I'm in grad school, in a tiny studio apartment. If it is allowed, I'd love to grow a plant -- better air quality, it's something green. Any tips on what kind of plant (including herbs I might cook with), or the best place to get one in NYC?
Kitchen herbs grow beautifully inside. Try basil, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme...I used to have a windowbox in my apartment in Brooklyn, and they all did just fine, provided they were getting enough water and sun.
The farmer's markets (Union Square if you're in Manhattan, Grand Army Plaza if you're in Brooklyn) can sell you seedlings and young plants, but really, it's probably cheapest and barely more work to buy seed packets.
I've kept a basil going for 2 years, and it still produces good leaves for garnish, though not enough for making pesto. If it's warm in the summer it goes outside, and indoors it takes as much light as is available. Trader Joes was selling 1 gallon size last spring for $4.
This was in Brooklyn where sunlight is a little more common, but I had lemongrass, basil, thyme, rosemary, and a bunch of lettuce plants growing inside for quite some time until I moved and gave them away. You can get plants at the local farmer's markets, I think these were from UNion Square and Grand Army Plaza, but a lot of markets sell them. I got the pots at a local gardening store and the soil there too.
A friend of mine started growing avocado trees from pits in her home in Massachusetts, and I thought it was quite a cool idea. Stick some toothpicks in the pit and suspend it halfway into a glass of water. It's best to do this a few at a time; there's about a 40% chance that each one will sprout, and it will take a good 4-6 weeks. Once one sprouts a shoot, plant it into a pot, slightly exposed, for it to take root.