Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Studying Abroad in Madrid

A beautiful Madrid sunset
In addition to Fordham’s Study Abroad Programs, the Office of Study Abroad can connect you with other universities to find a program that fits your specific interests. I’m majoring in Communications and Media Studies, and I’ve always wanted to visit Madrid. The Study Abroad office recommended Syracuse University's Madrid Institute, where I could take a Travel Writing course which counted toward my Communications major. For 2 months, I was immersed in local language and culture, living with a host family, exploring the city, and strengthening my Spanish-speaking ability.

The Rose Garden at Parque Retiro

Studying abroad was one of the most rewarding experiences for me. In my travel writing class, I interviewed locals for stories and investigated the hidden treasures of the city in addition to the major tourist attractions. Some of my favorite memories include walking through the rose gardens of Parque Retrio, seeing Claude Monet’s paintings at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, meeting up with my friends after class at tapas bars, trying to find the best churros and chocolate in the city, and watching a Flamenco show. On the weekends, I traveled to other parts of Spain including Segovia, Córdoba, Sevilla, and my favorite - Barcelona. If you’re interested in studying abroad, Fordham can help you find a program that you’ll love!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ice Skating in NYC

One of my favorite Christmas activities I do every year is ice skate. Whether it be in a small indoor hockey rink or a scenic outdoor skating venue, I always find it exciting to speed around on the ice and avoid falling. There are many places to ice skate all around Manhattan, but here are a few scenic and unforgettable locations you can skate at.

Winter Village at Bryant Park
Bryant Park features one of the few rinks you can skate at totally free of charge (aside from skate rental fees). However, with free admission comes big crowds, so try to get here on a weeknight or towards the end of the season.

Ice Rink at Rockerfeller Center
Arguably the most famous ice rink in New York, Rockerfeller Center boasts a unforgettable atmosphere in a prime location. Since this is probably the most popular rink to skate at for tourists and residents alike, you may have to wait a little while to get on the ice.

Wollman Rink at Central Park

This iconic ice rink is located right near Sixth Avenue and Central Park South. Wollman is one of the most family friendly rinks around, always filled with parents and their children zooming around on the ice. You can't beat the foliage and views from this one!

There are so many places in the city to ice skate, which each one of them sporting their own atmosphere, views, and crowd. Will you be the next person to try all of them?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Finals Week At Fordham!

It’s that time of the year again! Snowfall, hot chocolate, gift exchanges...and finals. Here at Fordham, all of our students are starting to buckle down and prepare for the last projects and tests of the semester. While this is definitely one of the most high-stress times of the year, Fordham does its best to help all of our studious Rams relax a bit with some finals-week traditions, including...

1. 24/7 Library Access

If you find yourself cramming for a test or feverishly writing up one last paper (and, let’s be real, we’ve all been there), the library is the place to go. And luckily for Fordham students, the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week during finals. Pick a cozy study spot and read away--you’ll be in good company!

2. Christmas Mass

Even for those who don’t attend a Catholic church, attending Christmas Mass at Fordham is on the bucket-list of all Fordham students. Though it takes place on the Sunday right in the middle of finals week, tons of students make time to spend an hour listening to the mass preached by Father McShane--if only because he makes a ton of finals week jokes during the sermon.

3. Rodrigue's Coffee and Tea Specials

If you’re going to be burning the midnight oil, it would be a good idea to stop by Rodrigues and pick up one of their unlimited coffee or tea cards; if you buy one, you get twenty-five cent coffee and tea refills anytime during finals. That beats running to Starbucks every half hour!

4. Midnight Breakfast

The biggest finals week tradition at Fordham is Midnight Breakfast. Take a break from studying and come on down to the McGinley, where Father McShane and Co. will whip up waffles, scrambled eggs, bagels, bacon, and whatever other breakfast food you want in order to keep you full and focused on learning.

So don’t fear, future Rams! Finals week may be stressful, but our community will support you through thick and thin!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

GO! Alaska: My Experience with Global Outreach

Last summer, I had the privilege of participating in a Global Outreach project to Bethel, Alaska along with ten other team members from Fordham University.  This experience has become a defining moment in my both my experience as a Fordham student and my life in general.

Global Outreach at Fordham University offers about ten different service-learning/ cultural immersion projects to domestic and international locations.  The trips occur during winter break, spring break, and summer break, though preparation begins months in advance.  Each project is unique, focusing on location-specific social injustices and cultural elements. The program revolves around four “pillars”: social justice, simple living, spirituality, and community, and all of these pillars play a role in the GO experience.  While applying for a GO project, applicants must rank their “preferences,” before interviewing with the leader of each project for which he or she would like to be considered.  Each trip has a student leader and an outside chaperone, often alumni of Fordham and GO, who choose ten students for the project. 

The Alaska project focuses on issues of social injustice within the communities of Alaska, specifically alcoholism, domestic violence, sexual assault, and environmental issues.  Additionally, the project aims to help students learn about the Native Yupik culture of Bethel and understand the challenges that the community faces. 

After being selected for the team, for the next few months, my team and I had weekly meetings and fundraisers and spent a weekend away on a retreat, building irreplaceable bonds with one another.  By the time the moment came to leave for Alaska, I felt as though I had known my teammates for years, rather than months.  We turned off our phones and handed them over to our leader and boarded the plane for Bethel, Alaska. 

As the plane soared above the Alaskan landscape, I peered out into the clear, sharp sunlight. The dusty white mountain peaks before me clicked neatly with the images of Alaska that various vacation albums had delivered to my social media feed over the years.  Before long, the pilot’s voice crackled through the cabin, announcing our “descent into Bethel.”  I eagerly redirected my vision to the window; however, as soon as my eyes landed on the scene below, my heart froze in my chest. Gone were the idyllic mountaintops, replaced with dirty green tundra.  Smoky-grey wisps of clouds hung low above a graphite colored river, which snaked across the stark, barren land.  Tiny wooden houses of desaturated Easter-egg pinks, blues, and greens popped against the sterile Earth. 
Where am I? What have I gotten myself into? I wondered, my mind drowning in confusion and fear.

Suddenly faced with the prospects of just what we were about to encounter, I was afraid. I was afraid of the fact that the people didn’t look like me, I was afraid of the fact that the houses were smaller than any I had ever seen; I was afraid because I was shocked, because I didn’t know what was going to happen, because I had completely thrown myself out of my comfort zone.  Looking back, I realize that this paralyzing sense of confusion and fear was the essential first step in setting myself up for the enlightenment that I was about to experience.

In Bethel, we completed service such as cleaning a cemetery, building a little bookshop, and spending time with Teens Against Violence and the Elders at the Senior Center.  We visited different organizations, such as the Tundra Women's Coalition, a sexual assault shelter, the Juvenile Detention Center, and the District Attorney and Public Defender's office to learn about issues with the justice system in Alaska.  Additionally, we visited the Environmental Health Agency to learn a bit about some of the sanitation crises in Alaska.  We learned about the importance of subsistence living at the Wildlife Refugee and the Department of Fish and Game.  Yet we also had time for some fun cultural and regional activities: we met a team of sled dogs, canoed, went on boat rides on the Kuskokwim river, visited a fish camp for a day, where we made "hobo pies," and had the chance to shoot a shot gun, and we learned about Native tradition from a local woman.

Raised a Catholic, spirituality for me has always involved prayer, and consideration of the presence of God or a divine figure.  In Bethel, many of the Yupik people practice Catholicism, but for them, nature comprises an enormous component of their spirituality.  Learning the beliefs of these people helped me realize that spirituality relies not on dogmatism, but rather on the way in which we connect our souls and our lives with the world around us. 
As part of the pillar of simple living, Global Outreach enforces a no-phones policy.  Who needs cell phones? I originally thought with confidence, excited at the prospect of ten screen-free days.  Yet as I observed Bethel on that dreary first evening, I couldn’t help but wish I had my phone to distract my anxious brain. But soon enough, authentic conversation filled the absence of our devices.  We were completely and utterly immersed in our own lives and the moments that we ourselves were experiencing, rather than mindlessly examining the lives of others through social media or constantly stressing about plans and schedules. 

In Bethel, we met an array of personalities: a retired war veteran, who devotes his life to preserving a memorial; an elderly Native American woman with seemingly endless amounts of grandchildren; a part time barber, part time fisherman; a teenage boy, off to study glaciers in Northern Alaska. My experience in Bethel reminded me of the existence of the human community, in all its brightness and diversity.

Alcoholism, domestic violence, sexual assault- issues that plague the Bethel community, and issues that I have never before faced in my own life or own home community.  We spent a significant portion of our stay in Bethel visiting local organizations and simply listening.  All of the places attested to the brokenness in Bethel- how the lives of these people are continuously torn apart by issues that have their root in historical trauma that has lasted for generations.  Yet the organizations we visited view these problems with attitudes of rehabilitation and hope.  The men and women working towards restoring stability in the lives of the people demonstrated to me what it truly means to be passionate about a cause, and what it means to throw your heart and soul into creating better lives for other people. 

If you are passionate about learning about different cultures within the United States and across the globe, have a passion for or interest in service or social justice, and seek to make unique, irreplaceable new friendships, Global Outreach is the perfect opportunity.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Weekend Update: Thanksgiving Edition!

Michelle Datsur, FCRH '19:
"Last weekend my friends and I got together to have a thanksgiving of our own, aptly named “Friendsgiving”, before going home for the holiday. It was a potluck of various delicious foods ranging from cornbread to potatoes to spaghetti squash lasagna. One of our friends even bought a ham on Arthur Avenue, and it was delicious. We gathered around, talked, and watched old thanksgiving episodes of Friends. It was a really great way to relax for a few hours ahead of the business of the week and traveling home, and I hope we do it again next year! "

Connor Murray, FCRH '18:
"This Friday, I went ice skating in Bryant Park. Thanks to the Residence Hall Association, I was able to do this for free!
Connor Murray at Bryant Park
Katie Porter at Book of Mormon

Katie Porter, FCRH '19:
"This weekend, I attended Book of Mormon on Broadway for an RA program! Before the show, we participated in a discussion about religious satire and learned about Mormonism."

Luke Berman, FCRH '18: "Last weekend I went to see Fordham Experimental Theatre’s (FET) performance of Mercy Mercy Mercy, a student written and directed production in the intimate black box theater. FET allows students the opportunity to take on any theatrical position they may be interested, including but not limited to actor, writer, director, or stage hand!"

Monday, November 21, 2016

Songs For Smiles

The show was excellent!
It was oddly warm outside for a November evening. As I walked across the Plaza, muffled sounds of acoustic guitar drifted my way. I followed the sounds and saw that the Atrium was lit up with twinkle lights and filled with smiling people. Where one could usually find a row of tables filled with students who are cramming before an orgo-chem exam while scarfing down a sandwich, was instead a small stage with a keyboard and three microphones. Operation Smile was hosting their “Songs for Smiles” event, complete with dinner foods, a photo booth, and live music. 

My roommate and I decided to join in for a few minutes so we could watch the performers. Such groups as Deadpan, featuring Andrew Abbensett, Kaleigh Young, and the Bright Red Cardinal gave uplifting and exciting performances. Some performed original songs, with only their guitar to accompany the freshly written poetry about home, while others jammed out to classics and pop with their friends.  Juliet Mengaziol, who performed as the finale act, sang three songs on her acoustic guitar. The first was a mashup of Adele’s well-known hit single “Someone Like You” with indie-artist Crywolf’s emotional song “Eye Half Closed.” The song was rich with emotion, putting a clever “emotional” twist on a  well known pop number. She then slowed it down with Natalie Imbruglia’s 1997 “Torn”. She finally wrapped up the evening with the uplifting song “Landslide” by Oh Wonder. After the campus had experienced heartbreak from the resulting violence across the nation following the election, the song was a beautiful part of Lincoln Center’s Healing Process.

A great evening for a great cause :)    
Overall, the event was a great way for Fordham students to come together to support Operation Smile, an non-profit organization which is dedicated to providing the world with life saving surgery, while also enjoying a wonderful sense of community.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Club Spotlight: Expressions Dance Alliance

Do you love to dance?  Do you love pizza and singing Beyonce at the top of your lungs?  Expressions Dance Alliance is the club for you!

The Juniors in the Fall 2016 Company
Expressions Dance Alliance is Fordham's elite student run dance company that covers many styles of dance, ranging from contemporary to jazz to tap
Spring 2016 Company of Expressions Presents: 15
to hip hop.  They just celebrated their 15 year anniversary this past spring!  Every semester the students of the company produce original choreography to the songs of their choice, create a budget for their costumes, props and publicity ads, schedule their own rehearsals and plan their semi-annual performances amongst others with various performance groups.  The final result culminates in a two night performance each semester, all with new student choreography, dancers, and themes! This weekend, November 18th and 19th, Expressions will perform their semi-annual showcase entitled "Expressions Presents: Dynamic".

Promotional video for Expressions Presents: Dynamic

At the beginning of each semester, board members hold an open audition for anyone interested in trying out for the company.  The audition typically involves a group stretch, across the floor work such as jumps and turns, and two short combinations done in small groups in the styles of contemporary and hip hop.  Board members then work together to build the new company, and rehearsals begin just one day later!

Stretching at the Fall 2016 Auditions
Every dancer is required to participate in the two company pieces, and after that they are able to be in as many dances as they like. Company pieces are extremely special because every dancer is involved in the piece, whereas other pieces are typically smaller in size ranging from about 5-10 dancers.  EDA also offers "master classes" throughout the year, which are hour-long classes taught by company members that are open to the entire Fordham community!

The Fall 2016 Company 
This semester, Expressions has a large company of 21 beautiful and talented dancers, and they are all extremely excited about the upcoming show!  Check EDA out on Instagram and Twitter at @exp_dance, and also on Facebook and YouTube by searching "Fordham Expressions" or "Expressions Dance Alliance".

Photo Credits to Samantha Mandich, Kellyn Simpkins, and Nathan Tibbulous

Monday, November 14, 2016

Weekend Update

Brendan Batcheller, GSB '18
"My weekend began with a trip to the Top of the Rock at 30 Rockefeller Center, as the leader of a FlipSide program. We brought twenty students down to take in the beautiful scenes of New York City at night. On Saturday, I went down to Yankee Stadium to watch the Ram-Crusader Cup. The weather was a bit chilly but it was overall a great game and a fantastic atmosphere. Sunday was spent laboring over the sophomore Gabelli Consulting Cup challenge with my five teammates, as we prepare for our final presentation."
Sammuel Kim, GSB '19
"During my weekend, I went to the wonderful, under-looked borough of Queens. Queens is one of the most diverse areas in the whole United States of America, and houses some of the best food. I went to a great Korean BBQ place called, "Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong." For dessert, I went to 10Below to get some Thai Ice Cream. Queens has some great food, and I would highly recommend that everyone visits at least once!"

Liesel Judas, GSB '19
"Climbing the stairs of the shuttle bus packed with Fordham students, I felt the electric energy in the air as we drove towards Yankee Stadium for the Ram-Crusader Cup. My friends and I joined the sea of Rams in the bleachers to cheer our football team on to a stunning 54-14 victory! Once again, Fordham proved triumphant in the Bronx, retaining the Ram-Crusader trophy! #gorams"

Laura Lynch, FCRH '18
"This past weekend, Fordham hosted the "Ram-Crusader Cup," a matchup between two Jesuit powerhouses, Holy Cross and Fordham University.  The game, which was free for students, took place at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.  Fordham topped Holy Cross 54-14, but the game was nonetheless an enjoyable day for fans of both teams, as Fordham and Holy Cross students and their family members congregated at the stadium.  I attended the game, and to my excitement, many of my own family members- Holy Cross Alumni and present students, as well as others who wanted to join in on the festivities- came for a visit.  In the student section, Fordham pride was shining across the bleachers on T- shirts, flags, and with the Fordham band.  Overall, the crusader cup was an energetic, buzzing event.  Hopefully, Fordham can continue the tradition throughout years to come."

Fun Events in NYC: Halloween Dog Parade

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go to the Halloween Dog Parade at Tompkins Square Park. The suggested donation to enter the organized parade was $5 and there were plenty of adorable dogs in creative costumes walking around the park. CNN calls the event, “the largest dog costume parade in the world.” This year, Purina Beggin’ sponsored the parade, and it was the 26th time the parade has occurred. There were all different types of dogs dressed up as everything from other types of animals to witty pop culture references! There were so many people there. It's definitely a favorite event for many, especially for students at Fordham!

Many dog owners coordinated with their precious pups to create a perfect pairing! This duo certainly wins the Ghostbusters coordinated costume:

Other pups really fit their costumes, like this dog dressed up as his look-alike dog in the Bush's Baked Beans commercial!

Be sure to go to this really fun event next year if you have a chance! It was also easy to find new and interesting places to eat nearby. After the dog parade, we ate at a place called Korilla BBQ, a delicious eatery that we stumbled upon while walking back to the subway. There's never a boring weekend at Fordham; there's always something going on around campus or in New York City. The dog parade was just one inexpensive thing to see in the city, and there are constantly new events and activities nearby.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Day at the Museum

This past Tuesday, Election Day, Fordham students had the day off from classes. I decided that I wanted to take full advantage of my day free of classes, so I went into Manhattan with my friend to go to the Natural History Museum!

Beautiful views from the museum's windows of the Upper West Side of Manhattan

Our trip was a mix of work and pleasure because we actually had an assignment for our astronomy class that required us to pay a visit to the Natural History Museum. We had to go to specific exhibits on display at the museum and answer questions about them. Yes, at Fordham going to the Natural History Museum is part of our homework!

A meteor on display
A model of the Earth

While at the museum, we spent most of our time in the exhibitions focused on Earth, space, and the universe, since that was mainly what our assignment was about. We also made a stop at the museum’s Hayden Planetarium for part of our assignment. It was a really fascinating show and it was pretty cool that Neil DeGrasse Tyson was the one narrating it. Besides just looking at the exhibitions we needed for our assignments though, we also stopped at some of the other exhibitions throughout the museum. I had never been to the Natural History Museum before, and I was a big fan of the Night of the Museum as a kid, so we ventured over to some of the exhibitions that were featured in the film.

You might recognize these dinosaur bones from Night at the Museum 
Going to school in New York City is amazing for a ton of reasons, and being able to go to the Natural History Museum on a Tuesday as part of my homework is just one of them!