By Eleanor, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
It’s no secret that one of the main reasons I chose Rutgers for my year abroad was due to its vicinity to one of the most famous cities in the world, compared to other destinations in the US offered by Manchester. I feel I made a great choice. My apartment at Rutgers was literally one minute’s walk from New Brunswick train station, perfect for someone like me who tends to run fashionably late. From here, New Jersey Transit trains run directly to New York Penn Station in the heart of Manhattan, taking between half an hour to 50 minutes. For the price of dinner and a cocktail ($28, around £22) I could get a return train to the city that never sleeps. Here’s my experiences at some of the most iconic landmarks in the world.
Arguably the most iconic image of modern NYC is Times Square. Over my time here, I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with it. One issue is that it’s always teeming with tourist trying the get THE SHOT, which can be annoying as you feel like you’re gate-crashing a hundred photoshoots at once. It’s also obviously on Broadway, so try to avoid it around matinee/evening show times to dodge crowds clutching their Playbills. It’s also a bit of a sensory overload of advertising and bright lights. However, it is a bit exciting to be there, and can get you some cool pictures for your own Instagram. I also managed to see Chicago on Broadway as a birthday present (starring Pamela Anderson as Roxy!), which was amazing and surreal.
New York also has some of the most famous museums in the world. Most obvious is the American Museum of Natural History, which overlooks Central Park and has stuffed wild animals and scenes right out of ‘Night at the Museum’. My favourite museum I visited however was the 9/11 Museum. Sadly, in modern history New York has been known for those tragic events in 2001. While this may seem an odd choice of destination to visit, the exhibits and storytelling of the museum are really well done and pay tribute to the people of this great city in a fitting way. When we first visited in September 2021, the final two opening hours on Mondays were totally free to enter, but I would even say paying admission is worth it
One of the most famous things about New York is its skyline. There’s a few ways to see it in all of its glory; if you don’t mind splashing the cash, the “Top of the Rock” experience in the Rockerfeller building is $40 and gives you the classic Manhattan skyline experience, from all angles. However, you can get on the Staten Island Ferry for free to see views of the Statue of Liberty up close as well as lower Manhattan, such as the One World Trade building where the Twin Towers once stood.
My favourite was the view from Brooklyn at night. Me and a fellow Brit I met at Rutgers had gone to NYC on a whim one Saturday in February, and followed our noses around the Subway to places we hadn’t been in the Fall semester. After a lot of confusion and accidentally ending up hallway through Brooklyn, we left the Subway station and walked toward the Hudson to get our bearings. And we ended up at Brooklyn Bridge Park, with the sun having gone down while we were underground; we were greeted for the first time by the fantastic sight of New York by night.
In terms of views, and especially on a budget, I can’t recommend Central Park enough. Unlike other major cities, New York is lucky to have a huge park right in the centre of the city; at double the size of London’s Hyde Park, Central Park really feels like you’re in another world. Even after my trips ‘to the city’ being in the double digits, I feel like I didn’t scratch the surface. At Christmas time, I loved going to the Park to watch the ice skaters under the Manhattan skyline, and in spring the cherry blossom on the trees is magical.