Winter Wonderland: NYC Edition

November 28, 2014 in Alive Campus, Travel

Winter Break: Ugly Christmas Sweater Weather

Winter Break: Ugly Christmas Sweater Weather

While on a first date, I was randomly asked what my favorite season was. Without missing a beat, I responded, “The end of fall and the beginning of winter—when all of the leaves have finished falling and snowflakes have begun to fall from the skies on a near-daily basis.” Thankfully, my date wasn’t one of those guys who thought that being a Winter Wonderland enthusiast was a bad thing. Although the relationship with that one boy didn’t last very long, my relationship with the “hot cocoa and cuddling near a fireplace” season is ever lasting.

Now that Thanksgiving break is behind us, we can all start planning our Winter Break itinerary. As a Brooklyn-bred New York State student, I’m privileged enough to take a single bus ride down from upstate New York and into the Big Apple for my month long vacation away from the ‘Nell. Considering my love of the cold season, I’ve acquired quite the bucket list of wintry activities, five of which I will share:

Max Brenner's Chocolate Milkshakes

Max Brenner’s Chocolate Milkshakes

“I’m kind of craving chocolate.”
In a nutshell: Serendipity 3, Jacques Torres Chocolates, and Max Brenner Chocolatier. These three havens, as I like to call them, serve up some of the richest, creamiest, most scrumptious chocolate treats in any and all forms imaginable—frozen hot chocolate, anyone? For those with a sweet tooth, or who simply want a chance to dip strawberries in chocolate fondue and roast a marshmallow over an authentic fire, these three chocolatiers are your holiday hot spots.

“Babe, let’s hold hands as we skate the night away.”
You’ve seen all the romance films—some might even call them Chick Flicks. The two main leads are cascading across the ice rink, gloved hands intertwined as one attempts to not slip and the other laughs because their date is such a klutz. There’s a moment where one is about to slip, and when everything is calm, and the hyena laughing has died down, their eyes meet. This is the moment when they realize that they’re in love. Everyone wants to moment. When I think of places to bring my date in the hopes that he’ll almost slip and our eyes meet—hopefully we haven’t both fallen and received concussions—the Central Park ice skating rink comes to mind.

Christopher-James indulging in a Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate

Christopher-James indulging in a Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate

“Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree!”
Rockefeller Center has an annual night in which the Norway spruce tree is lit up, dazzling the crowd with a wondrous show of neon lights and snowflake shadows. The crowds go crazy with cheers, Christmas spirit, and the inevitable instagram photo-ops. There’s something otherworldly about being in that crowd the moment the tree lights up.

“3, 2, 1…Happy New Year!”
You see it on the television screen every year. In fact, you attend a party where the huge television screen plays a live feed of New York City’s Time Square New Year’s Eve celebration. One day, you actually choose to take the subway ride over to 42nd street. You arrive just in time–and by that, I mean you arrive several hours before midnight so that you can get into the center of the craziness. You fight off all of the other tourists, and continue to sweat from having to hold in all of your pee. You think this is all so stupid, when suddenly, the 60 second countdown begins. You look around, and everyone starts to yell out the numbers. You begin to do the same. When 0 hits, everyone cheers and you feel a sense of exhilaration. You are part of something huge.

“Stay in and be cozy.”
And my favorite activity, staying home, sitting next to the fireplace, dressed in my Snuggie, sipping on a cup of hot cocoa with five marshmallows floating on top of the foam.

Say Hello to the Holidays!

November 28, 2014 in Alive Campus, Colleges, Travel

Let the holiday season and the abundance of delicious cuisine begin! It’s Thanksgiving break, college is out for the week, and students are scurrying back home. Say goodbye to schoolwork and the usual dining hall meals and say hello to the family and mom’s homecooked turkey, sweet potatoes, and fruit pies. Being a Southern California native, used to sporting dresses and sandals in the winter but now bundling up in layers of sweaters, scarves, and everything warm in Boston, I longed to return back home and soak up the rays of the sun. I’m very fortunate to be writing this article as I sit in my backyard sipping a cold lemonade on an 80 degree day. However, because Emerson has a high out-of-state and international student percentages, not all students had the advantage to leave, due to finance and traveling concerns.

Where do Emerson students go for the Holidays?

To be honest, Emersonians go where the food is. This sounds a bit comedic, but it’s true. Fresh, homecooked meals that aren’t associated with the dining hall is all a student needs during the break. Many students who live in New England and along the East Coast go back home for break. They reunite with family, stuff their mouths, and enjoy the coziness of their home. My roommate who is from Framingham, MA (30 minutes outside of Boston) is spending the break with her close family and friends. Although I returned back to Cali, there are very few West Coasters traveling, instead, they’re staying with relatives nearby or spending Thanksgiving with roommate(s). Emerson dorms are also open for Thanksgiving, thus some students have that option of staying in 30 degree New England weather.

Thanksgiving food is the best kind of food!

Prior to college, I was never able to wrap my head around this statement, but now in college, I find it incredibly true. College goes by so fast. It’s already Thanksgiving break, and next week marks the two week countdown for winter break. But instead of one week off, students get one month off! Because Emerson closes during winter break, a large majority of students return home for the holiday season.

What are my plans for winter break? Spend time with my family during Christmas, then travel with my closest friends up to the Northern California. My friends and I have been planning a winter roadtrip for the past few months, similar to the one we did last summer. Because winter break is the second longest (summer being the first), students travel and make the most spontaneous memories as possible. Some go on family trips to Hawaii or the Carribean, others go backpacking up North and enjoy the wildnerness. Either way, winter break is always worthwhile because the semester has ended and no schoolwork is required.

How to Plan Your Breaks?

Are you looking to have a fun and memorable holiday break? Are you unsure of what to do and where to go? Are money or time keeping you from traveling or living up your life? Do you want some fun tips or suggestions on how to spend an unforgettable holiday? If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, read below!

1. Consider your budget - OK, maybe you can’t go to Hawaii or ride horses on the beaches in Mexico, but what you can do is be adventorous and discover new activities and places in your home area. If you live along the coast, consider a roadtrip. For Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington folks, you are home to some of the most bucket list worthy and scenic destinations. Consider Big Sur, Santa Cruz, Yosemite, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rainer, and Mount Hood.

Last summer, my three friends and I went on a roadtrip from San Diego to San Francisco on a $400 budget, which was perfect. We camped along the coast in Santa Monica, Big Sur, and Santa Cruz and reserved our campsites months ahead of time, to save money and stress. We went grocery shopping days before leaving, brought a mini stove, cooked our food the entire trip, and split the costs of gas and basic necessities. If you’re a nature person, hiker, or traveler, consider this option for a holiday break. Roadtrips usually range from 3 days to several weeks. Just an idea, but a beautiful and truly rewarding one.

The sunset view from my campsite in Big Sur. Consider this breathtaking town for an aestheically pleasing trip.

2. Take advantage of your hometown - If a roadtrip isn’t practical for you, that’s OK. You can still have a memorable break while staying home. Chances are, you haven’t been EVERYWHERE or have seen EVERYTHING in your hometown. If you live in a city, explore! Go on Google Maps and type in theatre, comedy, music, cafe, film, art, museum, etc… Research activities to do and jump on them. Discover hidden gems in your backyard, take the train or subway around the city, go to a few concerts or festivals, try new food in Chinatown or Little Italy, and have a curious mindset! Remember, YOU are in control of your break, no one else.

Always explore your surroundings, dream big, and discover new possibilities.

3. Get a unique job - Don’t grown or roll your eyes. Working can be fun, depending on the uniqueness of the work. My best friend recently told me that she’s applying to work on a cruise ship this winter, and my other friends will be studying marine life in Monterey Bay and working as tour guides at Yosemite National Park. First, ask yourself what you love. Do you enjoy painting, writing, hiking, dancing, or cooking? There’s a special job calling your name in every passion. Volunteer at an art museum, become a camp counselor, attend a poetry workshop or journalism program, work at an exotic hotel or music venue, make pies or sweet treats at a french bakery! The options are endless, and you have the power to decide.

This job may seem scary at first, but being a tour guide is a fun way to earn money, to meet different people, and to gain more knowledge on the area.

Why You Should Travel During Breaks

November 20, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges, Travel

If there’s one thing a college student knows, it’s the pain and disappointment that follows viewing your bank account after a weekend out. You got a little too drunk and ordered a pizza for you and your friend and insisted on paying for the whole thing. Maybe you were trying to get lucky so you bought that girl 2 rounds of drinks, just to have her sleep at somebody else’s house. No matter how you’ve learned it, you’ve learned how hard it is to hold onto your money in college in one way or another. Once you lose money that way, don’t you feel like an idiot? Like none of it was really worth it? Maybe you wish you could have saved that money to put it toward something useful?

This is where traveling comes in. College is one of the few times where you really aren’t anchored to one place. Sure, you attend college in one particular city or town, but you only have class a few days a week. And if you have a serious job in your college career that you definitely can’t take time off from, then a) congratulations and holy shit, and b) stop reading this article/anything I write because it will not relate to you, you beautiful over-achieving bastard. Use this time in your life to explore the country. You’re going to be broke throughout your college career and well into your post-grad life, so why not do something awesome with the time you have?

Make a fund. Use your savings account to deposit a sum of money weekly from your paycheck. It doesn’t have to be the whole thing, but it has to be enough to make an impact. Spend a weekend in someplace cool you’d never have thought you’d find yourself, like Austin, TX or San Diego, CA. It’ll be weird, it’ll be crazy, but most importantly it will be life changing. Even if the one thing you take away from the trip is “I could never live there,” then the trip was a success. You tried something out, and now that city is off your list of places you might live.

Three years ago I went to New Orleans for Mardis Gras. I was 19, and looking to see some random boobies. I got what I went for. But what’s most important is that I fell in love with a city I would have never even thought I’d visit. Because of this one random trip I took, I ended up going back twice more, and am going for a 4th time this weekend. It is the most incredible city I’ve ever been to and is not even worth describing. It is a city that must be experiences to be understood and believed. Each time I return from New Orleans, my bank account is empty from the airfare and the spending I do while I’m down there, but I’m never disappointed when I look at my bank account. It was just another trip packed with awesome memories, and is one more reason for me to move there after I graduate.

You may never have the luck I had, with my first random city being the one I choose to live in after college. You may have better luck, by finding the city you love and someone to fall in love with while you’re there. But you should never say “I can’t, I’m too broke.” That’s your fault. I’ve yet to hear of a college town without work opportunities within walking distance of the campus. If you don’t have a car, take a walk and apply these places and start saving. If the only learning you do during your college years is in the classroom, you’ve done something terribly wrong, so start experiencing life.

What Are You Working For?

November 7, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Career, Travel

College is a very scary idea for incoming freshman. You are excited to start your journey, of course, but you fear failure. By the time you’re done with your first semester, you know exactly what you personally have to do to succeed and begin to realize that you have a lot of free time. If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend your free time in your first 2 years at college drinking, because why not? Now that I am in my last year of college, I regret all the free time I wasted. I could have been working or doing an internship, not stumbling around dorm halls and forgetting to complete assignments.

Part of this delayed realization could be due to the fact that I was pretty directionless in those years. I had always been very interested in the behind-the-scenes aspect of filmmaking, so I declared a major that was most closely associated with that. But what did I want to do with this degree? Well, in hindsight, I can give advice on this topic: pick up an internship. It looks good on resumes, and it’ll help you narrow down what you are interested in pursuing for a career.

Not ready to jump in the workforce and put that degree to use? Me neither. If you’re in this category, make a plan. Set some goals. Follow a dream. The only person stopping you from doing what you want to do is you. I know how cheap and overused that sounds, but it’s true. I decided last year that I want to move to from Massachusetts to New Orleans after I graduate this year. Do I have a plan of what I’m going to do when I get there? No. Do I have a plan of how to get there? Yes. I work at a busy restaurant waiting tables, and put a set amount of my tips away each week into a savings account. By graduation, I will have saved up enough to get me down there and settled in, before job hunting.

Do I enjoy waiting tables? Balancing the job with school work? Missing out on all the stuff my friends do while I work weekend nights? No, not at all. I actually hate it very much. But I look back and realize that I had an awesome 3 years of college already, and that this is what I need to do to accomplish a goal I set for myself. If I want to make this move happen, I have to work hard for it. And that’s what I’m doing.

So, that’s it. (It’s probably the only time I’ll ever write some kind of an advice post.) Working while you’re at school is going to suck. There’s just no way around it. But you need to make it worth your while. Is it helping to fund a dream of your’s, like mine? Is it helping to pay for your car payments? Cell phone bill? Is it going to help pay off some of your student loans? Then in the end it’s worth it. People always get sad when they think about the end of college. “The best years of your life are over,” they’ll say. To me, why does the party have to stop? Next stop, New Orleans.

University Primetime

November 3, 2014 in Admissions, Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges, Events, Health, Infographics, Love, Reviews, Sports, Style, Top 10 Lists, Travel, Videos

University Primetime is a blogging website designed to specifically target college students.  This website covers all aspects of college life such as dating, relationships, lifestyle, and information about colleges all around the country.  Aspects of this blog include top ten lists, student reviews, and other commentary from current college students.

One interesting thing about this website is that all of the content is submitted only by college students.  In a way, this blog is the nucleolus for college students to come together and compare their notes.   All of the articles are written by students, for students.  This is a great way to make college kids feel like they have a way to express themselves.  This blog also serves as a source of information for college students as well. While yes, most of these articles are written for the purpose of entertaining college students, there are other types of articles written.  There are articles about music, television, sports, politics, movies, etc.  There are a wide variety of categories for readers to choose from.

One thing that stands out about this website is the layout/design of the page.  The University Primetime logo is clearly printed at the top left corner of the page.  Next to that logo is a drop down menu for readers so they can easily navigate throughout the page.  The three main things that this website contains are articles with lists, advice, and campus life, which is what they first three drop down menus are.  There’s also a submit content tab which gives the reader the option to write in to the website.

Right under this drop down menu, there is a mix of the most recently published/most popular articles plastered in the center of the page.  These include the main picture in the article, and the article title. Underneath that, there is a section called “what’s new”,” which continuously updates as new articles are posted.

The overall page design is actually quite simple.  It’s very pleasing to the eye, as it’s design is made so that it will not be too overwhelming.  The color scheme is very bland, using blacks whites and a salmon coloring for the University Primetime logo.   The only pop of color the reader gets is from the pictures that are in the articles.

This website is successful because it’s writing specifically for things that college students care about.  There’s articles about money, fashion, movies, pets, things that people want to see.  There’s a fun, humorous side, and there’s a realistic, serious side.  The key is that University Primetime has found that balance of both sides.

It’s also successful because it’s well known.  When University Primetime first started out, the promotion that went around and the buzz that was created for it was very over the top.  There were links posted all over Facebook and Twitter, and the owner of the company even gave students the chance to become University Primetime Campus Representatives, which made students feel like they were a part of something.  The amount of marketing that went into the creation of this website was astounding.

University Primetime is definitely a front-runner for college blogging websites.  It’s simple, it’s modern, and it’s entertaining, which is exactly what college students want to see in the media nowadays.  I’m sure it will continue to be successful in the future.