New York City: Buildings Galore    

Traveling to New York City for the first time is by far the biggest culture shock I have ever experienced, in a good and bad way. The buildings are tall, the people walk fast, and the air is anything but fresh.

Coming from a rural area, the biggest shock for me was the lack of nature, and the lack of appreciation for nature in the city.

P.s. Just because recycling is a law, doesn’t mean that everyone does it.

Sure there’s some nature in New York, but it’s pretty scarce. Luckily, working for a company that promotes living a “greener” lifestyle, I have been surrounded by at least a handful of people that appreciate nature for what it is.

How Did You Get Through It?

I found nature in whatever way I could. While nature is definitely still scarce, there are ways to get around it.

Here are a few alternatives to being surrounded by grass and trees:

  • Chelsea Piers. The Chelsea Piers have a great view of the river, and plenty of grass to lie on. On a sunny day or a warm night there was nothing better than taking a walk to the Chelsea Piers and soaking up some fresh air.

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  • Central Park. Central Park is a beautiful place to get your nature fix. Nature trails, ponds, trees, grass. It feels like it’s own little world, and by the size of it, it could be!

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  • Get outside of the city. For a couple of weekends I had to opportunity to get out of the city and explore New York’s rural areas. Who knew that just an hour or so outside of Manhattan there’s a ton of nature? I contemplated bringing a few handfuls of grass back and spreading it along the streets.

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  • Hudson River Park. On one of the hotter weekends my roommate and I mistakenly went to Hudson River Park on the way to find her street. We ended up sitting under some trees, playing with dogs at the dog park, and hung out with a little ladybug in my hair.

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  • Washington Square Park. Perfect for a hot day. Just stick your feet in the fountain and watch the guy on a unicycle wheel around the park. For a while my roommate and I sat in the grass and watched the dogs run around.

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  • The Highline. Although buildings surround it, this can vouch as my nature trail. There are so many beautiful flowers, plants, and even a fountain to put your feet in while you look across the river.

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  • Buy a small plant for your dorm. I bought a small succulent just to incorporate some green into the dorms. It’s unreal the amount of happiness bringing flowers and plants into your home can bring!

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Capstone, Subways and Fancy Shake Shack

It has been such an amazing summer in New York City and after another busy day of work, we were able to come together one last time to recap our summers. All of our professors were back for the Capstone, so that we could celebrate the end of our summers with cake and stories of New York.

Almost fittingly, however, the night began with subway difficulty with the usual C and E trains moving extra slow. After over 30 minutes of waiting a train finally came down the tracks, but as expected every car was filled with people, sending almost every student in the program running down the line trying to find a small gap in people. Some people squeezed on, some went running for a different subway station and others bit the bullet and took a cab.

Eventually we would all make it and have a great night discussing our impressions of New York City, how the summer had changed us and the big question we were all looking to answer this summer: Is New York City in our futures? While there were very mixed reviews among everyone, I knew for myself that I could see New York in the picture somewhere along the line. While I didn’t have the most typical New York experience, roof top mixers with celebrities, red carpets and free movie screenings, I still found the less glamorous parts of New York fascinating and exciting.

After we finished sharing our experiences, we thanked our professors, both there and not, and then left as a group for the last time. There was only one thing left to do that and that was to go be the most well-dressed people in Shake Shack in Times Square. A perfect ending for a night of reflection.

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Starbucks with a Stranger

If there’s one thing I learned this summer about New York City, it’s that the weather forecast is usually correct. This means if it says its going to rain, you can bet that it is going to pour. Unfortunately I had to learn this lesson the hard way…

It was a dreary Thursday night and I had gotten off work later than usual. I ran out of the subway on 23rd Street and 8th Avenue, hoping to making home before the storm hit. A few sopping wet seconds later I dashed into the Starbucks on 23rd Street realizing that I indeed failed at beating the storm. I stood by the door watching out the window when I looked over my shoulder and noticed a woman in her late sixties sipping coffee by herself. She was staring out the window looking as hopeful as I was that the rain would soon pass. Just as I noticed her, she noticed me and asked if it was a cold rain. She proceeded to explain that she was hoping to catch a late night movie at the Bow Tie Theater, her favorite of, “all the crappy movie theaters in this crappy city.” Little did I know, this bitter old woman was about to make a very large impact on my life.

We began talking about New York City and how she has lived between here and Los Angeles her whole life. She shared with me the good and bad parts of city life and seemed very knowledgeable on the topic. The more we conversed on traveling, the more I started to realize this woman was very well traveled. The more she spoke the more intrigued I became with her and she mutually intrigued with me. An hour later I found myself sitting with her at a table in the corner of Starbucks.

It turns out this woman, named Alexis, was one of the first independent female investment bankers on Wall Street. Born into wealth, her grandmother was the first person to translate the Bible into seven languages (although I can’t remember which seven). Her second set of grandparents were royalty and helped settle a few colonies in Britain. Alexis was not allowed to attend school as a child because of her families high profile status, and was therefore provided a private tutor in each subject of study as a child. Although she had the opportunity to travel a lot as a child, Alexis was tired of living a life behind closed doors. This drove her to want to become and influential independent business woman as an adult, and she did just that. Alexis single handedly became one of the first female investment bankers to make millions of dollars without being affiliated with a large firm.

Not only did Alexis make millions once, but she did so twice, after going bankrupt early in her career. Having lived a successful, lavish and hard-working lifestyle, Alexis had some of the best advice I have ever received from someone. This is advice that I think everyone from our generation should hear, which is why I asked to audio record our conversation for this blog post.

1. “The overnight millionaire has ruined your [meaning our] generation.”

It used to be that to become a millionaire, you had to work for years to gain the notoriety in an industry that would provide you with millions of dollars in revenue. This is the generation Alexis grew up in. “When I was growing up in the business world we had to work for years to become successful. There was no such thing as creating a product, sharing it with the world immediately, and reaping the benefits almost overnight like the inventors of these social media sites. People also never made it to millions with out going bankrupt first. Look at the owner of JCPennys. One of the most successful businesses in the nation went bankrupt multiple times before becoming a big success.” She also believes that instant success means an inability to deal with failure. “When people can’t deal with failure in their professional lives, how can they deal with it in any other aspect of their lives? They can’t.”

2. “Learn to read a room.”

Alexis explained that a large part on investment banking has to do with what she called, “being able to read the room.” She explained that in investment baking you go into a room with traders and work out a deal. These deals can go on for days and often times all over the world. “The Chinese were always the hardest to read. When my team knew we had to fly to China for a deal we would spend a few days mentally preparing before leaving for China. They come into the room to trade and would wear you down without wearing themselves down. And they would hold the best face; you never knew their next move.” She explained to me that reading a room meant walking into a room with someone and taking in everything they are offering you to get to understand them better. For example, you walk into a room to do business with someone and you notice they have a very organized office and that they stand with a wide stance. From this you can immediately infer that this person is organized in nature and is more than likely a confident individual, meaning they will be a tough business man. Being able to figure these things about a person before you ever go into business with them can be used to your advantage.

3. “Human emotions should sometimes be checked at the door.”

Harsh right? But she had a pretty good point. “I’ve seen a lot of people die because, well, I’m old. Some people die sad, and some people die happy. People like to believe this is out of their control but to some extent it’s not.” By this point I was extremely confused…until she put it into context. “My mother and aunt both lived almost identical lifestyles with identical qualities of life. They both died around the same time, my mother died very happy, and my aunt died very sad. This was because of their perceptions of their lives were different. All emotions are is perceptions of events. If you can learn to truly control your emotions then you can perceive most events as you please. The difference this will make in the quality of your life will be tremendous. And although there will be times in your life that you should be sad or happy, there will be times when it is up to you, and you should learn to manipulate your mind to be blissful.” Interesting, right?

Three hours later I notice the rain had stopped, but I didn’t care. I was able to spend the evening with an extraordinary woman who had a fascinating point-of-view on life. I feel like I gained a lot of insight on life from someone who had personally face success, failure, and triumph. We ended up exchanging email addresses and plan to keep in touch. Although I don’t necessarily believe in talking excessively to strangers I do believe that everything happens for a reason, and I believe it was fate that I forgot my umbrella on that rainy day.

A Foodie’s Guide to NYC

If there is one thing that I love about New York it’s the food. Being such a culturally diverse place there are endless options to try. I was once asked what my five favorite things were and coming in at number one was food/eating. Some people like to say the word glutton, or greedy but I prefer the term foodie. And if you’re a foodie like myself, then coming to New York will be the closet thing to heaven on Earth.

If you’re coming to New York, I’ll give you the insiders guide to the best places around town for foodie quality meals.

Many people like to skip breakfast because they “don’t have time” or “aren’t really hungry in the morning.” Those phrases are incomprehensible to a foodie like me. So, if you are planning on coming to New York you cannot skip out on what doctors like to say is the most important meal of the day, especially in New York where breakfast is done right.

New York is known for its bagels, and yes, you can go to Brooklyn’s or Murray’s Bagels to get arguably the best bagel of your life. But if you want a true breakfast experience, you have to hit up a brunch spot. What is brunch, you ask? Well if breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then brunch is the greatest.

Unfortunately, brunch can only be experienced on the weekend, but it is well worth the wait. My personal favorite brunch spot that I have been to is definitely Phillip Marie’s. Located in the West Village, Phillip Marie is a quaint little restaurant with big taste. I ordered the croissant french toast which was a good, but in hindsight the best deal, and most delicious thing on their brunch menu is the omelette. For $9.95 you can get a meat, a veggie, and a cheese in an omelette with a side of potatoes, fruit, and toast.

When it comes time for lunch, there’s only one place you need to go, and that my friends, is The Melt Shop. Located in only four locations throughout the city, this gourmet grilled cheese place will have your mouth watering for more. I had been planning to go here all summer, but only managed to finally go recently and it’s been on my mind ever since. In fact, in a four day time span, I’ve already tried 3 of their their 11 signature sandwiches.

My personal favorite is the 3 Cheese. It’s Gruyere, Havarti, Goat cheese & roasted tomatoes on Sourdough bread. I mean, what more do I need to say? Sandwiches are not all that The Melt Shop serves, oh no. They have milkshakes as well. A Nutella-Fluff milkshake to be exact. And yes, it’s all you could ever hope for. Grab a sandwich and shake from this place, and be prepared for the most satisfying food baby of your life.

When you’ve overcome the food baby, and are ready for dinner, the next place you need to go is  Qi. I have only ever had bad experience with Thai food, but this place changed the game for me. I never knew Thai could be so good. With a little help from my friends, I ordered Kee Mao, a noodle dish with spicy sauce, tomatoes, basil, eggs, bell peppers and onions. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. I got a to-go box that night and finished the rest of the dish an hour later at home, it was that good.

And after all of that, and you still have room for dessert, which any true foodie would, Dominique Ansel Bakery is the place to go. Here you will find the deliciousness that is the cookie shot. A cookie in the shape of a shot glass with milk inside. Need I say more?

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The Cookie Shot – Dominique Ansel Bakery

 

Winding Down…

What a summer.

As the program winds down, I cannot help but reflect on how much I have seen in this city these past eight weeks.

We had our last class on Monday (what, already?). These past couple of weeks we learned about Broadway and the business behind it, and prior weeks we learned about urban economics and communications across various platforms. These visits included companies such as Law360, Ketchum, CBS News, 60 Minutes, Disney Theatricals and more. I never knew I could learn so much in one summer.

I feel like I came, saw and conquered the Concrete Jungle. I wouldn’t call myself Tarzan, but Jane would be an appropriate metaphor because I first experienced a small “culture shock” of the city. But then slowly, I learned about what it takes to live in such a busy and never-sleeping city, and I was able to adapt.

(Apparently my “footwork” has changed. I went home last weekend and my mom said I walk ridiculously fast now – she couldn’t keep up with me in the store!)

My personality has definitely changed after doing this program. I have a greater confidence about my street smarts and I do not feel as nervous about (hopefully) moving out of my parents house after college. I know that if I do end up needing to move to a big city for my job, I will be able to handle it. The saying really is true – If you can make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere.

9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial


Makin' cash money

Makin’ cash money


Strawberry Fields Forever <3

Strawberry Fields Forever <3


Tourist central.

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Fun fact: My great grandmother tried out to be a Rockette

Fun fact: My great grandmother tried out to be a Rockette


This photo really captures how much the city has grown.

This photo really captures how much the city has grown.

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Central Park is gorgeous.

Central Park is gorgeous.


My internship is at a castle! JK it's an armory.

My internship is at a castle! JK it’s an armory.


My man Roger Federer.

My man Roger Federer.


James Franco. I got so excited after I met him that I broke out into a rash.

James Franco. I got so excited after I met him that I broke out into a rash.


Wallace Shawn!

Wallace Shawn!


The show that's on after Sunday night football...

The show that’s on after Sunday night football…


Would this desk fit in my dorm at the Oaks?

Would this desk fit in my dorm at the Oaks?


Drunk Uncle casually chilling in Starbucks

Drunk Uncle casually chilling in Starbucks


The avenue I definitely don't belong in… #fashionchallenged

The avenue I definitely don’t belong in… #fashionchallenged

This program beats an online summer class any day.

Lights. Camera. Intern!

After starting my morning at 3:56am, I realized the subways in New York City only run every 20 minutes that early (or late) in the morning. Upon this sudden realization, I sprinted out the door to my internship, literally. Today was the morning I worked on a Gatorade Commercial shoot featuring a big New York celebrity. Being late was not an option. So I ran to the east side, catching a rare glimpse of empty New York City streets, while I ran at 4:00am in the morning. This is the intern life in New York City.

Being an intern on set is sort of like being a high school student visiting college. No matter how hard you try to fake it, everyone can tell you are “green”, one of many things I discovered throughout the day. My main job for the day would be “locking up” my street during filming. This means if anyone tries to cross into a section where we are filming, my job is to stop them and redirect them, a much harder task than it sounds when you are filming outside Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. I don’t think I can remember how many people nodded to me, said okay, and continued to walk on right by me!

By the end of the day, I realized that no matter how good your internship is, it can sometimes feel like a thankless job. However, as I learned today, there are countless lessons and skills you can learn while interning. The biggest insight I took away from the day is that connections are everything. The simple fact is, connections get you interviews and sometimes even jobs. I learned to make as many as possible. I also learned that, as cliche as it sounds, to do everything with a smile. Tensions can get high at work places, especially ones where million dollar commercials are being filmed. Sometimes, a simple smile or thank you can diffuse a situation or change the mood. Don’t under estimate its power on your internship!

On Monday, we had the opportunity to go to three very interesting music theatre locations. The first stop was at Disney Theatricals, where we learned about the administrative work that goes into managing a stage production. At Tara Rubin Casting, our second stop, Lindsay spoke to us about the different tasks that must be completed before casting anyone for a musical. Then, at Serino Coyne, we learned about the advertising and marketing techniques used to promote a Broadway play or musical to consumers. Although each of these individual companies specializes in a different aspect of theatre, they all share a common thread. On some occasions, each of them has worked on the same show. A good example of this is the musical for Disney’s Aladdin. While Tara Rubin worked on finding the best cast, Serino Coyne helped to create advertising and increase ticket sells. Ultimately, in the end, everything comes together.

Our last stop for the day was at Alvin Ailey’s Dance Company. We met with a few of the Elon alums who live in New York and work in or are currently pursing a career in theatre. These are just a few of my favorite points from this question and answer session:

1.) Seamless or Ramen?
It’s no surprise – New York is an expensive city. In order to make it here, the alumni panel advised us to save and to create a budget. After being accepted into the Elon in New York program that is exactly what I did. I figured out how much money I would need for the entire 9 weeks, and I created a budget that divided the total amount into daily increments. As a result, I knew exactly how much to spend. Since nobody’s perfect and being the shoe fiend that I am, I did go over my budget on a few occasions. To offset the balance, I would cook instead of paying for takeout or going out for lunch/dinner. Then, I could go back to the original plan.

2.) Scrape the timeline.
New York is known as the city of dreams and that is exactly what it is. Unfortunately, so many people do not realize that their dreams may be much harder to reach than they expected. It is great to come to the city and have an idea about the amount of time you hope it will take before you get your dream job. Still, you have to be realistic and understand that everything may not happen when you want it to. Before coming here, I was so certain about my career path and where I wanted to be in the next 3-5 years. Now, I realize that is more than one way to get there and it may not always be the one that I planned. Hearing the alumni speak about the various jobs and tasks that they have done while still pursing their careers was inspiring. It really motivated me and helped me to realize that plans are good but the end goal is more important.

3.) Sublet…Rent…then Buy.
The alumni also advised us to sublet or rent an apartment if we plan to move here. For the past few weeks, I have heard so many New Yorkers talk about the difficulties of finding a good apartment. It is even more difficult to do if you don’t already live here. With that in mind, subletting or renting someone else’s apartment is a great option. It gives you time to settle in and figure out where you would like to live. Although I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in NYC, I do not think that I want to move here. Still, I’ll know what to do if I change my mind and so will you!

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