The adorable little girl on the left is my six year old niece on her first day of first grade. She has been counting down the days of summer and is so excited to be joining the world of school-ies. And you guessed it: There on the right is me, on the first day of my senior year in college. There could be some metaphorically resonant* symbolism in this pair of photos, but mostly it just makes me feel old.
(It was also a nice way to send my niece some transatlantic love from her favorite aunt.)
My niece was born when I was a freshman in high school, and I felt all grown up even then. And although I have one foot out the “youngin” door, or as my father likes to call it-”Senioritis,” I understand a lot of what she is feeling.
First days are hard. No matter how old you are or how many ‘first days’ you’ve had already. You are forced to grapple with the contradiction of expecting the unexpected. No matter how much you try to prepare, there’s the inherent uncertainty of what will be. But that’s also part of the fun.
After my first week of senior year, I am reveling in the excitement of the new, even within the familiarity of my home campus. New professors, new syllabi, used-books-that-are-new-to-me. Not knowing what to expect leads to surprises that can be wonderful too. I hadn’t expected, for example, to see people from my high school, who were freshman when I was a senior and recognizing some metaphorically resonant aspect to the déjà vu-ness of it all.
I wish my niece success on her first, first day, and wish her many more happy uncertain surprises to come.
*I would just like to give full credit to John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” for adding that wonderful phrase to my lexicon.
In the two weeks of my actual summer vacation my parents and I traveled south to Washington DC. The plan was simple: visit museums, see some national monuments and find a pool. Plus if you know my family, you’ll know a trip is never complete without a barbeque at a park. Great Falls National Park, on the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia, turned out to be an excellent place for a bbq and a perfectly peaceful spot to end our 4 day trip and recharge before our drive back home.
Summer vacation is finally upon me. After completing two summer classes and my audiology internship I’m finally on vacation and I have twenty days before fall semester. Let the summer-ing begin!
I love visiting museums because you always feel like you’re learning something even while you’re simply enjoying the art. There’s a sense of calm in museum exhibits. Plus, there’s always air-conditioning! The Brooklyn Museum is so close and so impressive. My mother and I had a wonderful time exploring the varied exhibits after joining a guided tour. Here is a quick snippet of what we saw.
My summer recommendation: eat ice-cream and then visit a museum!
Winning the eportfolio expo was wonderful!
Here are some of the apps I’ve found really engaging on the iPad so far. Make sure to leave me suggestions for more awesome apps.
Hope you are enjoying your summer!
Not to mention the little obsessive, addicting app!
Happy Summer to you!
I’ve been enjoying my summer with fresh fruit, milkshakes, two summer classes and an incredible AUDIOLOGY internship. Plus, a trip here and there to the city, which brings me to SummerRamble: The East Village.
Photo: Satish Krishnamurthy
A friend of mine made up for us to meet at a cafe in the east village. I haven’t ever really spent time around there, but the second I got off at Astor Place, I could feel the hipster in the air. People around me were decked out in all kinds of colorful and mismatched fabrics, with hairdos and footwear spanning the last 50 years of fashion.
As I crossed the street, I noticed a group of young people in exercise clothes with yoga-mats over their shoulders, though you’d think they were high fashion purses, the way some people carried them. After that, I passed by some outdoor cafes and a yogurt bar whose sandwich board goaded, “Get your antioxidants here!” Quickly I realized that the plastic bag I was carrying was earning me some hard stares from the passersby. I was clearly in the East Village.
In the short walk from the subway to the meeting with my friend, I had that distinct feeling one gets while traveling, that sense of fascination followed by the desire to study and understand the micro-verse that is a neighborhood in NYC, as an anthropologist would. My friend and I had a lovely time together, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had crossed over some invisible line that took me into a world that was clearly different to the one I’d been in at the other end of subway line back in Brooklyn.
Photo: William Ward
So wherever you may be, I encourage you to hop on a train, or bus or bike and go just a few neighborhoods over and you too may find something you didn’t expect.
Like so many college students I find myself at the end of a long semester. As I prepare for finals, I also reflect on how this semester has been different from others. Last semester I was in Melbourne Australia, adjusting not only to a new country but to different educational practices, especially different academic expectations. But these thoughts are not about my semester abroad but rather about the first semester home after being abroad.
Studying abroad has three stage: pre-, during and post-.
While the semester before was riddled with antsy-ness and anticipation for my trip, and the semester abroad with childlike fascination, it’s during my semester back home that I find myself relishing familiarity. I walk around campus with a sense of ownership, remembering the discomfort of being new and unsettled in a foreign university. Even riding the subway, which is a surprise-filled adventure every time you go, carries a type of what I like to call a “present nostalgia.” That feeling you get when you are just fully in the moment and imagining how you’ll look back at this moment in the future.
I’ve had all semester to really process the experiences I had in Australia and rather than feeling them slip away into past memories, I find I am integrating what I learned throughout my journey and affirming those lessons into life back here in Brooklyn.
This year’s JFEW Spring Retreat was as inspiring and relevant as last year’s event (previous post): We kicked off the day with a session led by Ben Messner about “Strengths,” focusing on directing our lives based on our greatest talents. We had all taken an online evaluation that defined our top five strengths and during the session we learned how to use those words to articulate how our particular strengths can benefit us in our professional lives.
The cohort of motivated and ambitious JFEW scholars were then treated to a dialogue with MHC’s Macaulay Honors College Dean Kirschner and Shelley Fischel. They shared their educational and career paths, contrasting the “driller” vs. “gypsy” approach to building a career. A “driller” being one who remains in one job and goes deeper into that particular field for many years, developing an expertise in a niche and a tight-knit, internal social network, while the “gypsy” stays in one place and with one interest for a short time and then hops off to the next new and exciting project, forming many and varied professional relationships. I enjoyed listening to these two successful women recount their joys and struggles of being both accomplished professionals and dedicated mothers.
The day ended with a conversation with two MHC and JFEW alums who shared their own experiences navigating the world and their careers following graduation. Sasha and Catherine were open about sharing both their educational and professional trajectories as well as their personal journeys to where they are now.
Being a part of a supportive, motivated, and self-aware group of young women strengthens my own convictions in my own abilities and strengths. The retreat served as a surge of empowerment and a testament to the culture of support found in JFEW and MHC.
Spending pesach with my family in Israel is something I’d never done before and was incredibly special. I hadn’t seen my grandparents in over 2 years, my brother, sister and adorable nieces in more than a year. Skype is great and having video chats made it that at least my little nieces recognized me and knew who I was, but sharing physical space and being able to steal a potato off of my sister’s plate reminds me that while technology connects us, it’ll never replace the real thing.
Enjoy the video and follow the links to see more!
Comment Question: What kind of technology do you think falls short of reality?
A costume holiday spent eating and exchanging food packages with friends, plus non-stop eating of said food packages, plus a holiday meal?!?!?! I’m in!! Purim is my favorite holiday!
You know I’m a fan of DIY (Do it Yourself,) so I put together this simple peacock themed costume, mostly as an excuse to wear these amazing earrings! Some thought I actually looked like a turkey- woops. But hey- here’s pictures so you could decide what you think. Leave a comment!
This year’s costume winner was Waldo!
Here’s my best friend dressed up as Waldo, very convincingly, might I add. I stole her awesome glasses for the picture though.
I stole Waldo's glasses!
Can you find Waldo?!?
Later, I saw a whole family dressed as Waldo’s and I hope they weren’t too frightened when I pointed excitedly and said, “FOUND YOU!!!”
Purim in Brooklyn is still the most amazing thing about living here. Last year, I made a more representative video of how great it is. Check it out here: (plus last year’s DIY costume!)
Well, the day for me was really about spending time with family, friends and celebrating happiness!
Lots of smiles!
This week the Brooklyn College Honors Lounge held its annual Travel Art show. Students who traveled, studied, and volunteered abroad shared pictures and stories with each other. Plus, a cultural potluck! Out of approximately 2,000 digital photos that took in Australia, I chose five that reflected how inviting Melbourne was by choosing photos that emphasized perspective.
It was really nice to have a time and place to share stories, adventures and pictures with each other and to have my photos included in the Art Show.
Just kidding. Actually, I’m back in Brooklyn and back to college. My semester starts on Friday and I have a full line up of really interesting classes: An audiology class, a class about speech disorders, 3-D design, and a really exciting course about New Orleans before, during and after 2005′s Hurricane Katrina.
Since coming back from Australia, I’ve had time to reflect and share my experiences with friends, advisors and professors. Also, I’ve put together a picture album and realized that I have so many great shots of different places around Melbourne. I would love to post some of those retroactively now that I have time to sort through all the wonderful memories. I’ll start with one of the coolest performance stages I’ve ever been to:The BMW EDGE at the back section of Federation Square ( The space has all these amazing triangle-y, angle-y windows with a view of Melbourne’s iconic YARRA River behind.
Aside from the clean, modern seats, stairs and stage, check out this amazing ceiling!
Seeing these pictures, I feel like I took them years ago, when in fact I was there just two months ago. I’m trying my best to hold on to the lessons and experiences I’ve gained by studying abroad. Plus, marveling at and sharing all the uniquely artistic places I’ve been to in Melbourne.
Hi to all my wonderful Aussie readers- Good luck with your new school year.
And to my North American readers- Stay warm! and Good luck on a new semester.
Oh and also, it’s Australia day. Just thought you should know.
To tell you the truth, I love flying. I love airports. I love the feeling of having a destination to look forward to and the feeling of leaving somewhere where people will miss you. And let’s face it, when do I get to sit back and watch back to back movies, especially recently-released special features. That’s why I don’t mind the flying. Sure, your clothes and muscles get all wrinkled, and you go from extremes of dehydration to busting for the toilet precisely when 30 other passengers are waiting for it too. But all that is worth it. Not just for the movies. That’s just a benefit, a perk, a luxury, if you will. And it’s definitely not the airline food that makes it great.
It’s knowing that by the end of the flight, you’ll be in a whole new place. Somewhere different! Carrying expectations heavier than your luggage, but trying to suppress them so as not to be disappointed. Sometimes it’s coming home just in time for a holiday or family occasion. But what makes airports magical for me is seeing throngs of people, each one with a story, a journey. Airports are ideal for my favorite sport: people-watching! It’s actually a lot more interesting than people-watching at the park, for example, because in a park, you see people walking, or jogging, or attempting to jog, or reading, or pretending to read. Limited possibilities for analysis- anthropologically speaking, of course.
In an airport, you stand in line with people, with families, with couples. You see the interaction between them and can often pick up on nuances of anticipation or frustration or exhaustion, depending on what leg of the journey they’re on and how many pieces of their luggage have gone missing so far.
It’s beautiful how flying takes strangers from ‘shifty-eyes-and-avoid-eye-contact-at-all-cost’ to ‘smile-and-say-what-a-cute-baby.’ The conversations you have with fellow passengers usually start off with a ‘I-need-to-go-to-the-bathroom-so-can-you-kindly-move,’ and can progress to include ‘destination-or-purpose-of-your-trip-if-I-may’ and sometimes even go so far as, ‘I’m-allergic-to-the-pineapple-in-my-fruitcup-want-it?’
In an airport it’s perfectly reasonable to be sitting around for hours, practically doing nothing. I relish this waiting-around time. It’s good for reading, eating, thinking, and most of all: People-Watching! With your whole wardrobe in a glorified box, you wait for a pressurized cabin with wings to take you thousands of feet into the sky. While you’re flying high, you get to watch movies, meet cool strangers, and eat dehumidified food with a really high sodium content. What could be better. Of course, this may be because I am beyond exhausted and approaching hyperactivity after 17 hour flight.
Take time to enjoy the journey!
Leave a comment: What’s your favorite thing about traveling?
ps. waiting in the airport’s apple store, I made a mini vlog: I was very emotional to leave Melbourne and also really excited to come on home!
I’m already starting to miss this beautiful, inviting, creative, happy, relaxed city. I thought I’d be calling Melbourne home for just a few months, but I didn’t know I’ve created a permanent tether to this place. Melbourne may be really far away, but it will always be close to my heart.
Presenting a preemptively nostalgic video of icons in Melbourne:
Of course, it’s the people who make up the real vibe of a place and I can’t begin to say how welcomed and loved I felt here. Thank you to my dear host family. I’ll miss you very much.
Thanks for making this place a true home for me.
Melbourne, I’ll miss you too…especially your sky.
After living and studying in Melbourne for four months, I’ve grown to love the city just as much as a “real” Melbourneian. All you need to do is scroll through my old posts or watch any of my videos and you’ll see just how inviting and rich Melbourne is: Socially, culturally and aesthetically. Now throw this Melb-crazy girl into the rival city of Sydney and watch what happens.
I went to Sydney for three short days and upon arriving felt the anti-gravity feeling of excitement. Sydney! The Opera House, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, Finding Nemo’s film location! How could I not be excited. Those iconic images of “Australian-ness” were indeed inspiring, but unfortunately the city welcomed me with a three day bout of unrelenting rain. I had mixed feelings about my visit to Australia’s second best city- Melbourne, of course, being number 1 on my list!
Many people were dressed in serious business suits around the CBD (central business district). This was quite a contrast to the creative, stylish, often eclectic fashion sense seen in Melbourne’s CBD. Of course, this is easily explained by the fact that Sydney is the financial capital and Melbourne is unofficially known as the ‘cultural capital,’ but it doesn’t change the fact that Melbourne comes with a fun and energetic vibe, while Sydney comes off as cold and busy. (I do admit, the rain might have had something to do with my impression of the city. Plus, another disclaimer: Four months versus three days.)
This lovely shot was taken after a three hour walking tour of Sydney Harbor and ‘The Rocks.’ I was obviously a little eager with the “whole jump-while-we-take-the-shot!”
For all those who know me, you know how much I LOVE Slurpees, and being that they aren’t certified Kosher in Melbourne, I hadn’t had one in four months. But in Sydney, they’re kosher, so quite pathetically, this Slurpee was unironically a highlight of my trip to Sydney.
Despite my harshness, I did still enjoy my stay. Due to the rain, many of my activities were confined to indoor spaces, but I made the most of it.
I went to the Federal Reserve Museum about the evolution of Australian currency. The bills, or notes, are actually made out of plastic which keeps bills in circulation for longer, reducing the cost of production. This museum showed how the changes in the currency reflected the different eras in Australian history.
I also saw a 3D movie in the world’s largest IMAX screen! ‘Born to Be Wild (3D),’ a wonderful, heart-warming documentary about the saving of endangered orphan elephants and orangutans. Watching it both in 3D and in such massive proportions made for a really memorable cinematic experience, which I probably would’ve skipped out on, if not for the rain!
The best of the indoor activities was a visit to the Art Gallery of NSW, since I love art museums. I especially enjoyed their newly installed modern art exhibit.
All in all,
Sydney was great.
I still love Melbourne more.
And I miss New York most of all.
This week is International Education Week , and you could probably guess that I am a big fan of study abroad. These past four months, I’ve been studying in Melbourne Australia, a significant time and space difference away from my beloved NYC.
Studying abroad gives you the chance not only to see and travel in a foreign country, but to actually learn about how the people there have values that are different to those that your country holds. I’ve learnt that Australians care about the environment, not just in theory but in practice. In most people’s homes that I ate in, we used real plates and actual glasses, even for a snack. Also, in some supermarkets, you have to bring your own bags. Leaving aside the debate surrounding the Australian government’s recent announcement of the ‘Carbon Tax,’ which may be far removed and complex, actually living with people who recycle, compost and take tote bags with them to the market allowed me to experience day-to-day changes in behaviour.
You are able to meet people from all over the world- other international students- and see why Australia (or your chosen country) attracts so many students from around the world. In my classes, I became friends with a student from Austria, one from South Korea and two from Sweden. Studying alongside students from different places with different viewpoints gave me a more worldly classroom experience.
You begin to learn hidden talents and face fears that you might not even knew you had. Learning to navigate your way around an unfamiliar city is empowering and by the end, I went with an Australian friend to the city, and I knew the city better than her! It’s learning your own power and ability that builds confidence! You can also learn to conquer fears: I actually lived in a house with a dog. This may seem insignificant and irrelevant to “Australia” per se, but it means that I embraced a situation and learned to adapt!
In my study abroad experience, following those of many students before me, I feel older, more cultured, more worldly, more confident, and definitely encourage international study!
So my host family took me to their grandparent’s farm in Red Hill. It was so much fun! Even though it was raining, you can tell that Judah (my Australian little brother) and Hila (my good friend) and I enjoyed hanging out together and making a fun vlog together. Making this video really meant a lot to me since everyone around me is so supportive of the whole “vlogging” thing and this time agreed to participate and come on farm adventures with me.