Saturday, May 3, 2014

Visiting New York City

Hey! I've been completely absent from this blog for a while, but I've been traveling for almost a month! I went to New York for almost a week, then left for China a week after I got home. I was in China for 2 and a half weeks and just got back last Friday. I think I'm finally adjusting to life back home in Seattle, but it definitely took longer than I expected!

Anyways, I've finally unpacked and sorted through my pictures and all that, so I'm dividing my travels by city. First, NYC, then hopefully soon I'll do a post on Beijing and one for Chongqing.

So first, why did I get to go to NYC? Well, I'm in the Finance division of the National Academy Foundation (NAF) at my school, which offers both the Academy of Finance and the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism. Every year the seniors in these programs get to visit NYC schools with the same programs, and visit the NAF offices to talk to "the people in charge". We got to give them feedback on the program and discuss ways to connect with Academies in other states, and we learned more about the college scholarships they offer, which was fantastic.

OH SPEAKING OF COLLEGE I HAVE SOME SUPER EXCITING NEWS. I committed to a college I never would have dreamed I'd be able to go to this weekend, and I am UNBELIEVABLY excited. Most people haven't heard of the SP Jain School of Global Management, probably because there are only 100 students in each incoming class. It's small and I can't run cross country there, both of which are things I used to think would be deal breakers for me. But SP Jain is too good an opportunity to pass up. I get to study business with a focus in Marketing, and I checked out their course listing and I am in love with every single class title.

Oh, and did I mention? Freshman year is in Singapore, sophomore year is in Dubai (and hopefully France for a semester) and the last two years are in Sydney, Australia.

I cannot DESCRIBE how excited I am to be a part of this program. I want to write about it more but this post is supposed to be about New York, so I'll get back to that, but I just had to share the fact that I am LIVING MY DREAMS of travel for the next four years, and I could not be more happy or more grateful.

Anyways. New York happened, also.

As I was saying, before I got sidetracked by Singapore! Dubai! France! Sydney! New York was
amazing. We did a few educational things, like talking to the NAF staff and visiting local schools with Academy programs, but the rest of our days were crammed full of tourist sightseeing. We managed to go to the Empire State Building, Ground Zero, Wall Street, Canal Street, Chinatown, 5th Avenue, Motown on Broadway, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty…. and so many more places I can't even remember them all! Basically, we got to do every single touristy thing we could possibly desire, which was great. And I got a double dose of Central Park because one of the chaperones was kind enough to take me running there three times! The first time we kind of just explored for 6 miles, then the next day we ended up running 9 miles (because I did a timed 2-lap speed workout around the reservoir and then we did a lot of other running), and on the last day an easy 4. On the last run I was DEAD tired, because not only had I run 9 the day before but it had also been our free day, so I'd speed walked around NYC for a solid 5 hour block. Crazy but great! Anyways, here are some pictures...

My friend (and NY roomie!) Annabelle, left, and I the day we arrived. Taxis everywhere! 
I think this is called Columbus Circle, which I got to go running through every morning on our way back from Central Park.  
This was one of those woah-this-thing-exists-in-real-life-not-just-on-TV! moments. 
The quintissential NYC hot dog stand. 
Times Square at night! Me with a group of friends- I'm in the middle! We had SO MUCH time to go shopping… I spent $70 on a pair of silver sandals at Express (they were SO sparkly!) plus at least $200 more on clothes. I think a lot of us girls did! :P
Rockefeller Center skating rink!! Funny story, actually- I was so excited to skate here but their rentals are awful and so is the ice…. I couldn't land any jumps and could barely spin straight! Still, at least now I can say I've been.
The Statue of Liberty, of course. Which was smaller than I expected, and way smaller than it looks in this picture, but impressive and lovely all the same.  
Cutest graffitti ever. 
View from the Empire State Building! Just gorgeous. 
The view from here was probably my favorite thing about NYC. 
Plus we were there at sunset, it was SO amazing.
I had dreamt about visiting New York for so long before going that it felt entirely surreal to be there the first few days. The whole trip was just so. Much. Fun. I got to room with one of my best friends at the hotel, so every night we were up till nearly 3 AM dancing around to Shakira/Rihanna's "Can't Remember to Forget You" and parading around in our new clothes. Actually, there's a funny story about that, too! On the last night, my school group was set to go on a dinner dance cruise with a few other groups from some middle-American state (yeaaaah I forget which one). So we had all packed our nice clothes and heels, and Annabelle and I were testing out our outfits around midnight. We had on fancy dresses, high heels and were dancing around when our teachers knocked on the door for curfew… So of course we had to open the door and oh my it was awkward. Hilarious but awkward. At least the outfits were a success, and the cruise was great, too- we danced for 3 hours straight. They even had that "Let It Go" song from Frozen on the playlist (which I am really getting sick of by the way) and EVERYONE sang…

The whole trip was fantastic. I loved every second of it, and was so sad coming home because I'd had such an amazing week living in the city I've been dreaming of for years. I'm determined to go back someday, but for now I'm grateful for the amount of time I got to be a part of this glorious city.

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