Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas + Vlogging!

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas! More on my holiday later, but for now, I want to announce that I will be vlogging (video blogging) from now on, on top of my written blog posts. The videos will be uploaded to YouTube, but I'll embed them here so you don't have to click off this page to see them. Here's my first one! Sorry it's a little awkward, I'm still learning :)
Happy holidays!

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Christmas bash

    Last night, I attended a lovely Christmas party complete with mini gingerbread macarons, interesting conversations, vegetarian sushi, an adorable French bulldog, and thyme + vodka lemonade. I had an absolute blast! I can't wait to go to my family's annual gingerbread party next weekend :)

Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures, but the friend who invited me snapped one of my outfit just before we left (apologies for the less-than-stellar phone quality):
(This picture turned out very pink, but I'm actually wearing bright red lipstick - Nyx's famous Perfect Red - and dark red nails)
After last nights festivities, I got up early this morning to go to the library, where I am now, and I am about to attempt to finish my history prospectus before I head to my last day of work at the lab for the semester.

This is also a test for those who wanted email notifications of my posts. If you signed up but did not get an email about this post, let me know and I will try to fix this! Also, if you have not signed up but would like an message each time I write, definitely comment or email me and I can add you to the subscribers list :)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


    Just to lighten the kill-me-now finals atmosphere, here are some pictures I snapped on Monday of the cute little community garden I frequent. New York City is filled with many tiny parks hidden between high-rises, and lucky for me, there is a particularly high volume of gardens cared for entirely by the local community in the East Village. It is a few blocks from home and just next to my elementary school, and it looks absolutely darling year-round!


It’s the mooost horrible time of the yeeear

    Alas, the dreaded affliction of final exams is upon us. I had my last class of the semester today (woohoo!) and I have final exams, essays and projects due starting tomorrow (boo!). Since I only recently started blogging again, I thought I would let you all know which classes I took this semester and how they went; so here they are, in the order of my finals, because why not:

1) Historical Studies; War in 20th Century Europe
    This class is somewhat unusual - it consists of just one weekly 75-minute lecture on a general topic regarding history as a discipline, and a 2.5-hour 15-person workshop pertaining to a specific theme (European 20th Century War, in my case). My workshop is truly excellent and taught by a ridiculously cool Eastern European History PhD student whom I definitely want to be best friends with. All semester, we have been conducting individual research projects and developing hypotheses; our final project is to write a 10-20 page Prospectus, which is essentially an essay we would submit to a PhD or grant program that introduces our preliminary research and thesis, and details the steps we would take to pursue it full-time. My Prospectus/research focuses on the relationship between Polish Stalinist leaders and the Polish Roman Catholic Church and National Catholic Church from 1945 – 1960, and the relationship between Ceausescu and the Romanian Orthodox Church, post-1959 (ain’t that a mouthful). It’s due tomorrow (EEK!), so wish me luck!

      2) Natural Science: Einstein’s Universe
          Despite the fact that this class is designed for non-science majors, we were taught Cephoid variables, Absolute Relativity, the spacetime continuum, and a whole bunch of very long mathematical physics equations containing many Greek letters and no numbers. The term “we learned about” seemed a little strong in that sentence, as not a single person in my lab section has a clue what is going on; I believe the kindest word I can use to describe this class is “shitstorm.” At least the professor is a very nice old man, and I can calculate spacetime intervals and universe expansion constants well enough to pass the exam (I hope).

      3) Macroeconomics
    My professor is a very amusing, energetic, open-minded Greek man, which makes this subject that is otherwise very dull to me decently interesting. Here are some more appropriate titles for this class:
- “George W. Bush Clearly Never Read or Learned Anything About Economics”
“Why Bill Clinton Was Clearly The Only President Who Knew Anything About Economics”
- “Lots and Lots and Lots of Graphs”
- “Watch Republican NYU Students Suffer Identity Crises and Blindly Democratic Students Embarrassingly Pretend They Knew Most Of This Stuff Already”
- “90% Of Our System Is Messed Up and Why There Is Basically No Way To Change it”
- “So Very Many Zeroes At The End Of So Very Many Numbers” or “What Kind Of –illion Again?”
   and perhaps the most recurring theme of the semester,
- “Some College Students Actually Think The Average American Makes Six Figures (and Therefore Argue That Rich People Shouldn’t Have To Pay Taxes Because Everyone Can Be Millionaires If Everyone Just Worked As Hard As They Did To Inherit Their Trust Funds!)

     4) Inquiries into Teaching and Learning
    I would like to be in this class forever. It has been one of the highlights of my week all semester, and not just because one of my best friends at NYU (a lovely Spanish education major) is in it as well. It consists of two parts: a once-weekly two-hour class, and weekly classroom observations, both of which take place at Essex Street Academy. ESA is an alternative public school designed for high-risk students unlikely to enter (let alone graduate) high school, many of whom require IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) for behavioral or learning disabilities. It emphasizes Authentic Assessments and hands-on learning, and is one of the rare standardized test-exempt schools in New York City. ESA is passionately against traditional standardized testing, although they are starting to integrate small amounts of testing for the purpose of college preparation. My observations have been in a single-semester Cold War history class for ESA juniors and seniors. For our actual class, led by both an ESA history teacher (who was once a Social Studies Education undergrad like myself!), and a professional learning disability advocate, we discuss everything from learning disabilities to the learning standards called Common Core, NCLB and IEPs, teacher pay and productivity, and more. For our final project, we must create a Unit Plan (about six weeks of content) for a class of our choice, including five full-lesson plans detailing the time management and breakdown of the lesson, a clear summary of any lecture we give, the homework assignments, copies of articles and other sources students would use using, which of the multiple intelligences this lesson teaches to, what essential skills it builds, and how it meets Common Core standards. It has been a grueling but extremely useful project, thus far.

Additionally, I worked as a TA of sorts for the first grade in a local underperforming elementary school, and as an intern for one of NYU's Neuroscience/Education studies.

Come next Wednesday or Thursday, I’ll be free as a bird until the end of January! Perhaps I’ll post which classes I will be taking in London, if anybody is interested.

Happy Finals! (If that’s even possible)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas in the city

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! I had a wonderful time in Wisconsin with family, including many delicious vegetarian Thanksgiving foods (and lots of pie!). Although I was sad to leave, I got to return to New York City in full holiday swing. Christmas in Manhattan is a truly magical experience! I had an excellently festive weekend with Andrey, who visited me for the second time this semester, before we are both immersed in final exams; here are some of our adventures...

One of the many Christmas tree shops that pop up on street corners in December:

All the flags downtown were at half-mast to honor Nelson Mandela this Friday:

Rockefeller Center was packed but absolutely lovely on Saturday (I wish I'd gotten a better picture of the amazing tree!):

30 Rock:

After visiting Rockefeller Center, we took a walk down Fifth Ave to see the windows. Unfortunately this is the only picture I took that actually came out, but I assure you they did not disappoint this year:

A snippet of the light show projected onto the side of Saks on Fifth Ave during December:

 This candle is probably the best thing to ever happen to me (I'm not even exaggerating that much). It is a Christmas tree in a candle. No joke. Andrey is a total candle-hater, and immediately made a beeline for a salesperson to ask which one was burning in this store so he could buy it. I burned it for half an hour yesterday and my bedroom still smells like a real delicious tree! (Thanks for the early Christmas present, Andrey!)

And lastly, the New York City Subway system is holding parties in vintage train cars every Sunday in December; you only need to swipe your MetroCard to get in. How cool is that? I'm hoping to go next weekend, if I'm not drowning in flashcards and study guides.

Hope everyone is having a lovely December!