你说中文吗?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Happy Tuesday although it feels like Monday to me! The Monday after Easter Sunday is a national holiday here in Italy, so we didn’t have classes yesterday. We’ll make them up on Friday! Many of the FFEs are tired and a bit cranky today, because we all woke up at 6 AM to register for fall semester classes. Marist let us register a full day before freshmen in Poughkeepsie register which is pretty nice! I plan on taking:

  • Intermediate Chinese I
  • Digital Toolbox
  • Communication Research: Strategies & Methods
  • Intro to Strategic Advertising
  • Fundamentals of PR Theory & Practice

I’m excited to dive into classes for my major, since most classes this year were gen eds. Nevertheless, they were very interesting, because they were attended in Firenze!

This morning I caught up on my blog about Easter in Nice at La Ménagère at 7:30 AM. It was the first time I’d been there in weeks when I was the only customer. It was very relaxing and peaceful. I haven’t spent as nearly as much time there in the early morning as last semester.

I wanted to tell a story from my travels yesterday that I didn’t include in yesterday’s blogpost. Moments after catching our breath on the train in Genova to La Spezia, I heard a young Chinese woman ask an Asian couple sitting behind us if the train we were on went to Florence. Her final destination was Perugia. You can get practically anywhere from Firenze Santa Maria Novella, and the Asian couple told her in broken English that this was the right train. She thanked them with an uncertain tone in her voice, and before I knew it, she looked straight at me and said “你说中文吗?” I said “一点” (a little). She looked confused, so I repeated the short phrase again but with more confidence and volume this time. Her face spread wide with relief, and then she dove into very fast Mandarin as she showed me her TrenItalia ticket. I picked up several characters she spoke, and I knew at the end she said “可以吗?” That basically means “Can I?” I replied to her “可以吗.” She smiled and said “谢谢你.” She motioned to the door, and about 6 of her Chinese friends followed her to seats in front of us. They gave Olivia and I second look before taking their seats.

This was a first for me, being asked if I speak Chinese in Chinese. I was fortunate enough that she already communicated what she wanted to know in English, but I was proud of myself for providing her with an accurate answer and in her native language that could have been mine. It took me by surprise and forced me to think on my feet. Traveling induces a lot of that! Sasha and Olivia got a really big kick out of it, as did I. This experience was a rare one, in that I actually felt proud of my Chinese appearance and American citizenship. She didn’t make me feel foreign or separate from her, even though she knew I wasn’t fluent in Chinese. I really appreciated that. I was again reminded that Chinese people probably look at me all the time and assume I’m fluent in Chinese. Someday I will be. xo ~ e.

A Favor Returned and Requested

Saturday, April 8, 2017

I have a story for you today…

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Yesterday afternoon, Sasha, Vasudha, and I established that we wanted to enjoy dinner out together. The three of us hadn’t hung out in a long time together, and yesterday was a gorgeous, sunny day. Our clocks changed recently, so it’s been light until 7 PM. We hoped to eat at a new fish restaurant that opened not long ago, but I received an email saying they were completely booked. We decided to roam across the river to Santo Spirito to escape the mass crowds of tourists and immerse ourselves in some local flavor.

Santo Spirito was pretty packed too on a Friday night around aperitivo time (6-8 PM). Many young Italian students sat on the steps of Santo Spirito Church, eating pizzas out of Gusta Pizza boxes and drinking cheap wine. Tourists looked at the menus of the many restaurants in the square, trying to find the most ‘authentic’ one. We wanted to dine where Italians dine too and ended up landing ourselves at an outside table at Borgo Antico. We thought we heard the customers speaking Italian, but it turned out to be a mix of languages. Italians sipped on Aperol Spritzes in the same outdoor seating area but at a different establishment. We were a bit bummed that we weren’t surrounded by as many locals as we intended to, but everyone around us seemed to be happy with their meals and cheerful over their dinner conversations.

The tables were communal, so we ended up sitting next to some foreigners (didn’t know what language they spoke). The waiters saw through our English and spoke to us in English, while we continued to practice our basic Italian. We ordered our drinks and hearty plates of pasta and caught up on the happenings in our enriching lives.

After our pasta arrived, an older American woman and young Cambodian girl replaced the other diners next to us. The woman asked us where we were from and what we were studying. She was taken aback when Sasha told her she was from Ukraine. “Your English is so good!” Sasha and Vasudha have both expressed how that comment leaves a sour taste in their mouths; there’s something called international school and being cultured. Nevertheless, they were very sweet and enjoying their vacation in Italy.

Then came along these two middle aged women straight from Italian class. They sat in the middle of the three of us and the two others at our table. We thought they were Italian at first, because they spoke to the waiter in Italian; however, they spoke English to each other. Naturally we asked where they were from and what they were doing in Florence.

I never would’ve thought we would strike up a female empowering dinner conversation the three of us would never forget.

The beautiful, blonde woman (think Blake Lively in 10 years) next to Sasha is a freelance therapist from California. She surprised us when she said she worked in Australia for three months before coming to Florence, and she doesn’t know where she’ll be next.

The woman next to Vasudha (I was at the head of the table) is a businesswoman originally from Dubai. She’s also working in Florence.

The two asked us an abundance of questions, our opinions on politics in Europe and in the U.S., and gave us the advice we needed to hear about life, romance, being women, and education. It was so inspiring.

The woman from California told Sasha and me: I live abroad, because it makes me more awake in life. It also makes life feel longer, because it really is short. I didn’t want to commute on the train every single day, because I knew it would isolate me. It would make my brain numb to my surroundings, and I didn’t want that. Being abroad is a constant challenge with new experiences every day.

She didn’t have a diamond ring or a simple band, so I asked her “Do you ever get lonely?” She said something along the lines of, “Of course I get lonely. I don’t have a spouse or children, but I have an amazing family at home. And more importantly, I am so happy with what I do, and my life is so fulfilling. I’m doing what I want to do, I love my job, I love being on my own and making friends along the way. Friendships are all you need to get through life.”

Talking to her felt so refreshing, and I saw myself in 15 years through her. She’s doing her own thing and completely content. I think women have this pressure to build a family on top of have a successful career and are criticized if they don’t do that. She embraces it, and I respect her so much for that.

The Arab woman was also incredible. She talked to Vasudha about her travels and how she loves Vasudha’s home country (Nepal). Her family is in Dubai, but she was lucky enough to go to a prestigious school in London. Here she is openly talking about men, politics, education, alcohol and swearing here and there. That’s not what you would typically expect! She’s had a very successful career all over the world. She’s even been to Vermont and said how much she admires the beautiful greenery. Her valuable advice to us was to know that we have the power to do things (like pay for the check) but to let others do it for us (AKA men). Overall, their whole feminism spiel focused more on individual self rather than hating on men. We appreciated that.

We talked to these women for nearly a whole hour. As it got darker, we knew it was time for us to continue on with our Friday night. I told the waiter “Il conto, per favore.” He promptly handed it to me, and the Arab woman snatched it out of my hands. We couldn’t believe she did that; we just stared at each other before saying “No, no, no. You are not doing this.” They firmly told us, “Yes we are. You girls are beautiful and brave. You’re mature. You’re intelligent. You’re going to do amazing things in this world, and we need you to. It’s only 53 euros; we got it. People did this for us when we were students, and we know you’ll do it for others when you’re our age. Go. Go enjoy your night, being together, and being young.”

We argued with them before they practically shooed us out. We gave them hugs and thanked them endlessly for their encouragement, advice, and generosity. After they were out of sight, we stopped in the street, trying to process the random act of kindness we just experienced.

We couldn’t help but think it was fate. It was fate we saw Olivia on our way to the restaurant, and she didn’t want to come to dinner, because then there wouldn’t have been space for the two women. It was fate we all ended up at the same restaurant in Firenze. It was fate that we didn’t exchange contact info, because the one encounter we had was the one we’ll remember the most.

For them, they returned a favor people had requested of them twenty years ago. For us, we’ve been requested to return the favor in our bright futures. Cheers to girl power. xo ~ e.

 

#justengaged

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Surprise! I’m engaged in Paris! Okay, I’m not, but today’s highlight was witnessing a proposal at sunset at the Eiffel Tower. Sasha and I enjoyed a picnic and saw a couple hug and kiss not far from us. She had a rose in hand, and another couple took photos of them. The curious hopeful lovers that Sasha and I are offered to take a photo of them, and they happily said yes before blurting that they just got engaged. We told them we figured. I also got to write #justengaged on the black chalkboard heart he brought along with a gorgeous rose ring. I still have the piece of chalk and will keep it as a momento of Paris. She is Brazilian, and he is Polish, but they spoke Spanish to each other. They live and work in Dublin and travel the world together. The week in Paris was a surprise and spontaneous trip for her birthday and something she didn’t know was coming. They’ll look back on the photos we took and maybe tell their kids about the story of how Mom and Dad got engaged in Paris. We couldn’t get over how we will be a part of their hopefully forever love story. We’re convinced Paris is the city of love. xo ~e.

Reimbursement

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Went to the market this morning to encourage healthy midterms week eating


My hectic journey to Florence after an exciting week in Kyiv (read about it here) has thankfully come and gone, but I’ve continued to receive some positive ‘aftershocks’ post flight. Upon return in Florence, I sent a genuine and honest email to Air France. I wrote:

Ciao,

I am an American college freshman studying in Florence this year and had some issues on my return yesterday from Amsterdam to Bologna (Flight KL 1591). As I’m sure your company is aware, the Bologna airport was closed for several hours due to an unfortunate accident on the runway. Luckily, there were no injuries, and our jet safely diverted to Venice. I was supposed to take a train from Bologna to Florence; however, by the time the bus (from Vernice) would get to Bologna, there weren’t any trains to Florence until the next day. After knowing this information, I regrouped and decided to stay in Venice for the night (there weren’t any trains to Florence from there either). I bought a hotel room for 99 euros and a train ticket for 50 euros in order to make my first 9 AM class of the semester in Florence. I am kindly requesting compensation for my hotel room and train ticket (I have receipts). I understand that this was an inevitable inconvenience for many passengers like myself and your company. But at the same time, I couldn’t make it back to Florence last night as a result, thus having to spend more money to reach my final destination. Please let me know if I can A) Have credit added to the card I paid for the flight with or B) Be given a free flight for the near future.

Buona giornata,

Emma LeMay 

The first email I got was from Air France saying that Delta takes care of KLM’s compensations. I emailed Delta and didn’t hear from there for several days. I checked in with Air France yet again, and they said to be patient. So I was! Then I got a hopeful email from Air France, including a reimbursement attachment.

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Only 32.68 euros?! Not as much as I hoped (and a very random number), but I took it. It’s better than nothing!

The other day I got another email from Delta that said this:

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Ann mistyped $150 for $50, because when I went to redeem the gift, the value was $150. I could’ve chosen a gift card to Best Buy, Barnes and Nobles, Macy’s, etc…, but I chose the Delta Gift Card for a future flight!

This entire thing was a huge learning experience. I’ll never forget my unpredictable solo travel adventure from Ukraine to Italy, and I did get my fair compensation! It helps to be polite and friendly when requesting compensation from customer service (being a young adult doesn’t hurt either). Where to next?! xo ~ e.

Venice Pilgrimage 2.0

Sunday, February 5, 2017

This post is dedicated to Dr. Lea Graham.

Today has been one of the craziest days of my life. There’s always a story to tell during travel. And I have one for you…

*I apologize now for typos, because I am typing and not stopping*

This morning Sasha left early with her mom and sister to go to the airport. They left the apartment at 4 AM to catch their 6 AM flight to Munich. I woke up at 6:15 AM to leave with her other sister and her dad for the airport to catch my 10 AM flight. We chatted in the car, and I soaked up my last views of Kyiv. Once we got to the airport, we had to walk a bit from the parking lot. As soon as your enter the airport, they put you and your stuff through a metal detector. Sasha’s dad had a pocketknife, so he had Zoya (her sister) come in with me and send me off. Zoya helped me check into my flight at the counter and gave me a hug at the security line. It was so sweet!

I made it through security fine and treated myself to a good breakfast before my flight. I tried to use up my remaining money, but I was 20 UAH short (less than $1), so I had to put it on my debit. No biggie! I was surprised that people were ordering beer and wine at that hour on a Sunday morning! #justkyivthings

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Our flight was delayed half an hour (not unusual while flying in Europe), but we made it to Amsterdam no problem. I admired the huge and modern airport and sat down for lunch after going through passport control. I had a yummy smoked salmon sandwich and FaceTimed my parents. My mom moved to Cape Cod today to start her new job!

I arrived at my gate B36 right at boarding time. It was a smaller plane than the previous, and it wasn’t completely full. We took off around 3:30 PM and were expected to land at 4:55 PM. I watched “The Age of Adeline” which I had downloaded on Netflix, and I ate the wrap the kind flight attendants served me. Around 4:50 PM, there was an announcement on the PA. I assumed they were going to tell us that we were beginning our descent (that was delayed). I was wrong.

After a painfully long announcement in Dutch, the captain informed us in English that a plane hadn’t made it off the runway in Bologna. It overran the runway, and the airport closed in order to removed it from the grass. No flights could take off or land in Bologna. He said they had enough fuel for an hour and that we would orbit and hope that they could remove the plane quickly. My heart sank. The panic in the aircraft was palpable. They didn’t give us too much other information. I thought a big commercial jet had crashed into the grass, and there were no survivors (of course I thought worst case scenario. Plane crashes are one of my few fears about traveling).

I asked for a cup of water and took some Advil, while others ordered beer and wine to take the edge off. I finished watching my movie to distract myself. After an hour had gone by, we were still in the air. I really started to freak out. They told us we only had enough fuel for an hour! The captain said it would take a few more hours for the airport to open, and we didn’t have a choice; we had to land in Venice.

Venice was only twenty minutes away, but it felt like twenty days. It was the bumpiest plane ride I have ever experienced. It must’ve been the choppy air, the heavy clouds, and the downpour of rain. The season is changing which makes the air even more unpredictable. We had turbulence which is normal, but the plane felt like it was trembling or shivering. We couldn’t see the city lights which you normally can on a descent. I was doing some deep yoga breaths and trying to remain calm. In my head, I was thinking This is it. We’re going down. And for the first time in my life, I directly prayed to God or some form of a higher power. I prayed that we would all make it down safely and that I would see my family, friends, dog, and bed again.

Finally we touched down on the wet runway. Everyone cheered “Bravi” in Italian. We were all so happy to be on the ground. The woman sitting next to me said her husband and son were waiting for her in Bologna. She showed me our flight map, and we had circled probably 6-8 times. We got off the plane and on the bus to the terminal. On the bus, we came to a sudden halt when it hit a dumpster (at fairly high speed)! What else could go wrong tonight?! We all fell forward, and the Italians exclaimed, “Idiota!” We had to wait for a new bus to come get us. I have never felt so anxious before. The woman who sat across from me grabbed my cheek while we waited for our new bus and said “Tutto bene.” That means “Everyone’s good.” That moment made it feel like everything was going to be okay. It was the assurance I desperately needed. This stranger managed to comfort me in such a stressful time by such a simple action and phrase. It made me confident that I would make it back to Florence in one piece. As we passed our first bus, we all couldn’t help but laugh at the damage in the front (cracked windshield, fallen off bumper). It was a moment of both irony and comic relief.

The airline provided transportation via bus from Venice to Bologna. At that point, I had no chance of making my train out of Bologna and didn’t want to be stuck there. I messaged my friends to look at trains out of Venice tonight to Florence. We all found that there were trains available that I could make.

Optimistically, I exited the airport and went to the taxi line. None of the drivers seemed to pay attention to me, so I went to the aerobus across the street and bought an 8 euro ticket to the train station. I got out of the bus, and it was down pouring. It took me a minute to figure out where I was; I was in Venice just four months ago! I sprinted across the bridge I remember walking across while I was talking to my dad on the phone in October. I headed straight to the train station to look at the departure screen. My heart sank again. No trains out to Florence. The website lied! I tried the ticket machines and then the customer service. I was out of luck. I can’t get to Florence tonight or Bologna.

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Sprinting across the bridge

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I asked the customer service rep when the earliest train out to Florence was tomorrow. She said 7:30, but I have a class at 9 AM tomorrow. My first class of the semester! I asked if there was anything earlier. She said 5:15 AM.

“I’ll take it.”

I called my mom and somehow managed not to cry during this whole evening. She told me to use her credit card (intended for “emergencies” like these) to get a hotel room. I got myself together and headed in the direction I recalled having hotels and restaurants. 30 seconds later on my left, I saw a fancy looking hotel. It was a Boscolo Hotel (the hotel we stayed in at Praha), so I was familiar with it! I told the concierge: “I need the cheapest and most basic room you have tonight.” He looked at me with sympathy; I’m sure he noticed how distressed I was by looking at me (I was soaking wet and looked like I was going to start bawling at any moment). The man told me, “99 euros. I got you a good room.” He swiped the Chase card and gave me two room keys, even though I told him it was just me.

I made it on the elevator and hit button “4.” My room was small but warm and clean– perfect for me. The king sized bed was a huge bonus! I just got out of the shower and am going to call my grandparents and my mom. I’m hungry, since I haven’t eaten since the Amsterdam airport. I have to wake up at 4:30 AM to get to my train at 5:15 AM! It will be a miracle if I make it to my 9 AM class. I’m slightly nervous my door doesn’t seem to properly lock, and I’m worried about being at the train station so early and having to transfer in Mestre. But I can do this.

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This is my second pilgrimage in Venice. This is an unimaginable ending to my trip to Kyiv. This is problem solving. Throughout this whole crazy day, I’ve realized you can only deal with what’s in front of you. “Life’s what happens when you’re too busy making other plans.” As I was on the plane today thinking about going out to watch the Super Bowl with my friends, unpacking, and doing my laundry, life happened. xo ~ e.

PS* There were no deaths or major injuries involved in the accident. It was a small plane with two pilots who were reported as unharmed.

Io Non Parlo Italiano

Friday, January 27, 2017

Is it the last Friday in January already?! Not sure how that happened so quickly! Today’s blog post features two funny stories involving the language barrier between English and Italian. Typically it’s not an issue, since most Florentines speak English (kudos to many Europeans who are bilingual)! However, two experiences in the past twenty-four hours have created some challenges for me. Take a look…

Thursday night @ 8:30 PM

Isabel, Olivia, and I landed in Florence from Paris around 7:30 last night. I told them while we were waiting for Isabel’s bag at baggage claim how excited I was to tell the cab driver “Andiamo a (our address) per favore.” We exited the airport and headed to the taxi line. For some reason, there was not a long line of taxis waiting for us like there normally is! So we waited in the long line and anxiously looked towards the entrance for arriving taxis. We finally got to first in line and walked right up to the car. The driver put our bags in the back, and the three of us squished into the backseat. He said, “Dimmi” which means “tell me.” I proudly said my Italian line in an embarrassingly obvious American accent. He nodded his head, repeated the address, and off we went on our scary ride to our apartment (crazy Italian drivers).

About twenty minutes later the car came to a halt. We were on the right street but not at the right number. Instead of the number I said, he was thinking +100 to that number! We corrected him in both Italian and English before he muttered swear words in Italian and slammed on the gas. He was not happy. Olivia and Isabel couldn’t help but make fun of me since I was the one who told him the address. I clearly didn’t say 1– though; I said –. It was stressful and amusing simultaneously. We made it to the right building, and he appeared to have calmed down within the five minutes of his angry phase. We tried to let him keep the 5 euro since we were honestly too scared to wait and get change, but he insisted that we keep it and was polite in our goodbye. And this is why I prefer to not take cabs in Italy (I’m partially kidding, but being on the road really is kinda terrifying).

This morning at 9:30 PM

With only two full days in Florence before classes start, I had several errands to run today. I got off to an early start this morning, and one of my stops included my stationery store on the street where LdM is located. The woman who runs the store is an older and somewhat cranky lady. She doesn’t speak very good English, and she isn’t particularly kind to me whenever I’m there (even though I think I’m one of the few people who provides her with business). This morning she reached a whole new level.

I took my time picking out some cute cards and a nice pen. When she gruffly slapped the receipt down on the table, I realized I didn’t have enough money on me to buy everything. So I put the pen back in its little cup. She said “2 euros.” I didn’t know how to communicate in Italian that I didn’t want the pen because I didn’t have enough money. As a result, she started mumbling and laughing to herself in Italian. She proceeded to throw away the receipt, put my stationery back to where I found it, and open the door before saying “Prego” and shooing me out. Did I seriously just get kicked out of a stationery store? Yes. Yes I did.

The whole situation left me feeling completely baffled. I was bummed that I couldn’t buy my notecards, envelopes, and pen. That’s the place where I can buy the cheapest stationery for my letters back home!! Now I don’t feel very welcomed to return. My mom told me at this rate, she doesn’t deserve my business; my mom is typically right about these kinds of things. But I’m stubborn, and I shouldn’t let one bad experience affect my stationery purchases. Now I’m stuck in the position as to whether I go back in a month (with a friend or two) and pray she doesn’t remember me, or find a new stationery place. Any advice/input would be greatly appreciated.

These two examples demonstrate that even in a place where English is very common, there is a language barrier. This was certainly a learning experience including a good laugh. xo ~ e.

A Memorable Day in Manhattan

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Source: Violet Lemay

It’s a new soundtrack
I could dance to this beat
Forever more
The lights are so bright
But they never blind me
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
       – Taylor Swift
            This soundtrack played throughout my head as I anxiously sat on a Megabus from Albany to 7th Ave this past Tuesday. I, Emma LeMay, a freshly turned eighteen year old from rural Vermont was given the amazing opportunity to go to the city on a late July afternoon and meet with the Chief Revenue Officer of Allure Magazine, Agnes Chapski. Casual.
             Thinking about it now, I have to pinch myself to believe this day happened. Not everyone gets to go to the World Trade Center and tour the office of a highly acclaimed Condé Nast magazine and certainly not every eighteen year old gets this chance to! Agnes and I connected during the winter of my senior year. Somehow I discovered her position at Allure and came to the conclusion that she was on the board at Emma Willard. I reached out to my head of school, Sue Groesbeck, and asked her if there was any way I could get in touch with Agnes. Publishing and editorial is something I hope to have experience in some day, and it would be useful to talk to someone in the field. Who better than an Emma Girl?!
             It took me a long time to figure out that a Chief Revenue Officer is a highly prestigious for  role in any company. They are the head honchos in the advertising/sales/marketing department. I was of course elated when Sue told me that Agnes would like to talk to me. There was a board meeting in February and a board of trustee and student dinner later that night, and Agnes and I set up a chat in the admission suite before dinner. She dressed as you would expect a CRO to dress, and she was very kind and easy to talk to. I asked her what her work was like, how she got there, her advice, etc… We sat at the same dinner table together, and I clearly remember hanging up our coats when she told me, “This summer why don’t you come down and visit the office? You can meet my team.”
             Flash forward seven months and an Emma Willard diploma later, and I found myself on the 31st floor of the World Trade Center sitting across from Agnes Chapski in her very own office. Before I go into further detail about our visit, allow me to rewind.
             My dad came to the city with me. It was fun to have some father-daughter time, even though I had my own schedule downtown shortly after we arrived. We were in Boston just last week, so it was interesting comparing the two cities. They both have their distinct features and characteristics, but I have to say, no city speaks to me more than New York. New York has a certain buzz to it that no other city I’ve set foot in matches. I find myself casted by its magic every time I am there even if that does seem artificial.
             We got off the bus around 1:30 PM and hopped right on a train to downtown. We got off at Franklin St. (thank you, iPhone) and walked a short 0.1 miles to Two Hands Restaurant & Bar for lunch. My friend Kayla and I stayed at a hotel very close to this restaurant in February. However, the restaurant was not open to customers yet. We went to the Two Hands Café on Mott St. instead in February, and I’ve wanted to go to the restaurant since. My dad and I had no wait, and we were seated snuggly between two tiny tables. The restaurant had a clean and simple design– white with blue accents. I ordered a beet cured salmon bowl, and my dad got an iced latte brassicas bowl. Both of our meals were delicious! The food from Two Hands is so Instagram worthy.
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Beet cured salmon bowl at Two Hands Restaurant & Bar

             After lunch, we had half an hour to stroll around the World Trade Center Memorial. It was a lot more crowded than it was in February, but it was nice to be there again. 9/11 will always be part of our country’s history and heartbreak. Around 3 PM, we walked to the World Financial Center where I met Heather Wells, an Emma Willard and Marist alum, for iced tea at the Financier Patisserie on the second floor. She was extremely friendly and excited to meet me and talk about our high school alma mater and my soon to be college alma mater. It’s so fascinating talking to a complete stranger but having something so special in common. Heather made me feel confident in my decision to attend Marist and reminded me to stay connected with Emma Willard like she has by being on the alumni council. We took a selfie and sent it to the director of alumnae relations at Emma Willard. I found Heather on Emma Willard’s alumni app, and according to Heather, people on the committee raved about my immediate networking after installing the app a few months ago.
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Heather and Me in the World Financial Center

              Heather had to return to work around 4 PM, so I found my dad and freshened up in the bathroom before my next appointment. He was super stoked about seeing Henry Kissinger right outside the World Financial Center. I didn’t know who he was, but fear not: my dad filled me in.
             We arrived in front of the World Trade Center at 4:10 PM. Now was not the time to be late. I told the doorman that I had a meeting with Agnes Chapski, and he gave me instructions to get where I needed to be. I found myself walking down the hallway listening to the echo of heels and dress shoes on the spotless, white tile floor. I came to the last desk that had “Condé Nast” branded behind it. I told the person working that I had a 4:30 appointment with Agnes Chapski of Allure. He took my ID, called up at the office, printed me a visitor’s pass, and moved my bags through a scanner. I nervously made my way to the elevator and struggled getting to the 31st floor because I didn’t realize the elevators were pre-programmed (#millenialprobs). Once the elevator dinged, I stepped out and saw glass doors etched with “Allure” on them.
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             A man with red Nike Free Airs, gray skinny jeans, and a black shirt warmly greeted me. He introduced himself as Vincent and Agnes’ assistant. We guided me through the office as I soaked in every sight, smell, and noise. I entered Agnes’ office, and it was exactly what you could expect: glass windows, a table with white flowers placed perfectly in the center, a spotless desk, a large desktop, unique artwork on the walls, and an elegantly dressed CRO. Agnes turned around from her computer and welcomed me with a smile and a hug. It was a total Devil Wears Prada moment (well, experience), but Agnes is certainly not the Devil (even if she does wear Prada).
             We talked about our summers, Emma Willard School, the business she is in. She showed me around the new site that Allure had launched earlier that day. She asked me about Florence and talked about how she would be in Milan, London, and Paris for Fashion Week. As I intently listened to her, I also sipped on the bottle of Fiji water that Vincent gave me.
             Agnes gave me a tour of the office; I got to see the business side and the editorial side. We stopped in the beauty room. I admired the editors working in a room with clothes and shoes for photo shoots. I also got to meet some other Allure workers (a bookings editor, beauty editor, and copy editor) in addition to passing by the Editor in Chief’s office. It was unbelievable. The funniest moment of the tour was when the bookings director said, “I just want to tell these girls [the ones who appear on the magazine covers and in the magazine], ‘Eat a damn sandwich!'” It had both Agnes and me laughing.
            We chatted some more after the tour (she gave me some quality advice) before she had to run to a dinner with a client. I didn’t leave empty handed; Agnes gave me a bag full of goodies (this month’s issue and beauty products). It was incredibly nice and generous that she took almost an hour and a half out of her day to meet with me and show me around. I never knew that I would be networking could result in something like this so soon!
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            Whether or not I am in that office again as an employee or visitor, I am 100% satisfied. I witnessed a work place that I have dreamed about working in. And that dream still lives– a dream to work somewhere like there at some point in my life. Like Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” I’m a strong believer in that.
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                   After my eventful visit, I went to Starbucks by myself and took the Path from OWT to Newark alone. I loved being free and independent in the city,  something I have dreamt about for a long time. It was a memorable day in Manhattan, and I’m so glad I got to share it with my dad then my aunt, uncle, and cousin later. Manhattan never seems to disappoint. xo ~e.
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