Alex in Transit(ion)

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embracing 3.06

Yesterday, I went out to dinner with a good friend from college. She and I haven’t had the chance to hang out in ages because I’ve been so busy with school. She asked me how I handled it all and I put my head in between my arms and cowered, “I like to get A’s.” Some of my academic colleagues and friends have questioned why I’m striving so hard to keep a 3.95 and it’s for a few reasons.

1. I’m paying approximately 20 grand a year for this degree. What is the use of spending all of that money if I’m not getting something out of it? Especially in this world, where information is so instant, people will call you out immediately if you can’t fire back with a good explanation. That not only weathers your credibility, but the credibility of your program.

2. I’m considering going to back to school to get a Master’s in Information Systems and even though the MPA opens doors for me to be hired by companies that will pay for me to go back to school, I really would like to get a nice scholarship. I found out from one of my friends that the reason why he didn’t have his employer pay for his master’s is because if he would be required to pay taxes on it and instead, chose to fund it himself. Even with knowing that, I still would like to take the tuition remission route because if I can get a scholarship to cut a good chunk of that, then I won’t have to pay a lot back come tax time.

3. I’m not going to lie. I got a 3.06 for undergrad. It’s not because I slacked off, instead, it was a result of spreading myself so thin. I was involved in so many extracurriculars, which included executive board positions, and wasn’t mature enough to find the balance between my leadership positions and academics. It wasn’t until I interned in DC that I figured out how to strike the balance. Even though the GPA is low, I don’t regret one moment because the leadership experience I received got me to where I am now in which I balance a 40 hour internship combined with 12 credits a semester, volunteering in Newark, and yeah…that whole having a life thing.

The three times (ooh, another set of threes)  I’ve been embarrassed about my undergraduate GPA was when a political science professor cornered me and sarcastically said in front of the whole class, “and you wanted to be in Pi Sigma Alpha,” which is the political science honor society. I was really mad at the professor at the time for calling me out like that but now I see where he/she was coming from. In the beginning of the semester, I was on fire but towards the middle, I was putting off studying to get used to the campus that I just transferred to, and at the time, making new friends and getting myself involved in new clubs seemed more important than my grades. The professor saw my academic potential go down, knew I was capable of more, and wanted to give me a strong wake up call.

The second time was during graduation and they were announcing the graduates who received all academic honors. While I received departmental honors in my philosophy program, right after the ceremony my father asked me, “why wasn’t your name called? I expected it to be called.” That stung. My father financially supported me through my undergrad and like I said, even though my way worked out in the end, at that moment, I felt like I disappointed him. That’s actually the biggest reason why I strove so hard to succeed in graduate school. I will be receiving full academic honors from Rutgers and when my name is called, I’m not going to feel one ounce of self pride. I’m serious about that. I honestly did it all to make my family proud of me. Even though I did the work, if it wasn’t for my mother and father placing such a precedence on my education, I wouldn’t be here. I know that sounds weird but in the Italian culture we honor the sacrifices of the family before we acknowledge the individual’s.

The third time was applying to graduate school. I ended up getting accepted into all of the schools I wanted to get into but I cringed each time I wrote “3.06” on the applications. I wrote my essays about how my professional experience matured me and I felt that number did not serve as an indicator of my future success in a graduate program.

3.06 will follow me for the rest of my life but it doesn’t define me. It shut some doors but opened others. 3.95 doesn’t define me either, even though I’m happy to have it. They’re just part of the journey, each achieved for their own separate set of reasons. My education professor said that we shouldn’t be satisfied with receiving an education. We should claim our education. I intend on doing just that.

Wow, that got deep. Probably need to lighten the mood somehow. He or she has such big paws!

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Erastus- My new Brompton: Coming sometime in 2014

There is nothing that makes me happier than being back home in Upstate New York. But the one thing that always sucks is that when I visit Upstate, I’m never able to take my bicycle because it’s not allowed on the train during afternoon rush hour. I’ve been trying to figure out which bike to add to the family in 2014 because I will soon be in a position to buy a nice new bike. At first, I was thinking about getting a roadie because I would like to participate in RAGBRAI and triathlons.

Yet common sense won out on me. Yeah, it would be great to finally own a roadie, but that’s not going to solve my problem of not being able to ride a bike when I visit upstate. While I’ve had extremely kind offers from my friends who let me borrow their bicycles while I’m in the 518, it makes things a little awkward because it means that they can’t ride with me and then you have to make plans of when to pick up and return the bike. At my parents’ house, everyone is taller than me so borrowing a bike is not an option.

I’ve always heard amazing things about Brompton bicycles. They are folding bicycles, and while they may look like a toy, they are extremely durable. The writer of my favorite cycling blog, Lovely Bicycle, sold me on them when I read about her adventures cycling through Ireland and speaking the praises of how well it handled the terrain. 

Riding in Upstate New York is not a one size fits all experience. I grew up riding mountain bikes because of the hilly terrain near my parents’ house and it wasn’t until I moved to Albany that I saw while my mountain bike was more than capable of getting me from point A to point B, it wasn’t as fun as riding my ex-boyfriend’s hybrid, which was much faster. Even though I was able to build up the muscle mass in my legs and endurance to keep pace with him, I wanted to ride something that was zippy in the city but still capable of absorbing the shock of hilly terrain of rural New York. In 2012, I purchased a Raleigh Alysa FT2 and I’m so happy with it. It fits all of my needs, except the ability to travel with it.

I refuse to let another summer go by without riding Upstate again. Brompton’s website lets you build a bike to your specifications, which I am a huge fan of because I’m really picky when it comes to the specifications of my ride since I need it to handle diverse terrain.

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The bike, when built, will actually be 24.2 pounds. The travel bag adds 5 pounds bringing the total carrying weight to 30 pounds. While the price is steep at $1751, excluding tax, I see buying bicycles as a lifetime investment. As long as you take great care of your bike and ensure that your renter’s insurance will cover it if stolen, you won’t need to buy another bike again unless you want to. After I buy my road bike in 2015, I think I’m done for buying bicycles. I also don’t own a car anymore, and considering that I used to pay $1,800 a year for car insurance in Upstate NY, I don’t see it as a major cash setback.

I will be purchasing the Brompton at Downtube Bicycle Works in Albany. I can’t speak enough about the service at Downtube. They are so nice and truly make an effort to know their customers. I promised that I would buy a bicycle from them. When I purchased my Raleigh in 2012, I was working on a campaign in Florida and while it was an absolute pleasure working with the great folks at J&S Cyclery in Melbourne, Florida, I felt really weird about not getting it from Downtube. I purposely made the colors red, white, and black because I love The White Stripes and they happen to be the colors of SUNY Oneonta, my undergraduate college, and Rutgers University, where I am a MPA candidate. The bike’s name will be Erastus, after Erastus Corning, who was the Mayor of Albany for 42 years and is the namesake of my favorite bike path in Albany. The Corning Preserve may be 9 miles, but it gets the job done if you’re looking to get a quick ride in and leads to the gorgeous Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. 

I haven’t wrote a blog post in a long time but it felt really good to concentrate on this instead of writing a quick Facebook post. I still can’t truly define the purpose of this space, but it feels great to devote 1,000 words to something that is not academic. 

 


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tuesdays watching Maury

The National’s new album is sublime. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get out to their show the other day. I’ve been dying to see them live for years but I don’t start my job until the 17th so money’s a little tight. I am really pumped. Last night, a friend and I went out to the bar and he said “you realize you came here six months ago and now you rule this place, right?” It’s weird to look back because so much has happened so fast but I guess that’s just the person I am. If I set a goal, I am relentless until I achieve it. That’s not to say that I get everything I want but even when the result isn’t what I desire, I think you just have to keep on swimming.

The motivation behind that is that I only get one shot in this life. Getting the car stolen four days before the election was over taught me that. I could be upset and give up or I could be upset and keep working because we needed to win. I chose the latter. Also, if there’s anything I can say about the city of Newark, it’s that it does a good job at keeping you sober and grounded. Even though summer classes are INTENSE, I’m happy that the regular semester is over because I’m volunteering at Bike Rescue and I’m going to look to see if I can set up a city wide clean up with Rutgers. There is so much trash around the main drags of Newark and now with Mayor Cory Booker about to make his exit, I believe that it is imperative to hold this city up. Newark’s taught me a lot and there are times where I dream about moving out to somewhere like Jersey City or Hoboken where the crime’s a lot lower- I think that’s Newark’s problem- that people leave it. To me, Newark is the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. If people sat around for a while and took the time to take care of it, it would be nice. One of Mayor Booker’s major criticisms is that he’s not in Newark and always somewhere else, and it’s a valid concern. I understand his point about why he was away, so he could promote our city, and he did. But when he’s gone, what is going to happen? The celebrity is gone and it’s unlikely that the media will flock to the new mayor like they did to Booker. I just can’t wait for school to start again so I can see if I can get some students together to form a community group. We’ve made so much progress. I can’t stand to see it go away.

The same friend also said to me, “when you talk about Albany, your eyes light up. Will you move back?” That’s actually another post…which is taking a while to write because there’s so much emotion behind it since Albany is so much of me but I said that I can’t. Albany’s got some great people taking care of it. I can’t say the same for Newark, which is why I need to stay.

But yeah! School! How’s that going? For the first time in my academic career, I finished the semester with a 4.0. Still can’t believe that. I’m really glad that I took a couple years off between undergrad and graduate because my work experience provides such a rich foundation for my studies. Now that I have the 4.0, I don’t want to give it up. Summer classes are intense though- I understand that I need to take the accelerated classes  because I’m aiming to graduate by next May but I definitely feel that I would enjoy the subject matter more if it wasn’t getting dumped in my brain. It’s so funny because in undergrad, all I wanted to do is stay in school, and while I love academia, I want to use my master’s in the professional world. I am thinking about getting a second master’s in either transportation engineering or urban planning. I thought I wanted a Ph.D but I think a second master’s in either of those fields will get me to where I’d like to be. Time will tell.

I also ended up finally making the transition from campaigns to transportation planning. Through luck and my knowledge about the field, I got the internship and I still find that so crazy. The truth is, I haven’t felt this happy or fulfilled in such a long time. For years, my personal life was sacrificed to advance the cause and my career. To be in a position where I can go to work, truly passionate about what I’m doing AND able to be myself…listening to music, going to Yankee games, actually seeing my family and friends, going to concerts, participating in community service, reading books, it feels unreal… and that’s what makes me, me. I’ve gone so far  away from it and I’m so glad that no longer is my phone ringing off the hook at any hour of the day and that no one is hounding me down. Liberating cannot even begin to describe it. I still get to participate in campaigns yet this time, I volunteer and I’m able to call my shots about when I’m in the office, make my phone calls, knock my doors, and when I’m out, I’m out. I do not regret the last couple of years at all. They built my character and taught me so much but it’s time to go because my heart’s no longer in it to be full time. The keys belong to someone else with the fire in their belly.

Until next time, America.


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sodium and sustainability.

Oh hey! I know I took an unexpected hiatus but to all of my comrades in grad school, you know how it goes. There’s so much reading and projects that you wonder:

  1. Can you keep up with the reading?
  2. Alright, you’ve done the reading, but does that mean you can understand the material?
  3. Oh yeah! While you’re answering those two questions, you also have papers to write and tests to take. 

 

I’m very happy with my performance and I’m pulling straight A’s but I have a midterm coming  up in less than two weeks. I haven’t taken a test since the GRE in December 2011 so I am crossing my fingers that I will keep up the good work. It’s great getting to know everybody more. One of my colleagues who plans to complete our program in 4 consecutive semesters, while working full time, told me that during the weekends he wakes up at 8AM and does homework until 8PM. He says it’s hell but it will be worth it for him. He’s also made me realize that this is going to be my easiest semester because next semester, I will be taking a lot of quantitative research classes. Next semester I plan to take:

  • Political Economy and Public Administration (required)
  • Analytical Methods (required)
  • Public Budgeting Systems (required)
  • Administrative Transparency (concentration)

I haven’t stopped cooking though and ahh I’m so pumped because today was the first time I made my own homemade broth! Last January, I made soup for the first time and I was SO proud of myself for making such a healthy and delicious meal…until I realized it wasn’t so healthy. I realized that there was so much sodium in it that every time I ate the soup I cringed. It was such a shame that I couldn’t enjoy my soup that I worked so hard to make without fearing that I was one step closer to hypertension with each spoonful. I decided to make my own broth by saving up a gallon of vegetable scraps. Then the job assignment came up and I knew that I’d have to hold these plans until grad school started. 

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Beginning to simmer for a hour…

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And now, we strain. This is probably the most arduous part of the process. I used cheesecloth for the first five minutes, then I realized that my sieve did an excellent job. Don’t worry, I did let it cool a bit before I started straining. One of these days, I hope to get some glass storage containers so I don’t have to wait to strain. Maybe I’ll get a nice Pyrex set for my birthday! Isn’t the color incredible? You would think it’s a beef stock, but it’s really the color of the vegetables! 

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Finally. A gallon of homemade broth. It does have a very strong vegetable taste, so I think that when I use it, I will put one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of salt to make it more flavorful. It’s just so great knowing that I had complete control over this process, it’s sustainable, and I don’t have to worry about risking a heart attack because there’s barely any sodium in it. 

I do want to try to make a clear vegetable broth. It looks like I may have to separate my scraps and keep the light colored veggies away from the dark colored ones. I will be making a Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup this week and I’m a litttttlllleee afraid about what the color is going to be like. 

As for this week’s grocery list, there won’t be one because I have a lot of the ingredients on hand. I think the world of Kate from CookieandKate.com and truly believe she has changed my diet for the better. The greatest thing about her recipes is that they yield so much. Since I was sick for most of this week, I stuck to sleep and take out because I was too lazy to cook, but I just made the Vegetarian West African Peanut Soup this afternoon and it is ready for dinner tomorrow night. Then I will make the Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup and I am really excited for the end of the week because I’ll find out what this Black Beans and Quinoa with Chipotle Raspberry Sauce dish tastes like. I would never think that black beans and raspberries would ever go together, but it looks like I’ll find out! 

 

 


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eggs and public administration.

Nah, I haven’t run out of material. There are enough ideas spinning around in this mind o’mine that if I could, I’d write for days upon days and month after month.

But last night, after watching a fabulous episode of Saturday Night Live (Christoph Waltz is the sexiest man alive), I was hungry and I had to figure out how I was going to raid the fridge. In my Intro to Public Administration class, we’re learning about decision making, One way to see if you’re making the best decision is to create a balance sheet, where you outline your desires and their respective pluses and deltas. Also, I needed to consider the opportunity cost, which is comparing the values of competing decisions. I thought these would be excellent ways to solve this 1:00 AM problem.

Situation: I am hungry. It is 1 AM.

Remedy: Eat something.

Situation: What should I eat?

Remedy 1: Eat some of your awesome apple and cheddar bread!

  • Plus: It is satisfying and yummy.
  • Delta: Dude. You ate cake today. And ate pasta for lunch. You worked out. How about we pack some more carbs and throw that hour in the gym away?

Remedy 2: Eat scrambled eggs with Frank’s Red Hot on top

  • Plus: It’s easy to make and Frank’s Red Hot pretty much makes everything better. An egg is full of protein and has very little fat so that hour in the gym won’t be wasted!
  • Delta: This requires using a pan and a mixing bowl. I’m going to need to wash those in the morning.

Eggs won out. When figuring out the opportunity cost, it was clear to me that even though my homemade bread is tasty and won’t require me to do dishes in the morning, I couldn’t shake the fact that I worked out today. Therefore, I should eat the food that won’t mess up my goal to attain a perfect summer body.

And that, my friends, shows you that I have already spent too much time in school.


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mangia: a grocery list for a grad school budget

I know that other than  my weekly grocery lists, things have been kind of sparse here, content-wise, but alas- I’m finally in that part of the semester where I need to start preparing for project deadlines, look around for internships, and hopefully find a part time job that will allow me to start saving up for the summer and fall.

This feature is awesome though- I get into a lot of conversations based on what I make for the week and I always love hearing that my friends are making the dishes I post, especially those who are far away. We’re still sharing the same experiences but on opposite ends of I-95.

I love this week because last week provided me with quite a bounty of food! That chili I made last week is still going strong and I haven’t even made that spinach and chickpeas side dish or those enchiladas yet. I have city plans for this weekend so I get to use all of that money I’m saving  from not eating take out or going out to the bars during the week to have fun. Which is good.

Also, it’s crazy that I’ve been eating on my own since 2009 but I didn’t realize until now the merits of canned and frozen vegetables. Yeah, it’s better to go for the fresh, but when you’re in grad school or on a budget, frozen and canned vegetables are AWESOME! They cost less and if you happen to make chili that produces a ridiculous amount of servings, you are good to go my friends!

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I’m not complaining about having a ridiculous amount  of this to still go through.

I did learn the hard way about why you should always use the ingredients that are listed. In my house, we barely had white sandwich bread because my mother was a whole wheat fanatic, with good reason. So when I was in the baking aisle, although my recipes called for all purpose flour, I went for the whole wheat since it’s better for you.

It worked great in my Apple and Cheddar Breakfast Bread. As you can see, it was fabulous. I’m making it again for this week!

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But with my chocolate cake…it was good, but you could tell there was whole wheat flour used because of the texture. Lesson learned: these food bloggers list ingredients for a reason.

This is going to be an exciting week though! Not because I have an article critique due on Tuesday, but I’m making my own vegetable broth! I’m so excited, I’ve literally been saving up vegetable scraps for weeks! My friends C and E have been making their own broth for months so I’m pretty pumped to join their club of breaking free from the can.

Alright, the moment y’all have been waiting for: this week’s menu…and yeah, after spending a year in Virginia and Florida, y’all is staying. I miss hearing people say it.

Breakfast: Apple Mixed Cheese Bread. Otherwise known as “Alex has cheese to use. Might as well go into bread.”

Side Dish: The Spinach and Chickpeas dish I never made.

Dinner: The enchiladas I never made

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with Homemade Vegetable Stock! (I’m going to base my concoction on these two

recipes from Emeril and Everybody Loves Sandwiches)

Coconut Quinoa and Kale with Tropical Pesto

Dessert: Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cake (sounds weird, looks delicious)

The List: 

  • Olive Oil 
  • Vegetable Oil
  • All purpose flour
  • White sugar
  • 1 avocado
  • 8 or 9 tomatoes. I’ll see if canned or fresh are cheaper…
  • 3 red bell peppers. Same deal.
  • 2 small yellow onions
  • 1 small red onion
  • garlic
  • quinoa
  • coconut milk
  • small bunch o’ kale
  • coconut flakes
  • cilantro
  • cashews
  • black pepper (believe it or not, I still haven’t bought some)
  • red pepper flakes (same deal)
  • Thyme. Fresh or dried. Whatever’s cheaper
  • Bay leaves
  • Dried chilis (eh, kinda optional. I’m sure the broth will be alright without them, but if they’re on sale, that’s cool)
  • Eggs
  • Cheesecloth
  • Orange Juice
  • Chobani (I miss New York. Big Chobani is always on sale, unlike New Jersey ShopRite where I pay 6 bucks for it. But it packs a ton of protein…)
  • Some awesome craft beer. I tried Wolhaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter and it was fabulous.

WalMart

I know we all have our opinions about WalMart, But I don’t have a choice since I don’t have a car anymore. It’s all about where the Rutgers shuttle brings me.

  • 2 8 inch round pans
  • Rubber spatula
  • Mixing bowl (it’s become apparent I need one)

Ladies and gentlemen of the internet jury, I’m almost done stocking up my pantry. I’m *this close* to becoming a real grown up. Although real grown ups have jobs and don’t live off student loans, so I still have a ways to go.


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A real Rutgers student

To all those who are considering going to grad school, heed my advice:

It costs money.

I know, I know, it may look like I’m stating the obvious, but let’s be real here- there’s a ton of us out there who have selected our graduate school based on its ranking and have hopes that its reputation will bring us where we want to be when we graduate. I was head over heels when I found out that my concentration (budgeting and financial management) was ranked number 10 in the country, right below Harvard. It’s crazy to know that I’m attending a school that’s in the same league as the most prestigious Ivy. This ranking is what sold me on Rutgers.

But it costs money.

If you are still in undergrad or a recent college grad- you need to be smart about your finances, especially if graduate school is on the horizon. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t find out the true cost of Rutgers until October, when I received my financial aid award letter. I found out that graduate students are only able to receive $20k a year in federal student aid loans or $10k a semester, depending on your income. I wish I knew the real cost because I was being paid pretty well from my former job assignment and it wouldn’t have been any skin off of my back to put away $500 from every paycheck. Thankfully, I only have to pay $5k out of pocket for tuition and next January, I will receive in-state tuition which will make me eligible for a refund, yay!  Yet it makes me realize that if I wanted to attend a more prestigious private university like Harvard, I’d have to shell out $41k for tuition. We’re not including room and board with that figure. Unless the University was offering some stellar scholarships, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to attend. That tuition rate isn’t only exclusive for Harvard, it’s the going rate for most of the top ranked private universities.

If you’re considering which grad schools to attend, here’s the criteria I’d suggest for you to look at:

1. What is its ranking?

2. Is it a public or private university?

  • If it’s a public university, will you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition?

3. Check out your finances. Are you comfortable taking a private loan or can you afford to pay out of pocket?

4. It’s not only tuition you’re paying for. Take a good hard look at your living expenses- what do you expect them to be? You need to eat and as much as you may try to convince yourself otherwise, you’re going to grad school. You do need to have fun every once in a while, whether that’s drinking a beer or exploring the local restaurants.

In the end, although I am paying more for this year than I would if I had attended the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, which is a top ranked state school in Albany, NY, I am so happy that I chose Rutgers. My education here is fabulous and it means the world to me that New York City is only a half hour away. Within these past weeks, I got to see the New York Philharmonic, ate brunch at a fabulous restaurant, and of course, I got to check out the sights. After living in Albany for two years, as much as I miss my friends like crazy, I wanted to finally live that city lifestyle. I’m in Newark right now but I am catching the bug and I really hope to make something out of myself so that I’m able to call the city my home.

So, why do I feel like a real Rutgers student? After battling it out with financial aid, I was finally able to receive my very own Rutgers student ID when my award letter processed earlier this week. Now, after three weeks, I can do all of the things normal students do, like go to the gym, print documents without begging the lab techs to release my print jobs, attend sporting events without convincing the ticket ushers that I am a student, and no longer receive scary e-mails threatening to de-register me and kick me off of my residence hall if I don’t pay my bill right meow. Since that situation has been resolved I feel like saying,,,

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taking the good with the bad

Well faithful readers, I’m going to give you some sound advice. If you all of a sudden pack up, move to Florida, live there for almost a year, and return back to the cold and snowy Northeast, you may find your immune system to be uncooperative.

I’m pretty sure this is the 4th time I’ve been sick since I moved back to the Northeast in December. When I was down in the Sunshine State, I think my immune system was the best it had been in years. Except for two colds that I was able to fight off within hours (I can thank the adrenaline from my job assignment for that), I barely got sick. It makes sense because in Florida, you spent quite a bit of time outside everyday whereas in the Northeast during the wintertime, you want to stay indoors and moving to a residence hall  probably hasn’t helped the situation.

But yay! I’m so happy that I got sick during the weekend! I’ve been able to nap and rest up to my heart’s content. I also got back into the cooking swing of things, which is probably another reason I got sick because I was only eating one meal a day. Why would I do that to myself?  At Rutgers, the ShopRite/WalMart shuttle only comes on Sundays and Wednesdays. On the Sunday that I moved in, there was only enough time to go to WalMart and I found out on Thursday that the ShopRite shuttle also visits on Wednesdays. Thank God for $5 footlongs. I was finally able to go grocery shopping yesterday and it couldn’t of come at a better time because I was able to finally make the Sweet Potato, Kale, and Chickpea soup that I’m always raving about. It is the best thing to eat when you are sick.

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Well, it’s time to get ready for the day and do some research! I think I’ll be healthy again by tomorrow =D


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a wonderful surprise: to the new york philharmonic we go!

It was set be a night of sweatpants, studying, and SVU but I’m glad it wasn’t. My friend D from Albany surprised me with tickets to see the New York Philharmonic last night. One of the reasons why I chose Rutgers-Newark was because of how close I am to the city and it’s really comforting to return to someplace that is familiar while I’m getting my bearings around Newark. 

And boy, did I get my bearings, except not in Newark, but with NJ Transit and PATH. For those not familiar with the two train routes, if you’re coming from Jersey and you want to get to Penn Station, other than a stop in Secaucus, NJ Transit will bring you right to it. With PATH, from Newark, you’ve got to go to Journal Square, then transfer to the Penn Station bound train that makes 6 or 7 stops in between. 

After I purchased my NJ Transit ticket (only 5 bucks), I sat down and found myself in a flurry of confused and anxious passengers. We knew the train was going to be delayed but someone checked their Twitter feed and found out that the train would be delayed by 60 minutes. It was 7:20 and the show starts at 8. We all made the collective decision to switch over to the PATH.

Once I got to Penn Station to switch over to the 1 train towards Lincoln Center, I see a girl who looked very familiar, Don’t you hate and love those moments? You hate them, because you legit look like a creeper, scoping this person out to see if that is someone that you know, but it’s so awesome once you two recognize each other! I thought that this girl looked exactly like my friend E from my youth leadership group, HOBY, but she was carrying this book bag that said “Selina.” As I was about to call E, after eye stalking her for 5 minutes, she says, “Lexie?” It was so cool because it was completely random, since she goes to Cornell and was the last person that I’d expect to see on the 1 train during my first week living in the NYC Metro area! Ahhh, it was so good to reunite, and as I type this, I realize that the whole night was full of 518 reunions!

For those unfamiliar with “518,” it’s the Albany-Capital Region’s area code. It really is the only place I’ve lived in that takes so much pride in their area code that people don’t even call it “Albany” half the time, they call it the “518.”

When I finally got to Lincoln Center, it was 9PM. Although I missed a hour of the show, it was perfect because I arrived during the start of intermission. As I was waiting for D, I was getting high fives from the ushers who saw my pin from my last job assignment (it feels so good to be back in New York). Then D walked in and another reunion commenced! I haven’t seen him in two years and it was very appropriate to see the show with him because he is a music teacher upstate and was filling me in on what I missed and what was yet to come. 

It was my first time seeing a professional classical show and now that I found out that the New York Philharmonic has special tickets priced at $13.50 for students, it surely won’t be my last. The concentration that the musicians have is incredible and we both appreciated how intense the maestro was. It was funny though, because it’s winter and we’re in the middle of the flupocalypse, everyone held their coughs in until the break between movements and you didn’t know whether Lincoln Center was an infirmary or a concert hall! You’ve got to love the performing arts rules of respect. 

Afterwards, D and I gallivanted all over Manhattan, got some yummy pizza and took in the sights. This week has been full of new experiences and it was so nice to come back “home,” if only for a little while. Thankfully, there wasn’t a delay with NJ Transit coming back and I really appreciate Rutgers for thinking things through. As much as I love the convenience of the light rail, it’s a little sketchy taking it at night, and I was happy to go back home on the University’s Midnight Express shuttle that takes you from Newark Penn to your dorm fo’free! I’m sure that I’m a little sick from waiting such a long time for it in the cold, but it’s better safe than sorry. 


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first week of school! thoughts about school and the city of Newark

Hey everyone! I’ve been a little MIA over these past couple of days, but I am SO happy to say that I’m typing to you from my dorm room because from Sunday to Wednesday morning, I was banished to the lounge. I found out wireless was very spotty in our dorms and the only way to receive a reliable internet signal is through an ethernet cord. Yeah, you read that right. I was surprised too because I haven’t connected like this on a college campus since 2005. I’m here for two years and mark my words, that will change once I find out how to join student government.

For some reason, I wasn’t able to connect through the ethernet cord so I had to wait until Tech Services came to my room and worked their magic. Along with that, my cable wasn’t hooked up so basically, stepping into my room was the ultimate study environment because the only thing to do was read!

Living on-campus has its pros and cons. The pros are that I’m only a 5 minute walk from my classes, my room is huge, my roommates are awesome, and I get to meet a lot of people. It’s crazy expensive though, especially since I’m paying my way this semester, it’s hard for me to justify $850 a month when I could get something a lot cheaper. Hopefully I’ll be able to find some chill people to lease an apartment with. We shall see!

On Tuesday night, there was an attempted robbery near my dorm. There are some changes I’ve made regarding my lifestyle. I don’t know if things will be like this forever or how I’ll adapt when I get used to campus more but let’s just say this, it’s not like Oneonta where I could walk from the Library at 2AM, alone, with my headphones blasting without a care in the world. I had to go to Downtown Newark to cash a check at the bank. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad.  I can’t wait until I get more used to the flow of things, because I really want to work to improve this city and help erase the stigma that comes with it. I was reading our school paper and I was so sad to see that there weren’t any articles about spots to see downtown.  I’m talking with my professors, who know the city better than I do, and I asked them about cool places to write about that students would be interested in. I know this quote has been used over the years ad nauseum, but rings true for each of us, no matter which community we reside in: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. Newark is my responsibility for the next two years because like my parents taught me, when you go over to somebody’s house, you make sure you left it better than when you came.  I feel a strong solidarity with my fellow students at Rutgers-Camden because something tells me they go through the same thing we do.

As for my classes, it feels really good to be in a classroom again. So far, it’s the first week and the workload is pretty light. Granted, my job assignments put me in a different mindset that wasn’t with me when I was in undergrad. In my former career’s world, when you were assigned something, you move heaven and earth to make it happen now. I’m not saying this to boast, but I’m already ahead on my readings and assignments for next week. Will I keep this pace throughout the semester? We’ll see but I thank all of my former bosses for whipping me into shape. I am looking forward to more of a challenge though. I’m going to submit job applications today, not only because I’m paying my way through school (so scary but it teaches you how to appreciate your education), but because I need something to do during my days.  All of my colleagues are really nice and next week, my group is giving a 15 minute presentation about the public’s view on traffic regulation and highway safety and whether or not we need more regulations. I am going to arguing against more regulations, which is the opposite of how I really feel, but it’s always cool to see other sides of the story.