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Life in New York

This place is such an adventure .From my bathroom window I can see the new Freedom Tower which has been built on the site of the Twin Towers- it’s currently the tallest structure in New York. At night it twinkles intriguingly.

I went to Tompkins Park, East Village on Sunday to The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival .It was just amazing, and the music was extraordinary. I was seated between two extremely old black guys who were very cool and totally ‘in the music’ – what a place to be!

I’m getting to grips with the subway and ventured way up to Spanish Harlem which is above Central Park. I came across this beautiful art outside the largest Gospel church in New York.

It was a scorching hot day. I went to Marcus Garvey Park and watched the dogs playing in the ‘Dogs Playground’. I’ve seen many New Yorkers with dogs. They also have ‘Dog Gyms’ here!

Greenwich Village- known in New York just as ‘The Village’ is close to Chelsea where there are lots and lots of bars, restaurants and shops- and just 6 blocks away is the new Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art which just opened in May 2015. One of the other great places at this location is the Highline Park. It’s an elevated section of a disused New York central railroad and runs fr 3 miles. Many New Yorkers use this facility which is a park and also an outdoor art gallery.

The campus with views of Manhattan -- Klapper Hall; the Art Block

I have yet to work out buses. Mostly I’m on foot like the majority of New Yorkers. I take the subway out to Queens (City University of New York) which takes about an hour and then a 30 min trip on the school bus to get to the campus. I’m so glad I opted to stay in the city and commute out to Queens.The city is really easy to navigate as it was built on a grid, so you cannot get lost easily.I feel safe here.It’s really just like any other large city where you keep your wits about you.

On Wednesday it was inauguration day for freshers. Although there are 18,000 students on campus, you are treated as an individual and the administrative staff are very obliging and eager to help with any questions.

My sculpture professor is a practising artist, currently exhibiting in New York. Interestingly she had spent a year at the Slade in London when she was a student herself. My first weeks assignment is to prepare a presentation on Ernesto Neto and Richard Serra (my hero)!

Hip Hop Band ‘Amiri’ playing to the crowd at Freshers

Last night I went to the Witney. It’s very impressive; I joined in on the guided talks about the art work. The exhibition is called ‘America is Hard to See’. Friday nights are ‘by donation’ entrance fee, so you give what you can afford; the queues out the door reflect that ethos!

Whitney Exhibition -- Guide explaining Barnett Newman's work

There’s lots of familiar works here, currently all American, and part of the permanent collection. For those of you artists out there, the names just trip off the tongue: Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, Rothko, Franz Kline, Man Ray. I definitely need more visits!

Practicalities:

Today I’m getting sim card for the IPad organised and buying a cheap phone for local calls.

Before leaving UK I set up a deal with Three Mobile which gives unlimited calls and texts back to UK and data for a monthly fee.

My cash is on a currency card purchased in UK, so there are no costs at the ATM and if you lose it, the card will be cancelled, and your money protected and Halifax does a good credit card called the Clarity card with no transaction fees when spending abroad.

British Airways are currently doing a deal from UK at £347 return and there is a travel grant available from student finance. If you can find cheap accommodation it is more unaffordable than one might expect.

I’m so grateful for this opportunity and would encourage exchange students to definitely come to New York.