Archive for new york

Why I Chose to Apply to SIPA

Note from Admissions: The Spring application deadline is coming up, and we hope applicants feel like they’re making good progress with the admissions process. Current student Dylan Hoey has been in your position and reflects on why he applied to SIPA in the first place. 

We encourage you to reach out to us at the Admissions office if you have any questions about the application or just want to talk it over. And if you want to talk to Dylan or other SIPA students about their experience, we can make that happen.

Rodin’s “The Thinker” outside Philosophy Hall [Wikimedia Commons]

During undergrad, like most first year students, I was unsure of what I wanted to major in. At first I was confident that environmental science was the right choice. Within a semester, I was disabused of that idea. After taking an amazing introduction to international relations course, I thought I had settled on international relations. When my second year started, I changed my mind once again and declared as a Government and History dual major, which finally stuck. While I had formally decided on a major, my interest in other subjects did not wane. Thanks to a great liberal arts education, I was able to dabble in almost every major subject, from religious studies to mathematics. Throughout my undergraduate career, I developed an interest in urban studies, post-colonial history and theory, continental philosophy, and film, amongst others.

In turn, when I decided to apply to graduate school, I knew I wanted to be at a place that engaged all of these interests, while also providing me with a central skill set that would allow me to be successful in any industry. I knew that my ideal school would be in a large city, with plenty of extracurricular opportunities to pursue my interest in the arts. Naturally, that narrowed my list of schools down quite considerably.

SIPA had always been on my radar just based off its name recognition, but when I researched more into its curriculum and Columbia’s own resources, I became more and more interested in applying. First of all, I appreciated that SIPA stresses both theory and ‘practical’ applications of course material. As a future U.S. diplomat, I valued SIPA’s diversity, which is unrivaled. I also liked that SIPA has a distinctly international focus, with an emphasis on urban politics and culture. When I looked through SIPA’s course offerings and faculty, I was similarly impressed by the broad array of fields and disciplines represented. I remember also coming across a couple ‘superstar’ professors, including former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. On more comprehensive faculty lists outside of SIPA, I saw that one of my favorite authors, Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, was also listed as a member of Columbia’s faculty. Another search led me to discover that leading Indian post-colonial theorist Gayatri Spivak was a resident faculty member.

When I looked at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ website, I found that the events section was full of film series that I was interested, including a few where the directors themselves were there to answer questions. At the Journalism School, I saw Jelani Cobb, one of the New Yorker’s most prolific and insightful contributors, listed as a professor. While I was certainly drawn in by SIPA’s course offerings, I really fell in love with the idea of Columbia being a place of such great academic diversity. I knew that at SIPA I would receive a world-class education in policy analysis and public management; I had no doubts about that. But I relished the idea of being on a campus where it would be easy to meet people engaged in other fields, and to pursue a truly holistic education. When it was time to finally apply, I was excited at the prospect of enrolling at SIPA, an excitement that has never left me, even as a second year student now.

You’re on a budget but want to eat… out.

Many friends and family are traveling to New York this week to celebrate their loved ones’ proud moment as they walk on stage to pick up their hard-earned diplomas.  While some will be heading to fancy restaurants around town, others will be introduced to a few good eats around the Columbia University campus that are affordable too.

We have compiled a list of restaurants around campus that are budget friendly for graduate students…. because whether you’re leaving or coming, who doesn’t want reliable suggestions on places to eat.  Here are our top restaurants/delis near campus on a budget. Enjoy the Good Eats!

1. Hamilton Deli (116th/Amsterdam)
o Lewinsky Sandwich – $6.95

2. Milano’s (112th/Broadway)
o Chicken Parmesan Sandwich – $9.50

3. Taqueria La Fonda (107th/Amsterdam)
o Big Chicken Burrito – $8.00

4.  Pour House (109th/Amsterdam)
o Lunch Burger Special – $6.00
o *Make sure to fill out the survey when you pay!

5. Amigos (112th/Broadway)
o Monday Taco Madness: Unlimited Tacos & Sangria – $20.00
o Crazy Quesadilla Tuesday: Unlimited Quesadilla & Margaritas – $20.00

6. The Heights (111th/Broadway)
o Happy Hour Specials: Vegetable Quesadillas – $8.00, Wings – $8.00

7. Thai Market (107th/Amsterdam)
o Lunch Specials – $8.00 (12pm – 3:00 Daily)

8.  Falafel Kart! (115th/Broadway)
o Chicken over Rice – $5.00 (CASH ONLY!)

9. Ajanta (121st/Amsterdam)
o Indian Lunch Specials
o Lamb Curry with Rice – $6.95

10. Koronet (110th/Broadway)
o HUGE Slice of Pizza – $3.95

A California versus New York Comparison…

Things Southern California SIPA students notice right away…

1. The weather difference!  Anyone who grew up in Southern California will notice when the temperature drops below 55 degrees…In California, we call it the “arctic chill”

Arctic Chill:

This year the east coast experienced the POLAR VORTEX.

Polar Vortex in NYC:

2. the importance of a coat!

3. And Boots…

4. In N Out v. Shake Shack


Anyone who grew up in California will notice the food choices aren’t exactly the same…changing In-N-Out for a New York favorite the “Shake Shack”.


5. palm trees v. skyscrapers


Where’s the sun? Although New York is a great city, you’ll still have Californians asking for the sun…and warmer weather!

6. MTA v. Owning a Car


New Yorkers give subway directions like Californians give highway directions: Take the B to the A to the 1.


7. Jaywalking? NYC, LA


And – you’ll still find some Californians in NYC waiting for the street lights to turn green because jaywalking is not permitted in California.


8. Both Los Angeles and New York have elected SIPA Alumni as their Mayors


Anyway you decide to spin it – If you find yourself in New York, enjoy your time here!  It is the city of many opportunities and promise.

Good luck with Admission Decisions!

a humorous post submitted by Eder Gaona-Macedo, MPA 2014

a winter wonderland

A snowstorm in New York City can be enchanting, especially when viewed from indoors! However, it is not in our nature to stay put for long and the show must go on! So, we New Yorkers bundle up and do our best to traverse the snow banks that have replaced the street curbs and sidewalks, keep upright on the ice (lifehacker tip: walk like a penguin!) and keep fingers/toes from freezing. Temperatures today hover in the teens (12 degrees right now) and the wind that whips across Morningside Park, between the streets and avenues all over the area can take your breath away, literally!

While these pictures were taken personally, the Gothamist’s piece “enchanting new photos prove polar vortex snowstorm was totally worth it” features some great ones.  Be sure to watch this gorgeous black and white video of the snowstorm in Morningside Heights too!

winter collage 3

Beware: cool stuff in NYC on a grad-student-friendly budget

Orientation week has ended.  Classes have begun.  One of our new students at SIPA, Joel Putnam, MPA 2015 posted this in our new student group discussion group but we thought this would be great to share with anyone thinking of coming to New York — the best city in the world.


It’s been great meeting so many of you guys, finally! Since orientation was (understandably) focused on what’s happening in the IAB and on campus, I thought I’d toss a few ideas to orient new New Yorkers to cool stuff in the city on a grad-student-friendly budget. Because if you spend your two years here and never go below 90th or east of Central Park, you are making a huge mistake (or, as we like to say here on the internet, yr doin it wrng).

First off, New York has a lot of cool sights to see, but you probably know about all of them. Statue of Liberty, Times Square, etc I’m not worried about you missing. The really cool thing about the city in my opinion is what’s happening here at any given moment. There are lots of ways to find cool stuff in this category, but my two favorite are these:

NonsenseNYC Mailing list— weekly mailing list with all kinds of crazy stuff going on. Music? Check. Standup Comedy? Check. Pillowfight wth hundreds of people in union square, bring your own pillow? Check. Much of what’s listed is a little Brooklyn-centric, but that’s kinda the nature of NYC culture at the moment.

The Skint Blog: Emphasis here is on free and cheap. Aside from cool happenings around town, it often features giveaways and other really good deals on food, drinks, etc. Posted daily with special weekend editions.

Aside from that, Time Out NY ( is also very good and is much more comprehensive than the other two. I find it more useful as a reference than inspiration, just because it has so much stuff that it will sometimes get a bit unwieldy. Also of note (though with less cheap and slightly male-centric slant) are Thrillist ( and UrbanDaddy (

Aside from those, some people swear by Groupon (, LivingSocial ( and other similar daily coupon sites. I’ve never liked them as much myself, but I’m not you, and you might find they’re useful if you sign up. Costs nothing up front and you can always cancel.

Don’t forget your unlimited 30-day metrocard for the subways and buses (yes it is overwhelmingly worth it unless you’re very very rich and can take taxis everywhere). Don’t bother with the “express bus+ Subway” metrocard unless you’ve got family way up in Kingsbridge, just get the regular card, it’ll get you everywhere you need to go, buses included. Finally consider a citibike membership if you don’t own a bike. I know it doesn’t come up to Columbia and won’t till we’re long gone, but it’s really handy in a pinch when you’re out exploring with friends, especially late at night.

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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