The Best and Worst Of A Long Island Summer

The Best and Worst Of A Long Island Summer

The hub of New York summers
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Long Island is just 118 miles of land that over 7.5 million people call home. As a true Long Islander, there is nothing better than knowing the semester is almost over and being able to return to my favorite place on Earth. It's home to some of the most beautiful beaches, picturesque towns, top notch restaurants, and some pretty great places to kill time. The only problem with returning home is that everyone else is migrating there. Along comes summer, and along comes the summer vacationers. Your days won't go as planned, but there is always something else to do. As a true Long Islander, you know you can interchange places to go and things to do.

After spending two semesters at school, I look forward to a lot of things about being home: driving, not having to shop online, not having to eat the same food every day, etc. Unfortunately, I'm not the only one with the same idea. You want to go shopping at Tanger in Riverhead? Don't try it unless you plan on going right when it opens or an hour before it closes. Actually, want to go anywhere in Riverhead? Not going to happen as long as Splish Splash is in full Summer operation. Ralph's Italian Ices or Carvel? Flooded by the upstate and out-of-staters who are just dying to try this phenomenon. Beaches are crowded, that's even if you can find a parking spot. Restaurants are a good idea, but a hard no unless you plan on hitting the early bird special. Adventureland and the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center are also guaranteed to be packed full of people who couldn't go to Splish Splash, actually. It's the downfall of living in such a beautiful place that many dream about: at some point, they are going to come visit. And boy, do they visit. Long Island Bucket Lists are in full effect, and there is no escaping the outsiders.

My little island of perfect summer days becomes overcrowded and it's generally full of people who somehow think they know better than you because they can afford to vacation here. What these people fail to realize is that a Long Island summer isn't just Instagramming a picture of you sitting on a beach with a Long Island Iced Tea in your hand, or with your friends in Montauk with clothes that say "The End" on them. A Long Island summer is the hot days in your pool, on the beach, exploring the wonders this wondrous island has to offer. It's Fourth of July BBQ's with the sparklers you definitely shouldn't own, but do anyway. It's the hot days at Snowflake in Riverhead. It's a June weekend at Splish Splash when it's just a little too cold to be comfortable, but nothing will stop you from the nostalgic feeling of reliving your childhood down the Lazy River. It's Lewin's Farm Stand and strawberry picking with your relatives. It's concerts and tailgating at Jones Beach and a day trip to Fire Island is always an option. And at times, it's sitting in an hour's worth of traffic on your way to do simple errands. You simply cannot mimic a Long Island summer, because there is nothing like it. Try as they might, they won't be able to take away the greatness of three months of pure Long Island fun.

Cover Image Credit: Google Images

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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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6 Reasons Japan Should Be Your Next Travel Destination

Live, Love, Japan and all it encompasses

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Do you want to travel? Do you want to explore the world or simply take advantage of your holidays to discover new places? We must recognize that with all the countries on earth, the choice can be difficult. And it must also be recognized that, for some, Japan is not in the top of the list, or they hesitate to take the plunge.

You are still hesitating and you are asking yourself the question "why go to Japan? Here are some ideas that will certainly encourage you to take the plunge and take a look around. So here's why you should go to Japan

The kindness of the Japanese

This is something we do not like to hear, but it is unfortunately undeniable that, in the minds of many foreigners, Australians can be very dry or even rude. Well, the Japanese, unlike us, leave the best impression that can exist. Tourists are always amazed by the friendliness of the Japanese and for good reason: you will never stay in the middle of the street more than 2 minutes with your card wide open without a good soul coming to help you.

A wide variety of landscapes: from skyscrapers to Zen gardens

Japan has an immense variety of breathtaking landscapes. Some will love Tokyo: the city that never sleeps. Others will prefer the more traditional Japan: Kyoto. For example, Kyoto is known for its tranquility, temples and narrow streets that take you back in time. Thanks to the various "matsuri" festivals organized all year round and throughout the country, you will be able to discover the best of Japanese culture. Not to mention the Onsen: natural hot springs that sometimes offer unique panoramas for an extraordinary experience.

Not speaking Japanese is not a real problem

It is not on the pretext that you are going to travel to a foreign country that you should learn the local language. In Japan, speaking Japanese is an undeniable advantage, but it is not an insurmountable obstacle. Indeed, although many Japanese people are shy or do not feel very confident when they speak English, you will always find someone ready to help you. And as in all major cities, Tokyo has tourist information centres where you can find all kinds of information in several languages.

Some terms and expressions that are good to know to show your good will 🙂 are: "Hello" (konnichowa), "thank you" (arigato), "Please" (onegaishimasu) or "goodbye" (sayonara).

 Cleanliness and punctuality

It may sound trivial, but if you take a flight to Japan with a majority of Japanese passengers, you will notice that, even after 12 hours of flight, the bathrooms are still very clean on arrival. Have you ever ventured into the subway toilet in Australia...? In Tokyo, don't hesitate: it's cleaner than at home. In 6 years of life in Japan: not a single food poisoning, the hygiene of restaurants is impeccable. Friends users of Australian buses, did you think it was possible to have buses that run without ever being late? In Japan it is easy to travel with a JAPAN RAIL PASS. You can rely on all the public transport schedules: the driver apologizes even if he is 30 seconds behind the initial schedule... These are only a few examples, but they reflect these 2 Japanese qualities.

The diversity of Japanese cuisine

We often have in mind that in Japan, we only eat strange dishes. However, Japanese cuisine is absolutely extraordinary and delicious. The cuisine is so diverse that it is easy to find a dish that we like. You can also find very good vegetarian dishes.

The beauty of Japanese traditions

Japan is a very modern country at the forefront of technology but the traditions are nevertheless well kept. Japanese traditions are very interesting to discover and they allow you to see things from a different point of view.

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