Admissions Blog

Shally's SIPA Top 10

By Shally Baloch '23
Posted Dec 16 2022

Way back in the day David Letterman on his late night show would conclude the episodes with a top ten list (I don’t know this because I watched, I think I was too young, but there was a book “The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of School” that I was absolutely obsessed with about it. Anyways, I digress). I have a lot of opinions on SIPA, so this is my SIPA Top Ten List. Don't forget to check out my photos in the gallery at the bottom!

10. Ice cream vending machine: Coming in at 10th place, a vital part of my SIPA experience, is the ice cream vending machine on the 4th floor. From memory there are no less than 10 vending machines on the 4th floor but none can compare due to the sheer joy you can get from a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar or that good Red, White, and Blue popsicle.

9. Perfect sunsets: In the most dramatic of ways, sitting at the Alma Mater on the main campus, laughing and joking with friends, and then looking up to see a perfectly pink sky, must simply be one of the best things you can experience. There are undergraduate students milling about, tourists taking pictures, games of volleyball on the lawn, and inevitably someone playing music out loud. Having a campus in the city, separate from the cars and noise, helps create so many special moments.

8. iMacs in the library: Sometimes you can only do your best work on a 30 inch screen and SIPA provides. Hidden away in the very back of Lehman Library is an iMac bay that I swear makes writing your 20 page essay due tomorrow so much easier

7. Group study cubicles: There is something magical about these cubicles. First, there are only four so you have to make a concerted effort with your economics problems set group to secure one. Second, they give you cover for guilt-free slacking (not that we ever slack!). Third, you can pop out of the cubicle, attend office hours “in public” and then head back to your cubicle as many times as you need until your problem set is done. Lastly, even though I said you have cover to slack, there is something about being in there that just infuses productivity into you.

6. The 15th Floor: The beautiful crown jewel of the International Affairs Building, the 15th floor has a perfect view of downtown New York City. What could be more inspiring than the Empire State building glittering in the distance as you study for your next exam?

5. Publique: Publique is SIPA’s little cafe– it has comfy chairs, a plethora of tables and chairs, and sushi! If you don’t rush after your morning class, you may not find a seat as it is a popular spot to catch up with friends and do work during the lunch hour. During the World Cup, the TVs have been on and it has been so fun to have a crowd of students cheering and having fun as finals are right around the corner!

4. The Professors: I mean, this is just a given. SIPA is the academic powerhouse because of the faculty and staff that make it. My professors have been unendingly kind, thoughtful, helpful, brilliant, and so on. I feel so lucky to have the experience of learning from and working with them. They also become your advocates, ready to tell you about new opportunities and support you as you try to figure out your next steps.

3. New York City: When I moved to New York City in 2020, I thought to myself, this is just a two year gap before I pursue professional studies. Now, I cannot imagine ever leaving. The speed of life, the never-ending events, the amount of culture, and the booming arts scene has cemented that I will live here for as long as I can. SIPA being in Manhattan only made it that much more enticing as a graduate school option. 

2. The People: If you have scheduled office hours with me or talked to me about my experience at SIPA, you know that I will not stop raving about my peers. There seems to be a devastating lacking culture of competition as everyone is so collaborative, kind, and there to provide you support. Whether it was that you couldn’t make it to office hours and a friend gives you notes to you're really stressed about an exam and six friends join you to decompress at Ancel Plaza, my peers make my experience. They are also so smart and have so many incredible real-life experiences. I learn just as much from them as I do my professors. I find myself often wishing my program could be longer just so I get another semester, another year to spend time with my classmates and friends. This is the true SIPA magic (I met these girls on the first day of orientation and now they are some of my absolute best friends <33).

1. So much free food: Okay, I know I raved on and on about my classmates, but let’s talk in terms of pure utilitarian need. There is So Much Free Food at SIPA. There is always an incredible event happening: a visiting professor, a panel of students talking about their countries, a cyber conference, that there is no lack of food and refreshments at lunch and dinner time. As a student, with a student’s budget, I take full advantage of all the free food offered, which is usually catered from a local restaurant! (Sorry for no pictures, I was too busy eating)