April 2010 issue

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Electric lifestyle

New York City needs little introduction: home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, it’s a metropolis bursting with culture and a very international community. Considered to be the city that never sleeps, visiting students will need every hour of every day just to fit everything in! Nicola Hancox takes a look.

Yellow cabs, hotdogs, smoking manholes and skyscrapers: just some of the images that have become synonymous with the pulsating city of New York. As the most densely populated metropolis in America – its population tipped the 8.3 million mark in the 2008 census – New York is a melting pot of different races, cultures and nationalities.

With over one-third of the city’s population reported to have been born on foreign shores, David Quinn, Academic Director at Columbia University, states that overseas students form a significant part of this demographic. “There are almost 60,000 international students in New York City,” he asserts. In fact, over 6,000 of this international student quota attend Columbia University alone! “Nearly everyone you see on the street in Manhattan comes from somewhere else,” says Quinn, and while students may struggle to come across an authentic New Yorker during their stay, this multiculturalism lends itself to an overwhelming sense of openness, especially where out-of-towners are concerned. “Just ask your question, whatever it is, and you will get a friendly answer,” he enthuses.

Indeed, it’s exactly this sort of intercultural diversity that students may find comforting when so far away from home. “It’s a very international city, and it is very tourist friendly,” says Nobuko Munoz, School Manager at Geos Language Institute New York. She adds, “People are always willing to help by giving directions or offering information, so international students will have no trouble at all moving easily and safely around the city, as there is always someone available to help.”

Made up of five boroughs (Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island) much of what New York is famous for is shoehorned into the smallest and most urbanised municipality; Manhattan. “The most popular places of interest include Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Times Square, Wall Street, the Brooklyn Bridge and Chinatown,” lists Munoz. However, while a trip to the Big Apple wouldn’t be complete without climbing the 1,860 steps to the top of the Empire State Building or

a ferry ride out to Liberty Island to see the green lady herself, there are other places of interest providers encourage their students to visit. “One of my personal favourites is the Metropolitan Museum, especially the rooftop garden,” relates Michael DiGiacomo at EC English. Located on the fringe of Central Park, this mighty museum contains over two million pieces of artwork, some dating back to the Bronze Age. The rooftop café, meanwhile, offers a welcome respite from the exhaustive exhibitions. Open from May until autumn it offers a panoramic view of Manhattan, as well as a bird’s eye view of the Great Hall below.

Meanwhile, Tanya Hacker from IH New York recommends students take in some more contemporary art by visiting the smaller, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Situated in Midtown Manhattan, it houses anything and everything from works of architecture to sculptures, from photography to classic art pieces including Vincent Van Gogh’s haunting canvass, Starry Night. The fact that it’s free on Fridays is an added incentive, notes Hacker.

Eden Norris, Director of New York City Language Vacations, is a big advocate of New York’s lesser-known places of interest. “Everyone knows about the famous sights in New York, of course – the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the museums – but there is so much more to discover that’s off the beaten path,” he says. The Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Terminal is one such hidden gem, says Norris. The unique architecture (the curvature of the walls and corridors act as sounding boards) enables two people to stand on opposite sides of the passageway (facing the wall) and hear each other whisper!

As a native New Yorker, Norris also advises students to explore Central Park – the 843-acre park which lies at the very heart of the city. This large green space is more than just the optimum jogging route. “Central Park itself is a maze of hidden paths and sights – and one of the greatest picnic areas on earth. You just have to know where to look – and when,” he explains. Despite being totally landscaped, the park does possess some natural phenomena including 450 million year old schist outcrops – exposed pieces of bedrock on which Manhattan was built – that are popular with bouldering enthusiasts [a type of climbing without the aid of ropes or a harness]. The park also has a designated rock-climbing centre – the North Meadow Recreation Center – with taller, man-made structures that offer all the equipment required to climb safely.

The EC campus is set against the bright lights of Broadway and DiGiacomo notes that the school’s sought-after locale is a

big draw for students. As the “epicentre of excitement and entertainment in New York city”, the area hosts some 40 professional theatres showing musical stage classics such as Phantom of the Opera, the longest running Broadway show ever, and many of the TKTS ticket booths dotted all about the city offer same-day tickets at a 25-to-50 per cent discount.

Students often have their own ideas about what to do while in town but providers actively encourage students to sample their jam-packed activity programmes. At Geos, Munoz relates that their own activity calendar guarantees a minimum of two extra-curricular activities per week including an organised walk over the Brooklyn Bridge (there is a wooden walkway suspended above the traffic), shopping in South Street Seaport – an area of historic importance which has since become a cultural marketplace – or a stroll along the Hudson River. The school also hosts a regular karaoke night that aims to get students involved in campus life. “…competing to be the next Geos idol…it’s a great atmosphere for students to interact and make friendships outside of their class,” notes Munoz.

Hacker regales that ice-skating in Bryant Park proved particularly popular with students last year. As the city’s only admission-free ice rink [from November to January] it’s a fun and affordable way to make the most out of colder climes! “You can ice skate on a large pond in the park with the city skyline all around you and Christmas lights everywhere. It’s a pretty amazing experience,” she relates.

Agent viewpoint

There are three different reasons why students like to go to New York. Firstly they like to enjoy the entertainment on offer (such as Broadway), particularly short-term students. Secondly, there are many colleges and universities in New York. Students wanting to go on to further studies in the city can see or visit many [institutions] before they decide where to go. Lastly, [New York is popular] with students who would like to study specific things such as fashion, business, dance, music.”
Daisuke Niibe, Last Resort, Japan

"First is the cultural diversity that NYC offers. I’ve travelled throughout the USA and have yet to find a place like New York, where you can meet all kinds of people from all over the world and experience different culture and food. There is an abundance of art-related attractions, such as museums and galleries. Lastly, I think a lot of students just want to experience the big city life. I think popular TV shows have all contributed to that, since the stories take place in NYC. Since most students are here short- term, they try to get the most out of their stays and nothing beats NYC in that respect."
Seung Jo Jeong, Koreanstudent.net, Korea

"New York is a vibrant and constantly growing metropolis, always exciting, both stimulating and demanding in terms of language learning. I think that students enjoy the feeling of the involvement in global finance, communications and business of the world. They feel that they become a part of the large number of people who work, live and visit New York City on a daily basis. They think that if they make it here, they will make it anywhere else. For our agency, New York is the number one choice. The second choice is usually California."
Julia Alimochkina, Litera Scripta Manet, Russia

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The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





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English Australia  
Feltom Malta  
International House
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Alphe Conferences  
British Boarding
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Pearson Education  

Dr. Walter GmbH  
Student Guard

LTM Star Awards  

Malta Tourism
Office de Tourisme

Bond University  
Carrick Institute
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English Australia  
La Trobe University  
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University of
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CERAN Lingua
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Global Village  
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National School
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Camp Beaumont  
International House
      World Organisation  
Kaplan Aspect  
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Queen Ethelburga's
Spinnaker College  
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Study Group  
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University of
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Accent Francais  
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Alliance Française
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International House
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Q Language Ltd  

      Language School  
EC English
      Language Centre  
      (England, Malta,
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Feltom Malta  
Malta Tourism

Dominion English

EAC Language
      Centres and
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      (England, Ireland,
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EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Costa Rica,
      Ecuador, England,
      France, Germany,
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Columbia University
ELS Language
IH New York  
Julian Krinsky
      Camps & Programs
      International, LCI  
Zoni Language
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