Hello, friends! My life has been pretty busy lately and there hasn’t been much time for me to just sit down and write! I haven’t forgotten about this blog that I love so much, I just have had to prioritize some things, and living life is always at the top of my list! As far as living life goes, as many of you know, I have been to New york City and back since the last time I wrote! I also attended a Christmas concert, celebrated some family birthdays, have been facing new challenges with food, and of course the Christmas celebrations. Life will be slow here for the next week or so and I am hoping to get caught up in updating my blog with lifestyle posts, some food posts, and others in between!
My next few posts, however, will most-likely be focused on my New York City trip! I had a genius idea, given to me by an older sister, to write about my trip in three posts. I am going to split them between the events of my trip (this post), all the yummy food adventures, and lastly all of my thoughts and lessons that I learned from the trip! It’ll allow me to go in-depth, and give you all some really great insights into life in New York City! So I am going to dedicate this first post to how I spent my nine days in New York City:
Day 1 (November 29th)
I began my first morning, as I wrote in my last post, at around 3am when I got ready to leave for the airport. My dad dropped me off at the airport by 8am where I got myself checked-in and through security, and then had a nice breakfast and grabbed Starbucks (which I am slowly becoming obsessed with).
Fast-forward through a quick flight and let’s get to the fun part: New York City. I arrived, got my bags, and found an Uber. My driver was a New Yorker who was originally from China. He told me all about the ‘greasy New-York pizza’ and how I needed to ‘stay away from the grease’ and ‘give my body the healthy foods’. It was an interesting, but very enjoyable, conversation.
I got to The King’s College and was brought to Hanover Square, the apartment building that I would be staying at for the majority of my trip. (The building was a block from Wall Street, I might add!) I was brought to an apartment that belonged to Hope, Annie, Jillian, and McKenna, (students of The King’s College) who weren’t there at the time, so I settled in and went out to walk around the neighborhood. I got some coffee and scoped the area until I went back and got to meet the girls I was staying with. They were all so warm and welcoming, and they made me feel right at home! I spent quite a bit of time talking to them and asking them every possible question that I could ask about King’s and life in the big city!
That evening I had plans to meet with a girl named Julia, another student at King’s, to go and watch The Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting! After meeting her, we hopped on the subway, and talked all the way there! It was our first time chatting in person, and she was such a sweetheart! We made it to the tree lighting soon after and found our way toward The Rockefeller Center.
We walked around the area, taking in all of the gorgeous Christmas decorations that left me in awe. I knew that New York would be magical during Christmas, and it was exactly that and then some! As we walked towards the area of the tree, the crowds were blocks long in every direction, allowing us to only get close enough to watch the lighting from a TV screen set-up for people who were blocks away (like us)! After the countdown and the lighting, we made our way back to the college and went our separate ways as we both had busy days ahead of us!
Day 2 (November 30th)
Thursday was the day of my scholarship competition. I spent the morning taking things easy and doing more exploring. I went back to the apartment early enough to have extra time to get ready and make it to the college lobby by 2:00.
When I made it to the lobby, I walked in and there were already many other people there. I got checked in, and began to introduce myself to others. I met a good heap of people, all very nice, and eventually, someone announced we were about to leave for The Oculus.
We began our competition in The Oculus with a scavenger hunt. The hunt was a half hour search. All of us competitors were split into teams and had an extra adult tag along in our groups to take notes on our abilities to work together, take leadership, problem-solve, etc. It was a fun activity that allowed me to become familiar with my team members who were all amazing people! After it was over, we walked back to the college and had just a small window to get ready to present our speeches.
I was in a room with three judges, a recorder, and seven other speakers. I was second in line to give my speech for the competition. When I got up there, I presented the speech I had been working on for months as best as I could. I was a bit disappointed in myself when I finished because I had two pauses in my presentation where I lost my train of thought, which caused my to cut out some points that I wish would’ve made it, but I believe that God gave me the words that were most important and needed to be said.
That night the girls I was staying with invited me to ‘Refuge’. From what I was told, it is a student-lead worship service that happens once a week. We walked from the apartment to the college and made our way to the room that was set-up very cozy. There were chairs positioned around instruments in the middle where the worship band (composed of students) would play, there was a fireplace projected onto the wall to give it a warm feeling, and a table full of Christmas cookies, warm beverages, and other treats that everyone loaded up on before we sat down.
The worship, which was Christmas-themed, was so powerful. It was so beautiful to see all those college students attend that hour-long get-together and sing to God while bonding with others and eating yummy treats! I enjoyed that time of song and then made it back to apartment for another early night to get ready for my next day.
Day 3 (December 1st)
Today was the day of the student visit weekend for The King’s College. I got to take a tour of the gorgeous, unique school to begin! The King’s College is inside of an office building. You walk into the lobby on the ground floor where there are many offices and study areas apart of the college. The classrooms, other study areas, the tech lab, library, and everything else that you might find in a college are on two other floors of the building that belong to the college. The rest of the floors in the building belong to other businesses. King’s has no cafeteria on any of their floors. You are expected to cook for yourself, and everyone apartment has a kitchen for that reason! The apartments, which we toured as well, are not dorms, but actual apartment buildings where you and your roommates are living amongst other real New-Yorkers, not just college students. The college is so different from your typical college, and I love it so much!
Some other cool aspects of King’s are the dress code, which is business casual, and their internship opportunities, which are absolutely amazing. The college is very geared towards getting students ready to enter the work force. It is also a school that is meant for hard workers and dreamers. Students that don’t work hard, or don’t have drive and motivation, couldn’t ever make it at King’s. The college is absolutely a perfect place for a girl like me!
That day I also got to sit in on a class, attend some student and teacher panels, take a short break where I went to Chinatown with Jillian and McKenna, and enjoyed lots of time with other potential students. I also got to meet Sophia, my admissions counselor at King’s, the lady who made all the arrangements for my stay at the college, making my trip possible. We had a few phone meetings before my trip, but meeting her in person was a dream! She is so friendly, joyful, and is so caring. She truly cares for me as ‘Serena’, and wanted to talk not only about King’s, but also about life!
To end the day, we got to go and see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway! I am going to be honest, I was very tired, and didn’t quite understand what was going on for the most part, however, the acting, costumes, and especially the music were amazing! I couldn’t believe how beautiful and well-executed everything was! I would go back just to see the costumes and hear the songs again despite having no clue what the play was about!
Day 4 (December 2nd)
I woke up Saturday morning and had plans to go and get brunch with McKenna at Citizens of Chelsea. We both got ready and made it to the cafe where we started off with coffee. I talked with her for close to two hours! I had such an amazing time! Mckenna and I chatted about life in New York City, what The King’s College is like, and then we got into our personal lives and just got to know each other better! It was so great to get to know her more because she has such a sweet soul!
After a very meaningful chat, she headed back to her apartment while I went off to do some exploring. I ended up beginning my adventures at The New York Public Library where I walked through and got to enjoy the miles of books that lined the walls. I then made my way to The Bryant Park Holiday Market. It was the first holiday market I’d ever been to, and it was the most magical experience! It was like a festival with all types of stands that sold trinkets, hot cocoa, clothing, books, every food imaginable, and more! The whole area was decorated and it felt like you had walked into a Christmas department store.
I walked around for a bit, purchased some cute items, and then I went skating. I got onto the ice pretty quickly, in fact, most things went very fast because I was only one person and never had to wait for anyone else to do anything. It was quite a freeing experience! As skated around the rink, I peacefully enjoyed the activity as well as enjoying the people-watching that I was doing. Seeing people skate, shop, eat, and just have fun with their friends, family, significant others, all smiling and so happy, excited me. It is so amazing to watch others enjoy themselves so much and live their lives in such a positive way.
The rest of my day was pretty random. I went and had a lunch at the Whole Foods across the street with giant windows overlooking the park where I was able to watch thousands of people doing every imaginable thing. There were folks in the park, skating in the rink, walking around the streets, biking, sightseeing, and just living. I walked to a coffee shop close by to enjoy a warm latte afterwards, and then continued on my way, and by way I mean I aimlessly wandered through the streets of New York just going with the flow of the crowd.
The crowd ended up leading me blocks down the road to a giant shopping area where I got to go into Macy’s largest department store! It was absolutely so big that I got a little lost for a while, but eventually navigated my way out. After I got out of there I shopped the rest of the night in other stores in the area. I went into a lot of my favorite places like H&M and Urban Outfitters and then other stores that I wasn’t so familiar with.
I ended my night by hopping onto the subway and then hopped off at Union Square for dinner. I ended up, first, heading over to The City Bakery where I had the world’s BEST hot chocolate, topped with a homemade marshmallow. (More to come about the cocoa in my food post.) Then I walked to By Chloe, an all vegan fast-food chain, and had dinner there. To finish the night, I made my way back to Hanover, food baby in my belly, and enjoyed another great night of sleep in my beautiful New-York apartment.
Day 5 (December 3rd)
On Sunday morning I woke up early to get out the door in time for church. I had a quick breakfast and then made my way to Grand Central Station. I had it in my head that church was at 10:30 am, so I decided to get an oat-milk latte at Irvington Coffee Roasters in The Grand Central food court, thinking I had time. Right after getting my drink, I began walking around the shops in the station, only to get a text from Julia, who I was meeting for church that morning, that church was at 10 am. I received her text at 9:52 am, and I was exactly one mile away from The Hillsong Church, but I was determined.
So there I went, the girl who had wet hair, coffee in one hand, GPS in the other, wearing boots with a heel, and was running in her giant winter coat to make it to church on time. By the time I got there my hair was dry, my clothes were sweaty, my coffee was gone, my feet were aching, and my phone battery was drained, but it was 10:02 am, and I was in line to go through security to get into the church.
Once inside, I met Julia and her friend Briana, and we got seated. The worship had already started, so we jumped right in. It was so powerful, every song was being sung right from my heart to the Lord, and it was amazing. The message that followed was also very informative and interesting. The Hillsong service was quite an experience that I won’t forget! Being apart of a service with hundreds of others who were there to serve the same God, it was something unlike any other service I’ve been apart of.
After the service ended, I had a whole day to myself, in the most magical city on the planet, to do whatever I wanted with. So I decided to go to The Rockefeller Center area to enjoy all the beautiful Christmas lights that I missed the first night I was there. I went and enjoyed the Rockefeller tree and watched people skate in the famous Rockefeller skating rink (the one that you see in most of the holiday movies filmed in NYC).
After grabbing a treat from The Magnolia Bakery, I headed to Times Square just for a short bit to enjoy all the life and the lights. I walked around and took in all of the craziness that is experienced there and then went into one of the may Starbucks that is in that area and enjoyed a latte. I sat there for some time to just relax and plan out my next moves using my large list that I had put together before my trip. It was full of places, activities, restaurants, etc. to check out and eat at while I was in New York. So I browsed my list and checked off all of the places I had hit and made an itinerary for the rest of my time in the city.
That afternoon I decided that I was feeling extremely ‘Christmassy’ again, so I took the subway to The Union Square Holiday Market. I walked around and took in all of the holiday spirit for the afternoon. Halfway through my walk through the market Lizzy called me and we talked for an hour or so all about both of our lives since we’d last seen each other. It was so good to hear her voice because I love my sister, and not seeing her for days was causing me to experience sister withdrawals.
I had started in the market and then veered off in all kinds of directions around the park where I shopped in all kinds of cute stores and boutiques. I gave both of my parents calls and talked to them as well, and again, it was such a great sound to hear both of their voices.
After miles of walking for my feet, and miles of talking for my mouth, I headed to Hu Kitchen and had dinner. I camped there for a while sending photos to some of my sisters and friends from my trip, texting people about the competition that I participated in on Friday, and just hoped that any one of the many Instagram bloggers that I am obsessed with, who live in the NYC, and love Hu, would walk in and give me an opportunity to meet one of them. (Sadly, that never happened.)
Day 6 (December 4th)
Again, another early day, one that I was so excited for because I planned to go and get avocado toast from The Butcher’s Daughter. It was some of the best avocado toast that I have ever seen photographed on Instagram, and it did not disappoint. I had such a relaxing morning at the cafe where I enjoyed the sun and I ate my toast next to another woman who was reading the paper while eating pancakes. We chatted a bit, and it was so lovely. I find it so amazing when two (or more) people who don’t know each other can talk and enjoy the company that the other brings. We all have so much to share, whole lives that we’ve lived through, and amazing personalities to communicate them with, so why wouldn’t you want to take the time to get to know as many others as you can?
I left after enjoying my breakfast and walked to New York University, where I arrived quite early, so I detoured into La Colombe to get their on-tap Draft Latte. When I finished, I made a short walk to The Welcome Center at New York University. I was signed up to take an informational tour that morning and was one of the first to show-up that.
The tour began with an informational meeting and then ended with a walk around the Greenwich Village area where the housing, classes, and buildings of the school were scattered. The college, and all the opportunities available there, were so impressive, and excited me like crazy! After I finished the tour, I had to call my dad to tell him all about it! There was some much to say, and even more anxiety I needed to express because I was scared about what this meant. If I loved The King’s College, and I loved New York University, what would I do? Which college would I choose? (I am the most indecisive person there ever was, so this was quite a large issue that felt very consuming.) After talking about it, I put the thought on the back-burner because I knew that I didn’t need to decide that moment, or that day, or even that month, and I went to go and get some lunch, followed by a walk through the park.
Washington Square Park is such a beautiful park that is always so calm, yet lively, and has such a beautiful view and peaceful atmosphere. I chilled on one of the benches for a while and took in the scenery. I enjoyed watching little kids run around, teenagers skate-board, a band perform for spare change, a man play music on the grand piano near the arch, dogs play with their toys, and much more. Eventually I left the park and walked around the Greenwich Village area for a few hours. I then made my way to Soho and shopped the many stores that fill that neighborhood. When I finally needed a break, I settled in at Irvington Coffee Roasters coffee shop an ordered an oat-milk latte. It was a peaceful afternoon that I spent reading a book that I brought followed by a mile walk to my dinner destination and then back to the college.
Day 7 (December 5th)
I had an alarm set to get up early on Tuesday because I had a few appointments that day. I got up, got ready, and headed towards Little Italy for breakfast. I made my way to Two Hands and enjoyed a slow and relaxing breakfast. The cafe is kind of small, but the aesthetic is so completely on point, and all the waiters are so fashion forward with amazing accents… I was such a perfect atmosphere for a slow breakfast.
I got going after my coffee cup was empty and walked towards Essex Street for my manicure at The Chillhouse. I had heard about The Chillhouse from quite a few wellness Instagrammers, and I made sure to schedule my appointment weeks before my trip. The Chillhouse is a wellness cafe in the front and a salon in the back. The front is very relaxed with seating and natural lighting. There is a counter where you can order wellness drinks such as the “Chill Me Out” latte which is made with ube, ginger, goji, acai, rehmannia, and mesquite. They also have treats that are mostly vegan and other staple drinks like matchas and turmeric lattes. In the back is where they do manicures and massages of all sorts. It was truly the most unique location I’ve ever visited.
I got a three-tiered gel manicure, which left me feeling so pampered. I had a manicurist who was very sweet and talked the entire time about life with me. She told me about her son and how she likes to use herbal remedies with plants she grows in her home and I talked about my future college and life plans.
After I got some nice photos of my nails, because you know I had to, I rushed off to Noho to catch the SoulCycle class that I signed up for. I got there, got ready, and was situated in plenty of time. The class itself was intense and left me feeling an amazing high. The instructor was so passionate and truly made you feel that all that mattered was what was happening right there. She pushed me to the absolute edge. I walked out of the studio dripping sweat, a little weak (because it was my first exercise session in over a week), and wanting more. I made my way to the locker room and showered to get ready to have lunch where I went right across the street to The Broken Coconut and had one of my favorite meals of the whole trip.
I met McKenna soon after at a coffee shop where we talked for about two hours. The more I talked with her, the closer we became! It was fun chatting because we share so many similar qualities. Not only that but I asked many more questions about King’s and the answers continued to reassure me that that college is where I belong. She then told me more about herself, and we shared more stories, and eventually she had to get going to met a friend for dinner, so I headed over to The Chelsea Market in The Meatpacking District.
I got to the market and spent the rest of my night wandering around. I had some amazing goat-milk and sesame soft-serve after some amazing soup. I shopped, almost buying a hat that said “Avocado Toast” on it, but refrained when I saw the price tag (I am not going to lie, I regret not buying it). I enjoyed myself for a few hours and got going a little later than I had hoped. I had planned to leave in time to beat the rain that was coming, but the market doesn’t really have windows, so it is easy to lose track of time in there if you aren’t watching a clock. When I stepped outside, it was down-pouring! I made my way back to Brooklyn, where my new apartment was located, and arrived soaking-wet. (I switched between three apartments during my trip to stay with different students and to experience new areas.)
Day 8 (December 6th)
This was my last full day, and again, it was a bit busy! I woke up and headed to Little Italy for another amazing breakfast at De Maria where I got The Tiger Bowl and some banana bread. When I finished, I hopped right back onto the subway for Central Park. After I arrived, I started at Columbus Circle and visited the Central Park Holiday Market. It was the third holiday market I went to. They were all similar, but still very unique in their own ways, and all extremely festive! Eventually with some hot cocoa in my hand, I ventured out into the park, stuck in my headphones, hit play on Taylor Swift’s new album, and walked through the park for nearly two hours.
Central Park is by far one of my favorite places in this world. It is full of wildlife, nature, and diversity, in the midst of a huge city. It is truly a magical place. I can’t quite explain the feeling that you get inside yourself when you’re there, it is something you have to experience on your own, but it is amazing. I could have kept walking through the park for years, but I decided I needed a cookie after a bit, so I went on a cookie hunt.
It took me half-an-hour to walk to Levain Bakery, but if you’re a foodie, you’d know that Levain is where you can get the best cookies in the whole city, so the walk was worth it. I bought two cookies last time I was there, and I bought two again this time around as well. The cookies…words cannot describe! I slowly savored the amazing flavor and doughiness and chocolateness that the cookies are embodied with.
As I sat in the bakery, I came up with a game plan for the next few hours in my head. I was in need of lunch, and wanted to get By Chloe again. There was a By Chloe two miles away located right by The Radio City Music Hall where the Rockettes would perform at 1pm. I had been wanting to see The Rockettes, so I decided that is what I would go and experience next. It was 11:40 am, so I was in quite the time-crunch, and didn’t actually have tickets for the performance yet, but I was determined. (Again, this was something that never could have happened with more than one or two people, but as an individual, I knew myself and knew I’d be able to make it in time and get a good seat. It would be tough, but I knew I could do it. I loved that freedom).
So with two miles to walk through one of the busiest areas of the city, I got going soon after being in cookie heaven. It took lots of arm-pumping, weaving through folks, running to make it across streets before lights changed, car-dodging, and GPSing down millions of weird streets, but I made it to By Chloe by 12:15. I walked in and there was a massively long line that extended all the way to the door that was what seemed like a mile from the counter. However, I was there, and wanted my vegan burger and sweet potato fries with beet ketchup one more time before I left the city, so I got in line.
My food made it out extremely fast, (they must always be that busy and have a good system) and I was chowing down by 12:30. As I was eating, I purchased the most last-minute tickets anyone could possibly buy for the Rockettes show, which was just a few blocks away.
I made it to Radio City just in time and enjoyed the show, although I personally wouldn’t go again. The Rockettes were fun to watch, but there were many other elements of the show that bored me a bit. I am glad that I was able to experience it though! After the show I went back to the Soho area to shop for the afternoon. After getting a few items I had been eyeing up for the majority of my trip, I walked towards Dig Inn. Dig Inn was the restaurant where I was going to be meeting up with my friend Sam to have dinner and finally meet for the first time! We had been Instagram friends for so long, meeting through our food accounts, and then began talking more personally a while after. We had gotten pretty close, so I was so excited to finally meet her!
She arrived and it was so strange to see someone in person whom you’ve only ever seen photos of and chatted with via text and Instagram. Sam was so pretty and just as sweet as I knew she would be! We ordered our food, took pictures of it (of course), and then talked for quite some time! We chatted about all sorts of things… it was just so surreal to meet her! Sam lives in Staten Island, and eventually she needed to catch the bus, and I had a baking class to attend, so we had to say goodbye after our short, but amazing, time together.
After saying goodbye I adventured to where I would be taking a baking class taught by Rachel Mansfield! For anyone who isn’t familiar, she is a recipe developer and a wellness blogger. She has a very large following and is known around the country for her website and her brand! I got there very early and got to meet her and some of the others that run Wellness Meet Up (the brand hosting the event) along with many who were there to take the class.
The class itself was very fun and informative, although, I was allergic to half the ingredients we were using, because they were almond based, so I didn’t get to participate much. However, I did get to meet a ton of foodies and girls living wellness-based lives (like I am) which was quite a blessing! I left with a heavy bag full of free products and a phone full of foodie photos and made my way to Brooklyn late that night to get to sleep for tomorrow.
Day 9 (December 7th)
My flight was a late one, not departing until 4:30 pm, so I woke up and went to have a nice breakfast one last time. I enjoyed myself at Banter and then headed out in search of a shop that was selling bags. I knew after the baking class, and all my shopping, that my suitcase was far over 50 pounds, and I’d be needing to check in another bag.
Eventually I found one, along with DO, where, yes, I did eat cookie dough at 9:30 in the morning. My philosophy is that when you’re in New York City, you need to eat at every possible chance! (And I definitely did that.) After, I headed back to my apartment with my new bag so that I could begin the packing process, which if you know me, was pretty easy because I am a neat freak and my suitcase was already almost ready to go as it was. However, I needed to do rearranging of weights to make sure all of my bags were under the 50 pound limit.
I got everything situated with enough time to adventure a bit more. I had about two hours, and I decided to stay in Brooklyn for that time to explore. Manhattan is only one of five boroughs that make up New York City, Brooklyn being another. After beginning my walk I began to feel regret that I hadn’t spent more time in that area. The houses were gorgeous, the streets were silent, all the people you saw were real residents, not tourists, so they were very chill and sweet. Brooklyn was more of a residential area, not so much a sightseeing area. I walked by many homes, schools, and some cafes. I knew that next time I was in New York, I would need to spend more time in this borough!
As I was wrapping up the last of my time in the city, I began walking towards Bluestone Lane for some coffee and a light lunch. On the way I stumbled upon the Brooklyn Bridge, which I didn’t realize was so close to the apartment! I had to get a photo (being one of the most Instagrammed spots ever, I couldn’t pass it up) and I enjoyed the gorgeous area for a bit. I walked by the filming of two different movies where I was shushed, despite not making any noises, and eventually got to the coffee shop.
I ordered, and then sat down and waited for my coffee and toast. While I waited I heard someone begin ordering. I knew her voice immediately as Shailene Woodley. When I was younger I was obsessed with fictional books, such as Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, and had seen their movies a thousand times each. She was the actresses who portrayed the lead character in both movies. After she ordered, she went to a table, and I was so excited that I got up and went over to her. I basically told her how much I loved her work and she thanked me, said some words that I don’t remember because I was in shock (I had never met an extremely famous person before, especially not randomly), and then she hugged me! I sat down, enjoyed my food, and walked back to the apartment with a cheesy grin on my face!
Then the rest of my day was pretty boring. I called an Uber, got to the airport, and you know the drill. I arrived in Minnesota at 7pm that night, and continued my adventures from there!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip! As I mentioned earlier, I plan to do shorter posts of the food and the ‘lessons learned’ aspects of my trip next! This trip was the best nine days of my life, and I am so thankful for the opportunity. A few weeks after returning home I made the decision to secure my place in next year’s class at The King’s College by making a payment for early action decision enrollment. I talked with Sophia about finances and it is now official: I will be attending The King’s College beginning in the fall of 2018 for journalism! I am more excited than I have ever been about anything and I am looking forward to begin that chapter of my life (after I finish this one of course)! More posts to come, and until then, happy last week of 2017!