Home Away from Home: An International Student Guide to NYC

Adelphi University
St. Thomas Aquinas College
culture shock
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By Kate H Knapp
Last updated on January 29, 2024

International students feel right at home in New York City’s culturally rich neighborhoods.

Two international students looking at a waterside view of NYC

Leaving home is never easy, especially when traveling to a foreign country. It can be intimidating to be around so many new and unfamiliar things. Finding food, music, and art that reminds you of home can bring so much comfort, which is why New York City is such an attractive place for international students to study. 

As one of the original stops for immigrants entering the United States from the 1850s to the 1900s, New York City is a true “melting pot” and is now home to people from all over the world, including residents from China, India, Ireland, Italy, Latin America, and so many more. The city’s five boroughs — like smaller cities within a bigger city — include the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island, and each feature neighborhoods filled with culturally diverse food, shops, activities, and events. 

Thanks to the diverse range of cultures within this global city, international students attending Shorelight universities like Adelphi University or St. Thomas Aquinas can feel right at home simply by visiting one of these neighborhoods. 

International Neighborhoods in New York

Manhattan is a bustling metropolis that is jam-packed with almost every type of restaurant, shop, place of worship, or event imaginable. Add in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island, and it can be hard to know where to go to find a little slice of home. To help narrow it down, here are the best neighborhoods to find Chinese, Indian, and Latin cultures.   

Southeast Asian and Chinese Neighborhoods

Chinatown, Manhattan

Located in Lower Manhattan, the neighborhood aptly referred to as Chinatown is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the US. The densely populated Chinese neighborhood features busy sidewalks lined with souvenir stores, food stalls, open-air fish markets, spice shops, and fashion outlets. Restaurants serve a range of authentic dishes, such as dumplings and hand-pulled noodles. Several temples are available for worship, and the neighborhood celebrates culturally significant events throughout the year, including Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year.

Flushing, Queens

Known as the second-largest Chinatown in the city, Flushing boasts a population that is almost 70% Asian. This is most reflected in the area between Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue, which extends for several blocks in all directions. Expect to see a true fusion of American and Chinese/Korean cultures, with well-known fast-food chains found among Taiwanese eateries. 

The New World Mall offers three levels featuring more than 100 Asian-owned stores, as well as a food court with 32 different ethnic food vendors. There’s also a karaoke lounge, a large dim sum restaurant, and an Asian supermarket selling a variety of Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and Vietnamese grocery items. 

Indian Neighborhoods

Little India, Jackson Heights

Running along busy 74th Street between Roosevelt and 37th Avenue is a little oasis of Indian (and Pakistani and Bangladeshi) culture, affectionately known as “Little India.” International students will find an array of stores selling Indian sweets, ethnic foods, Bollywood films, and saris and other Indian garments. Restaurants serve a wide variety of authentic dishes, and it is common for the smell of curry and spices to fill the air. Don’t be fooled by the American-sounding Jackson Diner; it is a great spot for traditional Indian fare, including tandoori. The neighborhood is home to several temples and mosques, and every year celebrates Diwali with a festival.  

Curry Hill on Lexington Avenue 

This may be more of a street than a neighborhood, but it does the trick when craving Indian cuisine. Located between 27th and 28th Avenue in Murray Hill, this area is affectionately known as “Curry Hill,” thanks to the many different regional cuisines found along its three-block radius. 

Latin Neighborhoods

Longwood, The Bronx

Predominately a Latino (Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Hondurans) neighborhood, Longwood may feel more like the Caribbean or South America than the South Bronx. The area surrounding Bill Rainey Park features plenty of bodegas, bakeries, cafes, and barbershops. Visitors can sample Latin American cuisine, like tacos and pupusas, at the numerous restaurants in the area. The outdoor Longwood Festival each June celebrates with merengue and salsa dancing, food vendors serving authentic Latin cuisine, and lots of activities for everyone.  

Bushwick, Brooklyn

For more than half a century, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican, Ecuadorian, Peruvian, and Colombian people have called the Bushwick neighborhood home. Though there may be fewer Latino-owned businesses today, the area still offers a bit of home for Central and South American students with its variety of eateries, coffee shops, and ethnic markets. 

Feel at Home Without Leaving Campus

Adelphi University

Though Adelphi University is technically located in Garden City, New York, Manhattan is only a train ride away. Thankfully, however, student life on campus provides plenty of ways to combat homesickness. Students can join multicultural clubs or take part in the range of events offered throughout the year. The multicultural center is a great resource for international students as it “supports Adelphi’s diverse community of students, campus engagement, and multicultural and global experiences” and “is a place where all students — especially BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, international and first-generation students — can feel at home.” 

Marina, an Adelphi University student from Brazil, said, “I chose to study at Adelphi because I wanted to live in New York, [and] I feel so good about my decision. New York is the center of the world, and Adelphi [gives me the chance to] to follow my dreams. The quality of the education is excellent, and the networking opportunities seem to be endless!”

Saint Thomas Aquinas College

Even though Saint Thomas Aquinas College is located 20 miles north of Manhattan in Sparkill, New York, students can still visit the city whenever they need more familiar surroundings. The school, however, encourages on-campus engagement and promises a “welcoming, friendly community where international students find acceptance and collaboration across dozens of nationalities.”

There are plenty of opportunities to participate in events or clubs, and the staff is always available to help make the transition to a new country a little easier. Javier, an alum from Spain, said, “the international students are really taken care of in terms of keeping us happy, helping us get involved, and making sure we’re supported academically.” 

Finding a Home Away from Home

Diversity is a big part of what makes New York City such a great place, and each unique culture leaves its mark on the city, whether it be through food, fashion, art, entertainment, or commerce. The neighborhoods listed above are just a small window into the global world that exists in New York City, and what someone is looking for may not be where one expects to find it. It only takes a little searching to find that the far-off place one is missing may not be so very far away after all.  

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