Archive for NYC

A Quick Guide to New York City Airports

New York is famous for many things; however, having great airports is not one of them. As some of you consider traveling to New York for Admitted Students Day, or are planning your own vacation to the city, here’s are some things to keep in mind before stepping on the plane.

1. John F. Kennedy International Airport
New York City is serviced by three main airports, two of which are located in the city itself. For international travelers, you will likely fly into John F. Kennedy International Airport, which is located in one of Queens most industrial (and distant) neighborhoods.

JFK is about an hour by car into Manhattan and depending on your arrival time, it may take up to an hour and a half with traffic. Expect to pay anywhere between $70-100 for a taxi or Uber one-way.

For the more economical traveler, JFK is serviced by the AirTrain and the A/E trains. The AirTrain is a local line that connects travelers to NYC’s subway system. You will find signs in the JFK baggage area directing you to the AirTrain.

I personally suggest taking the JFK Airtrain Green Line to Howard Beach station. There, you can transfer to the A-Train and take it straight into Manhattan. Depending on where you are staying it will take a little over an hour, but there are no transfers and service is reliable.

2. Newark Liberty International Airport
For international travelers that are not routed to JFK, it is almost a guarantee that you will be flying into Newark. Located just across the Hudson River in New Jersey, Newark is actually a pretty modern and easy airport to navigate.

From my experience, a lot of flights arriving late at night or from East/South Asia tend to head straight to Newark.

Taxis/Ubers from Newark airport into Manhattan are relatively comparable to JFK prices, although at times it may be a bit cheaper.

Travelers that wish to use public transit can take the AirTrain to the Newark Liberty Airport station on the New Jersey Coast line.

You can take the line into Penn Station in Manhattan, which is on 34th St. It is one of New York’s busiest subway/transit stations and you can find connecting subways to pretty much anywhere in the city.

3. LaGuardia Airport
LaGuardia is the most conveniently located of New York’s three airports, as it is located right across the Queens Bridge in the sleepy neighborhood of Astoria. I have almost exclusively flown American carriers (cough, Southwest) into LaGuardia and it’s essentially the airport for domestic travel.

For international travelers flying American airlines or connecting through a major US city (Miami for Caribbean/Central/South American travelers, Houston/Dallas for Mexican and Central American travelers or Los Angeles for travelers from Asia) may have a connecting flight that ends up stopping in LaGuardia.

Depending on where you’re staying, taxis will likely be significantly cheaper and somewhere in the $30-60 range.

That being said, LaGuardia has the absolute best bus line in the city. For those that don’t mind lugging their carry-ons onto a bus, the M60-SBS picks up passengers from the airport and goes right across the Queens Bridge into Harlem.

You can hop off on the stop by the Apollo Theater to take any of the ABCD trains to most places in Manhattan or you can continue riding until Columbia University! The whole trip takes about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic conditions.

While trains do run from LaGuardia, I cannot recommend the bus route enough. Particularly because it costs like 2 dollars.

 

For those that have more general questions about travel, airport conditions or navigating taxis/Ubers/trains in New York from the airport, feel free to reach out! Safe travels!

A Foodie’s Guide to Columbia University’s Food Scene

One of the greatest things about Columbia’s campus is that it is essentially a foodie’s paradise. There’s several different cuisines nearby, from Ethiopian to Mexican and from mass-produced burgers with fries to locally-sourced vegan friendly meals. Columbia offers a smörgåsbord of food options.

Massawa (121st and Amsterdam)

Massawa is an Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant boasting flavorful and shareable meals, all scooped up with a handful of injera, a sour bread served with all meals. The restaurant holds an impressive menu with several types of meats and vegetables. Meals can be vegetarian friendly also. It’s also a perfect place for a date for those planning. The quiet, dim-lit environment sets a romantic, conversational mood perfect for a first-date or a long-term couple. Meals range from $15-$25 per person including tip.

Shake Shack (116th and Broadway)

You might have heard of Shake Shack if you’re from the Northeast, but for those who don’t know, it’s a franchise burger that rivals the well-known West Coast chain In-n-Out Burgers and the broader burger chain Five Guys Burgers. However, Shake Shack is more than just burgers. They’re also known for their concretes, an ice cream concoction with a few different toppings and flavors mixed in. Shake Shack is often a filled with students looking for a quick bite between classes. A meal costs about $10-$15 dollars, no tip required.

Community (Between 112th and 113th on Broadway)

With an American-eclectic menu that features seasonal, local, organic food whenever possible, Community is a popular place for those who are food conscious. While the restaurant isn’t just for vegetarians, almost all of their meals can be made for vegetarians by request. One of their most popular items on their breakfast menu are their blueberry pancakes, a must-try for all newcomers. It’s also a great place for a Sunday brunch so bring your friends and enjoy a meal on their patio. Average meals range from $13-$20 without tip.

Jin Ramen (Broadway and Tiemann Place)

This is not your microwavable ramen. Though a little bit of a walk from campus, Jim Ramen is one of the Columbia community’s most popular restaurants, boasting several types of ramen noodle bowls. Also a great place for a date because nothing is cuter than watching your boo slurp up noodles. For meals, you can go classic with a soy sauce ramen or go different with a green coconut thai curry ramen bowl. Either way, you’ll love what you’re eating. Meals are around $12 – $18.

Strokos (114th and Amsterdam)

If you’re looking for something quick and pretty cheap, Strokos is the way to go. It’s a gourmet deli serving dozens upon dozens of options, from pizza to salad to sandwiches to chicken and vegetables. The place also has enough room there for studying so you’ll usually find several students eating with their laptops. Stop by Strokos and get a meal for usually under $10.

Oaxaca Taqueria (Between 122nd and 123rd on Amsterdam)

As a lover of tacos, I must say Oaxaca Taqueria does an amazing job at making the signature Mexican meal. You can get three tacos for around $10 and they have a little under a dozen of different styles of tacos. My favorites are the classic carnitas tacos and the savory Korean taco. It’s a casual place so you can either eat there or take it to go. Either way, you won’t regret it.

A Case for Urban and Social Policy

Like many prospective graduate school applicants, I had a hard time deciding exactly which school or program was right for me. It’s incredibly difficult to think about places, schools, and classes you’ve never taken in the abstract, let alone even trying to compare them. While being incredibly fortunate, my situation is also a little complicated; as a Pickering Fellow, I am required to serve in the U.S. Foreign Service for five years after graduating from SIPA. While applying, I was attempting to reconcile my interest in domestic politics and cities, with my career and general interest in international relations. I wanted a degree that would wholly prepare me for my time in the Service, while also providing me the skills and expertise to succeed if I ever decided to leave the organization.

SIPA made sense on a variety of baseline levels; it’s incredibly diverse, and very international, two things I value both personally and professionally. It is prestigious and known for producing top-end talent in almost every profession related to public service and government. When I got in, it was almost a no-brainer; I knew this is where I wanted to be.

However, I had a much harder time deciding which concentration was right for me. As someone who has worked with numerous organizations engaged in human rights and refugee-related work, Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy was appealing. Similarly, Economic and Political Development sounded like a natural fit with the work I’d be doing in the Service. Urban and Social Policy, with its focus on development and broad social issues, also piqued my interest.

As you can probably guess, I ultimately decided to concentrate in USP. Now let me tell you why.

An Excellent Urban Studies Education…in the Greatest City in the World

Ever since I moved to my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I have been in love with cities. I want to know their population density, the history behind their most famous landmarks, the backgrounds of the migrants that shaped them. I want to know what sports teams the locals support, and the rivalries that may exist between different parts of town. Understanding a city, and its working class people is something that gives me immense joy and a feeling of understanding and solidarity with others, even if I am an outsider.

It just so happens that SIPA is located in arguably the greatest, or at least the most culturally significant city in the world. USP concentrators have the unique opportunity to study their favorite policy issues with leaders in the field, who are often engaged in their work while teaching. If housing is your favorite issue, you can study with William Eimecke, the previous Secretary of Housing for New York State, and then witness every day how city and state leaders are attempting to solve the affordable housing crisis. If you’re interested in education, you can cross enroll in classes at Columbia’s prestigious Teachers College, and intern at the NY Department of Education, one of the biggest city agencies of its kind in the world. If you’re considering running for political office, you can take classes with ex-Mayor of Philadelphia Michael Nutter, and the legendary New York City Mayor David Dinkins. In summary, SIPA and New York attract some of the best minds in urban governance, and for this reason alone, SIPA has a comparative advantage to other schools with urban studies programs.

It’s Broad but You Can Make It Your Own

If you say you study Urban and Social Policy, you inevitably have to tell someone what that actually means. That’s partly because it is so broad; almost every social issue is now inherently an urban issue and vice versa. That being said, SIPA’s requirements make it incredibly easy to find your niche within the concentration, while also providing students with a generalist background that will prepare them for any type of work in the field. I am personally passionate about anti-corruption and good governance initiatives, and have therefore taken numerous management and systems analysis oriented courses. One of my friends in the concentration has explored the growth of data and algorithms in public sector decision making, and its impact on communities of color. Another friend of mine is committed to understanding the intersection of gender and development in urban communities. As a future diplomat, I know I will be serving in some of the world’s truly global cities; therefore, my USP education will provide me with the skills and knowledge I need to understand the key challenges these cities face, while also allowing me to dive deeper into many of my domestic interests. In turn, by drawing upon the experiences and interests of your peers, and the expertise of USP’s great faculty, you too can find your own place in this passionate and driven community.

The People

USP is a relatively small concentration, compared to some of the others available at SIPA. However, I consider this one of its greatest strengths. USP attracts bright, motivated and culturally savvy people from around the world, with many hailing from the world’s fastest growing and important urban centers. On an intellectual level, this is incredibly rewarding; often, you will find yourself in the halls or off-campus at a small meet up, casually discussing an urban policy issue with people from entirely separate countries and cities, each one providing their perspectives and experiences. Socially, you are surrounded by people who also love the city, and all that it has to offer. Personally, I have felt that my education has extended well beyond the walls of SIPA, as my network of USPers continues to challenge me, and introduce me to new concepts and ideas on a daily basis.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

No matter where you are in the admissions process, I encourage all prospective or recently admitted students to think critically about what they want out of their graduate school experience and how every concentration or program may advance your personal and professional growth. Nonetheless, if you are passionate about cities and social issues, I suggest that you take a look at the concentration’s requirements and electives which are available on the SIPA website. It will give you a better idea of the type of coursework you can expect, while also hopefully inspiring some excitement at the prospect of being a USP concentrator!

VISIT SIPA AND EAT WELL ON A BUDGET!

food

It is highly recommended to visit the programs that you’re interested in applying to. When I was applying, I took  two weeks off of work and visited eight MPA programs. While I researched these programs, I instinctively ranked them in my mind from the one that I wanted to attend the most to the least. Surprisingly, after visiting the programs, my ranking of programs changed drastically! Programs on the top of my list were crossed off entirely, while schools I were on the fence,  jumped up high on the list. Factors for the rearrangement of my list include; approachability of professors, friendliness of students, sitting in on classes, as well as the ambiance of the city where the school was located.

In regards to SIPA, it was the one school that did not shift position. It was on the top of my list and remained there after my visit. The professors took the time out of their schedules to meet with me, the students took me out for some drinks at the end of the day and offered me candid answers to my questions, the classes were extremely stimulating, and New York City is amazing!

That being said, visit SIPA! See if it is a good fit, as well as NYC. While here explore the City. It can be quite daunting if you don’t know where to start. One of my passions before coming to SIPA was splurging on food. My desire for quality food has not diminished, although my wallet has since I am now a full time student. So, I have created a list of AMAZING restaurants to try when you’re here, while on a graduate student budget. This is clutch. These restaurants are scattered throughout Manhattan which will allow you to explore your new home if you decide to enroll. Good luck on your application and bon appetit!

restaurants 

 

TEDx Columbia SIPA = cool

TEDxColumbiaSIPA is a locally-organized, student-led event designed to spark authentic, impassioned, and open-minded dialogue in our community.  Drawing from both TEDx’s mission of “Ideas Worth Spreading” and SIPA’s focus on addressing challenges around the globe, the event will be organized under the theme of “A Better World.”

TEDxColumbiaSIPA will be held on Friday, February 15th, 2013 at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) in New York City.  Speakers include Joel Klein, VP, NewsCorp & former Chancellor of NYC Dept. of Education, Leila Makarechi, COO, MicroClinic International & SIPA alumna, Yvonne Macpherson, Executive Director, BBC Media Action USA, Joseph Stiglitz, Professor at Columbia University & Nobel Prize- winning Economist, Adam Scher, Captain, US Army & current SIPA student, Andrew Rasiej, Founder, Personal Democracy Forum, Paul Krugman, Professor at Princeton University & Nobel Prize-winning Economist, Victor Casanova & Michael Craft, filmmakers, Route2Happiness & SIPA alumni, PigPen Theatre Co., award-winning actors and musicians, and many more…

Unfortunately, the event is sold out — to be expected with fascinating topics and a high-level roster of speakers… But the good news is that the event will be live-streamed so you can catch it online in your pajamas at: http://new.livestream.com/tedx/tedxcolumbiasipa 

 

"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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