Archive for the ‘Housing spaces’ Category

College Savings and Saving Space in Your Suitcase: What to Pack When Studying Abroad

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

When I fantasize about traveling it’s always the same: one neatly packed backpack with just the essentials. Unfortunately, I am not a light packer and so this is never the case. When it comes to studying abroad you want to make sure you’re properly prepared for whatever you may encounter on your trip. It’s never a good idea to assume that a foreign country has exactly what you’re looking for. Try to find college discounts for certain items before your trip and you can save yourself a lot of trouble once you’re there. So what if you’re labeled the “mom” of your trip? Being prepared is never a bad thing—and chances are your new friends will thank you.

Before your trip it’s important to at least attempt to learn the language of the country, or at least learn some key phrases. Rosetta Stone is a great option, but for those of us on a budget there are free smartphone apps readily available. Mindsnacks is a really helpful app I found before my trip to China that allowed me to start learning the language through a series of fun interactive games. If you upgrade to the full version for $5, you’ll get access to 1000 words and phrases, 9 unique games, and 50 lessons to master. This app is available in many different languages and the upgrade is definitely worth the money!

Mindsnacks is a free app that can be used to learn new languages.

Mindsnacks is a free app that can be used to learn new languages.

Do some research about the weather you’ll experience during the months you’ll be there and pack your clothes accordingly. You don’t want to be the one wearing sweaters in the heat or shorts in the snow. Make sure you have a solid stock of any medicines or vitamins you may take every day. Regular toiletries are an essential and it’s always handy to buy Tide-To-Go, packets of Downy or any other fabric soap just in case you need to do a wash at a moment’s notice.


Sometimes laundry gets expensive in a foreign country.


Check to see what banks are available in the country you’re going to. Many countries often have branches that are linked with Bank of America so if you don’t have an account, open one up. It’s free and you won’t have to pay fees every time you grab some cash from the ATMs. The China Construction Bank, found all over China, doesn’t charge any fees as long as you have a BoA card. You can easily close your BoA account once returning to America.

Other important items are charger adapters for your specific country of origin. The outlets in America are not the same in every country and you do not want to be that person with the hair straightener exploding in your hair!

Also, to stay in touch with family and friends during your trip, set up a Gmail, Skype, Viber, and Whatsapp accounts. These are free ways to connect with your loved ones through email, phone calls, video and text messaging all through WiFi. You don’t want mom to get a $356 dollar phone bill because you accidentally used your data while roaming, do you?

My group connects to the WiFi in our hotel in Hong Kong and immediately engross themselves in social media.

My group connects to the WiFi in our hotel in Hong Kong and immediately engross themselves in social media.

Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

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Good Yellow in the Snow

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Photo thanks to Psychology Today

Despite all the fantastic holidays that accompany the winter season, the hot chocolate and snow fights are over by January, and now you’re just trying to keep the once snow, gray muck off your shoes. There are a few strange days where the sun is out and the temperature spikes for a few hours, but mostly it’s gray and icky out there with little light peering through the clouds, let alone through the skyscrapers of Manhattan. So, how do you keep your spirits up? Here are a few little happiness tips to cut through the gray:

Wear Yellow: It is the happiest color, after all. This is Martha Stewart’s suggestion, and I thoroughly promote it. So, it’s not time for your spring line to come out, why not tuck a little yellow into your wardrobe? How about a yellows tie with your button down, a few yellow hair clips, even yellow underwear (after all, it’s really for you!). The things that other people can see can spread the smiles. If your dorm, apartment, or workspace is a little dreary, why not bring a yellow soaked photo, or a few little yellow plants to brighten it up!

Just Dance: Get your heartbeat to match some pop music and really kick it up. Space is sparse in this city, but you can move a few tables, grab an ihome, and put on some dance tunes for a little party. Even if it’s just you and a hairbrush dancing in front of the mirror, make it happen and you’ll expend a little energy towards your own joy.

Give: It’s always good to remember that there are others out there who have it worse than you do. After all, you’re probably getting a college degree and have a roof over your head, so you’re already blessed. Volunteer at a shelter, soup kitchen, or outreach program. You don’t have to be a big brother or big sister, but giving just a little bit can be great. Get some friends together and make a little gift basket for a person you frequently see struggling. Not a people person? Volunteer at an animal shelter, you’ll get some furry love for your attention, which is my favorite kind.

Move Around: Make time for you and your beau to take a nice, long walk in a new neighborhood. Getting some fresh air, even if it’s cold, can be a real pick me up. No beau, drag your best friend out of the apartment, and if they’re unwilling, offer them a small prize for the outdoor exercise. No friends? Get an extra gig as a dog walker. You may have to pick up a little poo, but you’ll get paid to take a pooch out for an hour.

Even if these things don’t do it for you, making the conscious effort to mix it up a little and get out of your every day slump can brighten your cob-webbed endorphin transmitters.

Find some yellow undies at La Petite Coquette

Also, check out ATTITUDE for something sparkly:

Written by Ashley Teal, Campus Clipper Blogger

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Vagabonding in NYC

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Written by Megan Soyars

Soon after I arrived in New York City, I found myself unemployed, friendless, and—worst of all—homeless.

I’d headed up to NYC from Texas on a something of a romantic whim. I’d seen the Big Apple portrayed glamorously in movies and television, I’d listened to Alicia Key’s New York, rocking my head to the beat and thinking, I could make it there. Life in the city drew me like a moth to flame, and just like a moth, my journey was unplanned and perilous. I simply packed up my bags, bid my parents farewell, and hopped on an overnight flight.

When I arrived in NYC early next morning, exhausted yet disparately exhilarated, I called up my friend to let her know I had arrived. I’d made arrangements to sleep on her couch for a week or two till I found my own place. She responded to my call with a devastating message—her grandmother had fallen ill and was moving in to live with them. In other words, I had no place to crash that night. I made some desperate scrambling and secured a $65 room at the YMCA for the next two days. Then I called up another random friend, who agreed to let me sleep on her futon for three or so weeks. But then she kicked me out early. Once again I was a vagabond.

After a month of hostel-hopping throughout the city, I was desperate to find a permanent place. I was tired of moving, tired of suffering through uncomfortable beds and loud hostel-mates, tired of throwing away clothes and toiletries to lighten my load.

While my fellow hostel-mates (all international kids around my own age) headed to the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and other bustling attractions, I sat hunched over my laptop in the lounge, scouring the housing ads on Craigslist. Then I made a discovery—a discovery that turned around my hapless situation and ultimately made my experience in New York City an inspiring one.

That discovery was the existence of Centro Maria Woman’s Residence. Centro Maria is one of several boarding houses in NYC. These boarding houses provide a safe and peaceful place to stay for hundreds of young people. Depending on the house, a person pays between $400 to $1,000 a month for a furnished room. Many of the rooms are single, but some are double or triple if you’d prefer a roommate. Several residences also provide meals, usually two a day.

So everything was provided for me at Centro Maria. I had a clean, furnished room, complete with a bed, dresser, desk, chair, and sink. I was given free home-cooked, delicious meals twice a day. I had access to a library, TV lounge, and computers. And all for $720 a month! But not only that, I was given a sense of community.

Centro Maria is run by the Sisters of Mary Immaculate. The Sisters genuinely care about each woman in the house. It is like having several moms who are all ready to lend a helping hand. I also have a great roommate; she is from South Korea and studying English here. And I’ve met so many friends during breakfast and dinner in the dining room downstairs.

I still remember how lonely I was when bumming from hostel to hostel during my first months in New York. I’d lay awake at night, listening to my hostel-mates chatter in their own language as they packed up their luggage for a midnight flight. I’m so thankful that I found Centro Maria, and I know the residence is a great option for students like you.

Perhaps you’re living somewhere temporarily, or somewhere that you don’t want to be. Maybe you’re tired of the dorms, or your roommate, or you’re running out of money and need an affordable place to live. Consider Centro Maria! You don’t only get a room here; you get a family. And who knows—maybe I’ll see you at the residence soon!

Contact Centro Maria at 212-757-6989 or to secure a room. Or check out the many other NYC boarding houses available at this website.

And, if you’d like to know more about student housing, pre-order our $9.95 NYC Student Guide today by emailing us at

-Megan, Trinity University

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Space: Sheltering Ourselves

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

Live Comfortably- without Breaking Your Bank

When I get a twinge of syntax-block, I stare out at the grey roofs with black, green, or grey doors south of the 17th floor office I’m writing from. The only grey rectangle that holds up a human right now is the one three blocks south that held him/her up yesterday as well. Why is this man/woman in a tan jacket and black pants and shoes lounging under the sky while nobody else is? While you ponder that question I’m going to go on and on about myself – surprise, I’m sure!

Technically talking about myself right now is talking about you, though. I can count with my left hand the number of students I’ve met who commute from their parents homes, so chances are you either dorm or independently found yourself an abode off campus – me, the latter. I enjoyed my incoming year in NYU’s Third North well enough, but campus costs and even a highly disturbing moral issue prompted me to look elsewhere in Manhattan real estate for a living space.

NYU dormitory options for second to fourth year range from $9,212-$19,808 for the school year, including winter and spring recesses. Most of us are in class give-or-take four months in the fall and four in the spring, so a sophomore could potentially pay almost 20,000 big ones for about eight months if they want a single (own kitchen and bathroom). That divides out to $2,500 each month. My friend Amber pays $2,000 a month for her own studio, five blocks from school, with a south-facing skyline view, a doorman in her building, and no R.A. to answer to when her 21-year-old peers drink some beers. And she didn’t even pay a notoriously deal-savvy Manhattan broker to find her place. So honestly, the dorms are probably overcharging you by a landslide anywhere on the island, and definitely are if you go to NYU and don’t qualify for low cost housing.

So a few strategies are to search for shares, to check out an apartment building’s listings in person, or to know sombody who has a room available and like the person enough to live with them. If you’re lucky enough, a few of your friends may even decide to move into a 2-4 bedroom place together (this will save you all money because the utilities will be one bill and each person’s rent usually decreases with the more bedrooms the place has).

Personally, I went the craiglist route. I’ve been living in the East Village (not in Alphabet City east of Tompkins Square Park, but actually in the middle of the cute, historic village laiden with sweet restaurants, vintage shops and bars) for about 9 months.. and I even moved out for the summer and back in. We have a marble kitchen and bathroom, large living room with an exposed brick wall, jacuzzi tub, and roof deck. My bedroom is small but I pay less than $1,500 per month + utilities (electric and internet). Steal! The idea I’m trying to pass on is that you can find something affordable on your on. Step up and defeat the dorm-money-machine and you will personally and professionally grow from it. You will learn about New York real estate and brokers, even if you never use one. If you plan on making your career in this city, the quirks and issues you’ll realize by renting will be knowledge you learn now that you won’t have to struggle with once you’re a recent grad, trying to find footing in the harsh New York job market! Just sayin’.

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