If you are preparing to embark on the SIPA adventure this fall to spend the next two years of your life in New York City, here is some advice on what you should definitely try and do before boarding that plane.
I know, you are permanently moving to New York for at least the next two years, and might feel tempted to bring along those pants that you may someday want to wear, or that old lamp you love. But New York is crowded, and space is not precisely a surplus commodity. Whether you live in Columbia housing or on your own, most likely you will have a small room, and an even smaller closet.
Read a novel
For those of you who like reading novels; this will probably be one of the first pleasures cruelly swiped away from your life by grad school. There is so much to read for every class, that reading a novel simply becomes a luxury that a SIPA student cannot afford. So use this summer to indulge in those fictitious adventures, as they will be deeply missed.
New York is an amazing city, but it can also be amazingly expensive. If you want to have an occasional dinner at a nice restaurant, go to a concert, or take a taxi to avoid a 2-hour ride back from Brooklyn on a Saturday night, you should try and save some money to help you enjoy the city more.
Go see nature
You’ve heard the song. New York is indeed a unique concrete jungle where dreams are made of. But as fascinating as skyscrapers can be, they can also be overwhelming. So make sure you get a good dose of wild mountains and blue oceans before you head this way.
Get some rest
SIPA will be lots of fun, but also lots of work. You will have endless nights in our basement library, for which you will need plenty of energy to help you cope. So get some serious sleep and rest before going back to school.
Let go of your prejudices
If you are coming to SIPA, you are probably already on track, but it doesn’t hurt to think about this once in a while. New York is a truly diverse place, and that is a central part of its magic. So open your mind and be ready to learn from other worldviews, cultures, careers and human beings. The more prepared you are to learning new things, the better your experience will be.
Be ready to be merry
Grad school, for most of us, happens once. Chances are this will be the last time in your life to be a student at a formal academic institution. Be consciously grateful for the endless opportunities, experiences and freedom the next two years will give you.