Long time no see, I know! My semester at Allegheny came to an end last week, and while I somehow regret not having written more often, I feel like most of my posts would have been about how busy my schedule was. Between four courses, College Chorus, Amnesty International, and a part-time job position as a writer/editor with the Allegheny College Office of College Relations, I sure had a lot on my plate for an exchange student. But at least I know I did not really get bored and I can say that my Textual Analysis class was probably the hardest Communications course I will ever have to take as an undergraduate student. Until it is time to work on my senior capstone that is!
For Thanksgiving break, I went to my second home in Olympia, WA. Reuniting with my American family after more than 3 years was more than refreshing. While my time there was truly short-lived, I am sure I will be back again. I cannot stay away from the Pacific North West for too long.
As of right now, however, I happen to be in New York City! After I handed in my last final paper, got some well deserved sleep, and packed up four months worth of stuff into a suitcase, a backpack, and a bunch of tote bags, my friend Phil gave me a ride to Sewickley, PA where I met up with my other friend Mary. Mary was one of the first people I met at Allegheny College since she works with the International Education Office. She was a wonderful host for my last night in Pennsylvania and showed me around her hometown on Wednesday and then around Pittsburgh on Thursday.
In Pittsburgh, we went to Conflict Kitchen for lunch. Conflict Kitchen is a small takeout restaurant which changes menus every six months or so to cuisines of countries that the US has conflict with. The current version is Palestinian and I was particularly happy to have a decent Shawarma on this side of the Atlantic! After lunch we went over to the Cathedral of Learning, which is a cool building that belongs to the University of Pittsburgh. I really liked the Gothic architecture of the building. Of course the main attractions in the building were the 29 nationality rooms across the 1st and 3rd floors. While a Moroccan Nationality Room is not currently available, plans for the inception of one are underway apparently! Perhaps next time I am in the area it will be open to the public!
After the Cathedral of Learning, we headed over to the PPG Ice Skating Rink for a short ice skating session before going to the nearby Christmas market and the Gingerbread House Display & Competition in the PPG Place. That was rather fun especially because in addition to the gingerbread houses there were presentations and displays of the different myths and stories about Santa around the world. Fun fact: Santa in Haiti is a woman, wears colourful clothes, and brings fruits to nice children. That was the end of my time in PA as my friends from Morgantown came to pick me up and we started our road trip to New York City.
Our first 24 hours in NYC were mainly spent getting settled into our Airbnb before Amal and I decided to head out to the city. Amal, being a Finance major, insisted on starting with Wall St so that is what we did. We got an Unlimited Rides MetroCard for the Subway system and that is basically the best thing we have done so far! Especially considering how many times we got on the wrong subway and had to change stations and take a new one. After Wall St., we headed towards the piers and then set out to discover different parts of Lower Manhattan. We then went to Union Square to meet up with our friend Ali at a Vietnamese restaurant. I think they are still making fun of me for ordering Pho out of all the things that were on the menu.
The following day, Amal and I met up with our friends with whom we drove to NYC, Alessandro and Taira. We first went to Central Park where I found a swing and kind of wanted to spend my whole day there. Sadly, I was outnumbered by everyone else who wanted to walk around the park.
By the time we left Belvedere Castle we decided we should find our way out of the park and head over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Of course two hours were hardly enough to fully enjoy all of the museum, but I still managed to make my way to some of the exhibitions that I had heard about before. Mainly the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, and the Islamic Art.
Our visit at the Met was followed by a quick lunch then a trip on the subway to the South Ferry. Instead of going on the ferries to the Statue of Liberty, we took the Staten Island Ferry from Lower Manhattan for free and got a great view of the city as we were sailing away! We also went to 5th Avenue and got an interesting view of the city from the top of a building there.
I decided to take it slow on day 3. At around 10 PM Amal came back to tell Ali and I that her bus was the next morning at 9 AM and she still hadn’t seen Times Square. So by the time we got ready, hopped on the subway, and got there it was already around midnight. I have to say that is the only time I actually liked Times Square since there were not too many people.
I still have 10 more days in New York City and I am sure they will be filled of a lot more walking, getting lost on subways, and hopefully running into Brandon Stanton from Humans of New York! I am also really enjoying all the yummy ethnic food available around the area we are staying.