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.
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?
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.