A week after finishing my freshman year at UC Berkeley, I packed some of my clothes, took my backpack with a few folders in it and flew to New York City. For the next six weeks, I lived with my sister in the heart of the city while taking a class at Columbia University. As cliché as it may sound, my summer in Manhattan was a life-changing experience and one that I’ll never forget.
Although I only wanted to eat good food and explore, I did (unfortunately) have to carve out time to study for my class. I used this is as an opportunity to discover new places and turn them into unique study spots.
New York Public Library
New York Public Library reminded me a lot of Doe Library. Initially, I didn’t want to study in a library because that seemed boring, but I’m so happy I chose to walk here, as it was absolutely stunning. The library is a monument in and of itself — so much so that people come from around the world to take tours.
The Metropolitan Museum
Walking to the Met practically every week of the summer with my sister was one of my favorite memories. Yet whenever we went to the Met, it was always to explore the exhibits and admire the renowned artwork.
One day, I decided to take the subway and walk to the museum by myself. I situated myself on a bench in the middle of one of the South Asian exhibits and studied peacefully for a few hours. The Met has free admission (a preferred donation is generally considered a ticket, but you don’t have to donate), not to mention free WiFi and quiet spaces perfect for studying.
Surprisingly enough, a lot of coffee shops in New York don’t have WiFi. As a result, it became quite the adventure to find coffee shops with good drinks and free WiFi, but it was also a ton of fun nonetheless.
Washington Square Park
A straight walk down Fifth Avenue, Washington Square Park is situated in the middle of the NYU campus. Although there wasn’t any WiFi, whenever I had reading assignments, I would go to the park and sit by the fountain to do work. If I wanted to take a break, I would people-watch.
Columbia has an absolutely breathtaking campus. Although I like UC Berkeley’s libraries better for the most part, as they’re bigger and, in my opinion, even prettier, it was also a nice change to stay after my class and study on campus. Sometimes I’d study in one of its libraries, while other times I’d sit on the steps in front of the University Library (which is not a functional library anymore), or on the grass under the trees.
Overall, despite the fact that I wanted only to relax during my time in New York, some of my favorite memories are from the times I went to study. Finding new and unique places to study forced me to go out of my comfort zone, as I was going by myself to the various places, and it also let me discover nonstereotypical study spaces.