Each man reads his own meaning into New York
February 27, 2010 5:21 AM   Subscribe

What would you do for a month and a half in New York City?

I currently live in New York City and am in my first year of grad school, with my first summer break coming up. I have travel plans for July and August, but was planning to stay in the city for the last half of May though June. It seems like too short of a time to get a job or internship or anything, so I want to think of another good use of my time.

Obviously there's no shortage of things to do here, but I was hoping for a concrete, achievable goal, new skill, or interesting story. I've lived here for a number of years, so slightly off-the-beaten-path things would be great (and non-nyc specific things are fine too). I love art, film, food, crafts, exploring the city, etc. I'd like to keep it on the inexpensive side (so for example, a month long course at the French Culinary Institute would be fun, but a little too pricy) but I have a little leeway. Ideas I was thinking about:

-see every work of art on view at the Met
-teach myself to read Portuguese
-printmaking course at Cooper Union
-get off at every stop on the subway and explore the surrounding areas
-short-term intensive volunteer experience of some kind
-train to run a half-marathon

things like that. What would you do with a month and a half off?
posted by LeeLanded to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Sign-up with NY Cares and do a bunch of volunteering. You could, if you chose, do a different volunteer gig, through them, most days of the week.
posted by Pineapplicious at 5:34 AM on February 27, 2010

I'd probably pick some particular thing I'm interested in and go overboard, while blogging it. Like walk every block in Manhattan.
posted by nitsuj at 5:44 AM on February 27, 2010

Seconding a volunteering gig. It'll give you some experience with team building, add to your resume and you'll feel good about the month and a half that you spent helping people.
posted by Hiker at 5:55 AM on February 27, 2010

Take welding classes and help make fire-spouting carnival rides at the Madagascar Institute?
posted by moonmilk at 7:51 AM on February 27, 2010

I love the Madagascar Institute, and second the idea of taking a welding class there! But I think the volunteering idea is probably best for this particular project.
posted by Eshkol at 7:59 AM on February 27, 2010

Best answer: Governor's Island is, in my estimation, one of the coolest places on earth, and certainly in the New York area. Last year there was an organic farm and volunteers were always welcome. There were also several superb arts and music festivals and installations throughout the summer, which also welcomed volunteers.

Along the lines of Madagascar Institute, there's also 3rd Ward in Brooklyn for art and fabrication classes.
posted by messica at 8:16 AM on February 27, 2010

Best answer: - explore china town. take the $1 walking food tour, go to pearl river.
- find the coyote in central park
- take the 7 to ps1 and 5pointz in queens
- walk the brooklyn bridge (walk back on the manhattan bridge?)
posted by mewmewmew at 8:33 AM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Extend the Met plan to every museum on the Upper East Side? That should keep you busy...oh, and add MOMA in there too...

Seriously, a month and a half isn't enough to do all of any one of your ideas. NYC is crazy that way. Depending on how in depth you want to get, you could probably spend the whole month *just* in the Met.
posted by dubitable at 8:52 AM on February 27, 2010

Best answer: A project I was working on while I lived in Jersey City (and obviously never finished) was to take pictures of the tilework inside each subway station. That would give you a work product, and possibly a tangible art project, if you went with your subway idea.
posted by immlass at 9:22 AM on February 27, 2010

Best answer: I'm not a museum person, but just the idea of spending New York City in air conditioned museums all month makes me claustrophobic. New York City in the summer is amazing. Shakespeare in the Park! Since you don't have to work, you'll probably be voted to stand in line super early, but it's really worth it. They're showing The Merchant of Venice and A Winter's Tale.

Do you like going to the salon? Some people are hesitant to get their hair cut and dyed by a salon student, but these people are getting trained by the best stylists in New York City (and the world). You've got the whole month off but you're living on a grad student salary salary, so sign up for a Monday morning session with someone at Bumble & Bumble, Arrojo, or pick someone off Craiglist. The student is walked through every step of the process by the person in charge, so you're in good hands.

New York City is all about movies outdoors in the summer. I particularly like the SummerScreen series at McCarren park, but there are outdoor screenings at Riverside Park all the way to the DUMBO side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

And go to Governors Island on a Friday and rent the bikes for free. It's a gorgeous little oasis of trees, brick houses, and hammocks that you can lounge in.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:27 AM on February 27, 2010

See as much theater as you can afford while you're here. It doesn't have to be expensive.

The Village Voice and Time Out New York can help you find all sorts of free and cheap things to do.

Best to play it by ear. All the planning in the world can't prepare you for the reality of this city. Visitors often find themselves in utter shock, overwhelmed by an abundance of options. Pick one or two things to do each day and don't be afraid to explore. One thing leads to the next.

Meet people; talk to locals; we're here to help. Remember that people live here. Life goes on, masked as it may seem by a gaudy veil of tourist traps. Try to be respectful; it's no one's personal amusement park.

Spend time relaxing in public spaces. Avoid Starbucks. Don't get swept up in anyone's scene.

Soak it all in. Have fun.

You'll write your interesting story once you've lived it.
posted by xndr at 11:13 AM on February 27, 2010

After six weeks in the Big Apple, there's a slim chance I would get tired of eating excellent pizza (possibly at different pizzeria every day).
posted by Rash at 1:15 PM on February 27, 2010

Nthing volunteering. Also, depending on where you go to grad school, you may get into many museums and other venues for free with your student id. If so, I'd try to visit all of the venues. Similarly, I'd check out Club Free Time and do at least one of the activities per week.
posted by wiskunde at 5:38 PM on February 27, 2010

I'll second the suggestions to visit Governors Island - it really is great. I lived there for several years... it was and still is an oasis within NYC.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:33 PM on February 27, 2010

Try to meet the right people to finagle your way into experiencing the Manhattan skyline from a rooftop in Brooklyn at nighttime. The Jersey side is generally agreed to be more photogenic, and Top of the Rock and the ESB may be high up, but it's another thing to view it amidst the roofs within the greater city.
posted by marco_nj at 8:15 AM on February 28, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks so much for the ideas, folks. I know I marked a lot of best answers, but they all were great suggestions!

I didn't phrase the question well--I was thinking more along the lines of one big project than lots of activities (obviously I didn't expect to do everything on my list, let alone all these cool things too!) but y'all are convincing me to spend the time doing a little bit of everything, which would be lovely too.

I especially love the idea of the farm on Governor's Island--I love it out there, but hadn't realized they have a farm you can volunteer at. And the Madagascar Institute!
posted by LeeLanded at 5:59 AM on March 1, 2010

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