Exploring NYC and Getting Out of the Columbia Bubble


Like so many students at Columbia and Barnard, the summer before I came to school in New York, I told myself, “This is going to be so awesome. I’m going to be at school in the greatest city in the world, there is so much to do!” I pictured myself shopping every weekend, going to dinner downtown after class, and attending concerts in Brooklyn every weekend.

Well, it’s been two months now, and I am embarrassed to say that the farthest I’ve really ventured is to 74th and Broadway for a Levain Bakery cookie (a must-try, the best cookie I’ve ever had). When I talk to my friends from home, they are baffled to hear that I haven’t made a trip to the Piperlime flagship store in SoHo yet and that I haven’t seen any of the exhibitions at MoMA. And although I feel bad about this, I’ve realized that I’m not the only one who rarely ventures out of Morningside Heights. A lot of other people are stuck in the “Columbia Bubble” too!

It’s finally time to wake up and start exploring! Midterms are over, and we have about a month before finals. It is the perfect time to take some time to explore. If we don’t start taking advantage of living in New York City, we’re going to regret it when we graduate. To get us started, I’ve compiled a simple list to remind you of all the fun and exciting things to do and places to go off campus. 

1) Chelsea. Go down to this spot on the Lower West Side and explore the contemporary art galleries! Galleries rotate their shows about every six weeks, so there is always something new to see. Check out http://artcards.cc/newyork/ to explore the current exhibitions and to choose which stops to make during your time down there. Don’t forget to stop and Bottino Take Out and grab an amazing sandwich. If you have time, take a stroll down the High Line to top off a perfect day in the Chelsea neighborhood. 


2) Live HotSpot NYC. Looking for places to go out? Get the free app, Live Hotspot NYC. The app was created by a group of college students that wanted to get some info on the “hotspots” of the night. Simply pick the neighborhood you want to go to, and Live HotSpot will come up with a list of bars and clubs, detailed with info about the venue, how long the line to get in is at the moment, and even celebrity sightings!


3) Museums. There are TONS of museums to go to. Whether your interested in Monets or a wax version of Justin Bieber, there is a place to go. Look at http://www.nyctourist.com/museums.htm to see a comprehensive list. Art lovers should check out the Met, MoMA, and Guggenheim. For those of you tired of art museums, try the Natural History Museum, Museum of the Moving Image, and the Museum of the City of New York for a few starters. And, of course, there’s always the ever-raunchy Museum of Sex in the Flatiron District. Make sure to ask about the student rate. You can even get into a few of them for free!


4) Concerts. Everyone likes music! Lucky for us, we go to school in a place that virtually every musician visits on their tours. The big stars come to Madison Square Garden, but your favorite indie groups are bound to come to New York too. Go to ticketmaster.com for announcements about shows, dates, and times. Also, make sure to go to the ticket office in Lerner to find some great deals. Don’t rule out going to see a few musicals on Broadway, too!

5) Sports. ‘Tis the football, basketball, and hockey seasons! Take a trip to MetLife stadium or MSG for an exciting game on the weekend. No matter where you're from originally, get out to a stadium and root for New York! You could also combine #2 and #5. Find a cool sports bar to go with your friends and watch the game—it’s going to be much cheaper that way, too.


6) SoHo. Calling all shopaholics! Take the subway straight down to this fun neighborhood full of boutiques and department stores. Recently, SoHo has become much more touristy than it was a few years ago, but that shouldn’t deter you from going to find the perfect LBD.


If these aren’t getting you to move, take a quick look online. Search for an event more suited to your style at http://nymag.com/, http://www.timeout.com/newyork, or http://www.nycgo.com/events/ . Now get off your butt and get exploring!