Archive for the ‘Outside Manhattan’ Category

College Savings: How to Afford a Study Abroad Trip as a Broke College Student

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Whether my friends ask me if I want to go to the movies or out for an expensive meal, my answer is always the same: “I’m a college student.” This is the universally known phrase meaning, “I’d love to, but I can’t. I’m broke.” College expenses can really weigh down on my desire to have a social life. Between tuition, books, Metrocard fare, and food, there’s really no wiggle room for anything extra and I’m always trying to find college discounts wherever I go. When I learned about study abroad options through CUNY, my friends asked me where I wanted to go. “China,” I replied smiling. “But I’m a college student.”

Eating a bowl of noodles in Nanjing, China that cost 7¥ (yuan): less than $1.50!

Eating a bowl of noodles in Nanjing, China that cost 7¥ (yuan): less than $1.50!

Studying abroad, although costly, is not necessarily as impossible as one might think for the ‘poor’ college student—and it certainly has its perks. One way to help pay for your study abroad trip is to get scholarship money. Just like when you were applying for college, scholarships are diverse, obscure and available to a multitude of people. You just need to be willing to look for them. One great place to start is CEA Scholarships, which are scholarships specifically for students who want to study abroad. There are multiple merit based scholarships available and also financial need based scholarships.

Often times when applying for these scholarships you are required to write a personal essay. In order to get the money you need to make yourself stand out. Write several different essays, share them with your writing major friends, revise and edit. The more work you put into your essay, the better chance you’ll have at getting that money. Other scholarships to look into for studying abroad are the SIROCS scholarship and the SASA Travel Abroad Scholarship.

You never know when you're going to stumble upon some interesting souvenir like a Communist Obama Tshirt!

You never know when you’re going to stumble upon some interesting souvenir like a Communist Obama Tshirt!

Don’t be afraid to go and contact the financial aid office at your college. Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, go anyway. Sometimes the financial aid rules and regulations differ for certain study abroad programs and it never hurts to ask! Taking out student loans might also be a viable option to look into. Loans are a really great way to give yourself some time to save up your money after you take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Start saving up now! Even if you get fully covered by scholarships or financial aid, there’s still the matter of having spending money in a foreign country. Whether you want to buy a cheap bowl of noodles, or a memorable souvenir, you’re going to end up wanting to spend some cash on your trip. In Shenzhen, China I came across an amusement park called Windows of the World. I was definitely glad that I had some cash to pay for the admission. Get a part time job while you wait for the start of your program and put that cash aside. You’ll be happy you did once you get to your new temporary home. You want to be able to take care of yourself while you’re away and have some fun too!

 

 

My friends on the train ride at Windows of the World in Shenzhen, China.

My friends on the train ride at Windows of the World in Shenzhen, China.

-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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College Savings Experience by Studying Abroad

Saturday, September 13th, 2014
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Photo op with some monks my friends and I met on the Great Wall of China.

I like chicken soup. Wǒ xǐhuān jītāng.

It’s probably one of the only phrases I learned to say correctly in Mandarin while studying abroad in China and it still makes me laugh one year later.

No matter what college you go to, even if it’s only a few psychology courses online, everyone should go on a study abroad program at least once in their lifetime. Study abroad is a rite of passage and the college discounts you get is worth the experience. It’s the ability to say that during your young adult life you did something different and learned about a new place. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you go. What’s important is that you get out, see the world, and learn about a country that isn’t America.

One of the best benefits of studying abroad is that your early 20s is the best time to travel. Besides school, and maybe a part-time job, you don’t have that many obligations. Once you’re working the 9-5 grind you’ll find it’s extremely difficult to snag any vacation days right away. Studying abroad provides you with a way to get college credits without sitting in a classroom for an entire semester. Study abroad programs usually offer a variety of courses that range from common core classes to specific credits that can be used towards your major.

Studying abroad through your school is a great way to make friends that will be there after the trip. Most of the people that go on study abroad trips go to the same school. It’s very easy to form close friendships in a short amount of time on these trips. Walking across campus and seeing a familiar face is always a nice surprise in the middle of a hectic day.

 

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New friendships only grow stronger after hours of hiking the Yellow Mountain (Mt. Huangshan) in the southern Anhui province in eastern China.

People don’t just travel because of the boredom from living in the same place. People travel because they thirst to see something new. It’s one thing to see a picture of a famous landmark; it’s quite another to actually see that landmark with your own eyes. Ask anyone that’s ever traveled anywhere, or ask anyone with a smartphone camera; no photo or Instagram filter can truly ever beat the real thing. When you go home and change your profile picture on Facebook to a picture of yourself standing on the Great Wall of China—that’s something to brag about.

To learn about a culture that is foreign from your own is a truly important experience. There are so many different cultures in the world that it is impossible to count. To go through life ignorant of the world around you is a foolish mistake. Hear a different language slide past your lips. Eat a food that you can’t identify. Engross yourself in a way of living that you’ve never experienced.

A study abroad trip is more than just a trip. It’s a chance to take an adventure, fill a scrapbook with memories, and tell stories to your loved ones that will last a lifetime.

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Group picture of the 2013 Summer CUNY China trip in front of the Monk Xuanzang statue in Xi’an, China.

-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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The High Line

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Looking for something free to do in Manhattan?  We recommend checking out the Chelsea High Line.  You can easily walk the entire park in less than 45 minutes — that is, if you don’t want to sit and read a book or take photos along the scenic pathway.

The High Line, now one of NYC’s great urban parks, used to be a dilapidated historic railroad.  Once used for the commerce and distribution of  meat, milk, and produce,  the historic infrastructure became a voided space in Manhattan in 1980 as the last train delivered frozen turkeys to Greenwich Village.

Since 1980, the elevated railroad was left to natural forces and was devoured by New York’s wild plants and vegetation.  Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the architects who designed the renovation and reuse of the High Line in 2003, wanted to incorporate the wild plants  into the renovation design.  The intentionality of preserving the wild plants lead to the final re-use design of a public park.  While walking in the park, one can still see the original train tracks amongst the wild trees, grasses, and flowers.

The High Line at 14th Street

Since it’s opening in 2009, The High Line has been made itself accessible to the public in three phases; the third and final phase will be opened in 2014.  Right now, the High Line stretches from West 30th Street to Gansevoort Street along 10th Avenue.  We recommend walking the entire Highline from from West 30th and 10th Ave down into Greenwich Village.  This is a fantastic way to clear your mind and enjoy the last bit of summer!

After the walk, why not pick up a bubble tea on your way back to school?  Be sure to get your discount by using this coupon —

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Eliza Moore, Brooklyn College

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The Brooklyn Book Festival

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

September is the best month to be a book-lover in New York City.

I discovered this last year, when I had just started interning for a Brooklyn-based literary magazine, The Coffin Factory. As a member of the team, I was asked to go out to the Brooklyn Book Festival, an annual celebration of all things literary. (http://www.brooklynbookfestival.org/BBF/Home ) It’s the perfect place to be, whether you’re an aspiring writer, an avid reader, or just a college student looking for something interesting to fill your time with.

 

The editors of The Coffin Factory at the Brooklyn Book Festival

The festival itself takes place on one Saturday (this year it’s September 22 from 10am – 6pm). However, there are a plethora of free literary events hosted by various members of the New York City literary scene for the entire week leading up to the big event.

Last year, The Coffin Factory hosted a panel entitled “Who Gives a Sh*t About Literary Magazines?” with editors from Granta, Tin House, and The Paris Review discussing their opinions on literary culture, readership, and the future of print magazines. I remember sitting at the back of the independent bookstore (Book Court) where the event was held and thinking that it was wonderful that such a thing could exist and that so many people cared enough to come. I guess a lot of people give a sh*t about literary magazines after all.

The events prior to the actual festival are always fun, engaging, and sometimes intimate enough to get to talk to the hosts afterwards. There are pretty much always opportunities to win free print issues or subscriptions, and most importantly, you get the chance to be a part of the conversation.

The festival itself is like a maze, with booths for popular publishing houses and lesser-known literary magazines alike. The event welcomes people from all aspects of the literary community, from all over the world. You never know what you’re going to find there. Maybe you’ll strike up an interesting conversation with the staff of your favorite Saturday-morning-read; maybe you’ll stumble upon an internship opportunity. Or maybe you’ll discover a writer or a magazine you’ve never heard of and fall irrevocably in love.

Because that’s what the Brooklyn Book Festival does: somehow, every year, it beckons to people from all different walks of life and manages to coax them out of whatever chaos they are in the midst of. It manages to swallow them completely for one week or weekend out of the year and get them all down to Brooklyn Borough Hall. And when they emerge from the Court Street subway station, they will inhale the distinctive but subtle scent of a good book, hear snippets of conversations revolving around their favorite writers, and see stacks of polished pages awaiting them.

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Katie Yee, Bennington College

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Friends of Campus Clipper: SocialEyes NYC

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Even living in the exciting atmosphere New York, sometimes I get bored. Which is crazy! What a city to be bored in! Sometimes I just need a little inspiration, or maybe a nudge in the right direction. SocialEyes NYC  is a great blog to give you that nudge.

socialeyesnyc.com

First you can pick by area, in case you don’t want to stray too far from your home, or if you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore a certain neighborhood. Or, you can select from museum deals, concerts, or even sporting events. No matter your interests, SocialEyes NYC is your blog for fun, affordable outings.

My favorite of the current events: classic film screenings at Bow-Tie Cinemas. Tickets are only $7.50 and they’re showing movies like The Goonies, Casablanca, Psycho, and The Birds. Another great idea to get in on is the presale for the New York Comedy Festival. This is a huge event each year, with a ton of fun comedians and groups coming to town, so hitting up the presale is a must.

Let SocialEyes NYC help you search for your next fun night in the city!

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Erin O’Brien, NYU.

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Roti Canai: Delicious Malaysian Finger Food

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

It was a rainy Sunday morning in August when my friend took me and two other friends visiting from Washington DC to Curry Leaves Restaurant a Malaysian restaurant in Queens. I had but one request, “I’m hung-over, make it good.” Upon arrival to the Main Street station in Flushing, my friend, a native of DC, asked sardonically “Are we still in New York?” It’s easy to get confused, most if not all signs are in foreign languages. I assured my friend that we were indeed still in New York, albeit in one of its more distinct neighborhoods. We walked a few blocks away from the station to the small and cozy restaurant, where the  staff greeted us with enthusiastic smiles and welcoming service.

image credit: http://www.hungryferret.com/

We sat down and ordered the Malaysian Roti Canai as an appetizer. Roti Canai is an Indian-influenced flatbread dish eaten in Malaysia and Indonesia. The roti itself is considered street food, much like bagels or pretzels are eaten in New York City. Served with a bowl of strong and savory chicken curry, we were all enamored with the dish. Trying desperately to make time stand still, we ate as slowly as possible, relishing each bite. In between bites, we sighed wistfully, knowing that soon the meal would end. Once we devoured the roti, a bittersweet craving set in. Finally, when our main courses came we decided to supplement them with even more roti canai. I found it a great companion to the spicy fried noodles I ordered. The portions were huge and at around $10 a platter, it felt like highway robbery. Filled to the brim halfway through the meal, I still managed to fit in one more bite of roti.

If you can’t make it out to Flushing for some delicious Roti Canai, maybe you can try some of the cuisine that inspired it at Curry Kitchen:

 

Catherine, Hudson County Community College, Read my blog

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Woes of Transit

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

I’m sure that all of you are familiar with the New York City Transit, aka, the subway, the bus, etc.  Even if you only lived in the city for a few weeks, you know what it is.  It’s one of the most extensive public transportation networks in the world, connecting from the Bronx to Brooklyn, from Queens to Greenwich Village.  It’s one of the most reliable ways to get where you want to go without having to actually drive.

But there’s a dark side to this convenience.  It’s called………..PLANNED WORK!!!!

Like it or not, maintaining an extensive train service underneath a giant city is really difficult.  Several of the subway lines, even ones that were added only a few weeks ago, require maintenance to ensure the trains don’t derail and crash.  This is a good thing, as it means that our taxes are going towards a well-maintained transport.  Still, it can ruin your commute if you suddenly realize your regular route has to change.

The planned Fulton Street Subway Station (AKA, the reason you can't go between Brooklyn and Manhattan on the weekends!)

Personally, I often have to go from my residence in Brooklyn to various areas in Manhattan.  This means I need to take the 2 and 3 trains from Clark St to wherever.  Occasionally I have to stop at Fulton St and transfer to another line.

Well, as luck would have it, they are currently building a huge transit hub at Fulton St!  The main goal of this is to connect more of New York, but until this is done, (which it won’t be for about a year), weekend trips between Brooklyn and Manhattan are a whole lot harder.

They usually limit most of their work to the weekends, since most people don’t work then.  For the last few weekends, 2, 3, A, and C service between the boroughs has been canceled.  This means I have to walk to Borough Hall (about 5 blocks from where I live) to leave Brooklyn!

Fortunately, the Metro Transit Authority is not so cruel as to not give us notice.  They usually post signs outside the stations notifying commuters of planned work.  They also usually post it on their website, so it’s a good idea to look there beforehand. In any case, you should find a subway map and look at all possible routes to make sure you know where you can go for alternative routes, and where you can transfer between stations.

Now, even with no planned work, there’s still the chance that you’ll be delayed.  A lot of trains share tracks, and often they have to slow down or even stop just so they have enough space between them and the other trains.  So my advice is to leave as early as possible, just so you have enough time in case of delays.

You could always take the bus. Still, going through Manhattan might be a little tough right now because of a few events.

Yeah, you should probably stick to the subway.

There’s no getting around it; you WILL encounter some planned work.  Sometimes it means you’ll be late for work, or school, or some other important event.  This is why it’s so important to plan ahead if you’re going through the city.  After all, the transit system can only do so much!

Sergio Lopez, Polytechnic Institute of NYU, Graduate Student ’12

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Bookworm Agenda

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Check out Alabaster Bookshop for cheap books and browsing fun.

I’ve always been a bookworm. As a kid, I’d stay up way past by bedtime devouring a book page by page. My favorite part of the school day in my Elementary years was story time and any independent reading assignments were seen as a sort of academic blessing. Because I’m an avid reader it’s not much of a surprise that I truly enjoy browsing and buying books from bookstores, or even just raiding the shelves of my local library. I feel that choosing a book for yourself is very much a part of the fun and experience of reading, also I find books are one of the nicest gifts to give or receive. Another thing, I really love the feel of the pages against my fingers when flipping a page and even the smell of pages, yet in today’s world more and more I notice that Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook are replacing the tangible beauty of the book. Friends and family question me as to why I don’t invest in an electronic reader when I love to read as much as I do and here’s why: I love books just as much as I do reading them.

I feel that books and reading are essentially one and electronic readers cheapen the experience of reading. I enjoy judging a book by its cover, reading the blurb, and searching for a book in the aisles of a bookstore, or on the streets of Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I like penning my name behind the front cover of a book after having finished reading one. I’m completely aware of the perks of having an electronic reader and I also like the idea that it’s an eco friendly device, but the core of my opinion is that as electronic readers gain popularity my childhood obsession is becoming a thing of the past! And I don’t like it one bit.

The only thing I can do is continuing to buy books used and new from bookstores as a way of pledging my allegiance to books in print form. I don’t even like buying books online because it’s just not as fun. A few bookstores I’m particularly fond of are: Alabaster Bookshop, McNally Jackson Books, Strand Bookstore, Cobble Hill Community Bookstore, and Bookcourt. Alabaster Bookshop is located on 4th Ave. between 12th and 13th Street just around the block from the famous Strand Bookstore. Alabaster is the place to go when in need of a used book at a cheap price. Not only that but the small store has an extensive selection of fiction as well as books sold for  a mere 2 dollars on the outside.  Alabaster is old school and sans database so searching for a book here is more of an adventure, and you’re more likely to unexpectedly find a book of interest. Strand is 18 miles worth of books and is well known for their staff picks as well as their Strand 80, which is a pick of 80 of the most popular books amongst Strand customers. Cool fact: Patty Smith worked at Strand during her early years and beginnings in New York. It’s pretty much a guarantee that you’ll find just what you’re looking for because Strand is colossal and filled to the brim with books. It’s basically a nerdy paradise.

McNally Jackson Books interestingly categorizes their books by nation and they also have a great in-house café too. If you’re looking for that Dostoevsky head to McNally Jackson’s Russian literature section or if you feel like dissecting some short stories by Flannery O’Connor browse their American literature section with a cup of Joe. Cobble Hill Community Bookstore is probably my favorite of all because it’s everything that a bookstore should be. It’s a neighborhood staple and also wonderfully unorganized; you can find such treasures in mountains of books piled on top of one another. It is very charming and the prices are great too. Just a block or two from the Cobble Hill Community Bookstore is Bookcourt, which is quite the opposite of its neighbor. It’s two floors of hyper-organized, well-cultivated book sections. They also have in-house events and shoot out weekly emails with announcement and specials, which is incredibly convenient.

Because I’m a starving college student, student discounts are always of the utmost importance to me when splurging on items outside of necessities. Luckily  Namaste Bookshop provides student savings and I’ll be sure to check out this bookshop specializing in Eastern philosophy and health books. You can also buy yoga related items as well as oils/incense at this relaxing spot. If you’re a fan of books then show your support and buy a book or two from one or more of the bookstores mentioned!

Anjelica LaFurno (Baruch College)

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Summer Gaming Conventions GO!

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Who says gamers are anti-social? Photo © otacracy.com

The summer is half over, and there are still plenty of gaming conventions coming up in the next two months where gamers can not only play but also commune with their fellow geeks. Personally, I’m playing games pretty much every day anyway, but cons are where I can meet up with other people like me who are as enthusiastic about RPGs as I am, people in front of whom I don’t have to contain my enthusiasm for gaming in favor of social propriety. So slap on your best night elf costume, grab your 20-sided dice, and join the party at the following upcoming conventions.

Historicon (July 7-10, 2011 in Valley Forge, PA)

Historicon is the largest miniature wargaming convention in the U.S., and it’s happening right now. This year’s theme is the American Civil War, but that’s just the overarching topic for the convention, and there will be a variety of settings for games all weekend. If you’ve ever wanted to get into wargaming, check the schedule for games that say “rules taught at table,” and be ready to interact with people’s kids. For the experienced wargamer, there is a schedule of tournaments with trophy prizes.

Admittedly, the modern college gamer isn’t mainly into strategic wargaming. For the less hardcore/mentally middle-aged, there is…

Otakon (July 29-31 in Baltimore, MD)

Though not specifically a gaming con, Otakon is the largest otaku culture convention in the Northeast, servicing enthusiasts of anime, manga, video games, and Asian culture. Anime cons always have a game room, and Otakon’s is full of popular arcade consoles, TVs connected to home gaming consoles like Xbox, and LANed computers. Of course, there are tournaments for games popular with the otaku crowd, particularly music games like Dance Dance Revolution and fighters like Naruto Shippuden. The competition may not be as fierce as it would be at a dedicated gaming convention, but there are upper echelon gamers that show up to tournaments no matter who hosts them in addition to crouching tigers, hidden dragons among anime watchers, so coming in first will still be a challenge.

Though Baltimore is far for the NYC college student, there should be plenty of others making the trip. Find people who are chipping in for a bus on the Otakon forums or at college anime clubs. Pack some entertainment for the three-hour bus ride and some snacks from Morton Williams to share.

DexCon (July 6-10, 2011 in Morristown, NJ)

This convention is already in full swing, and pre-registration is required to enter most of the events. However, DexCon is one of the most encompassing gaming conventions in the Northeast, and it is definitely worth looking forward to next year if you plan to compete or role-play. In addition to wargaming, they feature conventional role-playing, LARP, real-time strategy (e.g. StarCraft), and console games of all kinds. If you’re not preregistered, you can still buy a day pass and enjoy gaming at events that have space. Don’t forget to spend all your money at the dealers’ room; there’s nothing like leaving a con with an armful of swag and merchandise.

Once the semester starts, there won’t be many opportunities to run away to game for whole weekends, so I find it best to take advantage of the summer to immerse myself in gaming and the community that accompanies it. But then again, New York Anime Festival and Comic Con is in October…

-Avia Dell’Oste

@Hunter College

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Record Store Fun

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Sound Fix of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Music has always been an integral part of my existence, so much so that I enjoy nothing more than listening to music. It’s that simple. If you’re music-obsessed like me, then I suggest planning a day of record store fun. I define record store fun as visiting several different record stores in the span of one day and browsing for jewels in the form of CD or vinyl. I find my record store visits are usually affordable, keeping in mind my average college student budget, mostly because of the wide array of albums that can be bought used. Another thing—if you’re itching to buy a new album before it’s on sale, independent record stores tend to have lower prices than chains like Best Buy. I’d like to recommend a few record stores that you can visit alone or with friends. But it’s always more fun with friends, for sure!

My intention is not to critique or rank any of these record stores against one another. Instead I’d like to just suggest a few that I think are worth your time. The first that I’d like to discuss is Other Music, located in NoHo. Other Music is the best place to find an obscure album in many different genres. Although small, the store has a wide selection of used CDs, but it’s lacking in the arena of used vinyl. However, Other Music makes up for this with their great selection of new vinyl and new CDs. Another plus, Other Music is very well organized and you’re bound to hear some great tunes while browsing for that album you’ve been looking for. Two other great record stores in the area are St. Mark’s Sounds and Rockit Scientist. St. Mark’s Sounds is a popular staple in the East Village, and is a rather wide space.  There is an immense CD selection that will appeal to just about anyone. Rockit Scientist is right across the street from St. Mark’s Sounds, and although it’s smaller, it gives a nice shot of nostalgia for an enthusiast of underground classics. My last record store suggestion within the borough of Manhattan is Village Music World of Greenwich Village. Village Music World is student discounts and student savings friendly! You can use a Campus Clipper coupon and receive a 2-dollar discount on any CD you decide to purchase.

There are three record stores I shall recommend in Brooklyn, and they are: Earwax, Sound Fix, and Academy Records. All of these record stores are located on the north side of Williamsburg, separated from each other by only a few blocks. Academy Records is the go-to place for your vinyl desires and also has a small but rich used CD selection. Sound Fix is the most hyper-organized of the three and is probably my favorite of all because of the super friendly staff. And also it’s a guarantee you’ll find many treasures from their used CD selection. They also have very convenient listening stations as well as handy descriptions of albums that decorate the walls. Earwax has a wider selection of used CDs than the other two, allowing you to score that album you’ve been searching for by an artist no one else knows or cares about it.

Record store fun can be a nice break from the worries of the everyday, and it’s always nice to return home with something that you can enjoy over and over again. Another thing, many of the record stores mentioned here hold record store day events, which involve musicians performing for free within the store. If you love all things music, then I say check out these places and have some fun!

Anjelica LaFurno (Baruch College)

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Image credit: thedailyswarm.com

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