The Tourists Declassified NYC Survival Guide

Hello one and all!NYCSights

Welcome, welcome, welcome to New York City!! Thanks for helping our economy and in return, we are going to help you not stand out as a tourist! Here are a few tips and trips to maximize your stay here in NYC and to help you assimilate flawlessly into our culture.


What do I mean by that? We are so lucky to have an abundance of local cuisine (including pizza) here in the city? Local pizza not only tastes better but it probably has less preservatives and is made fresh. With that said, try not to eat at any chain restaurants. The local ones tend to have better deals and better tasting food! Plus $1 pizza is God’s gift to mankind.


We understand that you’ll get lost, we get lost sometimes too, especially below Houston street. But nothing makes New Yorker’s more upset than when tourists (or anyone for that matter) stands in the middle of the sidewalk and blocks the walk way. We are in a rush, a lot of people need to get to work, a meeting, a birth, you never know, we just have to go, go, go! Therefore, just stand to the side of a building, without blocking the entrances and ask us (or a friendly police officer) for directions. We would be more than happy to help you if you follow this unofficial rule. Also if you’re walking on the side-walk, walk faster!


Depending on your stay, it might seem expensive at first, but it will save you so much time, money, and hassle in the end. How easy is it for you to pay one fee, one time, and you can go on the subway as much as you want, for planned things and for last minute activities? Here for a week? Buy your $31 weekly unlimited Metrocard to freedom!

Side note: When you swipe your metrocard, don’t do it slowly and yellow side facing you. These things also work on all the busses!

Rule 4: LET US OFF THE TRAIN!Empty Train

We understand that you are eager to get to where you want to go, however, let us of f the train first before you get on. Because either way, we’re going to get off the train and even though we might feel bad about it, we’re still going to trample you. So to make riding the subway more efficient, let us off first and then get on the train.

Side-note: If someone is sitting in front of the subway map on the train, please DO NOT lean so close to them. It’s uncomfortable for the person sitting there. But if you absolutely need to, at least say sorry for invading their personal space.

Also, if someone is making noise on the train or acting crazy AVOID EYE CONTACT WITH THEM. DON’T SMILE AT THEM, DON’T INTERACT WITH THEM. IN FACT, JUST PRETEND YOU’RE ASLEEP.

Finally, if there is an empty subway car, during rush hour or a busy time of day DO NOT TRUST IT. IT IS NOT THE GIFT FROM GOD YOU  THOUGHT IT WAS, IT IS A TRAP. DO NOT GET ON IT. THE SMELL WILL BE TOXIC AND YOU WILL WANT TO DIE.


Ah yes, the Bodega, the beautiful amazing corner stores that are basically grocery stores but at even more discounted prices. They often make sandwiches that aren’t a rip off and be sure to clarify if you want it on a roll(small) or a hero(big), you can have them with lettuces, tomato, mayo, ketchup, mustard, salt and pepper, oil and vinegar, whatever you please. They also are the masters of the traditional classic New York breakfast sandwich: The Bacon, Egg and Cheese. YOU CAN LITERALLY ORDER THAT ANYWHERE. They also have scratch offs, a variety of grab and go ice-cream/cold treats, and depending where you are, they also have Spanish food hot and ready to go. Just aisles and aisles of chips, soda, alcohol, soup in a can, cookies and treats, cleaning supplies, household products, sandwiches and New Yorkers.


We know you love Times Square. It’s the mecca of tourists and all things expensive. Stay away from the characters (like Elmo and Mickey Mouse) and leave the musicians alone! The further you go from it, the better. Do a quick walk through and then get the heck out!


Uptown and Downtown are not necessarily locations. They are directions. Uptown means north, downtown means south. To help understand certain neighborhoods, some of the names are made up of where they’re located. For example, TRIBECA is the TRIangle BElow CAnal. SoHo, is SOuth of HOuston Street. FiDi is the FInancial DIstrict. Also, we understand that the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and (yes even) Staten Island are technically part of New York City, but if you’re in one of those boroughs and someone asks if you’re going to “The City” we mean Manhattan.


Street food is everyone’s friend. We love a good coffee and bagel stand in the morning. Some will even make you a Bacon \, Egg and Cheese Toasted on a Roll (see rule 5). Then when the breakfast carts leave for the day, out rolls the Street Meat, YOU’RE NOT A REAL NEW YORKER UNLESS YOU’VE HAD STREET MEAT AND A SKETCHY $1 HOTDOG. Not to mention you can get smoothies, cookies, cupcakes, gourmet burgers and fries, tacos and lobster rolls right off the street! No reservation needed!

With all that said, we hope you enjoy your stay in the city and that this survival guide has helped make things a little easier.

Project Fun

k13048478As we get ready to say goodbye to some of our students, we (the interns) decided to sit in on some of the fun going on in their classes. Last week, some of our teachers had their students participate in a wide range of projects and games including a debate, vocab trivia, and role playing.

Karl’s Class:

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First we popped into Karl’s room and took a few pictures of his students interviewing each other in the hopes of finding a compatible roommate.

Erika’s Class:

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Erika had her class participate in a controversial debate concerning the legality and ethical implications of gay adoption. The affirmative team argued that it should be legal for same-sex couples to have children because it is a basic human right. The negative side countered this argument by asserting research “proving” that children raised by same-sex couples don’t have an equal or better quality of life as those adopted by straight couples. 

Maha’s Class:

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The vocab trivia in Maha’s class encouraged her students to focus and showcase how much they’ve learned. Using positive reinforcement, Maha readily gave out candy to the team with the correct answer.

Rosanny’s Class:


Rosanny decided to move her class to the outside common area in order to create a more interactive and fun environment. The students were put into groups and given the task of coming up with a creative commercial in order to sell a product. They were then given the chance to present their commercials in order to be judged on how efficient their advertising was. According to Haley, the results were comical (:

Michael’s Class:


Following the rising popularity of reality T.V., Michael challenged his class to come up with their own idea for a reality show. His class broke down into groups and brainstormed amongst themselves. At the end, the groups voted a winner. Kind of like a reality show were the contestants win the best pitch for a new reality show…. it’s reality-show-inception!

NomNomNom, Places to Eat around Geos!

HamsterHey everyone! We’ve been getting a lot of questions about where to eat for lunch so we have complied this list of different spots that we think are great. Even better, they are within walking distance from school so you never have to be late for class again! We hope you check these places out! Enjoy (:

Fairway- 26th Street and 6th Ave
This grocery store/ market offers a wide selection of food in their hot bar. They also have a salad bar and a separate fresh sushi bar. Fairway is not limited to American foods! They have a variety of international candy, snacks, beverages and food items. This place is great if your group has some who are really hungry and some who want a light meal.

Haley’s Comment: There are a LOT of options to choose from so don’t go if you’re indecisive. Their pre packaged fruit is delicious! (At least the mango anyway)

Panera- 23rd Street and Lexington

Panera is great for those who love the classic combo of salad, soup, and sandwiches. They offer speedy service combined with free wifi and a nutritional menu. This makes for a comfortable and laid back lunch experience.

Haley’s Comment: Go for the Cinnamon Crunch Bagel TOASTED with Cream Cheese. The Pick two option is a great way to get more BANG for your BUCK. Additional Advice: Stay away from the pastries!

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine- 23rd Street and Madison

This place is great if you’re in the mood for some latin flavor! They are famous for their empanadas. Which you can get in a combo meal with 2 empanadas (Mix and Match) of your choice with rice and beans! As well as a variety of other Cuban favorites.

Haley’s Comment: The Beef empanadas are amazing! It’s also very easy to order and the service is quick!

Num Pang- Downstairs! Broadway between 25th and 26th

Num Pang puts the twist on sandwiches with their Asian inspired cuisine. They offer cold noodles and hot rice bowl with flavors ranging from mild to spicy and tangy. They have a clean bathroom and a cool environment.

Haley’s Comment: If you cannot handle spicy food DO NOT GO HERE or BRING SOME MILK OR DAIRY PRODUCT WITH YOU. Especially if you are a wimp about spicy food like me!

Fun Science Fact: Water DOES NOT help cool a spicy mouth, it spreads the heat throughout your tongue. Only MILK or DAIRY PRODUCTS can combat the spice and cool your mouth and insides!

Schnipper’s- 23rd Street and Madison

This eatery is a cafeteria style place that has all their items on a menu board above the cash registers. You can place an order to go or you can order, find a table, and have it delivered to your table. They have a lot of different American foods you can try such as clubs, burgers, fries and shakes.

Haley’s Comment: Go for a black and white milkshake with a Bacon Cheese Burger and Fries! So delicious and very American haha.

Chop’t- 23rd Street and Madison

If you’re looking for a gourmet salad you’ve come to the right place! Chop’t has a huge selection of fresh ingredients for the sole purpose of designing a salad just for you. For all my indecisive people, don’t fret, for there is also a premade menu with lots of delicious salads to choose from.

Ebonnie’s Comment: The Mexican Caesar dressing is bomb. Also be wary of how many toppings you choose because this place can get pricey quick!

Sweet Greens- Broadway between 26th and 27th Street

Much like Chop’t, Sweet Greens is a salad place that has a variety of different options. You can choose your base greens and add toppings and dressing. It is also somewhat cheaper than Chop’t. It’s a great place to check out especially if you don’t want to wait in the long lines at Chop’t.

Hill Country Chicken- 25th Street and Broadway

Don’t let the long line deter you from this classic good ol’ fashioned Southern American Meal. Dealing exclusively with chicken, you still have many options to choose from. And their pie selection is to die for! The quick and friendly service makes for a great representation of the south. Vegetarians Beware!

Haley’s Comment- The Classic recipe is fantastic! The biscuits aren’t worth it, stick to the mac and cheese.

Shake Shack- In Madison Square Park

This iconic burger joint is a staple in NYC. They offer a variety of American foods such as hamburgers, fries, hotdogs, and milkshakes! It’s better to go before typical lunch time or after because the long lines are as famous as Shake Shack itself.

Lenny’s Sandwich- 23rd Street between 5th and 6th Ave

This sandwich shop has a TON of options. It is a fun eat-in place with many colorful and delicious sandwiches. Lenny’s has Vegetarian Friendly, gluten free, dairy free, peanut free and pork free options to choose from.

Chaamlex Thai Cuisine- Lexington Ave between 24th and 25th Street

Although a little farther from the school, this place offers a great lunch special and delicious Thai food. The ambiance is modern and welcoming. You can usually be seated right away and enjoy the delicious food. If you’re worried about portion size, Chaamlex gives you enough food to make you feel full but won’t have to walk around with leftovers.

Haley’s Comment: I love the dumplings and Chicken Pad Thai. Both the Soup and Salad are delicious and well worth the lunch special!

$1 Pizza- Lexington Ave between 24th and 25th Street

If you have the time, it is definitely worth the walk. I mean, it’s $1 pizza…. what more do you need to know? 🙂


7/11- 5th Ave between 23rd and 22nd Street

7/11 is great for cheap snacks and beverages. Although it’s not a restaurant, they have some hot foods and salads, as well as, anything else you might need or want.

Typical American Fast Food




Big Apple August!

Central Park in New York City

Central Park in New York City

Brooklyn_Bridge_ParkAugust is a popular vacation month when many of us like to ditch our usual routines and make a run for the nearest beach. If you are feeling a little more adventurous this year, why not have a “Big Apple August”?
Students who come to study English with GEOS New York this August will have the best of the city just outside their classroom door. There’s plenty of summer fun to have when you spend August in the city.
If you are a festival lover, where better to spend your vacation than the multicultural mecca of the “Big Apple”? In August, New Yorkers celebrate Harlem Week, the New York International Fringe Festival, a Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, a couple of jazz festivals, a SalsaFest, and even a unicycle festival!
Besides festivals, August evenings give us the perfect weather for enjoying free concerts, theater, or movies in NYC Parks– activities which are also great for practicing your English listening skills! Watching a Yankees, Mets, or Brooklyn Cyclones game can give you a taste of the “American pastime”.
If you aren’t convinced yet, then I can’t forget to tell you: we also have beaches! Make it a “Big Apple August” when you come to study English with GEOS New York and enjoy the best the city has to offer!


The other side of life: what our teachers do outside of school!

Michelle has been a teacher at GEOS for the last 4 years. Teacher by day, artist by night, Michelle is a trained painter and regularly shows her work in galleries around the city.

Michelle nyc

On weekdays after teaching, she heads to her Long Island City studio just over the East River in Queens where she works on new paintings. She is an avid museum goer and often feels overwhelmed by the amount of new exhibitions she wants to see.

She enjoys being outdoors and on weekends often leaves the city to go skiing in the winter, or boating and jet skiing in the summer. She also enjoys running and runs regularly in Gantry Plaza State Park and on weekends in Central Park.

Live music is another passion of Michelle’s and she goes to many concerts and shows, everything from bluegrass to electronic to Broadway. Buying tickets can be a financial ‘drag’, so summer is her favorite time in the city when many outdoor venues give free concerts.

Summertime (in NYC ) and the living is easy!

Summer is just around the corner here in NYC!index

I love the summer in the city, there is so much to see and do, and so many places to discover. In a couple of weeks, our classes will move to the summer schedule of afternoons.  This is my favorite schedule for a number of reasons:

1) Avoiding the crowds in the city

2) The mornings are not as unbearably hot

3) there is so much to do in the mornings

Here are just a few things that summer schedule means to me:

* Morning yoga in the park

* Friday morning trips to Govenors Island

* No lines at the attractions

* Brunch…. oh, I just love brunch, sitting outside in the West Village,      watching the world go by!

Then there are the evenings….. I love leaving school and heading to nearby parks to watch movies on the big screen!  Or going to a roof top bar with friends and watching the sunset over Manhattan.

I love missing the rush hour on the trains, or the crowds of tourists waiting for two hours to get somewhere, in the afternoon heat.

Can you tell that I love NYC in summertime!  I cannot wait for you to discover it too!

For more information on things to do, check this out!

Never too cool for school!

In the beginning of every summer students are excited to finish classes, and students at the end of their program are excited to graduate. But after the summer and after the graduation people return to school. Often, people are excited and make a big deal about the first day back. What to wear, who has what for classes, and what will the upcoming semester bring?
After graduating from Naperville Central High School I was excited to start classes at Ball State University. I knew the classes would be a different style, I also knew that I have become a different person after those years too. What was cool then is not, but now something else is cool. What is cool is always changing, and so are our ways to teach and learn. Personally, I think language, history, literature, and science are really cool.
So what is cool? My goodness, what a question! Cool is whatever you want it to be, and there are a lot of other people who think the same. Maybe you think dancing or singing is cool. Well, there is a school for that. Perhaps you think chemistry is cool; there is a school for that too! And we all know that language is cool, and that there are schools for every language. We are interested in what is cool, and we want to learn more. So we go to a school to learn more and better ways to do the things that we think are cool. School is always cool, even if we have a different idea of what cool is.
Can you be too cool for school? Never! There is always someone you can learn from. No one is all knowing, and we have the ability to learn until the day we die. If you already know a lot about your favorite subject, it is always important to keep your memory sharp and exchange new ideas with others. To think “I’m too cool for school” is self-denial. You deny yourself the chance to become something more and expand your understanding of the crazy and complex world we live in.
After I graduated I volunteered as a teacher assistant at a German school. Then I worked shortly for Sprachcaffe in Malta, and now am here in New York. I’ve played many rolls at different schools, and there are more possibilities out there. What is cool is dynamic, and school is even more dynamic. So join in on the fun, school is cool, and you are never too cool for school.

Spring has Sprung!


*Springtime in NYC

One look out of the window will tell you that Spring has finally arrived.  We may have a few rainy days ahead, but nothing can stop the flowers from exploding all over the city.

NYC is fun in Spring, and here are just a few ideas of things to see or do:

April 25th/26th sees the Japanese festival of Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom festival) at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens..  (get tickets now!)

High Line Park will now be starting to blossom… take a walk along the old elevated railway, and enjoy the stunning views of the city.

Baseball season has started, do you like the Yankees or the Mets? or maybe you just want to see the Coney Island Cyclones play…. look for cheap tickets and enjoy the game!

No matter what you do, celebrate the arrival of Spring, and enjoy everything here in NYC…….

SMART language learning by Sarah Weekley

When you are learning a language, it’s important to set goals. Studying English can be frustrating at times, but it helps to have objectives to work towards. Setting goals can help you to stay on track and to measure your progress. To get the best results and take your English to the next level, try making SMART goals.

Language-Learning-610x413The method of SMART goal-setting comes from the management field, but it can be applied to many other areas. “SMART” is an acronym, which means that it is an abbreviation made from the first letters of the different words it represents: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Let’s see, step by step, how we can make SMART goals when we are learning another language.

1. Specific: When I ask students about their goals, they often say things like “speak better” or “learn more vocabulary”. If we turn these into more specific aims, we will have greater focus. An example of a specific goal is, “I want to use at least three new vocabulary words in my conversations outside of class next week.”
2. Measurable: Setting a measurable goal will help us to know when we have reached that goal. “I will study more” can become “I will spend 20-30 minutes each day reviewing my class notes.”
3. Attainable: If we want to see if a goal is attainable, we should ask ourselves, “Is it in my power to accomplish this?” You may aim to get accepted into a graduate program at a particular university, but in reality, someone else will make the admission decision. An attainable goal could be, “I will achieve the necessary IELTS score to apply to XYZ University by the admission deadline.”
4. Realistic: Similarly, our goals should be something that is within our reach. “I will get a score of 80+ on the TOEFL next weekend” may not be a realistic goal if your level is Pre-Intermediate.
5. Time-bound: Projects that have no deadline are not likely to be finished. “I want to learn all of the words to my favorite English song by the end of next week” will give you better results than “I want to understand songs in English”.

Whether you are studying English in New York or in another city, start making SMART goals and you will see how you improve!

Ghosts of Ellis Island: A family history of immigration from David (Student Services)

People around the world have asked me, “Where are you from?” Others take wild guesses about where I am from; as if they would win a fabulous prize for being right. When I reply, “the United States of America”, sometimes they respond is disbelief. Many times people have told me, “You don’t look like an American”. Clearly they misunderstand the purpose of my country, but at the same time they are right. My family does not come from North America. They came from Damascus, Syria and from Beirut, Lebanon. They came from a forgotten village in Hungry from Munich, Germany. They even came from rural Ireland, and London, England.
My family did not just leave, they fled. Hunger, poverty, religious taxation, forbidden to marry someone of another faith, and looming war made them leave the only home they ever knew. Like millions of others, they needed a new home.

Every branch of my family has been in the USA for over 100 years. The English side came over 300 years ago, before the USA was an independent county! When I gaze at the Statue of Liberty on my way to Ellis Island I think about all the families that saw Lady Liberty on their way to become a US citizen. I also think about what they were saved from. Now our families were an ocean away from two world wars and a communist takeover. An ocean away from religious extremism and daily violence. Because of my ancestors’ bravery, I have never known these awful things. Because of my ancestors, I have never had to fire a gun in war. Because of my ancestors I live a life of liberty and can pursue what makes me happy.
This may sound a bit dramatic, but it is the truth. This country is not perfect, but it has given millions of people a better chance to be successful.
That’s why New York is the place for me. The people here are a mix of ethnicity, faith, and nationality living in peacefully together. Many New Yorkers come from another part of the US, others have been here their whole life, and many come from other nations. Where are they from? How long have they been here? How long will they stay here? What do they do? What do they speak? When something is unclear, this is called: ambiguous. I find because of this ambiguity there is a mutual respect for each other and our differences. No longer is my family restricted on their social class, or taxed for their faith. In the eyes of the law we can marry whoever wishes to marry us, indifferent if they have the same gender or have a different faith. In my view, all these differences how similar we are. All these kinds of people are, put simply, working hard for a comfortable, happy, and secure life with family and friends. I truly believe this is the kind of life my ancestors set out to find. I hope to honor their sacrifices, because they gave me more than what they ever had. Now, I will make the best of everyday to live the life my ancestors struggled to obtain; go team USA; go team NYC.