Monday, August 6, 2012

Settling into a new city

Last April I was accepted into the CUNY Biology Ph.D. program, my first choice to continue graduate school. (I finished my master's in biology this May at Clark University, where I also got my bachelor's in environmental science.)

Earlier this summer I was lucky enough to sign a lease on an place in the CUNY Graduate Center Apartments. Apparently they're fairly competitive to get into, because there aren't a lot of rooms available. For instance, there were approximately 50 people fighting over a single one bedroom apartment available for this year. Unfortunately, I wasn't that lucky person, so I settled for a small studio apartment.

However, the perks of my apartment are many, and as a first year student in a new city, I consider myself very lucky. Because I was living at home in New Hampshire this summer, it wasn't very feasible to apartment hunt in the city. There were too many variables to handle, so when we got an offer, my girlfriend and I jumped on the opportunity. We were sold on the idea of the studio, our second choice, because of the following:
  • The apartment is fully furnished. In addition to a full-sized fridge (which apparently is a luxury in the city), I have a desk, small kitchen table, full-sized bed with three drawers below on either side, a bedside table, a bureau, a closet, and a spacious bathroom.
  • We have a 24 hour fitness room (which is actually pretty big), 24 hour laundry ($4 for wash a dry per sizable load), bike storage, and a nice lounge.
  • Most of the utilities are included except for electricity, but we have a nice air conditioning unit. Apparently our heating is also covered by the building, which if that holds to be true
  • Oh, and the apartment building is a year old.
The apartment is however not perfect. While we have a microwave, we only have a two burner electric range, which means we don't have an oven. We also don't have any counter space. This means I'll have to make some serious transitions and learn to work with what I have. It's possible I'll get a prep cart to add some prep work space and maybe get a convection oven. Given the perks and few drawbacks, I consider myself very lucky, especially since the subsidized rent is very affordable.

This is something we had to take into account when looking at apartments, because the Graduate Center Housing is in Spanish Harlem (118th and 3rd). As I spent five years in Worcester Main South, this is not a big transition for me, but it's not ideal either. The apartment building is two blocks from the 6 train, which is a straight shot to the Graduate Center, down on 5th.

We've already met up with a couple of friends from Clark (our alma mater, where I got both my undergraduate and master's degree in science) who live around the greater city area. My friend Bridget (class of 2008), met up with us on our second night in the city (no less than 24 hours after unpacking) and walked us down to the Upper East Side. She lives in Astoria and is completing a master's of her own just a few blocks from us at a Hunter College campus (which is also part of CUNY). The following night, we went out with two of our Clark friends (my class of 2011) and an "honorary Clarkie", down in midtown for some dinner and gallivanting. Between now, going to Maine for a wedding, and my graduate school orientation later in the month, we hope to learn Manhattan as best as possible before the fall semester comes underway. To be honest, I want nothing else to do with any of the other boroughs until I know Manhattan decently well. Given the size of the island though, I'm not sure whether I'll be able to hold myself to that.

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