Monday, September 22, 2014

Summer in Florence

This past summer I spent a month studying abroad in Florence.  I took two courses that would count for credit toward my core at Fordham:  History of Contemporary Italy, and Italy in British & American Literature.  When I arrived in Italy for the first time, I could not believe the beauty that was surrounding me.  My apartment window looked right out onto the Piazza del Duomo!  It was so exciting living in such a busy part of the city, watching permanent residents and tour groups alike passing by at all times of the day.

View of the Duomo from my window

My favorite parts of Florence were the Ponte Vecchio bridge and Piazzale Michelangelo, where we could see a beautiful view of the city.  During my time in Florence I visited several museums, both for class requirements and on my own time.  I saw the Uffizi Gallery, the Pitti Palace, and Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Accademia.  We also explored outside of Florence, visiting several other parts of Italy.  The study abroad program even brought all the students on a field trip to Assisi where we toured churches and a medieval castle.

Walking by the Ponte Vecchio

Aside from organized field trips, I went with some of my friends to visit other cities on our own as well.  Fortunately I was in Rome on Festa della Repubblica, the Italian National Republic Day, so we got to see the parade.  We also explored the rolling hills of Tuscany surrounding Florence.  This trip to Italy gave me the opportunity to check a few things off my bucket list:  gondola ride in Venice, cliché picture with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and Casa di Giulietta in Verona.  Of course I have to mention food, as I definitely got my fair share of pizza and gelato during my time abroad.  While four weeks might seem short to some, my experience in Italy was everything I could’ve imagined and more!

Festa della Repubblica in Rome

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Summer in NYC

This past summer I was fortunate enough to intern at one of the Big Four Accounting Firms, Ernst & Young, LLP, in their Times Square office. As a public accounting major, I was thrilled to gain experience in the public accounting corporate world so early on in my career. At EY, I was a part of the Launch program, which is an internship program for underrepresented groups to gain corporate experience. My Launch class was over 60 students across the Northeast Region in EY offices ranging from New York City, Boston, Buffalo, and Providence.
EY Office in Times Square
View from the cafeteria
As an intern in the Launch program, I had the opportunity to shadow in both Tax and Assurance to get a feel for which side of accounting I would like to pursue. Within the Real Estate tax group, I got to review K-1 tax forms for real estate trusts. While shadowing on assurance side of the firm, I had the opportunity to visit different Real Estate client sites for audit work. For the rest of my time at the firm, I interned with EY Knowledge, which is an internal research group for the firm. In my group, I analyzed Big Data in excel (something I learned in my Information Systems core classes), which was then used for high-level decision-making by executives. The Launch program also brought in many speakers from both within and outside the firm for us to learn some more professional development skills. One of my favorite speakers was Kwame Jackson, runner up in Season 1 of The Apprentice and now very successful entrepreneur.

Myself and some other interns with Kwame Jackson
One of the best parts of the Launch program was the opportunity to work with a group of interns on a project throughout the eight-week program. I was working with four other interns from different schools on a consulting project that we presented on the last day of our internship to EY associates and managers. Receiving feedback on our ideas and presentation skills from people who are currently doing the work we want to do in the future was invaluable. It allowed us to apply all of the concepts we learned in classes to a typical presentation seen in the workplace on a daily basis.

My group on presentation day!

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Day in the Life: Ram Edition

Fordham offers a unique combination of the traditional campus community and the big city; because of this, the typical Fordham student is absurdly busy between classes, extracurricular activities, volunteering, internships, and trips into the other boroughs.  One example: yesterday, I was able to work on a research project, go to class, and see a concert by one of my favorite artists, all in a single day!

Above is a sample gel electrophoresis analysis;
this is one way we study the genes of the monkeys!
I started my day by working in lab for a few hours.  I just started with a conservation genetics project involving black lion tamarins (an endangered species of monkey.) As a biology major hoping to attend medical school, conducting research provides me with invaluable hands-on learning experience—and is so much fun! There are tons of ways to get involved in research at Fordham and not just in traditional science disciplines. Fordham holds an annual research symposium in the spring semester, where students present their projects to peers and faculty. We also publish a student-run journal featuring undergraduate work called the Fordham Undergraduate Research Journal, or FURJ.  For more information, check out Fordham's website for Undergraduate Research!

The black lion tamarin is an endangered species native to Brazil!
From lab, I walked to the Dunkin Donuts across the street from campus for a quick caffeine boost before class.  On Thursdays I only have two classes in the afternoon; first, a music theory course, followed by statistics.  Even though I am a biology major, I am also planning on completing a minor in music—it is fairly easy to incorporate a minor or even a double major during your four years at Fordham, and a large number of students take advantage of this!
Since it was such a beautiful day, I drank my Dunkin on Eddie's,
our main quad on campus, before heading to class!
After class, I had just enough time to grab a salad at the Cosi on campus (yum!) and then caught an Uber cab to West 175th and Broadway (Uber is a car company with an app you can download that lets you request a driver for your specific location, as well as get an immediate rate quote—super convenient!). My friend and I headed to the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights to see one of my favorite singers, Sam Smith. Just a 15 minute drive from campus, the concert was an awesome way to end the day!

The United Palace Theater was opened in 1930, and has a beautifully ornate, vintage interior!
Sam Smith, or the man with the golden voice, serenading the crowd! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Exploring the Different Boroughs

Being so close to Manhattan and the other boroughs of New York City is one of the major attributes of Fordham that make it such a special and unique place to go to school.  Exploring beyond the campus and the neighborhood around Rose Hill is a significant part of the Fordham experience.  In addition to the fun student activities that occur on campus every weekend, most students venture into Manhattan, but this past weekend my friends and I decided to spend some time in another borough, Queens!

Getting ready to run 13.1 miles!
My friends and I have spent the summer months and the start of the school year training for a half-marathon that took place in Queens on September 14th.  The course for the race ran through Flushing Meadows – Corona Park (The same park where the U.S. Open takes place.)  The race started at 8 am, so my friends and I got up early on Sunday morning to get to Queens.  It was really easy to do using the app Uber.  This app finds safe and certified drivers in your area and is significantly cheaper than taxis throughout the NYC.  Even as a senior, I’m still learning about new ways to get around the city.  It was only a 20-minute drive.  I was surprised to realize that we were that close to Queens, and I had never been there before!
Enjoying some hard-earned bagels after the race with friends.
It was a beautiful day, and the park was the perfect location for a race.  After we all finished, we enjoyed the weather and walked around the area and had a delicious post-race meal at a diner close by.  My friends and I were so proud of our accomplishment, and it was a great way to explore a new area.  Going into my final year at Fordham, I love discovering that there is still so much New York City has to offer and so much left to explore!