Where did my February go?

Time goes by in an extremely weird speed at Trinity: at the same time when I am wondering where did February go, and how is it possible that I will have to leave the campus in just two months, I also feel like I have been back for this semester for at least a year, wondering how it is only March. Also, it doesn’t really feel like March: we had a crazy blizzard a couple of days ago, so the whole campus is covered in snow right now. Fortunately, it is now officially spring break, and on Sunday morning we are flying out to New Orleans, to hopefully enjoy some sun and warmth for a week.

I have to admit, February wasn’t the most eventful month since I am in the States, but there were of course some fun events to attend and interesting things to do. My birthday, for example, was during Trinity days, so I could celebrate it with some – but thanks to the incredible amount of studying to do, not much – rest, and some delicious Indian food in Wethersfield. As Juli’s last post tells you, we finally got to visit the Mark Twain House, which is, in my opinion, the coolest place in Hartford (although, let’s be honest, there are not too many cool places in Hartford to visit). The house, where he wrote all his famous novels, was built at the end of the 19th-century, and it is truly beautiful, with original Tiffany lamps and the most amazing library in it. Thanks to our tour guide, we got to know a lot of fun facts about Mark Twain, and since Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin) was a neighbor of the author, we saw her house as well. A few minutes from these two historic houses, down the road, there is a diner that was built in the 1940s and was abandoned for a long time – to see this building was also a cool addition to that day, since I only saw diners like this in movies so far.

I also finally found some time to visit the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Downtown Hartford, an art museum that has a very rich collection. Although I was most interested in the contemporary art section of the museum, I enjoyed the whole place, especially because it has some paintings we have studied about in the Contemporary Art class that I am taking this semester: it was really cool to see Newman’s Onement II or De Kooning’s Standing Man up close, right after I wrote a midterm about them.

Of course, Trinity’s campus also offered some interesting events in the last couple of weeks. For example, Green Campus Club brought us the documentary, Wasted, a movie about food waste – it shows the issue in a rather unconventional way. WGRAC organized The Vagina Monologues, which is a play made up of stories told by women from different walks of lives. It was performed by Trinity students, and the income from the tickets went to a battered women’s shelter in Hartford. The Arts Center featured an exhibition of Deborah Buck’s pictures – although I didn’t know the Trinity graduate painter before, I really enjoyed looking at her paintings, trying to figure out their meaning.


The Vagina Monologues


One of Deborah Buck’s paintings

Lately, just before the midterms, I felt quite homesick for a while, which is of course totally natural when you live somewhere for a whole academic year. Fortunately, my classes kept me busy, so I didn’t have too much time to think about how much I miss my family and my city. I am taking four classes this semester. I mentioned above that I enrolled in an art history class, Contemporary Art, because I have been interested in it for a very long time, but I never had the chance to learn about it more in depth. Now I finally learn about Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning and Arshile Gorky, from an amazing professor who constantly tells us stories about the times when he made an interview with Jasper Johns, or when he met Andy Warhol in a club in NYC. I am also taking Global Feminism, a class in which we analyze issues of transnational feminism with an intersectional lens; Philosophy of Human Rights, where I can finally get an academic basis for my interest in human rights; but the class I think I enjoy the most is Educational Reform, where we learn about the past and present of educational reform in the United States, always connecting what we read about past thinkers to current debates. In this class, we even had to go to an event related to education policies in Hartford, and write a journalism piece about it – this way, we could connect our learning to things that happen in the real world, outside the classroom. This is how I got to a parents’ information night in one of the public schools that is going to be closed from September, due to a reorganization plan.

Now, we are finally done with midterms, and New Orleans is waiting for us – keep an eye out for a number of posts about our Louisiana adventures.

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Live from the middle of a snowstorm

Well, here we are, exactly 9 days before spring break begins, and I’m writing this from the shelter of my room looking out over Bard’s central campus, listening to the sounds of snow plowing trucks as they’re battling with Mother Nature. That’s right, Dutchess County was hit today by the second “nor’easter” within a week – which, according to the Weather Channel, is “a strong area of low pressure along the East Coast of the United States that typically features winds from the northeast off the Atlantic Ocean, most often associated with strong winter storms crawling up the Northeast coast”. In less scientific terms, this means that we got approx. 15 cms of snow this afternoon, and it keeps accumulating, which has led to road closures in the County due to hazardous conditions as well as a couple of services shutting down on campus. Basically, this is the perfect time to catch up on some reading and essays as midterms crawl in – that is, until the wifi and/or the power goes out, which, we’ve been told, is entirely possible. But hey, it’s sooo pretty!!!

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Speaking of readings, essays, and midterms – yes, they’re inevitably approaching me as well. I’m taking 4 classes here at Bard, and since I’ve already graduated back home, I decided to use this time to fill in some gaps from my Bachelors and also to do something fun and different. The ‘fun and different’ part is mainly fulfilled by the introductory Painting class that I’m taking – though which, quite unexpectedly, is almost as much if not more work as each of my academic classes. It’s great and challenging as the class has people with widely differing backgrounds in studio arts, so everybody brings very different approaches to each project, which makes class crit (evaluating each other’s work) super interesting.

This doesn’t mean that my academic classes are less fun. I decided to take a Middle East history course as I never really studied much about the region, which I felt was a huge disadvantage last semester when my internship at Oxford Analytica required me to work a lot with Middle Eastern countries. Well, I’m filling in that gap now! Another one, which I decided to take along a similar logic, is one called “China’s Environment”, and it’s exactly what it sounds like – we’re studying the development of China’s environmental policies from the imperial period up until today, so it incorporates a lot of geography, political ecology, but also study of the social landscape of China in addition to policy studies, which I feel is a very unique lens to look at an issue area which is so-so important in the 21st century. Finally, I’m taking a course on Free Speech, which is my favorite out of all them. We’re studying philosophical approaches to the issues around freedom of expression as well as specific case studies on controversial speech that were nevertheless protected by the First Amendment. I feel like a lot of the issues we talk about really make us question our prejudices and beliefs, and I’m honestly curious by if and how my perspective is going to shift by the end of the semester, and if it brings me any closer to figuring out my own answer to the question of whether it’s freedom or security that’s more important.

Quite related to my Free Speech course, we’ve recently had Chelsea Manning speak on campus to the largest student turnout maybe ever at the Fisher Center – some 900 seats were sold out in I believe less than a day. Her invitation also brought to the forefront issues around free speech on campus – should a convicted felon with a clear anti-government agenda be allowed to speak at an educational institution? For those not familiar with Chelsea, she’s a former intelligence analyst of the U.S. Army who served in Iraq, a position in which she had access to classified military and diplomatic documents which she decided to leak through WikiLeaks in 2010, resulting in multiple criminal charges for which she was sentenced to 35 years in prison. President Obama commuted her sentence to 7 years and she was released last year, and now earns a living as a public speaker and has recently announced that she will run for a seat in the Senate in Maryland. She completed her gender transition in prison and is now an activist for queer and transgender rights along with issues surrounding government surveillance, among others. In her talk at Bard, she mainly spoke about these, with a focus on political protest and dissidence, advocating a need to work outside government structures power structures to make progress against the system. She was also challenged on the ethical considerations of her decision to leak the sensitive documents. I have to admit, I was really unsatisfied by a lot of her answer and arguments, and walked away quite upset after the talk, but I’m definitely glad I had this opportunity to listen to her in person.


Yes, I did in fact take this picture with a potato

Also, weather permitting, we continue the exploration of the Hudson Valley through trips organised by the PIE office. Recently, we went to roam the streets of Kingston, the historic town which was the first capital of the State of New York and accordingly has a lot of Dutch history to show for it. Even though I did make fun of Kingston’s own version of Wall Street (pictured below) which is a bit less prominent than the one in the city, but it really is an adorable little town very Dutch architecture and some impressive street art that I was fangirling over, as well as home to lots of cute coffee places and shops, like Rough Draft Bar & Books, which we took shelter in for a bit, only to discover that this was the cafe that went viral a couple of weeks ago by setting up a stand of books under the label of ‘Writers from sh*thole countries’ – a reference to Donald Trump’s infamous remarks. If anyone ever finds themselves in Kingston, I definitely recommend this place (they have great beer)!

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Leaving my room is painful

We’ve arrived to that time of the year when the winter break adventures are already over, and it is yet too early to write about the spring break. It’s just passed February which is known to be the most boring and ugliest month of the year. There is no snow, it’s raining today, and I have three papers to finish by the end of next week. This is going to be a weird blog post.


The second semester begun pretty suddenly, and trampled over me right on the first week. My classes, although I love every single one of them, are much more difficult than last semester – and trust me, I wasn’t bored back then either. I have two literature classes,  so I’m reading a bunch of novels, which might sound nice, but when you have 150 pages to finish for each class, and then, of course, there are the academic texts too, sleep is something you might as well forget. Recently I’ve started taking short, afternoon power-naps;  they make me feel really old, but also, they help a lot.

With all the studying and the disgusting weather outside, one must really force herself to do anything, besides curling up in a bed with a nice Spivak text. (Just kidding, there’s no such thing as a nice Spivak text.) Luckily, I have Zsofi here, who can get me to do things outside my room sometimes. That’s how we ended up visiting the Mark Twain House last week.


To be honest, there’s not many things in Hartford to see. When we arrived here, I remember, we went downtown all excited, and it looked like something after a zombie apocalypse. We saw a couple of confused tourists, that’s all. A century ago, however, Hartford was a writer’s paradise, that’s what drove Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) here. His house, on which he’d spent a quarter-million dollars (just imagine how much money is that today), is open for visitors. And if any of you would find him/herself in Hartford for some unexplainable reason, don’t miss it. It’s simply amazing.

If I ever get through next week, there’s only one more week to go until the spring break. We’re going to New Orleans, and I cannot wait for the sun. One thing is sure though; I’m not bringing any books with me.

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Winter break, transition and my great classes here

As Trixi and Julcsi have already expressed in previous posts, these last 2 months have been like a weird dream. One day you are discussing the crazy traffic of the Upper East side in Manhattan with a taxi driver and the next day you are doing grocery shopping with your parents in a small town in Hungary. Many times I felt that our minds have just not yet evolved to cope with these very abrupt changes in our environment, even though modern transportation has enabled us to do these huge and fast shifts in space.

Just like Trixi and Zsófi, I also traveled home for 3 weeks in the winter break, but before that I visited Buffalo and the Niagara Falls for Christmas. It was one of the most dream-like places I have seen so far: like a winter wonderland, no other color than white.

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Being at home after New York City felt very peaceful and warm, as compared to the hustle-bustle and sometimes even inhumanity of big city life. In some sense it was a good preparation for what awaited me at the campus of Bard, which is in the middle of nature, just next to the Hudson River.


Photo by Jacques Luiggi

Photo by Jacques Luiggi

Having finished the third week of classes I can conclude that I love being here so far. You have time to get to know people while you are eating your meals in the dining hall, you have time to hear your own thoughts and no day is passing by without an uplifting experience, either about the beauty of the place, or the countless opportunities which are available here (and as opposed to NYC, you actually have time to make use of them).

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I am taking 5 classes here: a French language course, Hinduism in the Epics, Buddhism, Alexander Technique and Modern Dance. Even though I was an international relations and human rights major at my home institution, I decided to explore things which always interested me, but I never had the opportunity to study academically. My favorite classes so far are the Hindu epics and the modern dance classes.

At the previous one we are reading two Indian epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Even though they are set in a far-away land, thousands of years ago, while reading you slowly realize that human beings have not changed much, regardless of time and space. We possess the same desires, strengths and weaknesses, we just phrase them in different ways. I wish there would be more exposure in Western education to ideas from other parts of the world, with teachers who are good enough to present the subjects in ways that do not scare or deter students but show that people from all parts of the world have valuable things to say.

At the modern dance class we have a lot of creative tasks. Rather than focusing on movement combinations, we are supposed to get to know better the functioning of our bodies and the space around us. One task, for example, is to choose a body part and experiment with how you can move it (in what directions, angles, rhythms, etc.). Sometimes we need to do movements which look a bit crazy from the outside (and also feel crazy from the inside), in order to relax ourselves and let go of our fears regarding movement/dance. So the classes are creative and fun.

And there is another strange, but good thing about Bard: even though you have a lot of coursework to do, which sometimes seems impossible (e.g. reading 300 pages from Monday to Wednesday, while you are having classes both days from the morning till the evening), you can still manage a balance, as simply walking from one class to another is a relaxing experience.

By the way, talking about coursework: I could talk much more about life here, but I have to finish an essay, so see you in my next post! :)

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The One after the Super Bowl – on my trip to Death Valley

No, this post is not going to be about how the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots last weekend in the very first Super Bowl I’ve ever watched (although it was a pretty cool experience – when you finally understand what’s going on in the field, and you even have some chicken wings, American football can be quite an exciting sport), but I couldn’t miss the Friends reference when choosing a title. Instead, I’m going to tell you about the best experience I’ve had in the U.S. so far: after I came back from Hungary, I spent the last week of the winter break hiking and exploring in Death Valley National Park with nine fellow Trinity students, and the amazing people from the Recreation Office who organized it for us.

Leaving behind the snow and cold of New England, we arrived to the – I assume – always sunny Las Vegas, a place where you can even gamble on the airport, waiting for your flight. We spent our first two days in Red Rocks Canyon, near Vegas, getting to know each other while hiking Mount Wilson. Red Rocks Canyon has amazing colors and plants, and we had the best view here when waking up in our tents, overlooking red mountains – that view made even the worst oatmeal amazing in the morning. Before leaving to Death Valley, we even drove through the Las Vegas Strip, which was honestly enough Las Vegas for a lifetime: too much unnecessary light (yes, I’m talking about that pyramid at Luxor; yes, its light could be seen even from our campground), and too much fake Paris and New York.

The next morning, we got into our beloved van, and drove to Death Valley through landscapes and towns I’ve only before seen in Westerns, but it was how I imagined it to be: here, you can drive for hours without encountering places where people live, nothing is in front of you, but the road, and you can get a sense of why people are so nostalgic about the idea of the West, why it is so important in American popular culture. Then, we entered Death Valley, which meant no phone service or internet for six days, but it also meant amazing views, campfires, a bunch of Boy Scouts, tasty chilis cooked in the evenings, countless group pictures, and so much more. We started with checking out the most famous sites of the park (after taking photos with the Death Valley sign of course): we saw Zabriskie Point, which inspired a – not too good, in my opinion – 70s movie; Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, 86m below sea level; Devil’s Golf Course; the amazing colors of Artist’s Palette; and a Natural Bridge. We hiked on sand dunes, which was, thinking back, one of the most memorable hikes and places in Death Valley, and we hiked in the beautiful Golden Canyon.

The part of the trip I was most excited and a tiny bit afraid about was the three days we spent backpacking, hiking the Cottonwood-Marble Canyon Loop. I would lie if I said it was an easy hike, and that I enjoyed every second of it, but even with aching muscles and some blood blisters, it was totally worth it. Everyone on the trip was supportive, we pushed each other through our lowest points, and eventually we summited, even though we were running out of cheese. During these three days, we encountered no people, but saw some totally different landscapes, as well as a tiny rattlesnake, the skull of a wild horse, and the corpse of a dead ram (we were in a desert called Death Valley for a reason, after all). By the end, we became masters in quickly putting up and taking down a tent, cooking on camping stoves, going on after only eating a tortilla for lunch, and going to bed at 8 pm, as we really had nothing else to do, besides looking at the stars.

After getting back to the “civilization” of our campsite at Furnace Creek, we even had the chance to finally shower after a week, and get into a pool, which was totally unnecessary in the middle of the desert. On our last day, we said goodbye to Death Valley with looking down on it from Dante’s View, the most amazing lookout point from where you can basically see the whole national park – when you don’t get blown off by the wind of course.
As we still had a whole afternoon left, the group decided that we want to check out Hoover Dam, a wonder made by humans, and not by nature, as a way to close our trip. Because of this, I can officially say that I had lunch in Arizona, as we ate out of our white buckets in the parking lot of the Dam’s Arizona side – we got some weird looks, I have to admit. The Hoover Dam was amazing, but of course, it couldn’t beat the sand dunes or Zabriskie Point in my heart.

As this sole week in Death Valley and Red Rocks felt like at least a month, it was a shock to come back to campus, and start classes a day later. I especially miss the weather (shorts and a t-shirt in January?), the disconnectedness, those meals we cooked, the conversations on and off the trail, and the unbelievable nature that surrounded us. Now, it’s back to classes, assignments, work, and lazy weekends – but I’m going to tell you all about that in my next post.

(Some of the pictures in this post are not mine, so some photo credits go to the coolest people I went on this trip with: Kyle, Devin, Emily, Giles, Sarah, Leigh, Elizabeth, Kevin, Jami, Milosz, Rachael. Also, thank you for the memories, guys.)


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An end, a beginning, and something in between

The past two months have been so surreal – I’ve had to say goodbye to my life in New York, then I spent a bit of time at home in Hungary, and now I’ve been at Bard’s Annandale campus for two weeks already. I’ll do my best to recap…

December was the busiest month of our semester by far, which is really saying something considering how hectic the entire BGIA experience has been. While much of this fall was about experiencing things for the first time, this month it quickly turned into a more sentimental phase of realizing that there are some things we’re doing for the last time – last classes, last days at our internships, last time walking through the dreaded Times Square and the last days spent at the (often dreaded) 92Y residence. But while I was busy with all of my final assignments for my classes and finishing up my projects at my internship, I couldn’t help but realize that even though I tried really hard to explore as much as I could of New York City, I still haven’t seen so much – so I made it my priority to explore a bit more in December.

As always, it helped that Zsofi and Juli came to visit for a few days again before the end of the semester – since they had so little time when they came NY, they pushed me to do all the ‘touristy’ stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to do while living in the city. So, we ticked the American Museum of Natural History off our bucket list, and also explored the Dyker Heights neighbourhood in Brooklyn, which is famous for having crazy over-the-top Christmas lights displays for the holiday season.

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Some other December highlights: saw Angelina Jolie after she gave a talk at the 92Y (she’s shorter in person than I thought); got lost for 4 hours in Central Park in the middle of a snowstorm while correcting other people’s wacky snowmen; saw Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera (Lincoln Center is gorgeous!!); got to see the Chrysler Building’s gorgeous Christmas tree every day when I went to work; and went out to Coney Island once more, which is a bit of a trek from the Upper East Side, but definitely one of my favorite places, and so special in the winter when it’s quiet, empty and cold.

Of course, we also had to formally end our BGIA experience. The 20th was my last day at work, so we had a Christmas dinner party with everybody from the office – which was so great as we finally got to know each other a little better after working together for 4 months. The next day was our big BGIA graduation – and I still had to finish a paper in the morning. Nonetheless, just like with all of BGIA, that was totally worth the effort, and it felt great to come together and celebrate all our hard work this semester with our peers, program coordinators, professors, and internship supervisors. Who doesn’t love getting diplomas and then going out to eat to celebrate?

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I decided to go home for the winter intersession, but I knew I wanted to spend a couple of days in New York before moving up to Bard College’s campus in Annandale-on-Hudson – I thought this would ease the transition a little bit, plus, I simply missed the city already. I was staying in the Financial District, which was great as during the semester I didn’t spend much time downtown, but now it was perfect for a few days of self-care consisting of long morning walks along the pier, checking out some exhibitions I didn’t previously have the time to, and finally going to see the Flatiron Building in person which has always been one of my favorites in NYC. Also, since the Women’s March was happening that weekend, I decided to go and participate. It was incredible to walk up 25 blocks from Columbus Circle and still not see the end of the crowd – at around 200,000 participants, this was definitely the biggest protest I’ve ever been a part of. The atmosphere was also really amazing, uniquely welcoming, inclusive and empowering, while also fun.

On January 22nd, I met up with the other exchange students at JFK, and we took a bus up to Annandale. It was weird, again, to get from Manhattan to my sweet little exposed-brick-walled dorm room on Stone Row in just a little over two hours – campus feels like a completely different world. We were definitely kept busy the first week with orientation activities (Tuesday to Sunday, now that’s something), even though the campus was quiet as not many other students had returned yet. Classes started this week, and while I was completely blown away by some of them, I’ll probably talk more about them in detail in a later post, when my schedule is fixed.

The PIE office has already organized a trip for us – the first of many to help us explore the Hudson Valley despite the limited public transport that’s available here. Yesterday we went to the Hyde Park area, and visited the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site – the Springwood estate that was President FDR’s home that he gifted to the National Park Service after his death. The Rose Garden of the estate is also the President’s final resting place. The place was breathtaking, especially the surroundings covered with snow. No wonder FDR loved spending time here so much.

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Fifty shades of date

My plan that I am going to spend my whole winter break working at a date farm in the middle of the Mojave Desert could have ended up being disastrous. I did not have any knowledge about growing dates whatsoever, I don’t think I’d ever eaten a date before going there for that matter. Everyone who knew about my plan was pretty much convinced that I was borderline crazy for doing it, and I – I’m not going to lie – had doubts myself. But I’m pretty much convinced that one should put herself into unusual situations from time to time, so I went through with it, and I loved all of it.


The China Ranch Date Farm is near to Death Valley but far from everything else. The Mojave Desert is the land of small towns with less than a hundred inhabitants, people living in trailers in the middle of nothing and huge trucks cruising on the endless roads. The farm is basically an oasis with hundreds of date palms, a reservoir and a bakery, but once you leave it on one of the hiking trails, you find yourself in a setting only familiar from Western movies and Karl May novels (if you love Winnetou as much as I do).


There are about four or five people who live and work at the farm, all the others are travelers, volunteers and all sorts of drifters who spend more or less time there and in exchange for food and a roof over their heads work at the farm five hours a day, five days a week.  We harvested dates, sorted dates, boxed dates, put dates in cookies and shakes, dreamed about dates, we were basically breathing dates. After doing the work from seven to twelve, we were free to do whatever we wanted.


Lacking of internet and cell phone reception and surrounded by Nature, we were both, children running around at night with flashlights, hunting coyotes, and old, retired couples, who were sitting next to the fireplace for hours, reading books, not saying a word. Our biggest worries were not being able to decide what to cook for dinner, which awful move to watch (and whether the DVDs were scratched or not) and which hiking trail to do after work. We were living in this exciting, but at the same time extremely tranquil environment, our little bubble with its own dynamics and rules.


Getting back to school was like a shock therapy after this. Overwhelmed by things like heating and Internet, I had only one day to get myself together, to wash the desert dust out of my clothes, and to get ready to go to classes. It’s not been easy. Spending a month at China Ranch was like a smaller, surreal dream within the bigger, American dream I’m living right now (yes, just like Inception, yes, I know it’s cheesy). After everything, my real life in Hungary awaits, but until then I’ll still have to do some exciting things, so that these blogposts don’t bore everyone to death.







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From Thanksgiving to Christmas

It’s so weird to write this post from my home at Budapest, after eating all my mum’s and grandma’s amazing cooking for Christmas, but at least I finally found some time to tell you about my time spent in DC over the Thanksgiving break, and the busiest three weeks packed with final papers and exams that followed until I flew home for the winter break last week.
So, for the Thanksgiving break, I set off to visit Washington DC, and even with the holiday traffic and all, I had three full days to explore the capital, which basically meant checking out as many museums as I could. DC was clearly designed to be a capital city, which also means that for me, it lacked the vibe cities like Boston or New York have, but it was definetely an amazing experience to stand at the spot where Martin Luther King Jr told his famous ”I have a dream” speech, to see the box at Ford’s Theatre where Lincoln was assassinated, to check out the White House, the Washington Monument, and so on. I crossed out ”to see a real giant panda” from my bucket list after visiting the Smithonian Zoo, and I could even have a nice Thanksgiving meal with turkey and stuffing because a nice stranger in the hostel I stayed at offered me some. However, the very best thing in Washington is that it has some of the best museums I have ever visited: even though I couldn’t get into the African American History Museum that everyone recommended and I really wanted to see, I went to see spaceships, a replica of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Wright Brothers’ plane, and other unbelievably cool things to the National Air and Space Museum. I also saw the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in the National Archives, learned a great deal in the Museum of the American Indian, visited the modern arts wing of the National Gallery, and spent hours in the best gallery ever: the National Museum of Women in the Arts, a place where you can see works of artists who usally don’t get a place in mainstream art museums.

After the break, it was mostly studying, as final papers and exams were coming, but I didn’t mind, all the topics I worked on were really interesting: for example, for my educational studies course, we had to design a curriculum for elementary school students, and we worked on a unit to teach the value of different perspectives and stories through fairy tales, and I could even write about a feminist standpoint on last year’s burkini ban in France for my Feminist Political Theory class. Before the end of the semester, I even had a proper chance for goodbye with the wonderful kids I worked with at ELAMS, as they all prepared me gift cards, and we had a small party with cookies and lemonade.


The best gift.

Just before leaving Trinity, we finally saw the first (and second) snow of the season, which turned the campus into a winter wonderland that, mixed with all the christmas trees on campus, got me into holiday mood instantly.

Since I was flying out from Newark, we spent another weekend in New York, to see it before Christmas, and even though it was cool to see the famous and gigantic Christmas tree in front of the Rockefeller Center, and to see Central Park in snow – and wonder about where the ducks go in the winter, like Holden in the Catcher in the Rye –, the city was definetely too packed in the holiday season. We also finally went to the Natural History Museum, a place that looks exactly how it probably looked in 1920, and I had the chance to go back to the MET for a few hours before my flight home.

As I think Trixi is going to write all about Christmas time in New York, I will just leave a few pictures here to close my post with the holiday lights of Dyker Heights, that is – not necessarily in a good way – unlike anything  I have seen before. With these, even if it’s belated, happy holidays, everyone!

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The Snow(flake)-themed post


1. The first snow has arrived to New York City yesterday. As I was heading out in the early morning from the dorm I saw a few tiny white things falling down, though I was not sure whether it was snow. But as the hours passed the snowing became stronger and stronger, getting close to a snowstorm by the afternoon. As the snowfall became more gentle by the evening I went out for a walk to Central Park.

The city completely changed as it became covered by the snow. It felt so clean, quiet and peaceful. I hope that it will stay for a while and create more brightness in the city and in people’s hearts.


2. As I am interning at UNICEF USA this semester, I had the possibility to participate at their annual gala, the Snowflake Ball. It was great to get an insight into how such a prominent social function is organized and coordinated. I was a volunteer and helped with the check-in (greeted the guests at the entrance, checked them in on an iPad and handed out escort cards with their table number on it) and with the live auction (helping the auctioneer to spot bidders, which would have been a funny task, had anyone bidden from the tables assigned to me, as I would have had to jump and wave).

Actor Jake Gyllenhaal and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo were among the speakers, and the event honored Lucy Meyer, an 18-year old Special Olympics gold medalist and UNICEF’s spokesperson for children with disabilities, and L’Oréal Luxe USA Group President Carol Hamiltonton, who is a board member and regular donor of UNICEF USA. The 13th UNICEF Snowflake Ball raised a staggering $3.7 million for children worldwide.


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Thankful to be in NYC


Another month went by unbelievably fast – life does not seem to slow down even for one second here in New York. Now it’s less than four weeks until the end of this semester and BGIA, and until I fly home for Christmas, and it seems like things are speeding up, if that’s even still possible. Looking back at my pictures from this month, it’s all just a blur or a flash. Midterms have reached us and we’ve had plenty of papers and assignments to write and presentations to prepare.


The view from my office

I’ve also been really busy at my internship – this has not been a good month for aviation security, and since my main task currently is threat monitoring for an airline, I had plenty of news and events from all around the world to analyse. One of them was, unfortunately, a terror attack that occurred just a few blocks away from our office – I guess most people have heard about the ramming incident on the Lower West Side of Manhattan on October 31. It’s a very strange feeling when such an event happens, and it was especially interesting how we first found out about it from our parents texting us from the other side of the globe. Of course, the initial response by both the Mayor and Governor of the City was to tell “New Yorkers [to] be New Yorkers”, and go on with our lives – and the Halloween parade scheduled for that night was not cancelled and we also did not let our initial plans be altered by fear and decided to go out anyways.

Despite experiencing for the first time what it feels like to be in a city when a terror attack happens there, November offered a few, decidedly more fun ‘firsts’, for example: I went to my first Broadway show (we saw Come From Away, a musical about planes diverted to a small town in Newfoundland following 9/11 – highly recommended); went on a class trip to the United States Military Academy at West Point with the Power, War and Terror class and learned about the history of the institution; picnicked in Central Park (sort of); took a boat to Ellis Island and ‘chin-selfied’ with the Statue of Liberty; cried looking at Australian Aboriginal contemporary art at the Met; went ice-skating and left the side of the rink (sort of) and lived to tell the tale; stayed way overtime at my internship to be rewarded by the breathtaking view of the nighttime skyline from the 54th floor of the Chrysler Building; and ventured out to other neighborhoods – and decided that I would definitely live in Park Slope, Brooklyn if I could afford a $2 million brownstone.

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A few of us from BGIA also went on a trip to Washington D.C. to attend the BardWorks networking conference, which was a very long but really interesting day as we got to hear from former Bard and BGIA alumni who now have exciting careers in and around the D.C. area. It was also great for me to finally see D.C. in the fall (every time I’ve been there before it was over 40°C, which is miserably humid there since the city was built on  a swamp), and go to some areas I’ve never been before, like Embassy Row and the Smithsonian Zoo (where the Giant Pandas were unfortunately inside because it was too cold for them, but they were still adorable in their sad little ‘cages’), and I also go to meet up with a friend from the area and explored some of the city’s ‘underground’ scene with him.

Also this past weekend was Thanksgiving break, which I mainly used to catch up on some much-needed sleep and a bit of exploration of the city. One thing that I knew I couldn’t miss, however, was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade down 6th Avenue. We were pretty late to the party as we couldn’t bring ourselves to get in line at 6 am in the cold, but we still somehow managed to score pretty good viewing spots by the Rockefeller Center and made it just in time to the see the giant Grinch balloon – which is the most important part of the parade anyways. Right after Thanksgiving the city switched to Christmas mode instantly, giant trees are going up everywhere and Christmas music provided the soundtrack for people’s Black Friday shopping sprees at Best Buy. Knowing how busy December is going to be, I’m wary about so much holiday cheer so soon, but New York certainly seems like a city where it’s hard not to become excited about Christmas. I think I’ll let the Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s store windows and the Rockefeller tree silence the Grinch in me this year – I’ll keep you all updated.



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