Weekend in NYC

Hello readers!

I spent this weekend in New York City! I took a bus down to New York on Friday afternoon and arrived Friday night.  I stayed with my friend Gabri, who goes to NYU.  I had so much fun sightseeing and vegan-restaurant-hopping and learning about New York from an expert!  Here’s a picture we took when I first arrived:

IMG_2674

On Friday, Gabri and went to dinner at a vegan restaurant called Peacefood.  I got a portobello mushroom panini and Gabri got a roasted vegetable flatbread.  I also got a cookie which was delicious.  We saw our friend Jamie from high school perform with her improv group, Dangerbox.  It was the first improv show I’ve ever been to and it will not be the last! It was different than I expected, but it was funny… especially Jamie’s parts!!

On Saturday, we got brunch at a vegetarian café called The Butcher’s Daughter.  Gabri got the Smashed Avocado Toast Benedict, and I got the Soaked Organic Muesli.  After finishing brunch, we walked around and went into a few stores.  My favorite was Babycakes, a vegan and gluten free bakery where I got a salted caramel cupcake!  (I want another one…or five)  We also took pictures with the mural painted by Kelsey Montague – here’s mine:

IMG_7694
(Of course I copied Taylor Swift’s picture with it and posted it on instagram with the same caption 😆 )

Then we walked around Central Park.  It was a beautiful day! I loved walking around Central Park because there is so much going on.  The scenery is stunning.  There are cool statues (like the Alice in Wonderland one… which I’ll mention again!).  Amazing artists sit in the open air mall and sell their creations.  People hang out with each other, play sports, take pictures (we saw a newly engaged couple taking engagement pictures!), go running/jogging/walking, or just spend time alone.  And perhaps the best part… THERE ARE SO MANY DOGS!

After going through Central Park, we walked to the American Museum of Natural History, which was so cool.  We saw a REAL LIVE DINOSAUR!!!! See!?
IMG_7326
It roared at me. It was so cool. (What’s that? Um, NO, that is not a skeleton, it’s a REAL DINOSAUR. Stop being a hater…)

I definitely want to go back there.  We spent a while in the museum (I think about 3 hours – maybe more, maybe less) but we still didn’t even get to some exhibits – and I only read a few placards in the exhibits we went to. The museum is huge, and so full of history and interesting information.  I really loved the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins, which was all about the evolution of the human species.

I also MET Teddy Roosevelt!!! I’m serious!! It was really him.
IMG_4739

After the museum, Gabri and I went back to her dorm and made pita flatbreads with her suitemates.

Sunday was my last day with Gabri but was just as fun-filled as the other two.  We went to church in the morning then went to a coffee shop, where Gabri got a cappuccino, beautifully decorated with coffee art, and I got green tea.

Then we went to Washington Square Park and walked around, saw MORE DOGS, and took silly pictures on the new playground… for example:
IMG_7490
As you can see,  Sunday was also a beautiful sunny day! It was a little windy, but otherwise the weather was perfect!!

After going to the park, we had our final meal together of the weekend 😥 at a vegetarian restaurant called Red Bamboo.  Gabri got vegetable fried rice and I got eggplant “parmesan” (with vegan mozzarella, which I was nervous about, but was actually really good!).

After lunch, we headed back to Gabri’s room where I gathered my things and headed off to the subway… but not to leave! I was going to meet up with my mom!! You see, I decided to stay in New York an extra day for Taylor Swift’s release of her new album 1989 (it is AMAZING, go buy it). I have not missed any classes this semester and (at least to me… not to my professors 😆 ) this was a pretty good reason to miss a day of class.  I mean, it’s Taylor Swift, and I convinced my mom to come, so a few points off my grade seemed a pretty small sacrifice to make to spend time with my two favorite people. 🙂

On Sunday night, we walked around and went to dinner.  Then, a few minutes after 11 PM, the album was released on iTunes!! So I stayed up to listen to it (imagine simultaneous dancing, singing, and near-crying from excitement…now you have a pretty accurate picture of me on Sunday night), while my mom slept in preparation for the early morning Monday…

On Monday morning, we woke up at 4:50 and got ready, then walked over to Good Morning America, where Taylor was to be interviewed.
IMG_8549
(Notice it’s still dark out)

We stood there and met other die-hard Taylor fans (“Swifties”) and very excitedly waited for Taylor to arrive.  When she did, I got a video of her walking into the studio from about ten feet away!  She waved and mouthed “I’ll be back!”.  She kept that promise – before her interview, she came outside and hugged, talked to, and took selfies with fans!  Unfortunately Taylor did not make it down to where we were 😥 … she stopped about 5 or 6 people short of us! One of the GMA anchors (Ginger 👿 ) came out and started setting up for a broadcast and we said “No!! Taylor’s coming!”.  She said, “don’t worry, I won’t get in the way of you and Taylor!”.  Well.  Taylor turned and saw Ginger, and WENT BACK INSIDE.  She didn’t want to interrupt a broadcast… but it was not even happening yet!! 🙄  It was okay, though, because I still had an incredible time and got to watch as other people finally met Taylor!

After GMA, we took a nap 🙂 then went out and about again.  We went to lunch at Otarian, a vegetarian restaurant, and both got wraps which were delicious!  We walked to Central Park and walked around for about an hour.  Here is a picture we took on the Alice in Wonderland statue:

IMG_4249

Finally, it was time to leave 😥 and go back to Scranton 🙂 We walked to the bus station and said our goodbyes, and both began our journeys back home. I got back last night.  It was an amazing weekend and I definitely want to go back soon, but it is good to be back in Scranton!

Moral of the story:

– Buy 1989

 

Have a great week… I know you will if you get the CD 🙂

Tori

 

Open House

Well hello!

I hope everyone had a great weekend.  I had a very fun and exciting weekend as Sunday was the first Open House of the year!!  Open House holds a very special place in my heart because I fell in love with Scranton when I came to an Open House in October of my Senior year.  I think Scranton does an incredible job of showing off what we have to offer at Open House.

I worked the open house as a tour guide.  Scranton has a really unique specialized tour for open house and it works so flawlessly! The tour guides take their tour groups to five stops, where a student speaker talks about the stop on the tour and their personal experience with that stop.  The five stops are Loyola Science Center, the Weinberg Memorial Library, the DeNaples Center, the fitness center, and GLM (freshman housing).

I love this way of doing the tour, because it runs very smoothly and the student speakers do such a great job of giving a personal account of the Scranton experience.  So not only is the tour informative, it focuses on the student and the individual.  This is so appropriate considering that Scranton really is all about the students.  Since the day I stepped foot on campus, I have felt this to be true.  Honestly, everyone looks out for each other.  But from the maintenance staff, the dining staff, the professors, the administration, to my fellow students, I feel that the students receive a special level of care and love from the Scranton community.  I would not trade that for the world, and I am so fortunate here!  But I digress…

Another great part about open house for the families who come visit is that they get to enjoy the DELICIOUS Sunday brunch- for free!  Now, I’m not saying that the food here influenced my decision, but… (okay, maybe I am saying that).  The food here is delicious, and it is definitely important to get a taste (ha, ha…get it) of what you will be eating for the next four years!

Something else that Scranton does at Open House is an Exhibit Hall, where prospective students can talk to representatives from all the majors on campus as well as all of the sports, clubs, and other activities.  When I went to Open House as a senior, there were two tables that I stopped at that have been so important for me so far.  One of the tables was the Campus Ministry table, where I learned about all the retreats that Scranton offers.  Most importantly, I learned about the FIRST (Freshmen Involved in Reflective Service Together) retreat, which occurs the week before freshman year starts and is a service-based retreat for 40 freshmen.  As soon as I learned about FIRST, I decided that if I went to Scranton, I would definitely be going on this retreat.  In fact, my mom and I almost missed our tour because she was in line while I talked to Campus Ministry and I lost track of time 😆  Another table I went to was the table for the Mathematics major, where I talked with the chair of the Math department.  I have always loved math, butI was hesitant to major in math because of some preconceived notions I had.  Am I allowed to say what they were? I will. I thought all math majors were socially awkward dorks, and I, being a socially awkward dork, feared my social awkwardness and dorkiness would heighten if surrounded by similar people.  Well, as a math major, I can affirm that my dorkiness has certainly blossomed into full-blown math nerd status but being around people who love math has actually helped me come out of my shell. And NO, they are not socially awkward.  Anyway, the chair of the department (Dr. Ferzola) really opened my eyes – he said to me, after hearing about my love for math and my performance in math classes in high school and on the SAT, “…why would you ever major in something other than math?”

Oops, I rambled again.  But I just have such fond memories of Open House, and what I gained there really helped shape me into the student I am today!

One more remark, and then I’ll be done, I promise! (at least, until next week)

A final reason Open House is so great is that they offer informational sessions and informal department visits.  This is great for students who are undecided, like I was.  A student can choose a few programs they are interested in and attend these sessions and visits to find out what it is all about.  So, after visiting tables at the Exhibit Hall and receiving quick synopses there, students can choose a few they are interested in learning more about, and attend these sessions.  I remember going to the math department visit and the Honors Programs Information Session, which helped in my decisions to become a Math major and participate in SJLA.

Moral of the story: Go to Open House!! It is a great experience! See you on November 2nd 🙂

 

Tori

P.S. Taylor Swift released a new song on iTunes… it is called Welcome to New York and it is awesome. 😎

Fall Break

Today was my first day of classes after returning from fall break.  I went home on Friday after my last class and returned back to campus yesterday afternoon.  It was definitely nice to have a little mid-semester break to relax at home with my family.

I had a pretty low-key weekend but it was nice to spend some time with my family and friends from home.

As soon as I walked in the door, I received the warmest of welcomes from my adorable dog Molly!! I miss her so much at school.  I brought her a new toy (a plush squeaky pumpkin) as an apology for leaving her for two months… she definitely accepted my apology 🙂  She loved the toy and destroyed it within an hour!  She was so happy to see me, and I was just as happy to see her! Here’s a picture of Molly:

IMG_0071

And here’s a picture of her with the toy I gave her, about a minute after giving it to her.  It’s a little blurry – sorry – but check out that tail!!!

IMG_7877

On Saturday, I got Chipotle!! This was a very exciting moment.  I could probably eat Chipotle for every meal given the opportunity. I also went to the movies with my younger sister, Rebecca.  We saw Annabelle, which I did not think was very good.  The acting was sub-par, and the plot was pretty basic.  But I loved getting to spend time with my sister, and she is the only one in my family who will actually watch a horror film with me so it is kind of a tradition for us. 🙂

I spent most of the day Sunday putting together a care package for my best friend Monica who goes to school in New York.  The care package is a surprise, so I really hope she doesn’t read this….! Monica is a freshman and this weekend is her first college show! Since I cannot make it to the show, I wanted to send her a package wishing her good luck – plus, this week is midterms week for her! Our friends Matt, Melanie, and Rebecca (my sister) all thought it was a great idea so they volunteered to help! So, Matt, Melanie, Rebecca, and I came up with a list of what to send: decorative pumpkins, a lottery ticket, peanut butter, Nutella, pretzels, goldfish, starburst, Snickers, Reese’s cups, Reese’s pieces, easy mac, squeezable applesauce, and of course… a baked good.  I made Monica her favorite, cracker candy… which was semi-torturous because it looked and smelled so good but I could not have any since I’m vegan.  We each sent her a little note wishing her luck in her show, too! I hope she loves the package!

I love to bake, so not only did I make cracker candy this weekend, I also made vegan chocolate chip cookies…. and then proceeded to eat the entire batch.  Oops.  I cut the recipe in half since I had a feeling I would eat them all, but still…. 😳

Perhaps the most exciting part of my break happened around 11 PM on Monday night… Taylor Swift released a new song!!!! I am seriously obsessed with Taylor Swift. Obsessed is truly an understatement.  You will probably (definitely) hear more about my obsession in two weeks once her album comes out (October 27th! Mark your calendar!!) So of course I was thrilled that she released a song! It is called Out of the Woods and it is a masterpiece.  It hit #1 on iTunes within about an hour of being released! You should go buy it… 🙂

Break flew by and now it is time to get back into the swing of things! Tomorrow night, I have a USPB event which I am very excited about.  Musician Rachel Brown is coming to campus and my co-chair Megan and I have been working really hard planning this event! So, I am definitely looking forward to it.

Have a great rest of your week, thanks for reading!!

Tori

Downtown Nite & Pumpkin Patch

My weekend was jam-packed with fun activities! On Friday night, I participated in Electric City Downtown Nite with my quad (Mariah, Holly, and Shannon).  On Sunday afternoon, I went to Roba Family Farms with some friends.

Electric City Downtown Nite is an event sponsored by Residence Hall Association and Office of Residence Life.  For $5, I got to go to a restaurant and movie of my choice.  I could choose from over a dozen restaurants downtown and eight movies.  There were all types of restaurants offered: American, Italian, Mediterranean, Pizza, Steak and Seafood, Thai, and Vegan.  My quadmates and I decided to go to Exhale, an Afghan/Middle Eastern kabob grill (the same one I went to with my parents – it is so good!).   Once we finished eating, we walked around downtown for a little while.  Since it was First Friday, local businesses hosted cultural events, musicians, and art galleries.  There was even a marching band! Here is a map of the events for October First Friday (click on it to make it bigger and read it):

FFOctoberWebwhite-page-001

Holly, Mariah, Shannon and I went to the Connell Marketplace for a photo exhibit called “Latin America Through the Lens: A Mission of the Heart”.  Linda Panetta, founder of the nonprofit organization Optical Realities, took all the photos in this collection.  The photos are all accompanied by stories which raise awareness about human rights and socioeconomic issues.  This exhibit was incredibly beautiful and informative; Linda’s website can be found here.

After spending some time at the photo exhibit, we went to the movie theater.  Shannon and I saw Jersey Boys and Holly and Mariah saw If I Stay.  I definitely recommend Jersey Boys, especially if you love music like me!  Holly and Mariah said If I Stay was great, too.

Here is a picture we got while walking around downtown!

IMG_9025
Holly, Shannon, Mariah, and I

 

On Sunday, I went to Roba Family Farms on a trip hosted by the Commuter Student Association.  Transportation and admission cost just $10!  My friends Mariah, Holly (quad minus Shannon 😥 ), Summer, and Natalie, and I all went and had SUCH a great time!! I knew it would be a great day as soon as I saw LLAMAS.  Yes. LLAMAS.  There were also pigs, bunnies, and goats! But llamas. (Alpacas are my favorite animal, and though they did not have any of them, the llamas were close enough.)  I bought some feed for the llamas and they ate directly from my hand! It was awesome. (Stop making fun of me…)

Here I am with one of the llamas!  (Note: that stroller is not mine. Nor is the pumpkin in it.)

IMG_9112

 

The first thing we did upon arrival was greet the animals. Then, we went to the corn maze!!  It took a lot longer than we expected… we probably should not have been so cocky going in! All the little kids that went in at the same time as us finished before us…don’t ask me how they do it.  Here is a picture of us outside the corn maze:

IMG_9068
Holly, Natalie, Mariah, Summer, and I

And here is a picture from inside the maze!
IMG_1723

We had such a fun time making our way through the maze, even though we kept getting lost.  We had this huge flagpole with a Rangers flag that we (or rather, Summer) carried incase we had to communicate with the Maze Master who stands in a platform high above the maze.

After the corn maze, we went on a hayride around the farm.  The farm is so beautiful, and the hayride let us see it from lots of different angles.

Then, we went to our group’s station where they had a fire to sit by and/or make s’mores.  It was nice to warm up by the fire, and it smelled like fall :).

We walked around some more and bought food and drinks.  I bought a sweet potato, and my friends bought coffee, hot chocolate, sweet potatoes, and apple cider donuts.  We also found a few stand-in cutouts to take pictures in and went to the pumpkin patch to pick pumpkins, of course! I was on a mission to find the cutest, smallest pumpkin in the patch and I definitely succeeded. 🙂 We took pictures with pre-picked pumpkins and finally went to the gift shop! I bought, in addition to the pumpkins, fresh honeycrisp apples from the Roba Family Orchard.  They are sooo delicious.  Here are some of the dorky pictures we took!

IMG_9098

IMG_9074

IMG_9101

 

I had such a fun time this weekend!! I loved spending time with my friends at these two events.  I love experiencing what local businesses have to offer, so Downtown Nite was so great for that! The trip to Roba Family Farms got me so excited for fall and made me feel like a little kid again!

 

I hope everyone had a great weekend and has a great week! Four days of class until break 🙂

Tori