of March (the week after Spring break), so that was my highest priority. I conducted a qualitative study examining gender roles, media and parenting – in particular, the stigma and social support surrounding stay-at-home fathers (surprisingly little research has been done in this area). I was able to channel my time and energy into finalizing my literature review and gathering my data through in-depth interviews.

    With the stress of midterms past me and no work or extracurricular activities, I was also able to tick off many administrative tasks that have been niggling at the back of my mind for quite some time. As an international student, I must apply for work authorization to remain here on my student visa after graduation. The process for this Optional Practical Training (OPT) takes up to three months, so it requires planning ahead. I finally updated my resume and began researching a few organizations that I am interested in working for. Ideally, I would like to secure a counseling job for women and children in a community center or shelter. I am especially eager to treat victims of domestic violence, but I am keeping my scope as broad as possible for now.

    Spring break was, however, not all work and no play. While tropical islands and cocktails were far from my mind, I did take a couple of days off to relax and spend time with friends. I celebrated Holi (the Indian festival of colors) by eating Indian sweets (the large city celebrations are being held in May) and St. Patrick’s Day with an Irish pub crawl. I managed to catch up on some of my favorite television shows too (Netflix has been my best $7 per month spent this year!).

    Being my last semester, the pace has been a steady fast throughout! The second half was off to a very busy start immediately after Spring break ended, with groups being assigned for class presentations and the Maternal Psychology Laboratory that I am a member of focusing on several upcoming conferences. Admitted Student Day and Academic Festival whizzed by, where I volunteered on a student panel (it was great to meet some of you there!) and worked for Career Services at The Alumni Career Experience. Our department has recently issued a call-out for new Program Ambassadors, so I will begin reviewing applications and interviewing candidates soon. And I am almost done writing my analysis and conclusions for my Integrative Project, following which I will make any edits that my adviser suggests. The final deadline is the end of April, so I will see you on the other side!

    (This post was created by Megha Sardana, a second year Master’s student in the Counseling and Clinical Psychology Department’s Psychology in Education Program.) 

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    In wrapping up my Master’s degree here at Teachers College, I have often taken the time to reflect on my experiences. I have learned so much and met so many incredible people, and I know that I am a better student, teacher, and person for having made the decision to come here. I can’t believe that I am now at a point where I am one year after graduating from my undergraduate program, and I’m already almost done with that next step. In the past year, I have gathered many new perspectives and ways of knowing. I am a different person. I remember that at this time last year, I was so scared for the next step. Should I go to TC? Should I move to New York City? I was in a very normal young adult panic about life decisions. And now I know, without a doubt, that this was the best decision I could have made. At this time last year, I was sending e-mails to anyone and everyone I knew at TC and in the City to interrogate their experiences and have a better understanding of what I was getting myself into. And now, I am the one receiving those e-mails from friends and former peers. So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about one major takeaway to pass on to people entering the program or still in the program. It’s difficult! There are so many!

                I think that one of my biggest takeaways, and a piece of wisdom that I hope everybody understands by the time they complete their programs at Teachers College, is to take advantage of the incredible faculty members here at TC. There are a lot of reasons why a person might choose Teachers College, and the progressive and innovative work that our professors are doing should be at the top of that list. My professors have been an invaluable resource to me. They have challenged me, supported me, nurtured me, and inspired me. They have moved mountains to help me achieve my intellectual and professional goals, all while making sure that my personal goals were well attended to. They are incredible people in the field of your choosing, and they will help you succeed if you take advantage of their presence! Get to know your professors: participate and get involved in their classes, show them that you care, and bring a positive and playful attitude to class. They will appreciate your work and help you in your next steps. If you go to TC, your professors are the people who publish books and articles that professors in other institutions are using to instruct their students. Recognize this, be appreciative of this, and take every available opportunity to go the extra mile so that you can learn as much as you can from the incredibly intelligent and supportive faculty members here. At the end of the day, it’s not just about you and how hard you work or how smart you are. It’s all of that, but also what kind of relationships you were able to establish with your professors. Enjoy the learning process, and remember to thank them for their work and dedication to you and your future.

    Tiffany Touma is a Master’s student in the Teaching of English Program in the Arts and Humanities Department.

  4. Graduate school is busy.  Add fellowships, volunteer work, internships, and graduate assistantships to your academic load, and your schedule fills up quickly.  Grad school is not a 9 to 5, which makes it a challenge to find the off switch sometimes.  With that in mind, my advice to current students, and those coming to TC in the summer or fall, is to find balance

    It took some time, but what I have learned through my time as a TC student is that as easy as it is for me to stay cooped up in the library tackling task-after grad–school- task, it is important to also learn when to take breaks.  For me, I have made a concerted effort to schedule in things that refresh my mind and help me strike some balance in my life.  TC is great at helping me achieve this, and they really do care about the success of their students.  As such, I have penciled in the free Tuesday night yoga classes offered by the Office of Student Development and Activities into my weekly timetable.  I also take full advantage of the free gym pass that you get as a TC student to burn off some of my pent up energy.  I also make sure to capitalize on the amazing location of TC and run through one of the three parks that are near by.

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     I live in family housing on campus so I have the luxury to cook, which is my version of a creative outlet.  For you, it may be painting, singing or dancing, but whatever it is, take time - do engage it.  Taking time in these activities help you fully commit to the education that TC is providing you. 

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    My last - and by far most vital balancing act- is to make time for friends–they are your biggest, most exceptional resource. 

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  5. Interested in visiting the Teachers College campus? Want to learn more about the application process?

    Every Monday at 11:00am the Office of Admission hosts an Information Session to provide prospective students with information about TC, the student experience, the campus community, and the application process. Please click here to register for the day that works best for you!  

    If interested, please stick around after the Information Session for a guided Campus Tour

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