A Guide To Becoming The Ulimate NYC Tourist

A Guide To Becoming The Ulimate NYC Tourist

How to be NYC's most notorious tourist.
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Aside from the gorgeous skyscrapers, the never-ending night life, and pushing the envelope for weird, New York City is also known to be the tourist capital of the world. Every corner you turn, you'll see someone flash a camera or a family trying to figure out which way is downtown. Here's the guide that will help you become NYC's most notorious tourist.

1. I Love NYC merchandise.

It's by far the most cliché thing to wear. Everyone, including tourists, knows that it's just that thing that you look at and say, "Really?"

Nevertheless, it remains a popular hit within the NYC tourist culture.

2. The selfie stick.

The selfie stick has become a hit in tourist culture. You're not an NYC tourist until you have a selfie stick and proceed to obnoxiously stick your hand out in front of people to snap that quick picture of you and Madame Tussauds' Morgan Freeman wax figure.

3. Abercrombie & Fitch.

Abercrombie & Fitch, A.K.A a European tourist's wet dream, is by far the most cheap, popular, and "cool" fashion in the eyes of NYC tourists. If you aren't wearing a "A&F 1995 Crew Champions" t-shirt or ripped jeans with flip flops, you're not a tourist.

4. Tourist wall.

This is a must if you want to be a NYC tourist. Every tourist feels the need to take up the entire sidewalk with their group of 10, in the most fast-moving cities of the world, while carrying bags of clothes (probably abercrombie and fitch) and pointing at buildings. If you don't piss off someone trying to catch the the subway or a bus back home, you're not a tourist.

5. Subway delirium.

"But this is supposed is taking us uptown not downtown, right?"

On the subway, the most touristy thing to do is to talk and laugh at the top of your lungs as your form of communication with other tourists. It's a rare language. You also have to pull out a gigantic subway map to annoy the living hell out of everyone around you. Most importantly, you have to try to fit in your school of fellow tourists in a jam-packed, oven, of a subway during rush hour.

6. Fanny packs.

The fanny pack has been the "day one" tourist feature. Fanny packs were most prominent in the 90's, so if you ever traveled as a kid, you probably used your fanny pack to stash your Nintendo and your games. However, it still is used by many tourists, mostly elderly and middle aged, but it's definitely a must have if you're looking to keep your subway map and event schedule in a secure location. You're not a tourist without one.

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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Bon Voyage! College Of Charleston Takes You On A Semester At Sea

I recently learned about a super unique and intriguing opportunity offered through the College of Charleston and just had to share!

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On Monday, I had the privilege (thanks to the hospitality club) to tour the Spirit of South Carolina which is a 140-foot sailing vessel. Spirit gained its fame after defeating a fleet of British yachts and winning what is now called America's Cup. The ship was built from South Carolina live oak, cypress, and long leaf yellow pine. With the staff's continuous care of the ship, it's always well maintained and looking beautiful. Even if you're not into sailing (like me), touring Spirit was a really cool experience. It was obvious how much hard work is put into the ship.

While on tour, we were told about the studying opportunities offered. I had never even heard of "a semester at sea" but after learning all about the program, I wanted to share it with other C of C student! Spirit is actually supposed to be in the Caribbean right now with CofC students for the marine biology program but the trip was canceled because not enough students had signed up for it.

My prediction is that not enough students signed up for the trip because they are not aware of the option. Each trip has a different destination and most times, you make fun stops along the way! The current trip being planned is for the fall is going to start in Boston and makes its way across the east coast.

What's really cool is that you learn to sail while on the trip, no experience is necessary! There are crew members on board but the students are responsible for learning the process and all the steps to sailing as well. While on board, you're still held accountable for completing all school work. There is usually a professor on board but many students just take online classes.

Certain trips are more major oriented, the trip planned to go to the Caribbean was geared towards marine biology majors. Each trip deals with a different major but all students are always welcome. The trip is student-oriented and the crew of the ship is always open to suggestions.

I thought this was an interesting option for anyone looking to study abroad but doesn't think they can afford it. A semester at sea is more affordable and still full of fun! This opportunity allows you to travel, learn, and experience new things.

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