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Showdown: NYC vs. Barca

Because of dissimilarities in culture, I observed many differences between American (specifically New York City) and Spanish (specifically Barcelona) culture. Since this was my first trip to Europe, I was most observant and the experienced I had will remain crisp. Of these differences, three struck me most—food service, fashion, and nightlife.

“Fast paced” barely scratches the surface of the bustling New York City lifestyle. Restaurants, popular or not, are focused on streamlining operations for fast turn-over rates. Of course, high-end restaurants are excluded from this generalization, but that is only because those high-end restaurants are modeled after European restaurants. Before going to Barcelona, I already knew of European’s “slow” service. Supposedly, people sat around for hours just drinking tea and finishing lunch. However, the level of “slowness” in Barcelona was overwhelming. Even at “nice” restaurants, I was not given a menu until the waiter felt like dropping them off. I was not given water (because it is not complimentary in Europe). I sat in silence for what seemed like hours for waiters to take my order. A simple serving of “patatas bravas” (fancy French fries) took around 30 minutes to be sent out. In America, this would not be tolerated. But as I looked around, the native Spanish seemed very comfortable with the slow pace. No one was in a rush—what a new concept! And as we were hurrying the server to quickly bring out our check, he walked slowly to the register, made conversation with the other servers on his way, and “forgot” to bring the receipt on his way back over.

New York City is one of the world’s fashion capitals, as the most well-known designers choose to exhibit their latest collections in NYC every fall and spring season. Barcelona is not a fashion capital, yet I felt that the average Barcelonan was significantly more fashionable than the average New Yorker (and the average New Yorker is eons ahead of the average American—how sad). Many wore fashion trends that recently graced big runway shows, such as those in Paris and Milan. Americans always look like they just rolled out of bed or  got out of the gym. They are much more price-conscious when it comes to apparel. People want a bargain price, which explains the success of stores like Forever 21, which can be found in every major hub in NYC and US. Barcelonans consider Zara’s as cheap. Yet Zara’s prices are easily quadruple that of Forever 21, for the same types of items. There are much less bargains stores in the streets of Barcelona, at least in tourist areas. Another major difference is that New Yorkers tend to wear a lot of black and white, occasionally deviating to dark blue or navy green (curve ball: nude is sometimes considered a pop of color in NYC). Barcelonans wear many different colors, often bright. Half of the selections at Zara’s in Barcelona were pastel colors, while all the Zara’s in NYC were monochromatically gray. And since Zara is one of the world leaders in giving consumers exactly what they want, one can learn a lot about a location’s fashion taste by their Zara stores.

The drinking age and lifestyle directly impact each city’s nightlife. When I was out in Barcelona, I noticed that there were many under-aged partyers, but something tells me most of them were American (judging by the way they look, spoke, acted, and dressed). Saturday night was ridiculously lively, more than I’ve ever seen it in New York City. But from Sunday to Wednesday, there was not a single soul out (other than other Americans). It was surprising to find a city of people who all sleep at 2:00 AM, all in their own homes or still finishing up dinner on weekdays instead of drinking at a bar. In NYC, the party never stops and people are always out.  The crowd is a bit older too, probably due to the drinking age. New York City traffic is busier at 1:00 AM than it is at 9:00 PM, because New Yorkers love to go out at night. The streets of Barcelona, on the other hand, were a barren wasteland. And the cab drivers there actually followed traffic rules—bizarre!

While there are stark differences between to the two cities, I more than enjoyed my stay in Barcelona. It was because of these very differences that made the experience that much better. Learning about Spanish culture, how to do business there, and what Barcelonans wear and do for fun was eye-opening. I would love to go back, when my bank balance permits.


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04/09/2013 Update

If I’m unemployed this summer, I’m going to die my hair blonde. Always thought I’d look horrible, but I’m starting to think I could pull it off now…

Have listened to nothing but Big Bang on loop for the past 2 weeks. Unhealthy obsession taken to the next level, Oh my god. All I want in life is G-Dragon. I will never be happy.

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Discovered by long lost soul mate: green raisins. Have eaten at leat a few pounds of it the past few days.

I want to take kickboxing lessons this summer. 1) Because I have a lot of anger to let out. 2) I need to get in shape, actually.

After seeing Greg over break, I realized how much I missed NYC. Never thought I’d be saying it but I miss my friends, I miss Ed, I miss East Village. I even miss ramen. The first thing I do when I get back to New York is bakery hop all around the Village—Sweet Revenge, Macaron Parlour, Black Hound, Cha An… I die.

Also, I’m going to become a cheese connoisseur. 


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favorite memories of first semester sophomore year. love and miss y’all!

favorite memories of first semester sophomore year. love and miss y’all!


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Magic Exists

People often ask me, “what’s it like going to school in New York City?” They expect me to reply with crazy-ass stories at bars and clubs. And although those tales are tall and amusing, I can honestly say that I don’t have many to share. 

I found even before classes started in September that going to clubs and bars are particularly monotonous and frankly, risky. First off, clubs are full of strangers, often sweaty and smelly, and most people stick to their friend groups anyways. You’re basically paying a week’s worth of money to get groped by sketchy men or look into your friends’ faces, something you can do more easily in the light of your dorm room with plenty of snacks at hand. Second, I don’t like the mindset people have when they go out—get smashed, meet strangers, then complain about how unattractive those strangers were. Enough said: learn your lesson. Third, bars are for relaxing and watching sport games, not… that.

I find going out for something quaint, with a bunch of friends or people you’d like to know better, much more enjoyable. Restaurants, comedy shows, getting coffee, getting froyo, window shopping, real shopping, exploring new territory, study groups—even studying by yourself sometimes—is more enjoyable than forsaking your classiness for a run-down lounge filled with hookers and creeps.

I’m glad I have good friends to enjoy these things, and sometimes clubbing, with. Now it’s back to work.


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Just Like the in Movies

You know that scene in the movies when the intern stumbles out with a pile of books, a tray of coffee, three purses, keys, and an entire closet dangling from their digits?

That was yours truly today!

Today, New York Model Management threw a New Faces Orientation at the Eventi Hotel. The penthouse was huge, with the largest balcony and coolest bathrooms I’ve ever seen. Long story short it was ineffably nice. The Executive Director of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), the umbrella corporation to all things fashion and modelling, the Booking Director of Teen Vogue, one of the most famous street-fashion photographers, and famous modelling agents were there, offering tips and advice for these new models, excited to jump start their careers.

It was a humbling experience, as I took and hung the coats and bags of all the gorgeous models, distinguished guests, and influential individuals in the fashion industry. I arranged bags, cards, boxes, bottles, bars, chairs, pillows, etc. I briefed breath-taking models on what was expected of them and lined them up for photo-shoots and interviews, as if I had any authority. I ushered and served, sprinted down two blocks to buy coca cola for guests—twice! I was to make conversation with powerful speakers during intermission. Sent emails to get tweets tweeted while I argued with and directed hotel staff. Ran back and forth from room to room adjusting music with the room key in my mouth (lack of extra hands).

7 hours of madness, a free meal, worn down heels, and many handshakes later, I sit and ponder—today was one of the best experiences ever.


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Knock knock

is the sound of opportunity.

My dad has been urging me to find an internship, but laziness has gotten the better of me. I haven’t even thought about where or what I’d be interested in. This morning was actually the first time I even gave it any thought. Before I sign my soul over to the business devils, I want to do something fun—fashion, food, photography, art. Think about this later, I told myself.

But as if god heard my prayers, my very handsome friend approached me this afternoon in Public Speaking class. He is an intern at New York Models and offered me an internship there too!

Not as a model, but still in the industry. They were looking with someone with a business background, spoke fluent mandarin, and had an interest in fashion. Wow, can you embody me with any phrases better than those? I just sent her an email and I can’t wait to hear a response.

Life likes to send good things  every once in a while.

Hope it sends me a Shiba Inu soon, hehe!


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Honeycomb

The last time I saw anything this crowded was this past summer in Beijing. People swarmed out of escalators into the throbbing mass of Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Children, Parents, Grandparents, Cousins, Hoodlums, Marines, Beggars, Pastors, Vendors, and Wall Street Protesters. Aside from the constant pheromone-secretion of Auntie Anne’s and Nathan’s Hotdogs, New York Pennsylvania Station wreaked of Danish Butter Cookies (commonly known as the Christmas Cookies), fresh roses, and gym-class sweat. A bald man flipped my luggage over while rushing from his seat. A middle-aged woman trampled over my foot as I struggled to keep my desserts from spilling onto the floor, which hid entirely behind squeaking sneakers and clicking heels.

From the mezzanine, we must have looked like bees—pushing back and forth between the masses within the hive that is the concourse. There seemed to be an unspoken understanding buzzing between the bald man and I, the middle-aged woman and I, the two strangers touching elbows next to the ticket booth, the tourist and the native New Yorker waiting in line at Subway. This chaos that accompanied the scent of life, floating above our very heads, between our legs, around our hearts, was a shared goal. Every man and woman in that station was there for one reason—family.

At any other time in New York City, strangers paid no attention to one another, especially in large public places such as Madison Square Garden. But on the eve of Thanksgiving, there was smiling, laughing, even a warm feeling as people accidentally bumped chests and dropped suitcases. “Have a Happy Thanksgiving”, I said to the woman who sold me my ticket and returned my gesture with her kindness. She spent her Thanksgiving Eve in a musty station just so she can make a few dollars to support her family and so I could be with mine.

It is times like this that being in a big, busy city is great. Every person you pass is thinking of one thing: I need to get home to my loved ones. And that was all I could think of as the TV screen flashed “Trenton—Boarding”, as I jerked my way through the crowd at Track 9, and as I sprinted down the corridor to the farthest train cart, bright red suitcase in hand and checkerboard backpack intact. All the while, Cliffs of Dover by Eric Johnson was blasting under my earmuffs. Its lyric-less, guitar-heavy melody pumped in sync with my adrenaline as I was getting closer to home—foot-by-foot to Princeton Junction.


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Random Musings
  • Every day I realize more and more that I could never/would never want to be/actually be an investment banker.
  • The more I tell myself to go on a diet, the more m&m’s I seem to inhale.
  • I think I was destined to be someone artsy. But I chose my own destiny.
  • If a restaurant says they’re 50% off all the time, then they’e not 50% off al the time! God damn!
  • You’d think being mostly Jewish, Asian, and Indian, the kids at NYU would know how to save money. “Frugality” is not in the NYU dictionary.
  • Keeping random clippings of memory is a great way to see how much you’ve grown. Apparently I’ve grown a lot in the past month.
  • I am a fool because I both deny and accept that I’m a fool.
  • Stereotypes are my best friends that like to stab me in the back.
  • Punctuality is really tough. Especially when every building has a different clock. I wonder if WWPHSS has corrected their clocks yet…
  • My roommate talks frantically, holds conversations, and reenacts plays in her sleep. I think it’s cute.
  • I’m apparently famous among NJ Asians because I worked at fruity yogurt. Isn’t that hilarious!?
  • I constantly freak out because I anticipate my graphing calculator running out of batteries. What would I do without my graphing calculator?
  • Women’s happiness/life satisfaction levels have decreased significantly in the past 35 years while that of men’s has increased. What is this saying about women? Women should stop working double shifts and just stick to cooking and cleaning. Hey, that’s just me.
  • The word “free” entices me. But why does it have the opposite affect on other people? Blows my mind.
  • Never thought I would ever want to go home, but finding myself missing it on more than one occasion. Not my old life, just the feeling of home.
  • No one can make you angry. Only you can.
  • 93% of communication is non-verbal.
  • Black bouncers can’t tell yellow people apart.

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TORCH DAY 2011: a competition between residence halls.

Weinstein won most spirited out of of 20 residence halls.

First time I ever danced on stage. It was a fun experience!


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Freshman 15

Is not a myth.

Damn Downstein, the yummy buffet-style dining hall right on the bottom floor of my residence hall. Damn Upstein, home of Quizno Subs and the only Chick-fil-A in NYC, in the lobby of my residence hall. Damn Stern and all these clubs for giving us so much free food—Taco Bell, Chipotle, etc.!

To celebrate my enormous growth, I am finally going to hit up the gym. I hear the NYU gyms are pretty nice and less crowded if you go during the day. I hope I can look back on this post and realize I actually went through with it. Time to hit the elliptical and pump some iron! Wish me luck!

… I’m going to need it.

GOAL:


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nine eleven

being in new york city for 9/11 is… indescribable.. i was in the third grade and in miami, fl when the whole thing happened. i remember seeing it on the TV and thinking “why are there two empire state buildings?” not being in the tri-state region when it happened made it seem so unreal to me.

now being here, and no more than a few miles from ground zero actually, it seems so real to me. in union square last night, there was a memorial where “peace one day” was spelled in beautiful script by burning candles. but within a few feet away, others were enjoying a michael jackson acapella show. as i walked back to my dorm 6 blocks south, i stopped at washington square, where people were handing out 9/11 conspiracy pamphlets and screaming all sorts of things i’m not sure if i should disbelieve. trying to sleep that night was difficult too. sirens were sounding every other minute. my room mate got back late because taxis crossing the manhattan border were searched. motorcycle gangs revved their engines all night as i tried to dream.

this morning i walked to madison square garden. it was like any old day in new york city— the sky was only slightly grey and the streets were bustling with life. at penn station, people had their ear plugs in while they waited to board their trains.

this is grieving.


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Pent-up Post

i am about to complain. you have been warned.

  1. I don’t like Justin Bieber either but why can’t people stop hating on him? He can do whatever the hell he wants even if that entails singing like a girl and making really pretty nail polishes (hehe).
  2. I’m an openly jealous person. I’m jealous that short girls can get away with doing whatever they want and it gets labelled as cute. They can say whatever they want and people forgive them because they’re soooo cuteeeee. Gag. If I slept around with a bunch of guys, no one would call me cute.
  3. I hate FaceBook. Not because it distracts me from homework but because even people you un-friend like to spam up your news feed. Hey, it’s nice that you’re trying to be totally fake to the person you hate and stuff, but people stop posting your word-sex all over the internet!
  4. Do people actually look bad on some days or do they just feel bad and that shitty feeling clouds up their own judgement of themselves? ‘Cause sometimes people say they look like shit and I think they look the same as they always do. Sometimes I think I look like shit and I really think I do. It would be nice to have some psyche friends right now.
  5. Now I know why Stern kids are viewed upon as conceited. LET ME TELL YOU WHY. IT’S BECAUSE NON-STERN KIDS LIKE TO MAKE UP ALL SORTS OF MEAN STEREOTYPES ABOUT STERN KIDS (that may or may not apply) AND DON’T GIVE THEM A CHANCE. Thus, Stern kids do not like them very much and don’t talk to them. The reason why I’m dressed in clothes isn’t ‘cause I’m in Stern. It’s cause it’s indecent to go around naked you stupid, stupid, people. You’d think a place like NYU would be more accepting of things but they’re really only accepting of gays and other religions.
  6. Again: GAY COMMUNITY STOP STEALING ALL THE GOOD LOOKING, SMART, FASHIONABLE, IN-SHAPE, HUMOROUS MALES ON EARTH. I love you and all (I really, really do), but this world needs to re-populate, ya’know?

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Classes

On Mondays and Wednesdays I have three classes—Writing the Essay, East Asian Cultures, and Public Speaking, the earliest of which start at 11 AM. I can nap in between and I’m done by 4:45.

On Tuesday and Thursdays I have one class—Calc I, which starts at 12:30 PM. I get out at 1:45.

On Friday I have one recitation and mandatory fun time, courtesy of Stern. GO FINANCIAL DISTRICT COHORT, WOOHOO!!!

I can wake up whenever I want. There is an American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21 within 2 or 3 blocks of me. I have a black light in my room. I love college.


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this is the city that never sleeps
& this is my city.

this is the city that never sleeps

& this is my city.

(Source: kelseysusan)