February 4, 2022

Admissions Blog: We ask two MSM students what it’s like to live in NYC!

Most students at Manhattan School of Music are not from New York City — we ask two of them what it’s been like moving to NYC for the first time, and what they enjoy about living here.


Jasmine Ismail (MM ’21 PS ’22, Classical Voice)

from Winston-Salem, North Carolina

What was moving to NYC like for you?

Jasmine: Moving to New York City was a lifelong dream come true!! I have wanted to live in NYC since the first time I visited in 2007. It is an incredible city.

What’s your favorite spot in the city?

Jasmine: It’s hard to pick a favorite because there are so many different parts to the city that have different things to offer and different vibes. I love the Upper West Side for a chill New York feeling with lots of cute coffee shops. I love the Lower East Side for food and fun restaurants!

What are the top things on your NYC to-do list?

Jasmine: The number one thing on my to-do list is to visit every borough and eat at a few amazing restaurants in each one!

How has the MSM community helped with the transition to NYC?

Jasmine: The MSM community has helped me so much with my transition! I think living in our school’s dorm is a huge part of that. The dorms are very safe and the views of the city are incredible. I feel like I have my own little nook in New York and that makes me feel secure.

What song do you associate with moving to the city?

Jasmine: The song I associate with moving to the city is Gravity by John Mayer.

“Around the city you come across park after park after park. I know of three parks that are less than 10 minutes away from MSM, and that is really how it is in most places. There are nature parks, playgrounds, sports fields, and so much more.”

(BM '25, Classical Trumpet)


Themba Pieterse (BM ’25, Classical Trumpet)

from Albany, NY

Themba Pieterse (back row, on the left) posing with fellow students during Orientation Week.

What was moving to NYC like?

Themba: For me, moving to the city was a huge change. I had been able to visit and explore the city before, but this was the first time I was going to be here for more than a week. While it did take some time to adjust after a few weeks, I felt like the city was home and I had fallen in love with all of New York’s little quirks.

What is your favorite spot in the city?

Themba: I have two favorite spots! I love the East Village. It is a beautiful neighborhood with brownstones and great restaurants. It offers a spot for a nice relaxing walk, lunch, or study session. My second favorite spot would have to be the main branch of the New York Public Library. The building itself is gorgeous, and inside there are painted ceilings, large rooms and elegant staircases. They have rooms that are primarily for studying, which makes it the perfect place to go on a Sunday when you need to get homework done.

What are the top things on your NYC to-do list?

Themba: Even though I have lived here for almost half a year, there are still so many places I have yet to visit and explore. I love taking photos, and there are an unlimited amount of little hidden secret spots that are great for a photo-op. I would really like to look around and find those places across all five boroughs.

What advice would you give to someone moving to NYC for the first time?

Themba: My advice would be to embrace the crazy! NYC can feel like a lot sometimes and there is always something going on. Especially at the beginning of a semester before classes have started, you should allow yourself to be swept up in everything and get out into the city as much as you can. You’ll find it will become your home a lot faster if you do!

What has surprised you the most about living in New York?

Themba: What surprised me the most would have to be just how much green space there is in the city. Most people think of New York as a concrete jungle with tall skyscrapers and the subway running underneath. However, what I have found is that when walking around the city you come across park after park after park. I know of three parks that are less than 10 minutes away from MSM, and that is really how it is in most places. There are nature parks, playgrounds, sports fields, and so much more. It makes the city seem a lot friendlier and provides some great places to go on walks and hang out with your friends outside of school.

Sakura Park, directly across the street from the MSM campus.

How has the MSM community helped with transitioning to NYC?

Themba: The MSM community was very supportive in my move to NYC. On move-in day a team of students helped guide me and settle in to my room. They helped me move my stuff, find my way around and get me situated with both MSM and the city. Even before I had moved in I had been in touch with both students and staff about what to expect when I arrive in the city, and they prepared me very well for my move-in day and first few weeks in the city. I never felt alone, and always knew I could reach out to multiple people if I needed any help.

What song do you associate with moving to the city?

Themba: It isn’t a song that people think of when they think of NYC but mine would have to be Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston. It was a song that I had on repeat throughout my moving process and I’ve connected it to those experiences. I’d like to think that I found one of the greatest loves, within the city, within MSM, within music, and within myself.