Canada Choir Tour

Once again I find myself needing to apologize for a long absence. An extremely long absence. Life happens, particularly as a graduate student, however I want to get into the habit of writing posts again. While I intended to catch up on posts before the fall semester got too busy; unfortunately, I was unable to do so.

As I have shared before, I am a member a volunteer, faith-based choir in the city. I love getting to know fellow members and making music with them. Last Memorial Day Weekend, I had the opportunity to do both while we had mini tour to Canada.

First stop of our tour was just outside Toronto. After spending most of the day on a bus, we unloaded the bus and set up for our concert right away. After our concert, we met up with our home stays. The place I stayed opened their doors to four of us. Though our sleeping arrangements were a little cozy, our host family was so kind. We were amazed the next morning when they had prepared an amazing breakfast for us. When we met back up with the rest of the choir, we got to explore downtown Toronto for a bit. I was filled with excitement as we approached Toronto’s skyline with the iconic CN tower. After briefly going to the entrance of the Hockey Hall of Frame, my friend and I headed out to explore as much as we could in our limited time.  We walked along Yonge Street for a bit. We eventually learned of the Doors Open event happening that weekend. Doors Open is a special weekend when building typically not open to the public for visits open their doors to visitors. We briefly explored the legislative building before meeting up with others to head to our next stop.

Inside the Ontario Legislative Building
Inside the Ontario Legislative Building in Toronto


Ontario Legislative Building in Queen's Park
Ontario Legislative Building in Queen’s Park, Toronto

After a concert in Kingston, we continued to Ottawa to go to our home stays for the next couple of nights. This time another girl and I stayed with a lovely retired couple. Both nights we spent a lot of time talking to them. In our conversations, we learned that they met at the church we would be singing at the next day when they were teens. Sunday morning we sang a few songs at each church service. In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to go to downtown Ottawa. In our brief time downtown, we explored Parliament Hill before heading back to the church for concert in the evening.

Parliament Hill
Parliament Hill in Ottawa

Before heading back to the city, we stopped in Montreal. I chose to walk through Notre-Dame Basilica. The beautiful interior of the basilica reminded of Saint-Chapelle in Paris, particularly how the ceiling was painted. After visiting the basilica, I wondered the nearby streets getting a couple of souvenirs for my parents collections (my mom collects thimbles and my dad collects playing cards). I also tried and failed to use my rather rusty French. When someone asked if we wanted to go on a carriage ride en français, it took me way longer than it should have to realize what the person was asking. I managed a “No, merci,” only to have them respond in English. I at least tried to use my long out of practice language  skills, right?

Notre-Dame Basilica
Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal

As we headed back to New York, we enjoyed the beautiful landscape offered by the Adirondacks. Although we spent a lot of time on a bus, the ride gave us all an opportunity to get to know each other more and have some fun while sharing the message of God’s love.


How to Spend 3 Days With Friends in New York City

Back in March, two of my close friends, Alyssa and Cody, found a great deal on a flight to New York. Though they were only able to be here a few days, they able were able to see a lot of the city. Some of the places, I had been to before, others I had not. That did not matter because I was getting to spend time with friends. Here is how we spent our time:

Day One- Downtown Manhattan
Alyssa and Cody flew in on Saturday night. Many places do not open until later on Sundays, so we decided to sleep in a bit. We also spent time deciding what all we wanted to see and do together while they were here. We decided to break the days up by location. We decided to do downtown Manhattan the first day. We took the subway to the Brooklyn Bridge. We really lucked out with the weather being around 50 degrees for the trip. As native Midwesterners, this meant we enjoyed people-watching and seeing people who were still all bundled up.

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge

After walking the bridge to Brooklyn and then back to Manhattan, we watched a street performance, and in Cody’s case, participated in a street performance. Then we walked further downtown to South Ferry and took the Staten Island Ferry. Just as we had done with the bridge, we rode the ferry to Staten Island and then took the next ferry back to Manhattan. On the way to Staten Island, we had a great view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. On the return trip, we had a view of Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge.

From the pier, we walked to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial. Though the ticket price can seem a bit daunting, even the student one, it is worth it. The museum is emotional, powerful, and intense. Because I had a speaker from the museum class just a few weeks before, I could see what we talked about in class. The narrative is told through victims, survivors, responders, witnesses, and others. It also shares leading up to the attack as well as the rescue and recovery and beyond. While I love museums and can spend hours in one, Alyssa and Cody are not as into them. However, we all lost track of time when we walked through the exhibits there and only realized how late it was when someone walked through informing us the museum would be closing in fifteen minutes. After the emotional visit, we called it a night.

9-11 Memorial
9/11 Memorial

Day Two- Midtown Manhattan
I believe that one of the best ways to see New York is on foot. Not only do you save a bit money, but you get to take in all the sights and sounds of the city. Hopefully Alyssa and Cody would agree with me after their second day in the city. Before heading out for the day we discussed what places they wanted to see and made a rough route of how we would hit all of them. Here’s what we ended up doing:

Walking Midtown Manhattan Map

Our  adventure started out with walking to Grand Central Station, where one can also see the Chrysler Building.

Grand Central
Grand Central

From Grand Central, we walked along 42nd Street to get to the Public Library. We went inside to take pictures. Unfortunately, the iconic Rose Main Reading Room was still closed for repairs. I hope that it will be open again soon. Like most places, I am sure the pictures do not do the room justice. We proceeded up 5th Avenue to Rockefeller Center. We all were disappointed that Jimmy Fallon was not filming that week, but that gives them a reason to come back and visit again. After walking through the main level, we exited near Radio City Music Hall. We continued along 6th Avenue to reach Central Park.

Central Park-Dairy Building
Dairy Building in Central Park

Despite the relatively warm weather, there was still plenty of snow on the ground. We did a small loop in the southeast corner of the park before walking along 59th Street to Columbus Circle. We walked down 8th Avenue to Shake Shack where we met up with Cody’s brother and brother’s friend, who just so happened to be in the City at the same time before leaving for a trip abroad. After lunch, we headed to Birdland for Alyssa. As a member of the jazz choir at Wartburg, she sang a song with the same name and heard a lot about it.


From Birdland, we walked over to Times Square. We walked along Broadway to Herald Square and took a peek into the Macy’s Store. We finished our adventure walking along 34th Street to the Empire State Building. We did all of this walking and sightseeing and were back to my apartment by mid-afternoon.

Day Three- More Midtown
Unfortunately, I had class in the morning on this day. However, while I was in class, Alyssa and Cody took the opportunity to walk through the Flatiron District and Union Square. We met back at my apartment for a late lunch and relaxed before making our way back to the Theater District. Being the How I Met Your Mother fans that we are, we headed to McGee’s for a drink. On the way to the theater, we grabbed 99 cent pizza slices, which for only being a dollar was surprisingly good. We ended the night and their trip, as they left early the next morning, by attending Cabaret.

Kit-Kat Club for Cabaret

Although, Alyssa and Cody  were only able to visit for a few days. A few days with some of your closest friends is all you need. It meant a lot to me that they came and visited. I look forward to hopefully exploring the Twin Cities with them later this summer.

Photo Credit: Alyssa
Photo Credit: Alyssa


My New York City Bucket List

I live by lists. Grocery lists, my next shopping trip at Target lists, homework lists, to-do lists, packing lists, etc. In my last post, I said that one of the reasons I wanted to take two classes this semester was to take time to relax and do things in the city. I also said one of the reasons I wanted to come to school here was to take advantage of the opportunities that the city presented and that I felt like I had not really done that much. New York City has so much to offer that I find it overwhelming most of the time. That being said, there is a lot that I would like to see and do while I am here. So, I made a list of 50 things that I want to do in the city while I am living here. I linked each to the place or event’s website and included the location, hours, and costs for them as well. Hours and cost are subject to change (so is location but that far less likely). Here is my New York City Bucket List:

1. Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met is arguably one of the most famous art museums in the world and I can not pass up the opportunity to visit while I live here. Plus, one of the guest speaker’s for my museums class is a museum educator there.
Location: 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street), Upper East Side, Manhattan
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10:00 am-5:30 pm, Friday and Saturday 10:00 am-9:00 pm, Closed: Thanksgiving, December 25, January 1, and first Monday in May
Cost: Suggested donation of Adult $25, Student (with ID) $12, includes admission to Cloisters

2. Walk the High Line
On what was once an elevated rail line, the High Line is a park that from the Meat Packing District through Chelsea along the the west side of Manhattan and offers some great views of the Hudson River and the city.
Location: Gansevoort Street to W 34th Street, Meatpacking District/Chelsea, Manhattan
Hours: December 1 to March 31 7:00 am-7:00 pm, April 1 to May 31 7:00 am-10:00 pm, June 1 to September 30 7:00 am-11:00 pm, October 1 to Nov 30 7:00 am to 10:00 pm
Cost: Free

3. Visit the Guggenheim Museum 
The Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright houses a number of the modern art pieces discussed in my art worlds class last semester.
Location: 1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street), Upper East Side, Manhattan
Hours: Sunday-Wednesday and Friday 10:00 am-5:45 pm, Saturday 10:00 am-7:45pm
Cost: Adults $25, Students $18, Saturdays Pay What You Wish 5:45 pm-7:45 pm

4. Visit the Museum of the City of New York 
What better way to learn more about the city I am living in than to visit a museum entirely devoted to it. Plus, it does not hurt that I can get in for free with my NYU ID
Location: 1220 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Hours: Open Daily 10:00 am-6:00 pm
Cost: Adults $14, Students (with ID) $10, Free (with my NYU ID)

5. Visit the Grand Central Terminal
Though I occasionally use Grand Central as a transfer station when using the subway, I have yet to actually get out and explore the historic terminal.
Location: 89 E 42nd Street, Midtown, Manhattan
Hours: Terminal 5:30 am to 2:00 am, Shop, restaurants, and market have shorter hours
Cost: Free, unless of course you go shopping or get food

6. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
Spanning the East River connecting Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge was the first steel-wire suspension bridge constructed. The bridge includes a promenade to walk or bike along and once in Brooklyn you can take in the Manhattan skyline.
Location: City Hall Park, Civic Center, Manhattan to the intersection of Tillary Street and Adams Street, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

7. Visit the 9/11 Museum
While I have visit the 9/11 Memorial, I have yet to visit the museum. Though I know that the museum may be an emotional experience, I know that a lot a work went into the design of the museum because another guest speaker for my museum class is the director of exhibitions there.
Location: 180 Greenwich Street, Financial District, Manhattan
Hours: Memorial: 7:30 am-9 pm; Museum: Sunday-Thursday 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, Friday and Saturday 9:00 am-9:00 pm
Cost: Adults $24, Students $18, Free on Tuesdays 5:00 pm to close with tickets on a first come first serve basis starting at 4:00 pm

8. Spend a day at Coney Island
How could I not spend a day at this historic amusement park by the Atlantic Ocean?

9. Go on a day trip to the Hudson Valley
Sometimes I love to get out the city, mostly because I miss trees and grass and space. One way I could do that is take time to explore the historic Hudson River Valley.

10. Visit the New York Public Library
The second largest library in the United States and fourth largest in the world is just a short walk walk from where I live. The  building itself is also a  National Historic Landmark.
Location: Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, Midtown, Manhattan
Hours: Sunday 1:00 pm-5:00 pm, Monday, Thursday-Saturday 10:00 am-6:00 pm, Tuesday and Wednesday 10:00 am-8:00 pm
Cost: Free

11. Visit the Tenement Museum
Also a National Historic Landmark, the Tenement Museum housed around 7,000 immigrants between 1863 and 1935. Today, the museum shares the immigrant experience.
Location: 103 Orchard Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Hours: Friday-Wednesday 10:00 am-6:30 pm, Thursday 10:00 am-8:30 pm
Cost: Adults $25, Students $20

12. Visit the Morgan Library and Museum
The Morgan Library and Museum houses a number of manuscripts, rare books, art, and more. The collection began as J.P. Morgan’s personal collection and has expanded since then. It is also another National Historic Landmark (it’s like I am interested in history or something).
Location: 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, Midtown, Manhattan
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 10:30 am-5 pm, Friday 10:30 am-9:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am-6:00 pm, Sunday 11:00 am-6:00 pm, closes at 4:00 pm on Christmas Eve, Closes at 5:00 pm New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July, Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day
Cost: Adults $18, Students (with ID) $12

13. Visit the American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum is another world renown museum that I cannot pass up while I live in the city.
Location: Central Park West at 79th Street, Upper West Side, Manhattan
Hours: 10:00 am-5:45 pm, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas
Cost: Suggested donation Adults $22, Students (with ID) $17

14. Attend a performance of Shakespeare in the Park
Each summer the Public Theater hosts Shakespeare in the Park offering shows for free at the Delcorte Theatre in Central Park.
Location: Delacorte Theatre, 81 Central Park West, Manhattan
Cost: Free

15. Attend part of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament
The U.S. Open is part of the Gland Slam, making it one of the biggest events in tennis of the year. Since tickets to the actual event are probably beyond expensive, I would love to watch some of the qualifying rounds.
Location: USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens
Cost: Qualifying rounds are free, I do not really want to think about the cost of actual seats

16. Go to the Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is the largest zoo in North America and there is no way that I can pass up the opportunity to visit its over 6,000 animals from 650 species.
Location: 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx
Hours: Winter hours 10:00 am-4:30 pm, Summer 10:00 am-5:00 pm or 5:30 pm on weekends and holidays, Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Martin Luther King Day
Cost: Adult $21.55 (Total Experience), $19.95 (General Admission), Free General Admission on Wednesdays

17. Be in the live audience for Jimmy Fallon 
I am quite the fan of Jimmy Fallon so attempting to get my hands on a free ticket would be worth the effort.
Location: 30 Rockefeller Center, Midtown, Manhattan
Cost: Free

18. Visit the Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum is an art museum that is the second largest museum in physical size in the city.
Location: 200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
Hours: Wednesday and Friday-Sunday 11:00 am-6:00pm, Thursday 11:00 am-10:00 pm, First Saturday of the month (except September) 11:00 am-11:00 pm
Cost: Adults $16, Students $10 or with Brooklyn Botanical Center Adults $23, Students $14

19. Explore the Socrates Sculpture Park
This Socrates Sculpture Park is an outdoor museum.
Location: 30-01 Vernon Boulevard, Astoria, Queens
Hours: 10:00 am-sunset
Cost: Free

20. Visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (during cherry blossom season)
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden located near the Brookyn Museum and has a number of specialty gardens.
Location: 150 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
Hours: November-February: Tuesday-Friday 8:00 am-4:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am-4:30 pm, Closed Mondays excpet Veteran’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, and President’s Day 10:00 am-4:30 pm, March-October Tuesday-Friday 8:00 am-6:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am-6:00 pm, Closed Mondays except Memorial Day and Columbus Day 10:00 am-6:00 pm
Cost: Adults $10, Students (with ID) $5, Free Winter weekdays, Free Tuesdays, Free 10 am-12 pm Saturdays

21. Explore each of the Boroughs
New York City is massive and my living experience here should include visiting each of the areas of the city.

22. Explore Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
This park is home to the Unispere, a twelve story globe sculpture, and other structures from the New York World’s Fair that still remain.
Location: Grand Central Parkway, Queens

23. Visits the Cloisters
The Cloisters is an extension of the Met and houses a of medieval Europe artworks.
Location: 99 Margaret Corbin Dr., Fort Tryon Park, Washington Heights, Manhattan
Hours: March-October 10:00 am-5:15 pm, November-February 10 am-4:45 pm, Closed: Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1
Cost: Free with admission to the Met

24. Attend a Concert in the Park by the NY Philharmonic
The NY Philharmonic hosts a handful of free concerts a few of the city parks.
Location: Central Park in Manhattan, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Cunningham Park in Queens, and Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx
Cost: Free

25. Ride the Staten Island Ferry 
While I am sure there are other ways to get to the borough of Staten Island, the Staten Island Ferry is likely the most scenic. During the free ferry ride, one can enjoy the views of the harbor including the Statue of Liberty.
Cost: Free

26. Visit the New York Botanical Garden
This massive garden would another I can get my nature fix.
Location: 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx
Hours: Winter hours Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Summer Hours 10:00 am-6:00 pm, Open on Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Easter Monday, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Colmbus Day, and some Mondays in December for the Holiday Train Show, Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas
Cost: Adult $25 weekends and holidays $20 weekdays $13 grounds only, Student $22 weekends and holidays $18 weekdays $6 grounds only

27. Go to the Top of the Rock
It was quite the decision between the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building but I decide I would like to be able to see the Empire State building as well as be a little closer to Central Park
Location: 30 Rockefeller Center, Midtown, Manhattan
Hours: 8 am- Midnight
Cost: Adults $29

28. Attend a jazz performance at the Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center is probably one of the most famous performance venues in the country. I would love to hear the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra perform there.
Location: 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, Upper West Side, Manhattan

29. Check out the Frick Collection
Henry Frick’s private collection that has become a small art museum that I can go to for free with my NYU ID.
Location: 1 East 70th Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 am-6:00 pm, Sunday 11:00 am-5:00 pm, Closed New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, Limited hours (11:00 am-5:00 pm) on Lincoln’s Birthday, Election Day, and Veteran’s Day (November 11)
Cost: Adults $20, Students $10, Free with my NYU ID

30. Attend a show at the Metropolitan Opera
The Met Opera is part of Lincoln Center and I would love to have the experience of going to an opera.
Location: 30 Lincoln Center Plaza, Upper West Side, Manhattan

31. Attend a show at Radio City Music Hall
While the Christmas Spectacular is the most famous Radio City Music Hall features a number of different performances throughout the year.
Location: 1260 Sixth Avenue, Midtown, Manhattan

32. Eat a sandwich at Katz Delicatessen
I love the movie When Harry Met Sally. I watch it probably once a month, but that is partially due to the fact I do not have all that many movie here and I love rom-coms. The sandwich shop from the famous scene in the movie is Kaz Delicastessen.
Location: 205 East Houston Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Hours: Monday-Wednesday 8:00 am-10:45 pm, Thursday 8:00 am-2:45 am, Friday 8:00 am-Open all night, Saturday open all day, Sunday Open until 10:45 pm

33. Check out Eataly, maybe get some gelato
Eataly is a fancy Italian food hall. I love pasta. One time I went to a music camp for a week and I was so proud of the fact that I had pasta everyday. I am quite proud of the fact that at Wartburg and living in apartments during the summer and presently that I am able to limit how much pasta I eat. I am guessing that this is quite pricing so it would mostly be to drool over the pasta and other food.
Location: 200 Fifth Avenue, Flatiron District, Manhattan
Hours: 10:00 am-11:00 pm, Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas

34. Find a (masala) chai that I love
I have tried chai (lattes) from a few different places so far but nothing that I have really loved. A couple were pretty good and I would go back if I really needed a chai fix and a couple places I refuse to go to again, at least for chai. I like the spice but I like it to be sweet too. 

35. Browse the Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market is under food and shopping hall. While items could be pricey, it would still be fun just to browse.
Location: 75 Ninth Avenue, Chelsea, Manhattan
Hours: Monday-Saturday 7:00 am-9:00 pm, Sunday 8:00 am-8:00 pm

36. Stroll through Central Park in fall when the leaves are changing
It was raining when I tried to go this past fall. I saw the park as the leaves were just beginning to change so I can imagine in the middle of the changing the park is just stunning.

37. Check out the Macy’s Flower Show
This could be a fun and different way to get the nature fix.

38. Watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Held on March 17th every year (unless it on a Sunday then it is the Saturday March 16), starting at 11:00 am the parade marches up Fifth Avenue from 44th Street past St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 50th Street to the Irish Historical Society at 79th Street. While I am not Irish at all, this could be really fun.

39. Try cheesecake from Eileen’s Special Cheesecake
Eileen’s is one of the contenders for best cheesecake in the city. I spent a little time looking at different lists of the “Best Cheesecake in NYC” and Eileen’s was consistently on the list which how I decide that would be the one to put on my list. Whose to say I cannot try cheesecake else where though? Oh, right, my wallet.
Location: 17 Cleveland Place, Nolita, Manhattan; Monday-Friday 9:00 am-9:00 pm, Saturday-Sunday 10:00 am-7:00 pm; Cheesecake tartlet $3.75

40. Picnic on Governor’s Island 
Governor’s Island is a former military bases that hosts a number of cultural and social events when it is open during the warmer months.

41. Visit the Queens Museum
The Queens Museum is in an art museum in one of the buildings from the World’s Fair and houses a number a works including a well-known panorama of the city and a scale model of the boroughs.
Location: Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 12:00 pm-6:00 pm, Closed New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas
Cost: Adults $8, Students $4

42. Browse Smorgasburg
Smorgasburg is large food/flea market that could be fun to broswe .
Location: East River State Park Kent Avenue and North 7th Street Williamsburg, Brooklyn or Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 5 at 304 Furman Street, Brooklyn
Hours: Open seasonally 11:00 am-6:00 pm

43. Stay on the 6 Train to see the Old City Hall Station
Formal tours of the Old City Hall Station are quite expensive in my opinion. I will settle for staying on the 6 train after the last stop of Brooklyn Bridge as it turns around to ride past what as been noted as one of the most beautiful subway stations in the world.
Cost: Metro fare to get on the subway

44. Visit the Museum of Biblical Art
I loved serving as a docent for the Saint John’s Illuminated Bible last year. Because I enjoyed that so much, I figured I would enjoy checking out this museum devoted to Biblical art.
1865 Broadway, Upper West Side, Manhattan
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 am-6:00 pm
Cost: Adults $12, Students $9

45. Visit Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthplace
Theodore Roosevelt is the only president born in New York City  so I figured it would be neat to check out his birthplace.
Location: 28 E. 20th Street, Gramercy, Manhattan
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9:00 am-5:00 pm, Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas
Cost: Free

46. Visit Scandinavia House
Though I should not be surprised, I have come across few German or Scandinavian people in the city, not that I have gone extensively searching for them, just from observation. When I learned that this place existed I decided I wanted to go check it out.
Location: 58 Park Avenue at 38th Street, Midtown, Manhattan
Hours: Building: Monday-Saturday 11:00 am-10:00 pm, Sunday 11:00 am-5:00 pm, 3rd Floor Gallery Tuesday-Friday 12:00 pm-5:00 pm (Wednesday until 7:00 pm)

47. Ride Roosevelt Island Tram
I read that you get a nice view from the tram and it is the same price as the Metro. Then I can explore Roosevelt Island, which due to its size and nature, would not take all that long.
Location: Manhattan Station at 59th Street and Second Avenue, Midtown, Manhattan
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 6:00 am-2:00 am, Friday and Saturday 6:00 am-3:30 am
Cost: Same as Metro fare

48. Go iceskating in Central Park at Wollman Rink
I think I have been ice skating once, a long time ago. So despite the likelihood of me being rather terrible. Ice skating in the park with snow on the ground could be a fun way to spend an afternoon in the winter.
Location: 830 Fifth Avenue, Central Park, Manhattan
Hours: Monday-Tuesday 10:00 am-2:30 pm, Wednesday-Thursday 10:00 am-10:00 pm, Friday-Saturday 10:00 am-11:00 pm, Sunday 10:00 am-9:00 pm
Cost: Monday-Thursday Adults $11.25, Friday-Sunday and Holidays $18, Skate rental $8.00

49. Browse Strand Rare and Collectible Book Room
I love Strand. Since it is a short walk from campus I have gone in a number of time to browse the stacks. I even bought I couple of my books there. However, I have yet to go upstairs to check out their rare and collectible book room.
Location: 828 Broadway at 12th Street, East Village, Manhattan
Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:30 am-10:30 pm, Sunday 11:00 am-10:30 pm, Rare Book Room Open until 6:15 pm

50. Get a pizza from Lombardi’s Pizza (the first pizzeria) OR Totonno’s (noted as one of the best) or both 
Lombardi’s claims to be the first pizzeria in the city and still makes their pizza in a coal fire oven. While it is not on as many of the “Best Pizza in New York City” lists, I have heard it is still delicious and a slice of history. Totonno’s was started by a former employee of Lombardi’s and its history is almost as long as Lombardi’s. Totonno’s is one that made quite a few of the “Best Pizza in New York City” lists.
Location: 32 Spring Street, Nolita, Manhattan
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:30 am-11:45 pm, Friday and Saturday 11:00 am-12:00 am
Location: 1524 Neptune Avenue, Coney Island, Brooklyn
Hours : Wednesday-Sunday 12:00 pm-8:00 pm

Hopefully you enjoyed reading my New York City Bucket List. I also hope there is at least one thing on that list that you would like to see or do if you visited the city or is something that you had not heard of before. What would you want to see or do if you lived in or were visiting New York City? What do you want to see or do where you currently live?

NYC Bucket List

Back in the City

I have been back in the city for almost a month now and what a month it has been! When I returned to the city, I worked some to make up for not working for a month and I deep cleaned my apartment. About a week after I got back, I had three of wisdom teeth removed. This meant I got to spend a weekend being a bum. Of course, I had to take pain meds and my one cheek swelled and bruised a bit, but still had an excuse to be a bum. The swelling and bruising concerned me until I googled wisdom teeth bruising and swelling and I saw how bad it could have been I realized I was being paranoid. While I did have to work on Monday just a few days after, it was only for a few hours. I was a little grateful for the “NYC Blizzard” because it meant an extra day to rest.

A week after my wisdom teeth were out, choir premiered a requiem. We had been working with the composer for a couple of months to prepare for the concert. The requiem is probably the most difficult work I have sung. Though it was tiring, I am glad that I had the opportunity to work on such a challenging piece.  After the premiere and reception, a lot of the members went out to eat together. Though I opted to save money and get a snack when I got back to my apartment, it was fun to simply spend time with the group.

Classes finally started. This semester is a little different from last semester, but I like it. One of my classes is  “Museums and Community,” which I love so far. My other class is looking at affect in literature and music in Europe from 1600 to 1800 and considering it in relation to our late modern idea of emotion. The material for this is a little bit more of a challenge right now because we are reading the 1600s theory but I find the material interesting so I still enjoy it. I decided to only take two classes this semester rather than three. While I still want to graduate in two calendar years, I need to be able to work so I can afford to live her. I also wanted to be able to focus more on my courses and not feel like I was hurrying through my work. Most of all, I wanted to be able to take a break once in a while. Part of the reason I wanted to school out her was the opportunities that the city had. However, looking back on last semester, I realized that I had not done that much.

Though I would love to go shows on Broadway all the time, my wallet cannot afford to do that. When I had the opportunity to get student tickets to the play Constellations, I took it, inviting a few of my friends so we could celebrate a successful start to the semester. I’ll be honest that the first thing that caught my eye about the play was Jake Gyllenhaal. Ever since I watched The Day After Tomorrow a long time ago, I have liked him. Once I looked up the information about the play, I was intrigued. The play is the story of the relationship between a beekeeper (Gyllenhaal) and a physicist (Ruth Wilson). Early in the play, the physicist explains the multiverse, that every decision we do or do not make exists at the same time. The concept of having different possibilities is how the play is written. While this may not be for everyone, I enjoyed it.

Constellations with Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson
Constellations with Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson

This past week at work was pretty hectic, however there were so many good things that happened to balance it out. First off, two of best friends are coming to visit in a few weeks. So I have adventures in the city with them to look forward to. I also received a care package from my parents. As it is near Valentine’s Day, one of my favorite treats is Little Debbie Be My Valentine snack cakes. They are probably terrible for me but they just taste so good. However, I could not find them anywhere in city, much like I could not find almond bark to dip pretzels in December. My wonderful parents sent me both. They also included a couple of kitchen items that did not fit in my bags on the way back to New York and DVDs of of Season 8 of Doctor Who my dad recorded for me. Even though I knew what was in it before it arrived, I still appreciated that they sent all of that stuff to me. After class on Thursday, I Skyped with another one of best friends. We had not talked in quite a while, so it was fantastic to get to catch up with him.

Home for the Holidays

There is nothing quite like getting to go home for the holidays. While I was on break, sometimes it felt far from it because I was so busy trying to spend as much time with my family and friends. I started out by spending a long weekend with some of my closest friends to celebrate one friend’s 21st birthday. We drove around looking at Christmas lights, went to a Christmas Eve service, played games, decorated cookies, had drinks, but most importantly enjoyed catching up and spending the quality time together. On the way home, I was surprised with lunch not with the one friend I was expecting but a couple others as well. I spent the days around Christmas with my family. I baked cinnamon rolls and helped prepare our family’s contribution to Christmas dinner. My family attended Christmas Eve service together and then opened presents. On Christmas Day with extended family, we had dinner and played games, a given in my family.

In the days that followed, I split time between my family and friends. I went to Into the Woods with a couple of friends. I also spent New Year’s Eve with a friend and her family who have basically adopted me. I had a long catch up lunch with a former roommate, followed by staying the night with few friends. Opposite that, I played games with my family. We also went out to eat one of our favorite pizza places in  the town where my mom grew up. At my grandparents as a child, we would often get pizza from this restaurant and bring it back to their house, or we would just go to the restaurant. Despite my grandparents moving to a different city and eventually passing away, my family still try to go when my brother and I are both home. It is always been a good tradition.

What is a visit back home, without visiting the Burg. Though I was already reminded of how much love and support I have back at home, visiting Wartburg only multiplied that feeling. I listened to the band rehearse, surprised a number of friends by being on campus, attended the crew Christmas party as an alum, and spent time with as many people as possible. I also caught up with a number of professors. Some I only talked to for a few minutes and a couple for hour or more. The truth is professors love to have students come back. They want to hear how you are doing and how what you learned there is helping or has helped you where you are now.

During one such conversation,  I felt like a former professor was interviewing me, but in a way, it was good for me. He asked how my classes in the department had helped, if I felt like Wartburg had prepared me, and what a wanted to do after my master’s. Besides the last question, many of the questions he asked I had not put a lot of thought into. Yes, the history department helped prepare me. How could I come to New York without my trusty Chicago Turabian Manual! But on a more serious note, the style of writing and some of the discussion that I did in my history classes were beneficial. Did Wartburg prepare me? That was a tough question. I believe Wartburg prepared me as much as it could. I am not really sure if anything could have prepared me more for graduate school except perhaps experience in the “real world.” It was not until I started talking to people in my classes here that I realized most people did not come to graduate school right away. If I had known that last year, maybe I would have chosen to get a job for a while first, but maybe not, since I still have feelings of uncertainty on what I want to do.

One of the last questions he asked was what did I miss most about Wartburg. Without hesitation, my response was the community. I felt so connected with the people and place when I was there and I missed that feeling of belonging and connection. Visiting as an alum, I still felt that same sense of community. Maybe it is because I still know so many people there, but I think it is more than that. After spending four years there, when one goes back, it is like coming home. Visiting my home at Wartburg and my actual home was exactly what I needed to start this next semester. Home is a reminder that you are loved and supported no matter the distance.

It would not be Christmas morning without cinnamon rolls
It would not be Christmas morning without cinnamon rolls


Holidays in the City

Unfortunately, I was not able to go home for Thanksgiving. A friend invited myself and one of our other friends to join her and her family, who were flying in for the holiday. We began Thanksgiving by attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It is on thing to watch the parade on TV, it is a whole other to watch it live. It was quite the experience. We had to find a spot along the route a few hours before the parade actually began.

Tom Turkey leading the parade
Tom Turkey leading the parade
Santa closing the parade
Santa closing the parade

After the parade, we went back to my friend’s apartment relaxed and worked on preparing dinner. We had a late dinner in the afternoon and then I went back to my own apartment so my friend could spend time with her family. While it was hard to not be with my family for the holiday, I could not have asked for a better way to spend the day with new friends from the city.

The end of the semester was busy working on a couple of papers and a presentation, as well as preparing for the Christmas concerts. However, before I left the city, I wanted to make sure that experienced Christmas (Holidays) in the city. In December, I took time to stroll through the Christmas market in Union Square. A different time, I went to Bryant Park to the market there. The night before going back to the Midwest I did my own walking tour to look at the windows.

I left my apartment and headed towards Fifth Avenue to 42nd Street to finish looking at the Christmas market at Bryant Park. On the way there, I saw the Empire State Building, which was lit to look like a candle for Hanukah, including the antenna flickering like a flame.

Empire State Building lit like a Hanukah candle
Empire State Building lit like a Hanukah candle

Just before reaching the park, I checked out the windows at Lord and Taylor. After I finished at the Christmas market, I continued up Fifth Avenue to Saks Fifth Avenue. I looked at their windows then crossed the street to Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center

I did a loop around the Center and then watched the presentation that is projected on to the Saks Fifth Avenue building. I continued up Fifth Ave to Bergdorf Goodman and Tiffany’s, then I headed to Barney’s and Bloomingdale’s. I took the subway to get to Macy’s and from Macy’s walked back to my apartment where I finished packing in time to leave for the my early morning flight.

Window at Macy's
Window at Macy’s

What Would I Do Without My Music?

You will have to forgive me, the next couple of posts are long overdue. As I am sure you can imagine, the end of my first semester of graduate school took over.

As I finally got settled in my apartment and established a routine, I still felt like something was missing. After hearing St. Elizabeth’s Chorale sing when I visited Wartburg and live streaming Wartburg Choir’s Homecoming concert in October, it dawned on me. Music was missing from my life. After that, at the end of October, I joined a semi-professional, faith-based choir in the city, SymphoNY Chorus.

Thankfully, I did not have to do an audition. The conductor just asked me what part I sing and helped me get my music for their fast-approaching Christmas concerts. Nothing could compare to getting to sing again. A week or so after I joined, I saw the lady that I had been put in touch with to join the choir. She asked me how the music was going. I told her it was a lot, but it was going well. I also mentioned how happy I was to being singing again. She said she could tell that I was happier.The age of members ranges from other graduate students like me to people with children my age. Everyone was so welcoming to the choir and have offered my advice on living here. The music was a variety of styles with some of the songs old favorites and others new to the choir. At first, I was a little nervous because everyone visibly would get so into the songs, which is something that was a little out of my comfort zone. Once I relaxed a little, I could do the same. Not only to I have a fun time performing with the Chorus, but the concerts are in the area around the city, which means it gives me an opportunity to leave the city for a little while.

Participating in choir has been a wonderful experience so far. Currently, we are working preparing a requiem that we are premiering next week. After that, it will be regular repertoire and pieces for our concerts in May. Through the Chorus, I was able to find a sense of community that I had been missing and have music back in my life.