11 Things You Have To Do In New York

11 Things You Have To Do In New York

You'd probably be satisfied with just the pizza
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I recently took a short trip up to Manhattan with my girlfriend for New Year's weekend, and it was the most fun I've had in a long time (even when I got sick). I'm not much of a people person, and I soon found out not many New Yorkers are people persons, either! I fit in right in my element. We spent each day doing something different to achieve the full New York experience.

Next time you plan to take a visit, check these places out! You won't be disappointed.

1. Central Park

Sadly, I was too sick to run, but my girlfriend got to run the outer loop in Central Park, and it was a full 90 minute loop! It's a nice park to stroll through or, if you're a runner, you have got to check it out. It mimics an Alice in Wonderland vibe, which distracts from actual exercise. Plus, it's free!


2. The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building had an incredible view of the whole city and beyond. It was about 15 degrees and snowing when we went, but I'm confident it'd be nicer during the spring and summer time! It's more expensive once it gets closer to the holidays (like everything else) so make sure you plan ahead to save some money!

3. Top of The Rock (Rockefeller Plaza)

This has breath taking views of the city on multiple levels that make the experience more fun! As you keep climbing, the views get prettier. There are many angles to look from, and the top level is open-roof. I went at night time, and all of the city lights made it perfect for photos!

4. The MET Museum

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a vast collection of art galleries that travel through all time periods. It was nice to see all of the artwork, read about the artists' ideas, and taking a break from the cold outside!

5. A Cruise Around Manhattan

Honestly, I didn't think we'd be on time for this cruise because we found out that it's pretty hard to travel from the East Side to the West Side of the city in 20 minutes. We started running through people, snow, and lights in our big puffy jackets and boots, but we made it, and it was worth it. I got to see One World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. It was a beautiful cruise, and I'd definitely recommend it! (Plus, they had hot chocolate!)

6. Call A Taxi

This one is more of an experience. Taxi drivers in NY won't see you if you're doing a wave that you'd do if you saw an acquaintance on the sidewalk. You have to wave as if you're seeing your best friend you haven't seen in 2 years! You'll feel proud of yourself once you get one. It's an accomplishment (at least for me!).

7. Ice Skate in Rockefeller Plaza

Even if it was 15 degrees outside, ice skating was a MUST. Ice skating with tourists and visitors watching over you was an experience to remember! They'd take photos and wave to complete strangers. It was a fun hour, even if I couldn't feel my fingers and toes by the end!

8. Times Square

If I could describe Times Square in one word: OVERWHELMING--In the best way possible. The whole block is lit up with signs, advertisements, and stores. Ladies: Forever 21 is a must-go-in store! Four floors of clothes – can't beat that! Also saw Spongebob on Broadway; Best. Night. Ever! If you go to NY strictly for Times Square, you won't be disappointed.

9. Eat Pizza

Duh. You have to eat NY pizza!

10. Chinatown/Little Italy

Chinatown and Little Italy was a nice way to end our trip. Stopping by and looking at all of the stores was relaxing and fun. Plus we found a delicious ice-cream shop (Yes, we ate ice-cream when it was 10 degrees out)!

11. The NBC Store

Can't forget to get souvenirs like the tourists we are! I could spend hours in that store!



Pro tip: When traveling by train, DO NOT forget bags you pushed underneath the seat. R.I.P some of our gifts for friends, sorry guys!

Cover Image Credit: Candace Jones

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For Camille, With Love

To my godmother, my second mom, my rooted confidence, my support

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First grade, March. It was my first birthday without my mom. You through a huge party for me, a sleepover with friends from school. It included dress up games and making pizza and Disney trivia. You, along with help from my grandma, threw me the best birthday party a 7-year-old could possibly want.

During elementary school, I carpooled with you and a few of the neighborhood kids. I was always the last one to be dropped off, sometimes you would sneak a donut for me. Living next door to you was a blessing. You helped me with everything. In second grade, you helped me rehearse lines for history day so I could get extra credit. In 4th grade, you helped me build my California mission.

You and your sister came out to my 6th grade "graduation". You bought me balloons and made me feel as if moving onto middle school was the coolest thing in the entire world.

While you moved away from next door, you were a constant in my life. Going to Ruby's Diner for my birthday, seeing movies at the Irvine Spectrum and just hanging out, I saw you all the time. During these times, you told me about all of the silly things you did with my mom and dad, how my mom was your best friend. I couldn't have had a greater godmother.

In middle school, you pushed me to do my best and to enroll in honors. You helped me through puberty and the awkward stages of being a woman.

Every single time I saw you, it would light up my entire day, my week. You were more than my godmother, you were my second mom. You understood things that my grandma didn't.

When you married John, you included me in your wedding. I still have that picture of you, Jessica, Aaron and myself on my wall at college. I was so happy for you.

Freshmen year of high school, you told me to do my best. I did my best because of you. When my grandma passed away that year, your shoulder was the one I wanted to cry on.

You were there when I needed to escape home. You understood me when I thought no one would. You helped me learn to drive, letting me drive all the way from San Clemente to Orange.

When I was applying to colleges, you encouraged me to spread my wings and fly. You told me I should explore, get out of California. I wanted to study in London, you told me to do it. That's why, when I study abroad this Spring in London, I will do it for you.

When I had gotten into UWT, you told me to go there. I did and here I am, succeeding and living my best in Tacoma. I do it for you, because of you.

When I graduated high school and I was able to deliver a speech during our baccalaureate, you cheered me on. You recorded it for me, so I could show people who weren't able to make it to the ceremony. You were one of the few people able to come to my actual graduation. You helped me celebrate the accomplishments and awards from my hard work.

When your cancer came back, I was so worried. I was afraid for you, I was afraid of what I would do without the support you had always given me. When I was in Rome, I went to the Vatican and had gotten a Cross with a purple gem in the middle blessed by the Pope to help you with your treatments. It was something from me and a little bit of my mom in the necklace, the gem.

Now, sitting so far from you away at college just like you wanted me to. I miss you. I wish I was there to say goodbye.

I'll travel the world for you, write lots of stories and books for you, I will live life to the fullest for you.

You are another angel taken too early in life. Please say hello to my parents and grandma in Heaven for me.

Lots of love,

Haiden

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A Gap Year Was Just What I Needed

Taking a year off between high school and college was the best thing I could have done for so many reasons.

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Everyone around me was buzzing with excitement about their acceptances to their dream university and I didn't feel the same. I was accepted to every school I applied to, but none of them felt right. At my high school, if you didn't go to college, you would have been deemed a failure and that is not what I wanted my reputation to be. When the day came, I sat down at a computer to accept my admission to a college. I was in a panic mode, and I knew that's not what I wanted. I had no idea what I wanted to do, and I had no idea if that was where I wanted to be, so I exited the website and came up with a plan.

After graduation, I boarded a flight to Denver, Colorado. I was alone on a plane going 1,000 miles west to a place I've never been. In a short amount of time, I knew I had made the right decision.

I spent eight months in the Rocky Mountains learning how to do the "adult thing." I worked 40+ hours a week in freezing temperatures and a ton of snow, making ten dollars an hour. In a resort town, ten dollars is not a lot of money. I lived on Wonder bread and eggs, I cooked on my hotplate on the top of my mini fridge. I was shown what it's like to work for the things I want, and it taught me to appreciate everything I've always been handed so easily, and that was something I really needed.

Throughout my adventure, I met so many different people in all different stages of life. I think that's the most important aspect of my entire trip. By working and living with people young and old, I learned different skills, living habits, and ways of life which I am forever grateful for. These people had shown me more about life in eight months than I had learned in my entire life, and without this experience, I would have never been introduced to half of the things I was introduced to.

I hiked 14,000-foot mountains, watched the X-Games in Aspen, attended endless concerts, and became a better snowboarder by having the chance to do it every day. Without my friends and taking this leap, I would have been sitting in a classroom wondering what I could have been doing instead. Because of taking time off, I am now back in class, able to focus on my work and doing better than I ever have before.

The most important part of my gap year was finding myself. I proved to myself that I am strong and independent, and I can achieve any goal I set as long as I work hard and have fun along the way. Before I left, I had no idea what I wanted to do or be. Upon my return home, I realized I needed to go to college to receive a higher education to better myself. Having a full-time job and being out in the real world helped me to narrow down what I really want to be and what I want to achieve for myself. I learned how to truly live and that there is no set path I need to take because this is my own life to create.

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