For many international students, New York City represents America. The city’s iconic skyscrapers and sights, bustling population and vibrant arts community all combine to create one of the largest, most exciting cities in the world.
For students away from home for the first time, the Big Apple can also be overwhelming and a little scary. Home to over 8.4 million people, New York City is the largest urban center in the United States. Students from other parts of the country require time to adjust to life in New York, so it’s not surprising international students sometimes feel overwhelmed by life in New York.
Fortunately, New York City has a large international student community, with most colleges and universities offering international student clubs and associations. The State University of New York alone hosts 23,000 foreign students from 160 nations, so you won’t be alone.
Your introduction to New York life will go more smoothly if you have your immigration and housing arrangements in order before you leave home. Immigration rules for students may change over time, so be sure you have the latest information on entry requirements.
Many students feel more comfortable living in on-campus housing until they acclimatize to the city. If you’re planning on using on-campus housing remember spaces are limited. Apply early for your best chance of securing a room.
If you’re planning on living off-campus, ask the college International Students Association for advice on where to live, and be sure to consider rent, travel time between home and college, and safety.
Your International Student Association is your best resource of information on New York and adapting to American culture. Many associations offer orientation tours for both the college and the city, and they are an excellent way of meeting other international students.
Life in New York
Once you become familiar with New York City, you’ll find it’s a wonderful place to live. Start off small, exploring the town with other students. Ask friends and student associations where to visit and, equally importantly, which areas to avoid. Like any city, New York has some neighborhoods you want to stay clear of.
Transport in New York City is by taxi, bus and subway. Buses and subways are the cheapest option; buy a Metrocard pass and you can use both. Taxis are the most expensive form of transport, but also the safest if you’re traveling at night.
New York is a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures, which can make life easier for international students. If you’re homesick, you’ll be able to find off-campus clubs and organizations related to your home country or a restaurant serving food from back home. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself at home in one of the world’s great cities.
*One thing an international student may need is an evaluation.