New Students: Welcome Back to School

New school? New city? New supermarket? New apartment? All of the above?

Transitioning into a graduate program can be difficult enough. Many incoming Mailman students are not just new to Columbia University, but also find themselves immersed in a whirlwind of new sights, sounds, tastes, and experiences. In an attempt to ease the transition and begin to familiarize the incoming class with all that Mailman School and New York City have to offer, a group of current students have prepared a series of blog posts with tips on a wide array of topics like food, furniture, apps, coffee, and more.

Where are you from?

Amina Foda, MPH ’14 in the Department of Epidemiology

I was brand new to the east coast when I began at Mailman. Moving away from the west coast, I knew I was in for a big change and the lists of clichés made their tour around many conversations. A year into living on the east coast, I have welcomed the change of scenery, pace and people. Depending on where you are transitioning from, there will be different elements of city living that you will need to adjust to. But there are specific characteristics of NYC that can help the transition. First and foremost, people are generally friendly and chatting with a stranger is a common occurrence. A comment on the subway or while you’re in line for a bagel is a great way to start feeling more comfortable in your new city. New York is a great and accessible city to explore on your own (of course within all the street smart and cautious limits you would typically maintain). Walking around a new neighborhood, taking a new route home, finding your coffee or brunch place or even going to a diner by yourself and absorbing your new surroundings is a great way to transition and make your new surroundings feel like home. The stress that comes with school is inevitable, and there will be times that you just wish you were in familiar spaces. So the sooner you make your surroundings familiar and comfortable the easier it will be to handle the stress —and that you will enjoy it every step of the way. Don’t wait to have someone with you to check something new out, but if you have an idea classmates may want to join you too. My tip for a smooth transition it to be proactive and create your own place and community that feels like home.

Calling 311

Jennifer Fearon, MPH 15’ in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences

311 is basically a customer service line for any and all issues in NYC. Whether you contact them by phone, online form, text message, social media, or app, city officials will address your questions (e.g. where/how to access NYC city-run services or how to find a cellphone left in a cab), complaints (e.g. your landlord did not eradicate the mold in your building or there is a pothole on your street), and comments.

New York Winter-Wear

Ellie Witwer, MPH 15’ in the Department of Population and Family Health

It’s a few months away, but think now about equipping yourself with the proper clothing to brave the colder, icier elements. If you hail from warmer climates invest in some good boots with waterproof/rubber soles, a down or wool jacket, and a hat to cover those ears. These things will greatly improve your quality of life when the temperatures begin to drop. Layers are also crucial, as you will be bundling/un-bundling as your traverse in and out of subways and other toasty indoor climates.


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