Friday, February 5, 2016

Czech Out Prague for a Semester

While I miss New York City dearly, leaving Fordham for one semester to studying and travel around Europe can outweigh the homesick feelings. For my spring semester of my junior year I am living, studying and working in Prague, Czech Republic. Before I left, I worked with Fordham’s ISAP team (International Study Abroad) and my advisers to find the perfect program for me.
Me saying "Na shledanou" to my mom at the airport

Like many other students at Fordham (36%) I choose to broaden my cultural, educational, and social norms by spending a semester abroad However, when colleges limit the programs they offer or accept credit from, studying abroad and still receiving enough credit to graduate on time can be difficult. I found this to be the opposite at Fordham.
All I had to do was choose my city and Fordham helped me take care of the rest. While in Prague, as a part of the CIEE Communications, New Media and Journalism program, I all of my courses pertain to my Communications and Media Studies major. Starting Monday I will even begin and internship at a Czech media company!



view from my CIEE school at Vysehrad Fortress

So while anytime away from Fordham causes me to miss my “Ramily,” I am looking forward to all of the new experiences, people and cultures I will “Czech” out while abroad!  
Prague's famous Charles Bridge

Thursday, February 4, 2016

An Uptown Fusion Culinary Experience

One of the unique things about New York City is that we get not one, but two restaurant weeks during the year. It doubles our opportunity to try out different restaurants that we otherwise would not usually have the chance to dine in. The winter restaurant week kicked off on January 8th and will last till February 5th. More than 300 high end and fine dining establishments offer a pre-fixe three course lunch menu for $25 and dinner for $38, excluding tax and tip. For college students, we usually have to stick to a strict budget but this opens up a great opportunity to try and eat at new places we usually wouldn't be able to afford. While the more hyped-up and longer restaurant week takes place during the summer, the winter sister event is more accessible for students who tend to go back home during the summer months. As more farm to table concept restaurants are popping up in the city, it is also a great away to try out fresh produce thats in season around this time of the year.

This year, I had dinner at the Cecil, an uptown Afro-Asian inspired neighborhood staple that not offers the best kind of fusion food I ever tasted, but also impeccable service and live music. Located in Morningside Heights, the restaurant is sandwiched between the Upper Westside and Harlem; it makes a great halfway meeting point for students who have friends in both Lincoln Center and Rose Hill for a dinner night out in the city. In my three hour stay, the atmosphere had went from upbeat reggae music to romantic jazz to even some in house live rapping. Our sever had even given us a complimentary appetizer and drinks for a little mishap we had with our reservations and I am never the one to turn down free food. We sampled the beef suya (African bbq), pineapple friend rice with wok tofu, market fresh salmon in a curry sauce, and ended the night with  olive oil cake with lavender ice cream for dessert (sounds weird I know but it was delicious). I think it's safe to assume that my stomach was very happy with me and I will surely be going back another time in the future.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Locating the Perfect Internship

“New York is my campus. Fordham is my school.”  Many of my fellow rams would attest that our university slogan is true.  I agree whole-heartedly; I spent this past fall semester commuting to downtown Manhattan four times a week.  I interned in the Education department at American Ballet Theatre, one of the most influential arts institutions in the world.

My experience provided me with insight into the legwork (pun intended) it takes to operate one of the most prestigious ballet schools in the world.  But I especially loved peeking into studios as the dancers rehearsed—their talent is astounding.
Sneaking a peak into company rehearsal!
I was also attended several exciting events through ABT, such as a premiere of dancer Misty Copeland’s new documentary A Ballerina’s Tale, the Broadway show Old Times, and ABT performances at Lincoln Center’s Koch Theater.

I would not have attained this internship—and valuable work experience—in my sophomore year of college if it weren’t for Fordham’s ideal location in the greatest city in the world, New York.
After organizing new inventory, I pose next to the showcase with ABT merchandise.

Many of my friends at Fordham could tell similar stories: our resumes collectively include internships at ABC, Disney, Irish Arts Center, NASDAQ, New York Historical Society, Religions for Peace International, Tesla Motors, and American Ballet Theatre, just to name a few.

Monday, February 1, 2016

An Upper-West-Side-Guide To Coffee Shops

One of my favorite things about living in Manhattan is my 24-hour access to coffee. Whether it's a late night of studying or a morning pick-me-up, the Upper West Side never fails to disappoint with a well-brewed cup. Here are a few of my picks!

1. Rex
Location: W 57th St & 10th Ave
Gotta love coffee with wit! 
Perks: Rex consistently brews a reliable cup of artisan coffee at an on-target price for the area. You can opt to have your coffee to stay or to go, and Rex really makes you feel at home with a selection of eclectic "to stay" cups, ranging from mason jars to espresso cups. If you're lucky and find a place to sit, Rex is an awesome study spot with great natural lighting for peak productivity. Oh, and with Rex's stamp cards, every 10 drinks gets you a free coffee: the perks of being a regular!

2. Joe Coffee
Location: W 68th St & Columbus Ave
Perks: Joe Coffee is an UWS meeting place at almost any peak hour of the day. Seating is also limited here, so if you can snag a place, it's also an excellent study nook. Joe has locations all over the city, as well as in other cities across the east, so if you get hooked, you can get your fix outside of NYC as well! Joe runs the same punch card deal as Rex: 10 drinks, one free (note: that beats Starbucks rewards by a whole two drinks).

3. Birch Coffee
Location: W 96th St and Columbus Ave
Perks: If you're ever wandering further uptown, check out this location of Birch Coffee. Birch's iced coffee easily makes it into my top ten best iced coffee experiences ever. This Birch location has a good amount of seating for studying (score) and the ever so wonderful loyalty punch card (double score).

4. Aroma Espresso Bar
Location: W 72nd St between Broadway and Columbus Ave
Perks: If you need a good espresso pick-me-up after your Trader Joe's run, or just want to get a little further from campus, Aroma Espresso Bar packs the perfect punch. Aroma also has solid chai tea lattes and truly adorable to go cups for their iced drinks. This caffeinated gem also offers two levels of seating, perfect for a coffee date or a solo endeavor.

5. Fika
Location: W 79th St & Broadway, W 54th St & 10th Ave
Perks: This coffee spot is sleek and chic! In the spirit of Swedish tradition, Fika translates to "to have coffee." There's also lots of pastries and snacks, so a coffee break can easily turn into snack time. A little pricier than usual, Fika makes up for cost with quality!

With so much coffee to experience, there's always some place new to explore!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Undergraduate Research at Fordham

I’ve been lucky enough to participate in undergraduate research since my second week on campus of my freshman year (I am currently a second semester senior).  I am a member of the Wireless Sensor Data Mining (WISDM) Lab that is run by Dr. Gary Weiss from the Department of Computer and Information Science.  Our main projects utilize data mining techniques with sensor data from smartphones and smartwatches to perform activity recognition and biometric identification tasks.  Fordham is a strong proponent of undergraduate research, so being able to participate work in a lab with one of my professors an undergrad has afforded me many opportunities that I may not have had at another school. 

WISDM members and Dr. Weiss working in the lab
I have been awarded multiple Fordham Undergraduate Research Grants during my time here that have funded my work during the academic year.  I have also received grants through Fordham and the Clare Boothe Luce Foundation so that I could continue my research on campus during the summer where my housing was paid for and I received a stipend.  One highly anticipated event every spring is Fordham’s Undergraduate Research Symposium held in April.  Over 300 students participated last year giving talks or presenting posters about their work.  I have participated in this event each year and look forward to once again sharing my research with faculty and my peers.  I have also had a chance to present my work at the Bronx Science Consortium Poster Symposium held at the Bronx Zoo.  Fordham University is part of the consortium alongside the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Hospital, the New York Botanical Gardens, and the Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo.
WISDM poster at the Undergraduate Research Symposium
In collaboration with Dr. Weiss and some other members of the WISDM lab, I submitted a paper to a conference describing our most recent work with smartwatch-based activity recognition.  We recently found out that the paper was accepted, and I am especially excited because I have the opportunity to attend the BHI-2016 International Conference on Biomedical and Health Informatics in Las Vegas.  Fordham awarded me an undergraduate travel grant so that I can present this paper at the conference at the end of February. 

Working on my research in the WISDM Lab
My involvement with undergraduate research has afforded me many opportunities to learn about and gain relevant experience in the computer science field.  I would not be pursuing the career path I am now if I had not been exposed to the field of data mining through my involvement with the WISDM Lab.  As I reflect on my time at Fordham, I am especially grateful for the support my school and faculty have offered me in my pursuit of my research.  I would not be where I am today without this incredible experience.  

You can read more about student research at Fordham here and here.  If you want to learn more about Fordham College at Rose Hill undergraduate research, research grants, and the Undergraduate Research Symposium, you can read about it here



Thursday, January 28, 2016

Becoming a "Cosmo Girl"

Going to school in the heart of Manhattan gives you the identity of two people: one, a college student, and two, a New Yorker. Some days you are the busy undergrad, running from class to class while trying to manage coffee runs in between. And some days you are a New Yorker, investing yourself wholeheartedly in city life. The way in which you dive into the city is the interesting part.

One of the main reasons I wanted to attend Fordham's Lincoln Center campus was for all the internship opportunities available right at your fingertips. You can step outside your door and be a few blocks from the world's top financial firms, broadcasting stations, or political enterprises. As a college student, this exposure is crucial to your career.

View from the 38th floor of the Hearst Tower, mere blocks from Fordham University's Lincoln Center Campus. 


So my freshman year, I decided to take full advantage of my reason for attending school in the city, and I went searching for an internship. As a business student minoring in journalism, my career goal is to become a financial journalist. Therefore, I ventured out looking for an internship in the world of journalism. So as a freshman, you can only imagine my excitement when I got an internship at Good Housekeeping Magazine! I absolutely loved interning in the Hearst Tower, walking daily among top editors of the world's most prominent publications. 

In fact, I loved it so much that I decided that I wanted to intern there again. First semester of this year, my sophomore year, I interned for Elle Decor's web team. This was even more exciting than my previous internship, for I loved Elle Magazine and it's home decor sector, and I was given lots of opportunity to write articles for the website. Having my name published on elledecor.com with articles that I had written made me feel like I was doing valuable work as an intern, and really contributing to the world of journalism.



Now, in the second semester of my sophomore year, I am still interning in the Hearst Tower. But this time, I am with my all time favorite magazine: Cosmopolitan! This is literally my absolute favorite magazine, so I am so psyched to be working there. Not to mention that I have daily run-ins with Joanna Coles, the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan who is known for driving the world's largest women's media brand to where it is today. 

So this is how I have immersed myself in the daily happenings of the city. Some days I am a college student, some days I am a Hearst employee. I love both parts equally as much, and honestly could not imagine my college career in any other location or at any other school than I am at now. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Going to College to Get an Education…….and a Job.

As much as us second semester seniors don’t want to admit it, our undergraduate education is ending this May and we will need jobs. Luckily, Fordham has an abundance of resources and events to help students get just that.
First, there is our Office of Career Services. Here you can have your resumed revised, practice interview skills, and talk to professionals about career options. Many students use Career Services starting as young as Freshman or Sophomore year.  Career Services also hosts on-campus interviews, networking events, and workshops for students.
Second, Career Services manages an online platform only for Fordham students called CareerLink. The major function of CareerLink is internship/job searching. Employers directly post internship and job openings where students can apply.  Students can search by industry, job function, position type and location. There is where I found, applied and eventually accepted an offer for my first internship as a Sophomore.  
Next, Fordham hosts a number of career fairs each semester at both the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses. At these events, about 100 employers typically come and set up their own table to talk to students.  Here, many students make connections for internships and jobs. There are typically three career fairs each semester, with focuses on Finance and Accounting, Arts and Media, and Non-For-Profit/Service. 

The Gabelli School of Business also has a Personal and Professional Development (PPD) center, where there are multiple career advisors for each major. Students simply can make an appointment with either a PPD advisor or their class dean for industry specific career advice. 

Employed!!
So there are an abundance of resources…but are actually students getting jobs?  I currently work part-time at an advertising agency and plan on accepting a full-time offer for post graduation.  Two of my best friends – both Accounting majors – are set with summer internships at EY and PwC for this summer. A Finance major I’m close with landed a full time analyst job with TD Bank, beginning with an on-campus interview in our Career Services office.  I even know a Rose Hill student who had an internship on the Jimmy Fallon show last semester and is now interning at Comedy Central. And keep in mind, these are just a few examples!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Intramural Madness: Fighting Your Way to a Championship

My volleyball team after our first big win!
I’d first like to start with words from the inspirational and great athlete, Ricky Bobby: “If you ain’t first, you’re last!” Those six words have been my intramural volleyball team’s mantra for this past year. We have stuck to Ricky’s philosophy in the hopes of making an intramural championship run and winning the greatest of all trophies, a championship t-shirt. Although it sounds like you’re getting just another t-shirt, no words were ever more false.  At Fordham, an intramural championship shirt is a prized possession and a bucket list item for many.  Word around campus is that the legend, Vince Lombardi, once said he’d rather have a champs t-shirt than his name on the Super Bowl trophy.

Watch Top Gun for more volleyball inspiration
Although Lombardi may have never actually said that, intramurals and championship t-shirts are still very popular at Fordham.  Whether you were a Varsity All-State Champion in high school or always had aspirations of playing, there’s an option for you.  Intramurals are a great way for you to form a team with your group of friends and take on fellow Rams. You can show off your Steph Curry clutch 3-pointers in basketball, Odell Beckham Jr. worthy hands in flag football, your Misty May and Kerri Walsh gold medal V-Ball spikes, or your best skills in many other sports. As for me, my true passion lies on the volleyball court. Inspired at a young age by the prowess of Goose and Mav in Top Gun, I have always dreamed of one day making it to their master level. (For a full list, check out the official intramural page here.) 
The official Spike Lee team logo 


This year, Spike Lee, my volleyball team, has had a bit of a rough season. Rough season may be an understatement – we haven’t won a set yet. Back to the words of Ricky Bobby, we are last. Although, Ricky’s philosophy doesn’t take team spirit into account. In that category, we are easily first and deserving of a championship t-shirt. I believe the most important part of intramurals is to have fun with your friends, whether that means you don’t win a game or you win them all. College is a chance to form friendships that will last the test of time, and playing intramurals is a great way to make memories you’ll never forget. So remember, Top Gun high-five your way to a championship t-shirt or have fun losing.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Surviving the Snowpocalypse 2016

Greetings from the Big (Snowy) Apple! This past week, NYC was in a bustle trying to prepare for winter storm Jonas. With warnings of up to two feet of snow, I prepared myself for a day inside with all eight Harry Potter movies, my best friends, and Goldfish. I knew that together we could survive the Snowpocalypse. We all went to bed Friday night anxiously awaiting the beginning of the blizzard. When we awoke on Saturday morning, we couldn't believe our eyes. Campus was COVERED in a blanket of white. I had never seen it so snowy! Being from Florida, snow still amazes me every time I see it, so I made plans with some friends to play in the snow. We knew we needed to fuel up, so we stopped by a dining location on  campus and got a nice, hot cup of coffee and a warm delicious bagel. This reminded us how much we like to eat. So, instead of playing in the snow, we decided to make some cake pops to eat while watching Harry Potter. My roommates, friends, and I snuggled up together while the cake baked and watched as both Hogwarts and Fordham became more and more covered in snow.

Two movies and two dozen cakepops later, we decided it was time to venture into the snow. Campus has a couple hills, so we decided we would try to sled. We found some trashcan lids, bundled up, and headed to the hills. There was so much snow that we literally sank into it! Needless to say, sledding was a bust. So, we went back to the senior apartment building to see what our friends were up to. We ended up (shocker!) watching another movie while snuggling and gazing across campus. We even made our own homemade version of burrito bowls since the Chipotle near campus was closed due to the snow.

All in all, the snowpocalypse was well spent and we survived! There is no place I would rather be on a snow day than our beautiful campus. Thanks for reading and stay warm!

xoxo
Laurel

Sunday, November 22, 2015

My Favorite New York City Museum: The American Museum of Natural History



Today I went to the museum of Natural History, which is located on the Upper West Side right by Central Park. The area is my favorite in the city, and when you go to school in New York, Sunday's are for city adventures.
One of my favorite pictures from the day!
The museum of Natural History is a must-see when you live or are even just visiting the city. It's absolutely stunning, and they have everything from dinosaurs, to an amazing planetarium, to every kind of mammal and sea-life creature you could imagine. Experiencing it is so much cooler than reading about it, and what's awesome about going to Fordham is that so many classes incorporate real; hands-on activities that make your classwork come to life. Whether it's to the planetarium at the Natural History Museum for your Astronomy class, or to the Met for your art-history class, almost every class you take can be applied in some sort of interesting way in Manhattan, which makes things so much more interesting!

After getting lunch at a little cafe on the Upper West Side, we went to the Museum for a few hours and got lost in the exhibits, there's just so much to see. I appreciate experiences like these a lot because I know that my friends at other schools in more rural or even suburban areas just don't get to go these kind of places. I took plenty of pictures of course, and we got ice cream before we went home. It was a simple day, but a very memorable one nonetheless, and I can thank the best city in the world for that.