Posted by: Esther Bernstein | 18th May, 2016

Your Real New York

One of those quizzes was circulating on Facebook recently, this one about foods in New York. The quiz itself was amusing, a bit of fun. But the comments were more interesting to me. There were some very strong opinions about items in the list.

“I’m a New Yorker born and bred, and I got a low score on this quiz because I’ve never been in the fancy restaurants on this list. That isn’t ‘the real New York.'”
“I’m a New Yorker born and bred and I’ve never eaten from the halal carts. That’s a tourist attraction. That isn’t ‘the real New York.'”
The really interesting part is that anyone thinks there is only one “real New York.” If you spend all your time in one neighborhood, you might think you know what New York is about. But move just five blocks over, and you may have entered a different world.
If I have one piece of advice to someone moving to New York for the first time, it would be this: Explore. Find your spot. Find your “real New York.” And then keep exploring.
I grew up in Brooklyn and went to City College in Harlem. I was in and out of Brooklyn and Manhattan fairly often, and I was sure I knew many parts of New York. I was pretty confident in my subway abilities.
Then I moved to Morningside Heights, and suddenly realized everything I thought I’d known about how Manhattan works was from a visitor’s perspective. I took the local B train from Morningside Heights to the Graduate Center. As I spent some time above ground in the neighborhoods along that route, I began imagining them above me as I traveled each morning and evening. It’s kind of cool, that realization that in a 20-minute train ride, I’ve passed under at least four distinct areas.
When you get to New York, the most important area to get to know might be midtown, around the Graduate Center. But even here, if you ask a GC student about what’s good to eat in this area, the answer you get will vary wildly depending on whether that student tends to go south or north to find food.
Get to know the neighborhood where you’re living too. But don’t forget to venture into other areas. If you’re going to do a weekend brunch, travel a bit and head to a place you’ve never been. If you’re going to study or do some work, find a cafe in another part of New York. Take long walks – especially at the beginning of the year when the weather is still nice – and pay attention to the changing facades as you make your way across town.
Don’t isolate yourself in Bushwick, Astoria, and midtown. Get to know your city, and to appreciate that someone else’s “real New York” will be very different from your own.
Posted by: Angela Dunne | 13th May, 2016

Develop the Mind; Don’t Spurn the Body.

Although our beloved CUNY Graduate Center does not have a gym, the Wellness Center does offer *low cost fitness classes to registered graduate students. The courses consist of Yoga and Pilates for beginner and expert alike. The instructors that I’ve had are extremely friendly and accommodating to all levels. The courses do fill up fast, so be sure to visit the website and be aware of the registration dates.

In the case that you don’t get a spot or are looking for something a little more on the cardio side, there are other free fitness options in this city. The NYC Parks and Recreation Department has a program called Shape Up NYC that offers free fitness classes at various recreation centers in all five boroughs. The classes include Yoga, Zumba, Aerobics, African Dance, Kickboxing, Self-Defense and other body shaping activities. You don’t have to belong to a recreation center to attend these classes but in the case that you wanted a membership it costs only $25 a year for people 24 and under (unfortunately, a lot of us have missed the boat on that one).

As a CUNY Graduate Student there is also the possibility of membership to the Baruch Athletics and Recreation Complex and the John Jay College Cardiovascular Fitness Center. However, the annual fee for the ARC is $100 and for John Jay is $275, which are definitely not bad but I’d take advantage of the cheaper/ no cost options- at least until you’ve established how much time for fitness you will actually have as a grad student.

Another great option for free fitness is taking the stairs at the Graduate Center, instead of the elevators. I’m serious. Why not?



* For GC students, one registration period (6 classes) costs:

Yoga $15, Pilates $30


For more information visit:

Posted by: Cihan Tekay | 1st May, 2016

Health Info

Feeling under the weather? The GC has a Wellness Center located in Room 6422 and staffed by a licensed Nurse Practitioner (NP). A note here for international students like myself, since it took me a while to figure this out: a NP is a health professional who provides primary health care similar to physicians in other countries. NPs can order diagnostic tests, treat medical conditions, prescribe medication, etc. Another notion that is unfamiliar to those of us who come from countries with universal health care: the health services at the GC are free, but if you don’t have health insurance, tests can cost you. However, if you order them through the Wellness Center, the cost is reduced and partially subsidized by the DSC. For more information and a full list of services provided by the Wellness Center, click here.

If you have a health emergency and go to an Emergency Room (ER) within the borders of New York state, there is something called Emergency Medicaid which you could potentially qualify for. Also see this list of free and reduced-cost clinics in New York. While we are here, let me note that the DSC Health & Wellness blog is a great online resource for navigating health-related matters as a grad student, and I find this guide on how to navigate NYSHIP (if you are insured through the GC or Cuny, this is your health insurance) very useful, especially if you want to avoid overpaying for your medical expenses. Follow the blog or @healthDSCcuny on Twitter if you want to keep updated on free workshops and health services throughout the year (hint: chair massages during finals!)

Graduate school is hard on the body and the mind! Take advantage of the free, confidential counseling services provided by the GC. If grad school is hard on your relationship(s), you can sign up for couple’s therapy as well. If you have health insurance and seek long-term options, the counselors at the GC can also refer you to mental health professionals outside the GC.

New York falls and winters can be brutal. Moreover, crowded subway rides and small-sized classrooms tend to leave you prone to infections. Get a free flu vaccine to be prepared! Sitting in classrooms or in front of a computer doesn’t help with our overall well-being either. To get your body moving, you can sign up for a yoga or pilates class at the GC for $15, or join the gym on other Cuny campuses. If you are prone to winter blues like I am, make sure to check out a SAD lamp from the DSC office, Room 5495.

Are you a parent? If you are a new mother, you can use Room 7408 for your nursing needs by presenting your current GC ID and completing a key request form in the Office of Student Affairs in Room 7301. The GC also provides subsidized child care services through the Child Development and Learning Center. To apply, schedule an appointment with the Director, Linda Perrotta at 212-817-7032. If you are a doctoral student and a new parent, make sure to read and request GC’s detailed Parental Accommodation Policy in order to get all the support that you need.

Posted by: Cihan Tekay | 21st Apr, 2016

Free Stuff at the GC

Welcome to The Graduate Center! One of the best parts of being a student is the availability of free and low-cost resources available to you on campus. Even though our campus mainly consists of a huge building which used to be a department store, you will be surprised at the wide array of resources available to you!

Free Stuff & Discounts! Unsurprisingly, some of the best student resources are made available by student-run organizations. At the GC, all student organizations are housed under the Doctoral Students’ Council (DSC), which is the body representing Master’s and Doctoral students. For starters, stop by their main office at Room 5495 during their office hours to pick up free condoms and other safer sex materials, help yourself to some coffee, or buy discount movie tickets. While you are on this floor, check out the computer hub in Room 5487, a small, quiet room where you can work on PCs, or use the printer and scanner. In this room as elsewhere in the GC building such as the library and program lounges, students have unlimited free printing, as well as access to scanners (but please be green and print responsibly!)

The DSC also provides free legal consultations, rooms for meetings and events, lockers by lottery, among other cool and useful things.  Run for a seat in the DSC to represent your program or the student body at-large, submit an article to Advocate, our student newspaper, join a chartered organization, organize an event or a conference.

Public events. Film screenings, concerts, panels, talks, exhibits and more! Check out the calendar of public events for programming ranging from political satire and analysis of current affairs in the Middle East to music & dance from Barcelona. The GC is also a great place to learn about New York City: from the displacement of queer people of color to the loss of middle-class neighborhoods in Stuy Town and the mayor’s take on state of inequality in the city. Are you the artsy type? James Gallery (to your left when you enter the lobby) and The Center for Humanities have cool exhibits and events year-round. These events have free admission for students (and sometimes for the public as well,) but make sure to reserve your seats ahead of time, as popular events run out of space fast!

Check in with Student Services to find out if they have other discount/free items available for students.

Speaking of free stuff: problems with your paycheck? Reach out to a student coordinator at the Adjunct Project or a union rep. Graduate student & adjunct labor keeps CUNY running! If you are looking to apply for in-state tuition, health insurance, clear holds, register a disability (for access to adaptive equipment), take a consortium course, or more, here’s a quick guide to GC offices.

Posted by: Gerry Martini | 12th Apr, 2016

Why You Should Move to Queens

Moving to New York is quite daunting if you are an out-of-towner, as I was. The city is huge, expensive, and haphazardly designed; how’s a non-native New Yorker to know what neighborhoods to look at apartments in? Well now you’ll know (because I am telling you!) what I learned by chance: you should move to Queens.

Forget Manhattan, especially anywhere south of Central Park, right away. This is graduate school—you don’t have the cash for that sort of thing. Brooklyn has been the place du jure for grad students, but I have found the neighborhoods less accessible by the subway (in the areas that you will be able to afford at least) to the Graduate Center, more expensive, and a little too hipster-ish for my taste. Plus there are all those buildings with that ugly plastic siding. Who thought that was a good idea?

Queens, on the other hand, is slightly more affordable (though admittedly that is slowly changing in some areas). Many of the neighborhoods that I know best (like Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, etc.) are a single subway line (either the 7, N, or Q, depending) away from the Graduate Center, making for a total commute of less than 45 minutes or even a half an hour. Plus there are more besides these that make for a short commute as well (the F and M lines are also easy ones).

Queens is also the most diverse county in the nation, so we’ve got some killer food of all stripes; you name it, we’ve probably got it. And it’s just generally invigorating being around that variety of people (when we were first looking at apartments in our neighborhood, we heard at least six languages on the street in one afternoon on a walkabout).

I take a lot of pride in the neighborhood that I live in—in embracing it and all it has to offer. We go to the farmer’s market every Saturday chat with many other shoppers (and our favorite vendors); we frequent our neighborhood shops with their local owners; we eat at the many restaurants that make it such a great locale. But regardless of whether you take my advice and choose one of the neighborhoods in Queens, these are the sorts of things that you should do when you move to any area of NYC. Being integrated into your local community—not just the academic community in which grad students often find themselves totally absorbed—will really help you enjoy this fantastic city all the more. And a happy grad student is a productive grad student.

Posted by: Marisa Panzani | 7th Apr, 2016

Blogging with CUNY Commons

We’d like to take the time to encourage you to join the CUNY Commons (the site that is hosting this blog.)  As soon as you have registered for classes in August, you will be assigned an email address which will allow you to join the Commons and either become a contributor to an existing blog or group or begin your own blog or student group.

Interested in why you should blog?  Take a look at From Tweet to Blog Post to Peer-Reviewed Article: How to be a Scholar Now by GC’s own Jessie Daniels or take a look at The Virtues of Blogging as a Scholarly Activity at The Chronicle.

Some active blogs on the Commons (that you can read now even though you aren’t yet a Commons member) are:

GC Students of Anthropology –

GC English Students blog –

Le Hub (French students’ blog) –

GC Marxist Reading group –

Collaborative Seeing Studio –

Zines at the Brooklyn College Library –


Posted by: Gwen Shaw | 5th Apr, 2016

Why I love living in Brooklyn

Earlier this year, the blog featured a post on why you should live in Queens.  Queens is a wonderful place, with excellent museums, including the Queens Museum and PS1, as well as the Socrates Sculpture Park, and awesome Thai food like SriPraPhai in Woodside.  The post is very convincing, and enumerates Queens’ many advantages, such as close proximity the GC via many subway lines, and affordability.  However, I am unwavering in my commitment to another borough: Brooklyn.  Since moving to New York City seven years ago, I have lived in Upper Manhattan and, for the last five years, in Brooklyn; I fell in love with the county of Kings.  I don’t think I will ever want to live anywhere else in NYC, for a great many reasons.

First, Brooklyn’s arts and culture are formidable, with free concerts, art openings, pop-up galleries, and food fairs throughout the year.  We also host the first distilleries in New York City since Prohibition, and have several wineries, which are making Brooklyn their home base for wine production and retailing.  There’s also the Brooklyn Brewery, Sixpoint Brewery, Kelso and a burgeoning homebrew community. There are lots of places to get excellent food, including the borough’s own Fairway Market in Red Hook, Sahadi’s in Brooklyn Heights (better than Zabar’s!) and various shops and stores by neighborhood.  In addition, the borough is one of the most accessible by bicycle!  Brooklyn’s neighborhoods are distinctive and relatively discrete, and most importantly, easily navigated by dedicated bike lanes that can get you from Brooklyn, to Manhattan (if you are comfortable riding there), and back—hey, why give the MTA all your money if you don’t have to?  (NYC and Bike CUNY have resources on safe riding, and even a savvy cyclist road safety course!)

In terms of entertainment/distractions, Brooklyn has the newly finished Barclays Arena, host to the Nets, as well as the Brooklyn Cyclones, excellent in their own right but also a farm team to the Mets.  There are also excellent music venues of all stripes, from the live-music Mecca Zebulon, to Jalopy (featuring old-time music, Americana, and more) to the Bell House in Gowanus, The Knitting Factory and Music Hall of Williamsburg in Williamsburg, and other independent venues in Greenpoint, Bushwick, Ditmas, and beyond.

Finally, the neighborhoods and architecture are beautiful.  Brooklyn is often known for its “Brownstone Crescent,” an architectural feature sweeping across north/central Brooklyn from Brooklyn Heights, to BoCoCa (Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens), through Bedford Stuyvesant, and south through Park Slope and beyond.  Brownstones are beautiful all year round, but, covered in snow make the sometimes-harsh winters in NYC bearable because of their beauty.  Not to get too poetic about this, Brooklyn is also as affordable as you want it to be; neighborhoods in North Brooklyn can be more expensive, as can other neighborhoods near Downtown Brooklyn, but deals abound, especially if you take the time to look and go through a no-fee broker. (I have used and would recommend Rapid Realty.)  Other affordable neighborhoods, popular with students and recent graduates, include Crown Heights, near the express stop for both the 2,3 and 4.5 train lines at either Franklin Avenue or Utica, as well as neighborhoods such as Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, across the park from Park Slope, Ditmas Park, located near Victorian Flatbush in all its turn-of-the-century glory, Sunset Park, and quiet, family oriented Bay Ridge (albeit a far trek on the R train).

What do you think?  Did I miss any neighborhoods that stand out to you?  Let us know in the comments section below!

Posted by: Marisa Panzani | 2nd Apr, 2016

Registration and Orientation information

Please be advised that new student registration at the Graduate Center will not begin until August 17th.   Registration materials will be sent out in early August and they will come to you by email.  Please make sure that you update us if you make any changes to your email address between now and then.  Send those updates to prior to registering.  After you have registered, any updates to your contact info should be directed to

New Student Orientation will likely be scheduled in the week of August 22nd.  More information will be made available on this site later on in the Spring.

You can see the full academic calendar at






Posted by: Christina Katopodis | 30th Mar, 2016

East Harlem: Culture and Community


Harlem is a great place to live. I live in the Graduate Housing building on 118th Street between Lexington & 3rd Avenue. My commute to the CUNY Graduate Center is easy, and I live within walking distance of several grocery stores, a Target, a community garden, a butcher that makes delicious chorizo, and some of the best Cuban food I’ve had in my life. Kids and young families walk around outside when the weather is nice, people wave to each other from across the street, and some elderly folks sit in the garden all day and talk. I’m a woman living in East Harlem and I’ve never felt unsafe. It’s wise to remain alert, but the fact of the matter is, there’s a lot of people around and as long as you don’t get involved in crime, it tends to stay away from you, too.

There’s a church across the street where they sing carols at Christmas and a fruit and vegetable vendor around the corner that sells the most amazing strawberries, lettuce, apples, you name it. Our building is brand new and rent is average for the neighborhood for a new building, the gym downstairs is well-equipped, and all the staff members are friendly and quick to attend to any questions or maintenance issues you might have. I’ve never lived in a better apartment community where you hear people talking philosophy over laundry or watching basketball downstairs. It’s a convenient location, the rooftop view is lovely, and it was a great introduction to living in New York City. I have friends who live nearby and they also love the area.
At 103rd and Lexington, you’ll find a great coffee shop called East Harlem Café  and a Mexican restaurant called El Paso. The Cuban restaurant that makes the best mojitos in the barrio is Amor Cubano on 110th & 3rd Avenue. There are also fantastic restaurants in Yorkville and the Upper East Side and plenty of coffee and sandwich shops to study in or meet friends. On the same block as the building is the Silberman School of Social Work with a cafe downstairs where you can get cheap coffee and breakfast, and two blocks away is the Family Health Center of Harlem (linked to Mount Sinai) where I go to the walk-in clinic and see my regular Primary Care Physician. The wait is short and the healthcare quality excellent.
If you like exercise, the jog to Central Park is quick and easy, and along 5th Avenue as you head downtown into the Upper East Side you’ll find the Metropolitan Museum and the Guggenheim. If you’re into race culture, definitely join the New York Road Runners (NYRR) and sign up for one of their half marathons! I go to the Super Runner’s Shop on Lexington & 89th Street. If you like biking, I often ride down to Central Park.

East Harlem is a great place to live, from 120th Street down to Yorkville and the Upper East Side. East Harlem is generally more affordable than other neighborhoods, from the rent to the groceries, and has been a great introduction, for me, to living in New York City. I would highly recommend it for anyone.

If you’ve applied for housing and are waiting on the wait list, it can sometimes be frustrating not hearing back or knowing exactly where you are on the wait list. I was on the wait list, and I got pulled up over the summer. I had a friend also on the wait list who they pulled up with me so we could be in a 2-bedroom together. The only way to contact GC Housing is through the webpage: You can call the Grad Center to ask about their housing, but they will direct you to this “Contact Us” page: It may seem surprising, but GC Housing will get back to you. My recommendation is to just be patient. Finding a place to live in NYC often happens at the last minute. What I did to find a roommate was I got an email list of new students from my program’s APO (assistant program officer) and emailed them personally to ask if anyone was moving to the city to start the program and looking for a roommate. My roommate and I are moving to Astoria or Brooklyn this July, so I know at least two spots will be opening!

Christina Katopodis
Second Year English PhD Student
Adjunct Lecturer at Hunter College
Posted by: Marisa Panzani | 5th Mar, 2016

Roommate matching!

This post should be used to match roommates.  Go ahead and list requests for roommates in the comments section.  Please do be mindful, however, that this is an open forum and you should not post information that is too personal (i.e. addresses or telephone numbers) and be sure to meet each other the first time in a public place.


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