May 1, 2023

Admission Blog: Hacks for Living in NYC!

Moving to NYC can be daunting, albeit quite exciting. Luckily, MSM students have found ways to make that process easier! We asked some of our students to share their “life hacks” for living in NYC.

MSM is located in the beautiful neighborhood of Morningside Heights in Manhattan.

Blue Shelton (BM ‘25, Classical Flute)

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

  • I think NYC has some of the best entertainment and attractions in the country. However, being a college student means the budget is going to be tight. I would recommend taking advantage of all the free or discounted things offered in the city! Stay on the lookout for free pop-ups and get information about free concerts and events happening throughout the city. NYC has a lot of museums and other attractions that are free for NYC residents as well, which applies to you even if you’re living in a dorm.

MSM is a short subway ride away from Broadway, Lincoln Center, many notable jazz clubs, and more!

Kellin Hanas (BM ‘24, Jazz Trumpet)

Hometown: Wheaton, IL

  • Make sure you buy an umbrella and/or a poncho. You’re going to be walking pretty much everywhere, and if the forecast says rain, you should be prepared.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings; late at night, have a friend or self-defense device with you just to be safe.
  • Take time to scope out the nature in the city. It can get a little stressful with all of the concrete around, but there are many parks and even beaches that you can visit to get reconnected with nature.
  • Moving to a big city (especially if you’re not from one) is a big deal and change. Make sure to take time to do the basics for yourself. Go for a run, meditate, drink a ton of water. Treating your body like a temple will help you adjust to the new environment.

Visit Sakura Park, across the street from MSM, for a convenient nature break!

Varun Raja (MM ‘24, Classical Composition)

Hometown: Waxhaw, NC

  • Learn which subway trains run local and which run express. Knowing the difference may save you 15-20 minutes while traveling in Manhattan.
  • Most New Yorkers use the subway and/or bus system to get around. Track public transportation in NYC with mobile transit apps, like the MTA app, to stay on time in your travels. 
  • Eating out can be very expensive in NYC, so try to take advantage of eating at the MSM cafeteria or cooking food at home if you can.

The MSM Cafeteria is open daily and serves food options from different cultures around the world!

Yoyo Zhou (BM ‘26, Musical Theatre)

Hometown: Guangzhou, China

  • Always check the weather before you go out, as it can change at any second.
  • Make reservations at restaurants before you go.
  • Try and get outside at least once a week, as it can be easy to stay in the building, even if it’s just to go to the park or to get coffee.
  • Set a budget for yourself. It’s easy to overspend.

There are dozens of cafes, delis, and restaurants within walking distance of MSM for students to visit with friends and family.

Saviah Miller (BM ‘25, Classical Voice)

Hometown: Florence, SC

  • Always leave 20 minutes of leeway when taking the subway in case they are running late or backed up.
  • Never shop for your groceries on the weekends. Choose a random weekday time if you can, so you can avoid the grocery shopping busyness!
  • Make yourself try two new things every month, to venture outside of your neighborhood and comfort zone.

MSM Jazz Arts students perform at Verdi Square on the Upper West Side

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