Sunday, July 21, 2013

How to avoid (or gladly welcome) the New York heat wave

In case you haven't already heard, New Yorkers are desperate to figure out how to wipe sweat from their brow while holding an iced coffee and a bagel at the same time. It's a common problem holding up crosswalks all over the city. And don't even get me started on the pedestrian traffic in the trains. I'm convinced everyone is taking the F train as a joyride. Sure, I'd pay $2.50 for an air conditioned train car, too. And since the heat wave was enough to drive customers away from leisurely shopping 5th avenue, I found myself with 35 free hours of a 40 hour work week. So after a solid 9 days of dealing with disgusting humidity and temperatures well into the triple digits, I had gained a combination of restlessness, and unexpected time.

Now, as much as I wish work cuts meant something similar to Ferris Bueller's Day Off, it's unfortunately not the case. It's expensive to live in New York City. You can't really afford to just... sit. Ever. I don't need to go into the logistics of this one, but trust me when I say it's nigh impossible to live without 35 hours in my paycheck.

So what do you do with no work, no money, lots of heat, and plenty of time?

1. The MoMA Rain Room exhibit.

In a setting that serves to give man control over the elements, the rain room was designed to sense your presence, stopping the rain all around you, and providing a sort of bubble of dryness. We waited for 8 hours to get into the renowned exhibit that closes next Sunday, and we were 5th in line for general admission. See, the MoMA members get priority viewing to the Rain Room at all times, which means any general admission-ers don't exactly stand a chance. 

If you go: bring something to read, an umbrella, a case of water bottles, and a bucket of sunscreen. 

Cost: NYU students get in free! (Thanks, John Sexton)
All other students: $14
Regular Admission $25

2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This may start to sound like I'm just advertising every museum in New York City, but that's not the case. I've been here two years and I've never seen the Met Museum! They had this amazing free classical music event on the balcony, and once I heard about it, I was sold. My roommate, Christina and I headed over to the Met Museum, and (by donation) paid a $1 entrance fee. I didn't even feel sorry that I only paid a dollar. 

We enjoyed chocolate covered strawberries on the balcony and listened to this amazing string quartet called Ethel and friends. Afterward, we made our way to the European Painters and stumbled upon a free drawing course. Naturally we stayed. 

Maybe I should have been a renaissance painter. 

If you go: find a free drawing class!

Cost: By donation only! 
$6 chocolate covered strawberries optional

3. Do free yoga. 

Yoga to the People. Cost is by donation only, and the only downside is how crazy crowded their weekend classes get. Go throughout the week during your "my shifts were just cut" time, and experience the freedom. 

If you go: bring a mat, or rent one for $2, but that just sounds sweaty to me. 

Cost: by donation only!

4. See an opera encore!

The Met: Live in HD shows one of this past season's operas in select theaters - and for the price of a New York movie ticket (which is not cheap, I'll admit) you too can see Natalie Dessay play the always timeless Violetta in La Traviata. Amazing. 

If you go: buy your own popcorn ($2 at Trader Joe's)

Cost: $12.50 (average) 
Sometimes AMC members can save. We got our tickets for $6.

5. Spend a day in Strand

Take an entire day, find that secluded corner in the "fantasy/science fiction" section of Strand, and finish A Dance with Dragons. Or... whatever other book tickles your fancy.

If you go: be prepared to be spend hours in the best book store in the world.  

Cost: free. Unless you buy the book.

Disclaimer: I don't guarantee that after the third or fourth hour you won't get kicked out. 

6. Go to a sunset rooftop party!

This one is a little trickier. You have to know someone who knows someone who has a rooftop that wants to have a party watching the sun set. But if you do know that someone who knows someone, you're golden. 

If you go: take pictures.

Cost: free! 

Lookin' good, NYC. 

Your week is set! Cheapest total cost: $8 unless you buy the Trader Joe's popcorn, or feel extra generous when those kind yoga people stand next to their kleenex-box of donations. 

My total cost: $20 + a coffee break before the MoMA.

Keep it classy and cool,

♥ Em

Monday, July 8, 2013

L'Italia: A semester in Review.

I have put off writing this post for about a month now. I came to the decision that I just wasn't ready to reflect on my semester abroad because it would mean admitting that it was over. The four months I spent in Italy were possibly the most amazing months of my life. I met some incredible people, saw some of the most beautiful places in Europe, and made memories that will last me the rest of my life. It's taken me a month to come to terms with being back home, and I am now able to rejoice in the fact that it happened, not dwell on the fact that it's over. So here it goes.

On the sixteenth of January, I stepped onto a plane bound for London. I caught little sleep due in part to my pre-flight coffee, and to my anxious anticipation for what the next four months would hold. I have much to reflect upon, and it all starts on January sixteenth.

According to the Myers-Briggs personality test, I'm a "thinking" personality. It means I tend to rationalize things and then act upon them, as opposed to feeling them out. And not that I place great value upon the results of a personality test, but they can be very revealing. I think, that's what I do. And most thinkers tend to write a lot, and often. However, I can't keep a journal to save my life, and I have the hardest time keeping this blog regular. So, with a combined effort (thanks to Facebook, phone records, photos, postcards, and my very sporadic journal entries), I present to you the summation of my semester in Europe, a time that I learned to laugh, live, and love more fully than I ever have before.


1 - Preparations begin. After New Years, a day spent reading in bed and nursing a headache, I packed up what I needed for the next 4 months.

4 - On a flight bound for NY. Staying the next 10 days before departure. 

16 - New York to London to meet my best friend Mauri. We stay with her friend, Caroline. :)

20 - London to Rome. All I saw was the inside of my hostel room, thanks to the flu. Dear miss Mauri adventured through the city on her own. 

23 - We take a train to Venice. Venezia è una citta bellissima. I fell completely in love with the floating city. 

26 - Train to Firenze.

29 - Orientation, awkward new meetings and introductions, and move-in to my host family, an Italian mother with an adopted daughter. Neither of which speak English.

Juliet and I took a van to the city center, and we rode with this kid, Josh. He's also in a homestay. 

31 - First day of classes. I write, "Campus here in Florence is beautiful. We have a cat. Her name is Luna." 

3 - "The history that the city holds is immense and is so exciting. I love my professors. They're all very knowledgeable and passionate."

"I've made a few friends! There's this one girl, Alyssa Vigliotti. She was in my RALI session for our RA application process. I like her."

Met the other home stay students. 

8 - Day trip to Siena; met Melissa Benjamin. She's cool. :)

12 - Week of Valentine's Day. Bought myself a dress, red wine, chocolate, peanut butter (which doesn't exactly exist in Italy), and an absurd amount of cappuccini. 

15 - Eli visits! 

17 - Carnevale di Viareggio 

18 - I become friends with Joel C Yates and Henry Knight. Two hilariously wonderful guys both involved in the Decameron. 

21 - Juliet and I head out on a weekend trip to Madrid, Spain. Filled with lots of laughter, sangria, and tapas. Oh, and Mr. Cutrone, of course. :) 


The weekend was spent boating in el Parque del Retiro, browsing the Museo del Prado, shopping (much to Mr. Cutrone's dismay), and wandering through the streets of Madrid, admiring buildings, architecture, and public political displays. 

24 - became friends with Elena Mercado; she knows Mr. Cutrone, and she's in my politics class. Little do we know we're going to be RAs together next year. She's such a cutie.

26 - became friends with Christina Bandini, she's in my Etruscans class! 


1- Bologna: the home of tortelloni, tortellini and bolognese sauce! 

(Somewhere before now, met Emma Waterman, was super excited to hear she was coming to Bologna, and we climbed a tower together!)

3- Pisa 

8 - Rome & Pompeii weekend

So much to do, so much to see. Pompeii was my dream come true visit. After climbing Mt. Vesuvius, we visited the city ruins and saw the body casts I've yearned to see since I was a 6th grade wanna-be volcanologist. 

14 - Cheyanne & Jason are in Italy! We hit up this local restaurant called "Tamero" in the Santo Spirito area. They have the freshest, most amazing pasta. The New York Times travel section reviewed the restaurant here: Tamero!

17 - San Gimignano; Date with Josh

I think San Gimignano was the only city I didn't blog about. It's this awesome medieval town which had boasted about 72 towers in its glory days - and is most famous for the 12 remaining towers that survived. Families would build towers as a symbol of status and wealth. The higher the tower, the richer the family. The town itself stands on a hill in Tuscany, surrounded by a medieval city wall and boasting an amazing view of the Tuscan countryside. I went with my friends Alyssa and Soozy. The town itself was fun and quaint, undeniably a tourist destination, but we asked a local their favorite restaurant, and found our way to "La Bettola del Grillo" - where this very cute waiter left me a business card that read "You're beautiful". Upon our exit, he kindly asked me for "due baci" - a kiss on either cheek and whispered, "tu sei bellissima!" 

Soozy, Alyssa and myself!

My journal entry reads, "I just went on a date. His name is Josh, and we went to a chocolate bar & got prosecco & chocolate cake. It was so much fun."

21 - Paris 

Festa di primavera comincia! The Thursday night flight to Paris starts my 10 day spring break, a trip that will take me from France to England to Austria. Paris was beautiful. 

Henry Knight surprised me at the Louvre! 

24 - England 

I stayed with my best friend Mauri in York, met with my brother Sean who lives in Sheffield, and we went to see our cousin's band, The Silent Comedy, in Leeds. 
Sean, our cousins Jeremiah and Joshua, and myself backstage.
Tea time with Mauri!
27 - Vienna 

My second favorite city in all of Europe (second only to Paris), was Vienna. My visit to Vienna was a cold, but rejuvenating one. It was amazing. I met with my friends Sara and Alyssa, and after touring the town by foot, we visited each Easter market in the city, saw Upper and Lower Belvedere, The Naschmarkt, and Die Zauberflöte at the Volksoper, and toured Vienna State. 


The first week of April was my birthday week, and every night was an adventure of some sort or another! In sequence, it involved a dinner with Josh, a girl's night out, a two-day visit to Ancient Etruria, birthday dinner with friends, and homemade tiramisu from my host mom. 

4 - "Sono felice"

5- met Anna Madsen, had girls night on the town! Thanks for being classy, Florence. 


Birthday dinner!
Homemade Tiramisu
Happiest of birthdays!
14 - camping in Venice!

16 - got asked for directions. Gave them. In Italian. ;)

21 - Cinque Terre: My favorite place in the world. 


25 - München - frühlingsfest!

30 - Notte Bianca! A night where all of Florence stays open to experience a "White Night" without sleep. 

Myself, Anna and Christina on Notte Bianca!

"L'amore spazia" - the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. 


1 - Lucca! 

9 - We perform The Decameron in the Villa La Pietra gardens. With the best director, assistant director (Thank you, Joel Yates) and the most amazing cast! 

Henry & Joel working hard. 
11 - Day trip to Verona, my final Italian city. 

Cara Giulietta, Verona è una bella città. Dov'è il mio Romeo?

12 - how I study for finals with Alyssa and Juliet. A bottle of vino and tub of gelato, anyone?

16 - Train to Rome. My final night in the eternal city, to which I'm destined to return. 

This is the view from Piazzale Michelangelo, which overlooks the entirety of Florence.

Firenze, tu sei bellissima! Mi manchi. Hai rubato il mio cuore. ♥

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Week Fourteen: Fair Verona

Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. 
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
what here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend. 
-William Shakespeare

And it was with much anticipation that I took my last trip, the weekend before finals, to Verona - the setting of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. I left Florence with my friend, Christina. 

Two train rides, a bag of potato chips and a kinder egg later, we successfully arrived in the beautiful city. There's an interesting type of energy that Verona possesses. It's a very quaint and romantic city, but still has a buzz to it. There's so much modernity mixed with antiquity. It's simply gorgeous. 

Here's the Verona arena. 

A church

A clocktower.

A beautiful piazza

The area around the arena.

And Juliet's balcony. 

People leave love letters to Juliet from all over, on her wall.

So I did, too.

It's said that if you touch the right breast of her statue, you'll have good luck and your love will be blessed. 

This wall is covered with lovers' hearts and names, stories of past visits and desires for future love. Stories of broken hearts are scrawled in every color of pen imaginable. It's just... beautiful. 

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

The city was everything imaginable. It was such a quaint, relaxing place, yet so vibrant and alive. I can't give it a better adjective than simply beautiful. I loved it. 

♥ Em