Archive for August, 2012

College Savings Doesn’t Mean College Boredom

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Being broke is not fun. Your friends are out having the time of your lives and you’re stuck at home due to lack of funds. Although a night out on the town doesn’t need to cost much, you can only get so far with a wallet full of hopes and dreams. With that being said, here are a couple of tips to help turn you into the thrifty man or woman you always knew you could be . . . I’m talking borderline parsimonious.

Saving and budgeting doesn’t just factor into one aspect of your life—it should greatly affect ALL aspects. College savings are important because you are on your own and you want to prove that you can live on your own. Managing your money is the first step to being able to do what you want when you want.

Transportation tends to be one of the biggest expenses in the city. Whether because of gas prices or MetroCards, a large amount of our money goes into getting from place to place. How can this be cut down? Skateboarding, rollerblading, and biking have gotten quite popular. Commuter cycling has doubled since 2005, and there are bike sharing programs around the city whose memberships are substantially cheaper than a monthly MetroCard.  Carpooling to class can be a great way to not only make friends but save money, and, if all else fails, you can walk.

Thrift stores are more popular than they have ever been.  Places such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill can provide you with basic t-shirts and jeans as low as $2. Venture to the nook and crannies of some of Manhattan’s shopping districts and you’re bound to find a Buffalo Exchange or a Beacon’s Closet. These thrift stores sell name brand clothing for ridiculously cheap prices. If you’re a fan of vintage styles and trendy clothing then these stores are for you.

Cheap dates are usually the next thing on your mind since you have the ability to actually make it and the clothes to step out in. Magazines such as <em>The L Magazine</em> and <em>Village Voice</em> are always advertising free movie screening and shows. MyFreeConcert.com is one of my favorite websites for not only concerts but also art exhibits and fun (and, more importantly, free) nights out.

After running around the city you’ve probably worked up quite the appetite. Luckily, the Campus Clipper is here to help. We offer deals across the city, helping students keep the green in their pockets while taming the growling in their stomachs. The $9.99 all-you-can-eat lunch buffet at Bombay Talkie is highly suggested, or if you and a friend need a caffeine boost, there’s a coupon for a free cappuccino or latte with a purchase from The Bean.

So there you have it: proof that you can have fun in the big city and keep a majority of your cash at the same time! Now go out, have fun and be frugal.

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Carlos L., Monroe College. Read my blog!!  Follow me on Twitter and Facebook :)

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Going Out in the City on a College Budget: Five Whys and Five Hows

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Growing up, going to “the city” (that is, New York City) meant dressing up in whatever dress I wore for Easter Sunday or Christmas Eve and going out to dinner at a Zagat-rated restaurant somewhere in Little Italy with my family.  In those days, Mom and Dad paid.  When I first moved to the city from Westchester four years ago, going out meant throwing on a shirt and skirt in hopes of looking somewhat decent on the line of an overhyped 18+ club that I or my roommates were “on the list” for, thanks to a Facebook group that boasted to keep us up-to-date on the hottest and cheapest NYC college-age nightlife.  I quickly denied the existence of such a life.

pitfalls of fake IDs

When I turned twenty-one, I retired my once-used, two-years-expired fake ID that flaunted the image of a girl who looks absolutely nothing like me except for the fact that we are both 5’4” and have brown hair and brown eyes. At 5PM on my twenty-first birthday, I entered a heavenly paradise: Trader Joe’s Wine Shop.  Knowing that I would, without a doubt, be carded there, I stood on line with two bottles of Three-Buck-Chuck and my awkward but somehow freeing sixteen-year-old smile staring at me from my driver’s license.

When it comes to going out, the city has much to offer besides Trader Joe’s Wine Shop.  Bars are everywhere, nightclubs are plentiful, and parties often literally happen in the streets and under them in the subways.  Having gone to Manhattan for college, I was faced with the challenge of the city in addition to traditional college distractions.  Still, I believe that the ups outnumber and outweigh the downs when it comes to the typical college student’s desire to celebrate the weekend, weekday, or lack of knowing what day it is.

  1. You can leave your apartment without a set destination.  Don’t know where to go?  Just go.  Look for “two for one” signs.  Follow crowds.  Gravitate towards noise.  Ask loud people you cross on the street where they just came from and hope they remember.
  2. You meet people (whether you want to or not).  Though you may unwillingly find out about a stranger’s hygiene, astrological sign, and pick-up techniques, you may also make some new friends or at least go home with an interesting story or characters for that screenplay you’ve been working on.
  3. You don’t have to designate a driver.  Subways, taxis, and sidewalks are a New Yorker’s best friends.  Because few people going to college in the city have a car with them, there is no need to draw straws at the beginning of the night (though you may want to designate a pack leader to lead the way home if you’re sleepily returning at three in the morning).

    Designate your shoes when you don't designate a driver. Walking in heels can be tough!

  4. You can always find a place to eat.  From cookies to dollar pizza to street meat to pretty much anything, food is always available and often cheap.
  5. Nowhere is off-limits.  Though you may have to wait a bit longer for subways to arrive the closer it gets to sunrise, every borough is at your fingertips.  This also allows for you to try a new place when “the usual” just isn’t enough. 

The bad news?  Money doesn’t grow on trees, and, if it did, you still wouldn’t have any because you likely don’t have any trees growing on your fire escape.  The city is always outside your door, always awake, and always hungry for your wallet.  Plus, the fact that you may or may not already be going broke paying for a college education doesn’t help any.

However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past four years, it’s that you should always be prepared.  If you plan out at least part of your night ahead of time, you don’t have to pay much for a night of fun.

  1. Eat dinner home.  Instead of going out to eat, make dinner with some friends in someone’s kitchen or have a potluck dinner.  This is often cheaper and healthier, and allows you to start the weekend celebration together and then head out when everyone is accounted for.

    Leave yourselves a large tip with all the money you save when you celebrate at home with friends.

  2. Buy your own alcohol. If you are 21 and drink, look online for which liquor stores or beer distributors have the best deals on your beverage(s) of choice, and hit them up before they close.  Make your own concoctions, which can be fun!  And, if you do go out afterwards, you’ll probably be less tempted to spend money on overpriced drinks.
  3. Arrive early.  Many locations (bars and clubs alike) that charge cover fees charge differently according to what time it is.  If your usual bar has a good happy hour, meet up with a few friends for cheap drinks.  If a club says that admission is free before ten o’clock, consider getting there early.  Don’t forget to account for the time it takes to wait on line!  Also, when possible, be female—you’ll probably pay less to get in to some places.
  4. Have your own dance/karaoke/movie/theme party.  Sometimes a night in can be even more rewarding than a night out.
  5. Take advantage of your college or university.  While you might associate school events with middle school dances when the sexes stood on opposite sides of the room and stared at their feet or giggled in circles, school-sponsored events can often be fun.  The people putting them together are probably either paid to do it (and probably at least somewhat good at it) or they are college students just like you with similar ideas of fun.  Check your school events calendar, as well as any deals that your school and local businesses offers like student-price movie tickets, coupons, brochures, and other student savings.  You’ll be surprised what you can find!

It's who you're with that counts most.

Of course, there is no perfect formula for saving money, but over time you should discover what works for you and learn your own methods along the way.  While you’re in college, remember that you’re in college.  Remember that you’re not the only one concerned about saving money while having fun, that there are whole schools of students worried about the same thing.  In this realization you can find your savior—your friends.  No matter where you’re going or what you’re doing, surround yourself by good people and you can’t go wrong.

 

Take advantage of a great happy hour at Cuba!

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Carina, New York University. Read my blog and check out my Twitter! FOLLOW ME!!

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An Escape to Mexico: Tortaria

Monday, August 20th, 2012

After a long of week of seemingly endless work at the office, I finally had a day free to myself to spend doing whatever I felt like doing. So I headed out to Union Square with my sister, Rachel, to visit some bookstores around the neighborhood and grab a bite to eat. Right off of University Place, we walked into a Mexican restaurant called Tortaria for our late lunch. Despite it being past regular lunch hours, Tortaria was packed with diners enjoying their meals. Rachel and I were seated at the bar, where we were given a thorough explanation of the wide variety of dishes on the menu.

Upon being seated, Frankie, the restaurant manager, recommended that we start off our meals with a frozen margarita, one of Tortaria’s famous drinks. The frozen margaritas come in different flavors every day, depending on what Frankie thinks would be the daily hit. I was given a pomegranate margarita, an absolutely delightful concoction with a sweet and fruity flavor blended with refreshing ice. In the musky and hot city, this drink is the perfect solution for beating away the heat. After receiving my drink, Rachel and I ordered the chips and guacamole as our appetizer. One great thing about Tortaria is that their guacamole is made fresh for every diner. When receiving an order of guacamole, a member of Tortaria’s staff quickly cuts open a fresh avocado to mix it in with the rest of the ingredients to make a customized guacamole bowl according to each diner’s preference. Made immediately on the spot, Tortaria’s guacamole was refreshing with bright flavors that popped out to complement the crispy tortilla chips.

 

Pomegranate Frozen Margarita

Freshly Sliced Avocado for Making Guacamole

Making of the Fresh Guacamole

Chips and Guacamole

Next came our taquitos. Each taquito is made with soft, white-corn masa tortillas that have been individually hand-pressed after receiving the order. Because the tortillas are made fresh as well, I was definitely able to taste the authenticity of the taquitos as if I was really eating in the streets of Mexico. We ordered the Pescado Taquito, a filet of crispy red snapper topped with a mango chipotle slaw and warm costeño salsa, and the Carnitas: braised pork with crumbled Queso Fresco, pickled red onions, and tomatillo salsa. The Pescado Taquito was absolutely amazing; the fish filet was crispy but not heavily fried and the mango chipotle slaw with costeño salsa added a mildly sweet and zesty flavor to the taquitos as a whole. The Carnitas were also delicious, with tender pork marinated with a sweet and spicy salsa to create unique tastes. Both taquitos were light and well cooked, and we were thoroughly impressed.

 

Pescado Taquito with Mango Slaw

Carnitas: Braised Pork Taquitos

Tortaria is also famous for their Mexican sandwiches, called tortas, and they take great pride in creating unique flavors for each dish. Tortas from Tortaria are fresh, using semolina bread baked locally every day. We ordered the Milanesa de Pollo, their most popular torta, the Crispy Eggplant, and the Mexican Grilled Cheese. After tasting the Milanesa dePollo, it was obvious why this was the most popular dish on the menu: with panko-crusted chicken cutlet topped with spicy black beans, melted Oaxaca cheese, avocado, pickled red onions and jalapeno, chipotle mayo, and cilantro sprigs, this torta is packed with fresh ingredients that make it the best Mexican sandwich you’ll ever eat. Slightly spicy and tangy, balanced with the tender and crispy chicken cutlet, the Milanesa de Pollo is simply amazing. The Crispy Eggplant Torta is a vegetarian torta, with panko-crusted fried eggplant cutlets topped with Chihuahua cheese, avocado, fresh piloncillo tomatoes, pickled jalapeno, fresh cilantro, and Tortaria’s chipotle BBQ sauce. As you can see from the extensive list of ingredients, the Crispy Eggplant Torta is filled with great vegetables that combine to create the sandwich’s flavor, which was absolutely delectable. What I liked the most about this torta was the fact that it was a vegetarian Mexican dish; generally, Mexican food is based on meat, so having a vegetarian dish on the menu is definitely a crowd-pleaser. Lastly, the Mexican Grilled Cheese at Tortaria gave a unique twist to the classic grilled cheese sandwich. Using buttered Challah bread, the Mexican Grilled Cheese consisted of melted Oaxaca cheese, fresh piloncillo tomatoes, chicken chicharrones, and roasted chipotle salsa. Chicken chicharrones are fried chicken skin which gives the grilled cheese a crunch, whereas the piloncillo tomatoes add a slightly sweet flavor to the overall savory sandwich. All three sandwiches were well-made, tasted great, and were uniquely crafted to give each diner an extraordinary Mexican dining experience.

 

Milanesa de Pollo

Crispy Eggplant Torta

Mexican Grilled Cheese

To top off our meal, we ordered the Paleta de Horchata & Tequila Ice Pop, a popular dessert, as I saw many people ordering it. As a mix of liquor and ice pop, this particular dessert is a great way to combine two spectrums of food, with the youthful ice pop and adult tequila. This, too, was also an extremely light dish, ending our entire meal with an overall lightness that satisfied our hungry stomachs.

 

Paleta de Horchata & Tequila Ice Pop

Everything about Tortaria is fresh, immediate, and carefully crafted, and there is no doubt as to why this restaurant is always buzzing with people. With a great brunch menu for the weekend, Tortaria offers a great selection of food for people with all tastes. I absolutely fell in love with their guacamole and taquitos, and I can’t wait to visit again to try the different combinations of Mexican food that Tortaria has to offer.

Tortaria supports the Campus Clipper booklet and is one of our sponsors for the fall issue. Take a look at their amazing menu here: http://tortaria-nyc.com/menus.php

Becky Kim, Queens College, Read my blog and follow me on Twitter
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Tortaria on Urbanspoon

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Professors 2.0

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

It’s about that time: school is right around the corner and so are professors! Not only do you have to worry about making sure your bank account is on point and getting your student savings, but you have to make sure you make a good first impression with your professors.

 

Meeting a professor for the first time  

Particularly if you’re a first year student en route to your first real college class, you might be a little nervous when classes start. Depending on how big your College or University is, a typical 100-level class can range from 60 to 200 students! The professor can try his or her best to get to know everyone, but seeing as professors’ schedules are so busy, it’s up to you to make them notice you. You also have to keep in mind that in the future you may need a recommendation from a professor for a job. With that being said, not only do you want to do well in the class and build an academic relationship, but you also want to build a personal one. One tip is to simply go up to the professor after class and introduce yourself. You can choose to introduce yourself with your name and year in school or perhaps just your name—it’s up to you. Then, simply tell him or her that you are excited to be in the class this semester. These simple lines are going to introduce you to the professor but will also tell them that you are serious about the class and care about forming a relationship.

 

Taking a class with a professor you had before

If you have had the same professor for a new class, you are already at an advantage in terms of building a quality professor-student relationship. However, whether a great deal of time has passed or not, you still want to be able to maintain that relationship. After the first class with a well-acquainted professor, go and say hello. Tell him or her that you are excited to be taking the class and look forward to having a great experience like that of the last class you had with him or her.  This move and can make your relationship stronger and will let the professor know that you are a serious student.

 

Note: the above advice is intended if you did well in the previous class with that same professor.  If you failed or didn’t do as well in the class as you hoped, and you end up taking the class over, I would advise something different.  Instead of going up to the professor after class, you should visit the professor during his or her office hours. Meeting a professor during office hours can set a more intimate and professional meeting atmosphere and gives you more time to communicate. Tell your professor that you are thankful to be allowed to take the class over and that you look forward to doing better this time around. Your professor will know that you mean business, and he or she will have a clean impression of you instead of the one you last made.

 

I have only touched upon a few of many ways to make good first impressions on professors. If you would like more tips or advice, leave a comment and I will get back to you!

 

Joanne, Simmons College ’15. Read my personal blog!

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Going French with Vive la Crêpe!

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

My dream has always been to travel Paris to indulge in the art, culture, and food of France. But with school and work currently dominating my life, my plans of traveling will have to wait until I’m able to squeeze in some vacation time. When that time comes, I’ll be committed to trying all of the delicious food that France has to offer. But in the meantime, I’ve found a small local café that specializes in one of France’s most popular delicacies, crêpes. Vive la Crêpe! brings French street culture into the streets of New York.

Upon entering Vive la Crêpe! in Union Square, I met with with the social media manager, Kate, who gave me information on the popular eatery. Focusing solely on crêpes and café drinks, Vive la Crêpe! aims to exude an aura of “authentic French coffee shop.” It succeeds: small yet homey, with wooden walls and chairs throughout the café, each employee at Vive la Crêpe! has been trained to perfectly create the signature delicate dessert in order to provide diners with an original French crêpe experience rather than turn it into something Americanized. The unique presentation of the crêpes is something to be admired: served in a cone, the crêpes, which are considered street food in France and served in food carts and small storefront windows for a quick eat, are easily portable and resemble over-sized ice creams that just as easily melt in your mouth.

My partner for the day, Maria, and I ordered one savory crêpe and one sweet crêpe to see if Vive la Crêpe! could tackle both worlds.  From the extensive menu, we chose the spinach, goat cheese, mushroom and basil crêpe, as well as the Nutella crêpe. Soon after we ordered, we were holding two large cones of hot, freshly-made crêpes. The ingredients of our savory crêpe were fresh and clearly designed to be a healthier option with creamy goat cheese. The fresh spinach and basil, mixed with the distinct taste of goat cheese, gave this savory crêpe a light yet satisfying meal-like quality. According to Kate, this is one of the most popular crêpes on the menu. Our Nutella crepe was amazing as well, the soft crêpe sheets covered in nutty and chocolatey Nutella. Sweet and simple, the Nutella crêpe would be great as a light dessert or a snack to satisfy a sweet tooth. The layers of crêpe that encased these delicious ingredients were extremely soft and fluffy while still maintaining the traditional thin texture. None of the edges were crusty or over-cooked, and the crêpes were evenly chewy throughout.

Spinach, Goat Cheese, Mushroom, & Basil Crepe

Nutella Crepe

Vive la Crêpe! is the perfect place to grab a quick bite to eat, as well as a place in which you can find a great cup of espresso — all for an affordable price. Better yet, Vive la Crêpe! has a smartphone application with a QR code so that diners can redeem a free crêpe with their first Vive la Crêpe! receipt (with no expiration date!). A hot spot in NYC, Vive la Crêpe!’s Union Square establishment has sister locations in NoLIta, the West Village, and the Upper West Side so that people all over Manhattan can indulge in a great crêpe experience. Maria and I had a wonderful time at Vive la Crêpe!, and I can confidently say that you can grab the best crêpes here, right on the streets on New York City.

Visit their website, download the app for free crêpes, and check out their menu here: http://www.vivelacrepe.fr/

Get a great discount at Vive la Crepe using this coupon from the Campus Clipper

Vive la crêpe! on Urbanspoon

Becky Kim, Queens College, Read my blog and follow me on Twitter

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The Mussel Pot: A Seafood Experience

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Summer nights in NYC are absolutely beautiful, and around dinnertime on Bleecker Street, there is a sense of orderliness as the city-goers file into the restaurants to enjoy a relaxing night out with great eats. This past Saturday, I finally found some time to myself where I could take a break from my usual routine of work, and I headed out to Bleecker Street with my good friend Amanda for a girls’ night out. Bleecker Street is extremely popular for having some of the best restaurants in the city, and it’s been a popular hot spot for people of all ages. Out of the many restaurants on Bleecker Street, Amanda and I chose The Mussel Pot for a seafood experience that so many New Yorkers love.

Known for having some of the best seafood in the NYC area, The Mussel Pot takes great pride in its mussel pots, as the name implies. The restaurant was warm-toned with soft lights, exuding a romantic atmosphere. The Mussel Pot has a small garden behind the restaurant for diners who wish for peaceful outdoor dining in the busy Manhattan neighborhood, providing a great chance to escape the busy city.

The Mussel Pot has an extensive list of drinks, ranging from an entire page of beer to a creative list of specialty drinks. To start our meal, Amanda and I each ordered a specialty drink; Amanda ordered the Hemingway Daiquiri Martini which contains rum, grapefruit juice, fresh lime juice, and maraschino, and I ordered the Almond Joy, a mix of Godiva white chocolate and Malibu coconut rum swirled with brown chocolate. Our drinks arrived shortly after we ordered them, and we were just as soon satisfied with our choices. The Hemingway Daiquiri Martini was light with a tart sweetness to it, making it a great drink to start the meal with. The Almond Joy was delicious as well, with a strong chocolate taste.

Hemingway Daiquiri Martini

Almond Joy

We ordered our entrées right after receiving our drinks, starting with the seafood rigatoni and Guinness-battered fish and chips, our two seafood favorites. We also ordered two different mussel pots: the Bouillabaisse and the Louisiana. A great thing about The Mussel Pot’s menu is that their mussel pots are listed by region. For example, the Bouillabaisse is under the French section and the Louisiana is under the American. With six different regional categories, diners are able to experience dishes of varying ethnicities.

The seafood rigatoni and Guinness battered fish and chips arrived first and these two dishes simply blew us away. The rigatoni was cooked to a perfect al dente with an excellent creamy, cheesy sauce over it. The seafood rigatoni was overflowing with different types of seafood, containing baby shrimp, scallops, and mussels. All of the ingredients used were fresh and Amanda and I both loved this delightful dish. The Guinness battered fish and chips were also astounding. Lightly battered, perfectly seasoned, and cooked to a great crisp, the fish and chips were my personal favorite. The dish came with three different sauces: ketchup for chips, tartar sauce, and vinegar. The tartar sauce and vinegar were great additions to the dish, each giving different yet delicious flavors to the fried fish.

Seafood Rigatoni

Guinness Battered Fish & Chips

After we finished our two dishes, our long awaited mussel pots arrived in large stainless steel pots. The two mussel pots were steaming and packed with fresh mussels and seafood waiting to be devoured. The bouillabaisse contained fresh scallops, clams, shrimp, and a thick saffron broth –a classic French styled dish with a great richness to it. All of the seafood incorporated into the dish was well-cooked and the mussels were especially amazing. The natural taste of the sea within the mussels mixed with the saffron broth created a great balance of flavor to the mussel pot. The Louisiana contained Andouille sausage, baby shrimp, crawfish tails, gumbo sauce, and scallion. A classic American mussel pot, the Louisiana had a smoky heat to it that is often found in southern dishes. The bouillabaisse was rich and worked off the natural briny flavors of the seafood, while the Louisiana added a great contrast to it with its spices and distinctive seasonings. The two mussel pots were packed with flavor and were a great finish to our meal.

The Bouillabaisse

The Louisiana

There’s no doubt that The Mussel Pot is one of the most popular restaurants in the neighborhood – diners flowed in out and of the restaurant, crowding the place by peak dinner time. With friendly service, great atmosphere, and amazing food, there’s no surprise that The Mussel Pot is a favorite of many NYC diners. Amanda and I loved our experience at The Mussel Pot, and I highly recommend this place to seafood lovers and others alike who simply enjoy a quality meal in the city.

 

The Mussel Pot on Urbanspoon

Becky Kim, Queens College, Read my blog and follow me on Twitter
Click here to download the Campus Clipper iTunes App!
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Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book

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