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Monday
11/27/17

20 Completely and Utterly Free Things to Do in Manhattan

Posted by bostonki on November 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

In spirit of my upcoming trip to New York (yes.. AGAIN), I have compiled this list of actual free things to do in Manhattan. Hotels and transportation are already expensive enough (trust me, try finding a cheap way to get there on a college budget and with everybody basically poking holes in your plan to drive.  You’ll see it’s not easy).

DISCLAIMER: Subway fares = not free.

DISCLAIMER #2: If you actually live there you probably can think of 500 free things, but New York is a vacation destination to us poor Buffalonains, so bear with me for the touristy stuff, OK?

  1. Visiting Central Park, especially the Imagine tribute.
  2. Hanging around by the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree (SO EXCITED).
  3. Literally just walking anywhere in Manhattan.  It’s only 2.3 miles wide and 13.4 miles long at its’ max.
  4. Times Square.
  5. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.
  6. Every single talk show in existence almost.  Seth Meyers.  Jimmy Fallon.  GMA.  Today Show.  Tickets are actually free but you either have to sell your soul or spend your morning waiting in line.
  7. Visit the American Girl Store.  Relive your doll-filled childhood.
  8. Visit FAO Schwartz (where the rich people shop for their kids) and dance around on the life-sized piano.
  9. Hang out in Battery Park and watch the Staten Island ferry go by, and get great views of the Statue of Liberty.
  10. Chinatown.  It’s a destination within itself.
  11. The High Line.
  12. Visit the New York Public Library at 42nd and Bryant.  The building is beautifulll
  13. Grand Central Station.  There’s actually a room that’s built so if you stand in one corner and whisper into the wall, the person in the other corner can hear you clear as day.  Weirdest thing ever.  Don’t ask me where it is.  The place is a maze.
  14. The Met.  12789147194 days worth of art in there, and it’s technically free since admission is by donation.
  15. The MoMA.  This one is really free for students in SUNY/CUNY schools.  No charge to see canvases like this? SCORE!  Just kidding, I love art.The worst part is that people are actually standing around trying to analyze this.
  16. 9/11 Memorial, NOT the museum.  Imagine paying (ouch) to see artifacts from this day (ouch).
  17. African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan, where in 1991 they uncovered a grave of former slaves.
  18. Fashion Institute of Technology Museum.  I bet my old Fashion in the Modern West prof would like that.
  19. New York Earth Room.
  20. Federal Reserve Bank with a sneak peek of tons of gold underground.  You’d be foolish to try and rob it, the place is like Gringotts minus the dragon.

Free stuff in New York has me like

Any other suggestions??

 

Sunday
11/12/17

The island that smelled like mashed potatoes and more Crikey! Australia Part 6.

Posted by bostonki on November 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

Hello from Starbucks!  This blog post is brought to you by a solid ten hours of sleep!

We finished off our first two weeks in Mooloolaba with a Saturday trip down the Sunshine Coast.  Sunday morning, we jetted up to Northern Queensland for what would be two amazing weeks.  For our two-week trip, we had a couple parents along: Vince and Kim, both of who were awesome.  Who knew people in their forties would make a great addition to and not dampen the spirit of 28 20-somethings (or 19, in the case of Sam & I) on their own across the world?  I think if my parents were interested in coming, it’d feel like an impossibility to have fun (sorry, guys) but it worked out well.

To save the 15-hour drive, C organized us to fly the 1300 kilometers north to Townsville, from which we would access Magnetic Island.  Organizing a flight for over 30 people, including check-in, security, etc., is probably no easy task, but it could have been accomplished quicker than an hour and a half, C.  Sorry.

The flight was pretty brief, and they gave us an Australian specialty – Bundaberg sodas.  They’re manufactured a couple hours north of Mooloolaba, and they have amazing flavors such as ginger beer, lemon-lime, and sarsaparilla (root beer).  On point.

“Town so small had to walk on the tarmac”.  My take on JayZ and Kanye.

From Townsville, we caught a ferry to Magnetic Island, undoubtedly my least favorite part of the entire six weeks.  The island only had a population of 2,000 and was probably the loneliest place I’ve ever been in my life.  Plus, you couldn’t shake the smell of bad mashed potatoes on the road between our backpacker’s and the main town where the ferry docked.  I wasn’t crazy though, many others made independent comments about the smell.

I’m sorry, HOW many kilometers to Washington DC?  Oh yeah over 15 thousand.

The first day was terrible.  I walked the half an hour into town through the potato smell only to discover a main bakery that didn’t know how to accept credit cards and a resale shop that might not meet building codes.  If they even existed on the island.  The wifi was terrible so I just spent the day in bed with a book, literally wishing I was anywhere but the island.  The backpackers resort was fun though, especially at nighttime.  Their bar and eatery overlooked the beach and was decorated with neon string lights and an enormous Australian flag.  Everyone gathered there for super expensive nachos (the only food I was willing to try at that place) and beverages every night and just hung out.

Beachside featuring the Australian flag.

The second day, I decided to try my hand at actually enjoying the island.  So I walked into town (again) and decided to hop on a shuttle tour of the island (paid an obscene amount but it was better than moping).  It actually ended up being really cool.  He told us a lot about the history of the island and the folks who’d lived there, I saw an abandoned schoolhouse and museum, and we explored all corners of the island.  For the record, they have a school there for primary through year 6, but anyone that goes to the high school has to ferry across to Townsville.  Also got to feed wallabies in the rocks by the dock.

Abandoned schoolhouse turned museum/local shop featuring the stroller of a mom who decided to take her baby to this island for some reason beyond my comprehension.

I grabbed lunch with an older woman on the tour, also from the Sunshine Coast area, and we talked for a bit and I ate really expensive mint gelato.

The next (and last) day, Michelle, Mikaela, and I set out for probably my favorite day of the three.  We started by hiking one of the best paths (I did a heck of a lot of hiking in that six weeks), called so because it was the best place to see wild koalas.  And boy did we see them.  You hike until you spot a group of people craning their necks towards a super tall tree, or until you see an arrow made of sticks on the ground pointing at the tree.  It was wild. The previous day on my tour, I had run into a koala WITH THE JOEY ON HER BACK.  IN A TREE.  IN SOMEONE’S BACKYARD.  I came back to the states with a newfound appreciation for the animal, their cuteness, and a stuffed one brought from a cheap Chinese souvenir store in Cairns.

IN SOMEBODY’S BACKYARD.  Can’t see the Joey unless you look really hard at the grainy picture.

Forest view.  Ignore my back sweat.

Mikaela, me, and Michelle overlooking Horseshoe Bay!

Anyways, the top of the hike afforded us views found nowhere else.  You could see the expansive green of the island, one of the beach bays below us and across the way, the majestic, wonderful, SAFE, NOT LONELY mainland.

The last thing we did before sundown was riding horses.  We trekked out to a horse farm near a bay on the other side of the island from our backpackers, running into a playground along the way where Michelle and I shared a jumbo trampoline swing and just sang our hearts out.  Once we boarded our horses (mine was appropriately named Crikey), we set off through the forest.  The instructor commanded the horses to trot which freaked me out and pretty much convinced me I was going to fall off, get trampled, and die on this terrible island.  I tried signaling Crikey to slow down, to no avail.  Without exaggerating, I can say I held on for dear life.

Down at the bay, we barebacked the horses into the water.  It was amazing, and they loved to stop and take a drink.. until one of the horses relaxed its’ bowel muscles and we were frantically pulling our feet out of the water to avoid floating turds.  I guess feces was just the theme of the entire trip.

Michelle, me, Kristen, and Brooke.  Summer program students unimportant in the eyes of C but we’re clearly making the most of it.

The next morning, we packed up (and I lost a hearing aid, and C made a wonderful public service announcement about said lost hearing aid before I found it buried in the sand just as the bus was about to pull up) and headed for our long drive to the awesome rainforest sector of Queensland and the queen city herself, Cairns.

 

Thursday
05/11/17

Average Joes with a dream and a love for Netflix

Posted by bostonki on May 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

I have to admit, one of the tougher things about going to a university as large and world-altering as UB is that you sometimes are feeling inadequate about your accomplishments.  This is something I’ve been dealing with a lot lately, especially as the school year wraps up and prestigious scholarships and awards are handed out.  I can’t help but feel not only a twinge of jealousy, but also annoyance at the fact that merely keeping up your grades, becoming involved, and working on your mental health every day is not enough.

First it was the round of grad school awards like the Goldwater and Fulbright.  Then it’s the College of Arts and Sciences talking about it’s outstanding students.  Then it’s academic awards, which my own floormates have begun to win.  Everyone around you is suddenly curing Africa’s HIV/AIDS problem and building robots to help disabled children learn.  These are wonderful accomplishments, and these students deserved to be recognized, but what about the average Joes?

I have a good GPA, write this blog, have eased myself into a major/minor combination that I am absolutely in love with, work for the Admissions office, am studying abroad in Australia this summer, and am going to be a research assistant in the fall.  But I’ve also dealt with severe depression, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, anxiety, and barely even became involved until my sophomore year because all of these feelings were too overwhelming for a freshman to handle.  What about the people like me, who have rough starts but ultimately begin to find a path to happiness and success?  What does it matter if I’m not curing HIV/AIDS at age nineteen?  I’ve probably taken a lot more steps than the people that I grew up around.

I’m proud to be a part of such a wonderful university, but the culture needs to change.  We need to stop placing all our glory on the same twenty students who are handpicked and labeled as “able to change the world” while the rest of us just kind of slip under the radar and hope that graduate schools and employers recognize that we too have done important things.  It needs to be more about fostering a culture of personal growth and pathfinding, rather than about what project somebody’s taking on to win the Goldwater.  Good for the kids who are able to do that, but the overwhelming majority of students at this university, including me, are not.  We are just average college students who have a dream and a passion, but love to watch Netflix and take life at our own pace.  We’re not superheroes, and certainly praising those at this university who are is not conducive.

Monday
05/08/17

Frozen in the Song

Posted by bostonki on May 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

For me, time is stuck in songs.  I can listen to a song I’ve heard before and place what time period of my life that song was from, what was going on in my life, who I had a crush on, who my friends were, etc.  For a couple minutes, I can travel back to that time, which depending on the song makes me want to throw up or is quite pleasant.

‘Best Love Song’ by T-Pain and Chris Brown?  I was warming up for volleyball games my junior and senior year of high school.  We’d be running through hitting drills to this song and you got bonus cool points if you smacked the ball particularly effectively the moment the bass dropped.

‘Party in the USA’?  Talk about a middle school throwback.  Everytime my friends and I were at a dance and you heard the beginning guitar riff (correct word?) everybody would scream and conglomerate and as my grandmother puts it, “does that jumping up and down thing”.  Embarrassingly, my friends and I even had a special dance where we made butterflies out of our hands.  Miley Cyrus was legitimately our idol.. repeat, was.

‘Girlfriend’ by Avril Lavigne takes me back even further.  I had a friend in elementary school that was obsessed with Avril and had like the whole wardrobe – pink and black striped knee-high socks, black short skirts, converse, etc.  She’s like so whatever, you can do so much better.  I honestly forgot how fun this song was.  What ever happened to her?  Did she fall off the face of the Earth?

I asked my boyfriend if he thinks of intensely specific time periods or events whenever he hears a song, and he looked at me like I was crazy.  I guess it’s a girl thing?  Music was always how I processed events.  No matter how many songs you have on your iPhone (I have like over 400), the vividness comes back each time you listen to it.  Or maybe I just have a really good memory.  I tend to scare people with the extent I can recall knowledge.  I remember the date and time I last got pukey sick, for example.  January 27th, 2007 at 5:30 AM.

Ooh, Sk8er Boi came on next.

It’s just a blog, I’m just a girl, can I make it any more obvious?  We are in love, haven’t you heard, how we rock each others world?

LOOK AT THIS HISTORICAL ARTIFACT.

 

Tuesday
05/02/17

Rethinking Facebook

Posted by bostonki on May 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

At such a politically turbulent time for our country, I’m rethinking the use of Facebook.

I was reading a Buffalo News story this morning about the anti-Robert Spencer protest last night (which I proudly went to because I believe in things like truth and equality, ya know..) and all the commenters were absolutely destroying liberal college students.  Some even called liberalism a “mental illness”.  I kept reading these all day despite my frustration and anger, and by the time five o’clock rolled around I could feel a punch ready to spring from my arm.

Another article talked about a cop a few weeks back at the Walden Galleria mall who suffered a concussion and infected hand from being assaulted by a 16-year old trying to break up a fight.  Those comments were both racist AND again, generational.

So I angrily texted my aunt some expletives about older adults (thank you, generational divide), but I came to a stunning conclusion.  In a world where a majority of the Facebook users I see are pro-Trump older adults spitting all over our liberal, free, awesome vibes (that’s why we’re all cynical, dad), maybe I should just stay away from Facebook.  What comments I can’t read about me being an uneducated ‘snowflake’ (lol) can’t hurt me.  I think it’s worth noting that for the record many of the folks who call us dumb in fact cannot use their/there/they’re properly and can’t figure out how to turn off the caps lock.

I’m really angry.  I haven’t been able to concentrate since last night’s protest.  All of this political junk has just been weighing on my mind, making me excited to leave the country in a month and enter a Trump-and-religion-free zone (Australia’s atheist population makes up about 25% of the country, versus America’s average of 16%).  For five weeks I can at least pretend to be a citizen of a somewhat mellow country where people aren’t wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats.  I feel like an Aussie already!

I’ll probably still post on Facebook, though.

 

Tuesday
04/25/17

She’s a wonderful woman. Fantastic. Great, nice, woman.

Posted by bostonki on April 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

Now that I’m a sophomore, it’s not my job to worry about SAT scores and applications.. but it is my job to help those who have to worry about it.  I took a job answering phones in Admissions a couple of months ago.  I love it!  It’s a relatively easy job with great coworkers, and not to mention it’s a glimpse I’m getting into the education field.

But folks… please.. if you need to call UB for anything, don’t just google ‘UB phone number’ or ask Siri for it.  It will take you right to us and we don’t like sifting through the directory to connect you with John Smith of the Transnational Studies department.

And please, open and read your emails and mail that we send you.  It’s actually quite easy to complete the admissions process start to finish without making a single phone call!  I managed to do it.

Please please don’t call us for recommendations about nearby hotels, airport information, or how to get to Toronto (yes, that happened once).  Google is actually quite proficient in all of these.

And calling every other day to check the status of your application will not only annoy us and those working to process it, but it will not get done any quicker.

On the happier side (now that I’ve scraped all the goo off of my heart), I got to work my first Accepted Students’ Day this past weekend.  I find that I really enjoy talking to prospective students about my experiences, and seeing all the excited students made it surprisingly easy to have a chirpy attitude at 7:15 on a Sunday morning.  I helped students with check in (but still managed to get yelled at by a furious parent who claimed we gave them the “wrong” directions) and stood in the Union for awhile answering questions mostly about where the nearest restroom was.

My boyfriend, who is a College of Arts & Sciences Ambassador, even gave a short speech at their presentation about some of UB’s great opportunities!  And I somehow had the courage to walk up to CAS Dean Schuzle and engage her in a ten-minute conversation about Australia and how she got her start in higher ed.  As Donald Trump would probably say, “She’s a wonderful woman.  Fantastic.  Great, nice, woman”.

I crashed later that day in my room and slept for a blissful three hours.

My only regret was not stepping inside the Victor E. Bull suit.

This pic of Mike is supper blurry but you can tell he’s really revving up the crowd with the Italian hand thing going on.

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday
04/18/17

WaWa and Golden Corral are really impressive

Posted by bostonki on April 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

I introduced my Jersey roommate to sponge candy the other day.  I think she liked it (I hope she liked it).  For those not native Buffalonians, sponge candy is hard to describe.  The interior flavored chocolate kind of resembles human spongy bone, and it tingles and melts on your tongue.  The outside is hard milk chocolate.  It’s heaven on Earth.

Anyways, this got me thinking more and more about how each of us come from someplace with its own little treasures.  Buffalo has Tim Hortons, Loganberry pop (NOT soda, sorry), Sponge Candy, Food Truck Tuesday, and Mighty Taco.  Mighty Taco’s meat probably should be under suspicion, but it is a delicious calorie-empty, finals-week treat nonetheless.  And most people I ran into from out of state aren’t terribly impressed with Tim Hortons.  But that’s fine, just suffer with your overpriced Starbucks and less-than-satisfactory Dunkin’.

Last summer in Philly, I came upon the great, the powerful, WaWa.  I was told we were going down to the convenience store for breakfast and I thought, “Oh great, some greasy, 45-grams of fat breakfast sandwich but NO, WaWa is a gift from the gods.  The fruit was fresh and there was a sandwich/bagel station and the coffee probably didn’t taste like tar.  Another friend from Jersey (hey, at least it’s a variation on the everyone’s-from-Long-Island trend) brought this up on a car ride last weekend.

Another mouth-watering joy was discovered the last time I visited Florida in the form of Golden Corral.  Oh, my.  The buffet was impressive and delicious (and cheap, from what I can remember).  Cornbread (my first real love, sorry boyfriend) and soups and salads and meats and desserts and pastas and tacos and it’s basically a college student’s heaven.

Too bad the closest location is in Rochester.  Oh well, that warrants another road trip I suppose (what a shame, can I stop at the Museum of Play again like I did over spring break?)

What are some of your regional food treasures?

 

Tuesday
04/11/17

Ooooh, this is an S.O.S

Posted by bostonki on April 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

Don’t wanna second guess

This is the bottom line

it’s true, I gave my all for you

Now my heart’s in two

And I can’t find the other half

This (really) old Jonas Brothers song is of course about love, but I think it applies pretty thoroughly to my school life right now.  Which leads me to today’s thought – HOW does one successfully adult in the face of a never-ending to-do list?

I have two papers for one class, worth in total about 60% of my final grade due within the next three weeks.  WHO DOES THIS??

I have to apply for my visa and begin planning my Australia/New Zealand excursions.

I have to figure out what I’m even taking next semester.

I should probably clean my room while I’m at it.  Disastrous room = disastrous life.

But I work and have class and readings to do.

Oh well.  Guess it’ll be another caffeine-induced night.

Did I shower yesterday?  Can’t remember.

Buzz buzz buzz.  My brain is everywhere.

I wish I still had time to go to the gym.  Time flies by every day.  I need more hours.

Yet I’m sitting here typing away, thinking about how I only have five weeks left in Greiner until I’m halfway done with college and I have no more excuses to not know what I want to do with my life.

This semester has been great, though.  I’ve loved my classes.  I know and feel that I’m in the right major/minor combination.  I have a job that I like.  This blog.  Netflix.

Changing my major hasn’t made my days any less exhausting or excruciating, but it makes them much more bearable.  I can at least be thankful that I’m not enrolled in Orgo II and utterly miserable like my floormates.

Seriously, I don’t know anybody who enjoys organic chemistry.

I would like to end this trainwreck of thoughts with a quote from Tina Belcher of Bob’s Burgers. 

“I’m no hero.  I put my bra on one (insert female secondary sex characteristic here) at a time like everyone else”.

 

 

 

Tuesday
04/04/17

Quinoa pancakes and frozen snakes

Posted by bostonki on April 4, 2017 in Australia, travel, Uncategorized

I’ve calculated it.  Eight planes.  I will be taking eight planes in my journey to and around Australia and New Zealand.

Buffalo to New York.  New York to LA.  LA to Brisbane.  Brisbane to Auckland.  Auckland to Sydney.  Sydney to LA.  LA to New York.  New York to Buffalo.

There aren’t many drawbacks to this trip, but the planes definitely are one.  Fourteen hours each way across the Pacific.  I hope Quantas offers good hourly wifi rates.

What am I going to do for fourteen hours?  Netflix, for sure.  Read a book? Maybe.  Facebook everybody back home and brag about what an awesome time I’m having? Definitely.  But there’s just a certain point where I imagine you begin to feel claustrophobic and pray that you don’t enter into a full panicked state.

Getting lost in JFK airport is another concern.  So is dying of dehydration in the middle of the Outback and being left to the poisonous snakes.  But this is a faculty-led study abroad trip, these sort of things don’t happen… right?

I’m sure anybody who has studied abroad before has felt this way.  Totally excited about their experience but also extremely nervous about being halfway around the world with people that you’ve literally just met.

Maybe it’s the mystique of Australia that’s making me feel this way.  Nobody I know has been there (while EVERYBODY I know has been to Italy, of course).  Nobody knows what kinds of secrets and surprises the land down under holds.

I had several dreams over the last several weeks about Australia that reinforced these fears.  In the first, I went to a diner for breakfast and had these repulsive pancakes.  When I asked the waitress what was in them, she answered “quinoa”.  Those repulsive little grains that are shaped like a certain contraceptive if you look at them really close up.  In the other, I was grocery shopping at a local supermarket.  Instead of frozen fish in their freezers, they sold frozen snakes.  ‘Nuff said.

So I have my fears and doubts alongside my excitements, but as the trips grows closer I find I need to shove those fears aside.

Scholarship applications are done, travel guides checked out from the library, books on Australian art rented, and orientation happening across the state this Saturday.

Hopefully they won’t serve pancakes with quinoa.

By the way, upon Googling a suitable picture of quinoa to include with this post, I came across this MONSTROSITY.  According to the recipe, they’re Coffee Quinoa Pancakes with Carrot Frosting.  I’m sorry, but I could have sworn that was meatloaf  with cheese-from-the-can dumped on top.  I wonder what level of Dante’s Inferno hell these are from?

 

Sunday
03/26/17

“Spring Break”

Posted by bostonki on March 26, 2017 in Uncategorized

Saturday: Nothing.  Bliss.

Sunday: Studying, papers, homework.

Monday: Required classroom observations at my old middle school.  *shivers*

Tuesday: Took the day off and went to Rochester with my boyfriend.  I’m not scared to admit that I dragged him along for the Museum of Play (which I have a feeling he enjoyed) and some awesome BBQ from Sticky Lips in Henrietta.

Wednesday:  More classroom observations.  Teacher had to explain to 7th graders why they couldn’t use ‘i’ as a variable.  The horrors of Algebra 2 may never cease to haunt me.

Thursday:  Full shift at work.  On the plus side, Beauty and the Beast (which was AWESOME, by the way).

Friday:  Stayed up until 3 in the morning to work on schoolwork so my weekend would be free, so I ended up working a half day and leaving because I felt sick beyond belief.

Saturday:  Grey’s day.  I think I hammered out six or seven episodes.  But I’m still only on season 7.  I may never finish.

Sunday:  Laundry, cleaning EVERYTHING, packing, and now writing this.  Will likely be forced to write a paper tonight since I have four due in the next week and a half.

The motto: Classifying something with the word “break” does not necessarily make it so.  Nonetheless, it’s been a good week and I hope everybody is ready to hammer out the next eight so we can go into that blissful thing called summer… and I can go to that blissful beach on Australia’s sunshine coast.