Posted by: Christina Katopodis | 12th Jul, 2014

Ten Things to See Your First Week Exploring the City

When you come to visit New York as a tourist, it’s important to see the big historical sites like the Statue of Liberty and the September 11 Memorial, or you might want to eat at famous restaurants like Ess-a-Bagel and Carnegie Deli. When you come to live in New York, however, you’re probably looking for local favorites that are less crowded than Times Square. Here’s a list of ten things to do that you might consider your first week getting acquainted with the city.

  1. Walk around the Reservoir in Central Park and visit the Metropolitan Museum then walk uptown on 5th Ave to see the Guggenheim or the Museum of the City of New York.
  2. Walk through Fort Tryon Park and visit the Cloisters.
  3. After an orientation event at the Graduate Center, walk downtown on 5th Avenue to get a burger or a milkshake at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, then walk across the street to the Eataly market. If you’re in the mood for dumplings, walk down 5th Ave from the Graduate Center to 32nd Street and take a right into Korea Town to go to Mandoo Bar. If you like craft beers go to Rattle N Hum on 33rd Street between 5th Ave and Madison for delicious sliders and 30+ taps.
  4. Cross the Brooklyn Bridge and get dumplings in Chinatown on the Manhattan side or a slice at Grimaldi’s on the Brooklyn side, then hop on the subway to get to Prospect Park and walk around Park Slope.
  5. Visit Chelsea, go to the Chelsea Market and walk along the High Line. If you’re interested in Chelsea’s night life try the Gotham Comedy Club and Trailer Park Lounge.
  6. Go to the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue, get your library card and have a look around.
  7. Get off at the Spring Street or Astor Place stop on the 6 train, walk above ground and take in the East Village and Lower Manhattan. Go to S’Mac for macaroni and cheese, Cafetasia for Thai food, 10 Degrees for wine and cheese, McSorley’s for beer, or Swift for your local pub fare with a literary twist. Then see a show at the Public Theatre.
  8. Go to Union Square and see people playing chess, playing music, or a dance group performance. Familiarize yourself with Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and hop into a bar or restaurant you’ve never been to before.
  9. Walk around Hell’s Kitchen and pop into the Amish Market or grab some Ethiopian food at 47th Street and 10th Ave or a delicious brunch at 44 ½.
  10. Walk uptown from the Graduate Center to take in Grand Central station on 42nd Street and Park Avenue. Enjoy the breath-taking ceiling and atmosphere and then walk through the market to get fresh vegetables, artisan cheeses and baked goods.

Make sure you bring cash with you everywhere because you’ll find that many places do not accept credit cards and only take cash. Also, bring a subway map with you—not only to navigate the subway but also to help you navigate neighborhoods. You can use Google Maps or HopStop on your phone for help with directions, but most people on the street are kind and helpful if you ask them for directions. Find another pedestrian like yourself who isn’t in a hurry on the sidewalk or perhaps stopped and waiting for the light to change at a crosswalk. Whether you’re interested in walking or biking outside in a park or doing something indoors on a rainy day, there’s always something to do in New York City. Part of the fun is getting lost and finding a hole-in-the-wall with great food and good people.

Christina Katopodis
First Year English PhD Student
Posted by: Marisa Panzani | 2nd Jul, 2014

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: Bethany D. Holmstrom | 30th Jun, 2014

Seeing theatre in NYC on a budget…

Here’s some advice on seeing affordable theatre in New York: find out a show’s rush/discount policies before going, and always carry your student ID when going to the box office.

Student rush tickets demand both some flexibility (because there are no guarantees) and pre-planning. Many Broadway and off-Broadway shows will sell student rush tickets for $20-40 on the day of performance, typically limited to 1 or 2 tickets per student id. Be sure to carefully review the policies before you go: some box offices demand cash only, others let you use a debit/credit card. Rush tickets might be available when the box office opens in the morning, or might not be available until a few hours before the show ( see the Broadway theatre policies here:, and the off-Broadway offerings, here: Typically you have better luck scoring rush tickets on week-night shows (particularly for Broadway theatre) during the school year.

A few theatres provide discounted tickets throughout the season: Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and the Signature Theatre have $25 tickets for many shows with limited availability, so you are encouraged to book early. Other theatres ask that you join a mailing list/club online for student ticket prices, like Roundabout’s HipTix ( Unfortunately, many of the online/list programs have age restrictions (usually 30 or 35). Keep your eye on the Village Voice, Time Out, and discount mailing programs for upcoming shows and ticket deals.

Even the “hottest tickets” on Broadway, like The Book of Mormon, can be seen on a student budget (with a fair amount of luck, since Book of Mormon relies on a lottery system). You are in the best city for theatre in the entire country, and even on your paltry student budget that makes all your non-PhD-pursuing friends laugh (and then, if they are really good friends, buy you a pity drink—these good friends are the same ones that greatly appreciate it when you offer them the second discounted rush ticket you got, by the way), you can see a lot of amazing performances.

Posted by: Bethany D. Holmstrom | 23rd Jun, 2014

Cheap eats near the GC…

The GC is right near a couple of good and cheap food neighborhoods—Korea Town (K-Town) and Curry Hill. The Indian restaurants in the 20s on Lexington and 3rd have very affordable lunch buffets. If you’re willing to venture a bit closer to Bryant Park, try Kati Roll Company (two flat bread rolls with Indian-inspired filling for around $10)—it’s an incredibly popular lunch spot for the suits in the area too, so expect a line. Many of the K-Town spots have lunch specials as well: Mandoo bar (10 good-sized dumplings for around $10) and the Godbol Bi Bim Bab at Han Bat (a screaming hot clay pot with rice, egg, beef, and vegetables that get a heat-crust-cake-thing going as you eat, $11.95 for lunch) are some of my favorites.

A little further away: the *very* tasty thin crust pizza at Vezzo (Lexington & 31st) is part of a ridiculous lunch special: 2 plain slices (marinara and cheese) with a drink for $5, or a slice and salad with drink for $6. There’s always Shake Shack  (Madison Square Park) if you feel like getting a bit further from the building, where you can sit and enjoy the park while eating. Italian food mega-emporium Eataly is also down by the Flatiron (5th Avenue between 23rd & 24th): grab a slab of focaccia with toppings from the bakery for a few bucks (or a panini for a few more) and head out to eat in the park. Of course, there are $1 slices and other grub sources around too, but ask around your program (and others!) to find the local favorites.

Posted by: Angela Dunne | 19th Jun, 2014

Develop the Mind; Don’t Spurn the Body.

Although our beloved CUNY Graduate Center does not have a gym, the Wellness Center does offer free 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?

Posted by: A Martini | 16th Jun, 2014

Loving the Libraries!

As a grad student, you will not only conduct research, but you will frantically search for your sources, whether those sources are books on 19th century Talmudic commentaries, articles on Puerto Rican feminist punk music, or photographs of Minoan wall paintings. The good news is that you can find everything in New York. The bad news is that you won’t necessarily find it as quickly as you want.

If you’ve already visited the Graduate Center, you probably noticed that Mina Rees Library seems pretty small for a university library. It is. However, through the Mina Rees Library you have access to all of the materials at all CUNY libraries and a large number of libraries across the United States. Through CLICS, you can request books from all other CUNY libraries and have them delivered to you at the GC. And if that isn’t enough, you can request articles, chapters, and books from other university libraries through the Interlibrary Loan program.

Another important research tool is the New York Public Library. The NYPL includes the Stephan A. Schwarzman research center (conveniently only eight blocks from the GC), the Science, Industry and Business Library (conveniently right behind the GC), and all of the local branches (convenience levels vary). To access the NYPL, you’ll need an NYPL card. If you live in New York, all you’ll need to do is present proof of residency (bank statement, photo identification, etc.). If you have the misfortune to live outside of New York, you’ll still be able to get a card through your affiliation with CUNY.

There are also lots of private libraries in New York, which thankfully have their collections linked to WorldCat. These include museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Morgan Library and Museum, as well as organizations such as the American Numismatic Society. Access varies, but your search might be well rewarded if you look off the beaten track.

Posted by: Vincent De Luca | 11th Jun, 2014

A message from the Office of the Registrar

Fall registration for newly admitted students will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 20.  You will receive an email in early August with detailed information concerning registration so please be sure to notify the Office of Admissions if you change your email address.

All registrations are done on-line so it is possible to register anywhere there is an internet connection.

Here’s what you will need to know in advance of registration;

  1. Your Banner ID.  This ID number was in your admission letter and it will also appear in the registration email you will receive in early August.
  2. Your PIN.  If you have already visited student self-service system you have already changed your PIN to a password of your choice. If you have never logged into our self-service system your PIN is set to your date of birth expressed mmddyy (in other words, if you were born on February 1, 1970, your PIN was set to 020170). If it is the first time you log into to the self-service system you will be required to change your PIN to a password of your choice

3.         An advisement PIN may be required in order to register for courses in Web for Student. Your academic program may have required that you enter a second PIN in order to access the registration page in Web for Student. This PIN is known as an advisement PIN.  If you were assigned an advisement PIN, you will be notified in the registration information letter sent out by the Office of the Registrar.  The advisement PIN will be issued to you by your academic adviser and you should contact your  program as soon as possible to make an appointment with your adviser.

Posted by: Christina Katopodis | 2nd Jun, 2014

Urban Etiquette: The Unspoken Rules of Public Space in Manhattan

When friends ask me what New York is like, I tell them: “It’s tall.” The city has a dense population with businesses and apartment buildings stacked on top of each other, which can be a bit overwhelming at first. New Yorkers master the art of efficiency as a result. Packed subway car? Everyone take off your backpacks and hold them down by your legs to make more room. Crowded escalator? People stand on the right and walk on the left. Long line at the coffee shop and only 10 minutes before you’re late to work? Know what you’re going to order before you get to the register, or step aside and let someone else go while you decide what you want.

These are some unspoken rules that keep a busy, crowded city running smoothly. Some you would find in any city, but others are unique to New York—especially removing your backpack on the train. Having lived in Washington, DC prior to moving here, I’ve come to appreciate these habits as polite and thoughtful acts. Living in an urban space requires some awareness of what’s going on around you, even when you’re wearing headphones and not necessarily in a hurry to get somewhere. It’s nearly impossible to avoid touching strangers on a rocky subway ride or a crowded street corner, and getting used to that can be hard if you’re new to living in a city. The good news is that New Yorkers are experts at spacial awareness and if you’re polite to them, they’ll more often than not be polite back.

Some practical things to consider about your well-being and safety:
Wear closed-toed shoes. They’ll protect your feet in the off chance they get stepped on, and they’ll keep your feet clean when walking around a dusty part of the city. I’m a flip-flop fan myself but I stopped wearing them when I moved here. Also, look where you’re going. No one wants to sprain an ankle on a pothole or uneven sidewalk!

Keep your personal belongings close. Chances are you’ll have some kind of commute to the Graduate Center and need a bag to carry all your books and things. Choose a bag that sits comfortably under your arm or on your back and just be aware of your surroundings. Don’t put it down or leave it unattended, and make sure all your zippers are zipped.

Watch out for bikes. Cars and trucks are easy to hear and see coming, but many people commute to and from work on bikes—and fast. Keep an eye out, look for bike lanes, and look both ways for vehicles and bikes.

Don’t stop suddenly on the sidewalk. Many New Yorkers have someplace they’ve got to be and they walk FAST. If you stop suddenly in the middle of the sidewalk, someone might be walking at a quick pace behind you and may accidentally run into you. Instead, keep walking but slow down and stop on the side of the sidewalk to let others pass while you look at your phone or do whatever you need to do.

A series of images has been circulating recently that captures many of the above points and more, making light of New York City etiquette: It’s worth taking a look, even if you’re well-acquainted with urban life, just for laughs. These things will become second nature after a few months of living in the city. It’s all about being aware of your surroundings and being courteous to others. Now start exploring the city and enjoying all the things there are to do and see here!

Christina Katopodis
First Year English PhD Student
Posted by: Gwen Shaw | 20th May, 2014

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted. Now What?

Now that you are getting ready to come to the Graduate Center, ever wonder what’s going on here–right now? What sort of events and programming do we offer? When is the building closed for holidays, and how late is it open normally?

Stay in the loop and meet other current GC students, faculty, and alumni by liking our facebook page or following us on twitter. We use facebook and twitter to get the word out on building closures, health and wellness events, academic advising and career workshops, and, especially, student and faculty news, presentations, panels, accolades and awards.

Get the most recent and up-to-date information on GC events, student and faculty news, and more, by following us on twitter @GC_CUNY. or facebook.

Posted by: Gwen Shaw | 17th May, 2014

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!

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