Taking the ferry to Brooklyn but ending up at IKEA – Weekend off in NYC #2.1

We started our second weekend off with a nice dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. I definitely fell in love with this restaurant, and to be honest, I think I’ve already tried at least seven of their Cheesecakes last summer. However, I had the best salad I’ve ever had with a lot of Guacamole!

Cheesecake Factory

As you might have read in my previous Weekend off – Post, we usually spent our time off in NYC, since the train ride from our city in Long Island to Penn Station was only an hour long. Our goal for this weekend was to take a ferry to Brooklyn and walk the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan and to visit Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street and certain Museums (I’m gonna tackle the Museum part in a separate post).
Well, it turned out that not everything went as planned…

NYC

Ground Zero

Ground Zero

Saturday morning, we already had breakfast at camp and arrived around eleven at Penn Station and took a subway to Ground Zero. I was in desperate need of a good black coffee (coffee at camp was usually just instant coffee which is not really delicious if you like to have your coffee black) so I went to Starbucks, ordered coffee and literally paid almost $3 for a small bottle of water.

NYC Art

NYC Art

I was really surprised how much street art we saw around Ground Zero, I didn’t remember it to be that much from my last trip to New York City in 2015.
The World Trade Center Memorial is very impressive, I really like that they mentioned all the names of the victims of the 9/11 attack.
However, I was not completely sure if I liked that so many people took pictures in front of the memorial, especially people who made instagram stories or uploaded pictures of themselves, smiling into the camera with all the victim’s names in the background.
Personally I feel like it is not particularly respectful to take those kinds of pictures in front of a memorial that reminds us of the deaths of almost 3000 people.
What is your opinion on this topic?

NYC Art

Can you spot the Statue of Liberty?

NYC

After our stop at the World Trade Center Site, we walked down Greenwich Street to Battery Park where we were considering doing a boat tour. Unfortunately we discovered an at least 400m long queue of people waiting to buy tickets, hence we decided to skip the tour and just chilled out a bit at the boardwalk.
Admiring the Statue of Liberty, which is still always a surprise because of its small size, we took some pictures before continuing our sightseeing stroll.
I mean, honestly! As a child I always imagined it to be humongous and visible from almost any part of Lower Manhattan, consequently I was a bit disappointed when I first came to NYC but I could not help but smile about it :)!

NYC

IKEA is always a good idea

2018-07-21 14:22:25.629

Already feeling a bit hungry we planned to take a taxi boat to Brooklyn and to walk the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan later in the afternoon.
Accordingly, we were super pleased when we found out that we only had to wait a couple of minutes for the next ferry. The so called „New York Water Taxi“ was yellow and rather had the appearance of a speed boat like the one I took in Bali when I went to Nusa Lembongan.
As already said, we could not wait to have our late lunch and therefore were happy to finally sit down, and hopefully find a nice restaurant ASAP :D…
The ferry or the slow speed boat honked and left the dock and started to drive to the right, even though Brooklyn Bridge was to our left.
We were slightly confused but still confident that we would soon arrive at our destination.

NYC IKEA

However, even after five minutes the ferry was still driving to the wrong direction and after having passed Governors Island we began to laugh despite growling stomaches and were open for another adventure, maybe we would eventually end up somewhere in New Jersey – nobody knows!
It took another twenty minutes till the boat approached a bay and we bursted out laughing when the ferry finally docked and spotted people waiting at the dock with big dark blue plastic bags with „IKEA“ written in bold yellow letters on it, waiting to take the Taxi Boat.

NYC IKEA

Yes, we accidentally took a ferry to IKEA instead of a ferry to Brooklyn. I did not even know that there is actually a ferry from Manhattan to IKEA.
Anyway, we therefore still ended up doing a boat trip, even though it was not particularly the one we expected to do.

Wall Street Stock Exchange

Still very hungry, we headed back to Manhattan and took a stroll to Wall Street in order to take a subway to Brooklyn and have lunch. Of course we could not miss out on taking a picture in front of the New York Stock Exchange!

NYC

Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (DUMBO)

Eventually, we made it to Brooklyn but it turned out that the search for food would not be as easy as thought. The restaurants at the promenade had big queues in front of them, I guess it would have taken us at least half an hour to be seated.

Subway

Brooklyn Bridge

We consequently decided to head to the famous „Gossip Girl Viewpoint“ first, where you can see the Manhattan Bridge from Washington Street. I had a salad at a great salad place called „Sweetgreen„, my friend hat a slice of Pizza at „Front Street Pizza“ and we stocked up on water at a small shop called Peas & Pickles.
I really enjoyed all the great salad bars in NYC since you were able to pick your own greens and stuff or enjoy one of their amazingly creative creations.

Brooklyn Bridge

Manhattan

After we had filled up on our energy levels, we went to the promenade where you have a great view of the Manhattan skyline.

NYC

2018-07-21 17:28:11.190

DUMBO was pretty great, many young people, great bars and restaurants and we met some other counsellors from camp at the boardwalk. It is amazing how you can actually meet people you know on accident in such a huge city. Also, I got a call from my friend from Germany who has also been a counsellor at another camp that summer. She told me that she had seen my snap and that she was also in the city, watching a musical on Broadway, what a coincidence!

2018-07-21 17:24:24.667

Donuts

We had spent another great day in Manhattan and Brooklyn and after at least ten hours of running around, we found ourselves at a Dunkin Donuts store near Penn Station and enjoyed some sweet Donuts. My absolute favourite that summer was probably the chocolate one with these kind of sprinkles which was filled with some kind of coconut cream – so delicious!

I hope you enjoyed this post, stay tuned for more USA posts!
xx, Sophie

This post is not sponsored. All restaurants, shops, places etc. mentioned in this post are my personal recommendations.

 

 

 

Nine Weeks of Summer Camp in Long Island, NY

Camp is officially over- and I am officially sad. I had such a great summer here in Long Island, I met great women and made many friends. Last year in December when I was in Australia, I made the decision to apply for Camp America and turned down an internship in Berlin for it. At that time, I wasn’t really sure if that was the right decision and I feared I could regret it. Looking back now, it was the best thing to do to end my gap year.

My camp is a camp for underprivileged children from Long Island and the board works the whole year to set up the camp. They do a lot of fund raising, they run a thrift shop and more in order to give children in need the opportunity to spend two weeks in a free summer camp.

Camp America has many different camps in their program and some private camps are really „exclusive“ and only quite wealthy people can afford a placement at a summer camp for their kids in those camps. Since the gap between rich and poor is growing in Long Island and everywhere else, I really appreciated the work in my camp because I feel like I’ve done something good.

Working with children can be exhausting, but very rewarding at the same time. I loved all the kids I had in my cabins and even though there are always some issues with some campers, you still learn to worship the work with kids and you learn from every problem you’ve dealt with. I had so much fun this summer and now I am laying in my bed, realising that this will be the last night I’m sleeping in a wood cabin with nets instead of windows and bunk beds. I can’t believe it and I don’t want to leave….

However, we had lots of fun in Long Island, it is such a great place with so much to do. I will definitely write a post about the area where I stayed. If you ever come to NYC, take a LIRR Train from Penn Station to Long Island- it’s definitely worth it!

The last picture in this post shows the little beach near our camp, where I occasionally went for a run in the morning- it was so beautiful!! The beach pictures were taken on a beach festival at Long Beach where we went on our first off weekend. It was such a great experience because we sat in the sand at the beach right next to the ocean, listening to live music and eating food truck-food. There was also a firework above the water at night and it was literally the best firework I’ve ever seen! We loved it ♥️

I had a great time, but life must go on. I will fly to California tomorrow and I am super excited. We’ll see…♥️

Thanks for reading!

xx, Sophie

Quick Update: Camp and New York City

Hello everybody,

I hope you are enjoying your summer at the moment and that the weather is good. In Long Island the weather great, even though it gets quite humid here and we sometimes have a 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) which is a lot when you are running around the whole day and do activities with the kids.

My third week in the United States has just begun (this blogpost will probably be published a bit later) and it is great so far. We had orientation for one week and the campers arrived the second week. We are a small camp in comparison to other camps in the United States, some of them have up to 7000 campers each summer. During orientation we prepared everything for the campers, for example we planned activities, games and different sessions, but we also had First Aid and CPR lessons. Additionally, we talked a lot about child behaviour and how to cope with difficulty situations, trust me – there will be difficult situations. It might depend in what kind of camp you are, just be prepared.

However, I can already tell that working with kids is an amazingly rewarding experience. One moment you think you are too strict and then suddenly they hug you, or draw you something and tell you that you are their favourite councellor. At the moment I feel like I am in a bubble because I don’t really feel like I am on earth right now. I am somewhere else, a save place that only exists to create great summer memories. It is amazing.

Yes, I am also exhausted sometimes. Coping with difficulties is sometimes really hard and sometimes I worry that I am not good enough for this job. But this is fortunately not often the case and when it happens I try to turn my thoughts on standby and focus on the kids, I am responsible and I want them to have a great time. Camp is about the campers, they are the most important piece in this great puzzle and it’s amazing to see how they change during that time. Kids who are bullied in school suddenly smile and laugh a lot. Introverted children suddenly become the loudest. It is a great community and I get up every morning with a smile on my face and am excited for the new day.

However, we also have off weekends when one sessions ends and the other is about to begin. On those weekends people go visit other places, which we did on our first day off. We took a train to Penn Station in the middle of Manhattan and spend our day in NYC. I know it sounds so stupid but it felt like coming home. There is no city like New York City. People from all around the world walk on these streets, it is always busy and overwhelming. This day we ran around a lot and visited some tourist attractions and even went to a thrift store in Soho. It was great! We don’t really have nice thrift stores in my town but the ones I visited in Amsterdam, London and NYC were amazing! Our day off was nice 😊

However, something happened: my camera broke. After six years of picture taking, something in the body is not working, and nobody can tell me what it is. I will have to wait till I’m home and figure something out for my time in the states. It’s sad but it can happen. We will see…

Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy my NYC iPhone pictures 😊

Have a good week!

Sophie

Camp America – An Announcement

Note: When you read this, I will already be on my way to the USA.

Camp America is an organisation that provides cultural exchange programs for young people from the age of 18. Every year thousands of people from all around the world travel to the US in order to work in a summer camp for kids and teens.
Since American students have 12 weeks of summer vacation, it is very common to spend some weeks in a summer camp.

Camp1

In camp there are different job positions, you can be a lifeguard, a general counsellor or a specialist.
As it is a cultural exchange program, you will be working with Americans who are often former campers at their camp, probably many Britons (everyone in Great Britain knows this program), people from western Europe and even Australians and New Zealanders often take part.

Camp2

Types of Camps

There are different types of Camps and if you have preferences, you will be able to add this in you application. These are the camp types:

  • Private Camps
  • Jewish Camps
  • Christian Camps
  • Special Needs Camps (e.g. working with children and adults who have a disability)
  • Underprivileged Camps (Free of charge for the campers)
  • Girl Scout Camps
  • Day Camps
  • Single Sex Camps

I had no preferences in my application and I know have the honor to work in an underprivileged camp in New York.

YES, I WILL SPEND NINE WEEKS IN FREAKING NEW YORK!

camp3

Working at Camp

You can either work as a counsellor, or as Campower.
Working as a counsellor means looking after the kids and you usually share a bunk with them and your co-counsellors. You will also be involved in different activities the campers have every day. Another option is being a specialist and teaching the kids something. You can basically be a specialist for every kind of sports.
Dance, soccer, basketball, equestrian, ropes, tennis etc.
But camps need also specialists for arts and crafts, nature, they need lifeguards, or even specialists for girl power.
In general, working at camp can be a very, very rewarding experience!

Campower staff can be working in a kitchen or be part of the maintenance staff. Basically they experience camp in a different way than the counsellors, since they are not responsible for the kids.

I will be working as a general counsellor and also as an arts and crafts specialist, which means I will be doing arts projects with the kids and also be a counsellor.
I really hope that I can also occasionally teach ballet or jazz modern classes, but the dance counsellor job in our camp mainly focussed on hip hop and street dance, which I am definitely not good at 😂

camp4

How to apply for Camp America

If you want to spend your summer working at a camp in the USA, you need to apply on the CA-website or if you are German, at AIFS. You also need to be free at least from mid June till September. The application process is quite extensive.

You have to write a lot about yourself, why you want to work at a camp, tell them about the experience you have with children, you need at least two skills you can write about (sports, art etc.) and need two references from your teacher or trainer (must not be part of your family).
Additionally, you need to film a video about yourself, presenting your skills and your life, you have to fill in a medical form with your doctor’s signature, you need a certificate of good conduct and CA or AIFS will interview you.

 

After your interview with your organization where they will make sure that you are capable of doing such a job, your application will be uploaded and all camp directors have access to it. If they are interested in hiring you, they will contact you and arrange a interview via skype. If they think you are suitable for a job at their camp they will ask if they can hire you. Now that you are hired, you have to apply for a VISA and go to a local embassy to get it approved. During your summer, you will have a medical insurance and if you are a „first year“, they will also book your flights and care of almost everything.
Now you can prepare yourself for camp, get in touch with other counsellors and be over excited for the hopefully best summer of your life 😄!

After your time at camp, you will have another four weeks to travel in the country, usually internationals will travel together, but you can also travel alone or book a Camp America-Track. This part is of course optional and you can choose the amount of days you would like to spend travelling.

camp5

What do you think about this program? Would you be interested in working in a summer camp in the United States?

xx, (overly-excited) Sophie

 

Pictures in this post are not mine, they are from the movie „The Parent Trap“ with Lindsay Lohan from 1998. If you click on the images, you will directly get to the source where I found them.

Party in the USA 1995 – New York City

New York City is so far the greatest city I have ever visited. At the beginning of this summer I started my New York City blogpost series and today I would like to continue with a blogpost about my mothers New York trip.
In 1995 she traveled the United States with her best friend. They went to Memphis in Tennessee, went on a road trip in California and they spend some days in Boston and New York City. Stay tuned, she will probably write a blogpost about her road trip on my blog!

Anyway, she always promised me that we would go to NYC after my sixteenth birthday and that this trip would be my birthday present. However, we did not went to the USA together, since my school offered a field excursion and I took part in it.

Nevertheless, we both went to the same places in the city and it is amazing to compare our travel photographs. I hope you enjoy having a look at these vintage photographs, taken in 1995.

Old NYC-1

Oh Central Park. We both loved Central Park. I already told you in my second NYC blogpost that I really enjoyed my bike tour through the park. I can highly recommend renting a bike, we rented our bikes at Central Park Sightseeing.

Old NYC-2

Do you remember the pictures of Manhattan at night? My mother also climbed the Empire State building and took similar pictures but in broad daylight.

Old NYC-6Old NYC-7

The Times Square and the streets that surround the world’s greatest advertisement space. In 1995 the Times Square was already so colourful, I wish I could go back to NYC very soon. Today there are so many great stores near the Times Square, absolutely counterproductive if you are trying to live a more minimalist life.

Old NYC-8Old NYC-9

Grand Central Station:Old NYC-10

The Empire State Building, fun fact: My mother and her friend confused the Empire State Building with the Chrysler Building. They still laugh about it a lot.

Old NYC-11

Wall Street Subway Station:Old NYC-12

I hope you enjoyed this little time travel.
Stay tuned!

Sophie

 

 

Pin it and don’t forget it!Old NYC-Pinterest

Things I love about New York City

We finally made it to the end of my New York City series! I have already shared pictures with you of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building at night and of the Staten Island Ferry. I also talked about What to do in NYC and informed you about things I’d love to do if I went back to New York one day.
Today, I will be sharing with you my favourite reasons why we should all visit this stunning city at least once.

Reasons-NYC-5

Cultural Diversity

I really enjoy having conversations with people from all over the world. I love exchanging experiences and I like to listen to other people’s stories. If you are interested in exploring different cultures and if you are into talking, you will love New York City!
I have never met so many people from different countries before. Of course you will probably meet some Chinese people in China Town and Italians in Little Italy.
But many other people from foreign countries are working in NYC, for example as tourist guides or waiters and waitresses in restaurants. It is definitely worth it to just talk to people. I also met many Germans, they probably noticed my german accent…(which is hopefully not that bad anymore :D) Anyway, it was just a great experience.
Besides, we met a lot of Hispanics in Union City. On our first evening we went to a nice restaurant and had Spanish and Mexican food which was simply great! They were so kind and in a very good temper. I would highly recommend visiting the other quarters of the city, since Manhattan is not the only nice spot in New York.

Reasons-NYC-6

The food

Oh yes the fooood! I have never been to a city where you find so many different food trucks and restaurants. Besides the common fast food places (very thrilling for us Germans) like Chipotle, Chick-fil-A and Dunkin Donuts, New York offers, as commonly known, many great places to have delicious food!
I have to admit that at first, I was a little afraid of the great variety. But later on, after I survived the cultural shock, I discovered some nice places to have breakfast, lunch and dinner.
At the beginning of our trip, we made sandwiches and took them with us, but they were so gross because the bread tasted like paper in comparison to the German bread. (We probably just picked the wrong brand) But then we went to a restaurant near Fifth Avenue where my friend had a delicious stake and I had a vegetarian dish which was also amazingly tasty. To be honest, I am neither able to tell you the name of the restaurants we went to, nor can I tell you what dishes I had. It is just that I went on this trip two and a half years ago and at that time I did not know that I will write about it one day.
However, do not be afraid to try new things in New York, you will love the variety of foods offered on the streets and at restaurants!

Reasons-NYC-1Reasons-NYC-4

Its changeableness

I do not even know if this is something that militates in favour of the City, but to my mind it is astonishing how multifaceted New York is when it comes to housing and environment. In Manhattan for example you will find many office blocks in Midtown, while the Upper East and West Side are more known to be the residential district for more prosperous people. You probably know the Upper East Siders from Gossip Girl :P.
On the one hand you have the quarters where Manhattan’s elite lives and on the other hand, quarters like SoHo, Little Italy and China Town. There is such a great variety and you will definitely not be bored.
Furthermore, Brooklyn used to be a tricky place to stay but today, this is completely different. I loved Brooklyn, it is just a little bit more calm and not that crowded. Wasn’t it Miranda Hobbes from Sex and the City who said that Brooklyn is the new Manhattan?
To be honest, I am not able to evaluate this statement but I feel like it is true. I would love to live in Brooklyn one day!

Reasons-NYC-3

Now, this is the end of my New York posts. I really hope you enjoyed reading them and especially the photographs.

What do you think about New York City? Do you like crowded metropolises or do you prefer the countryside?
Feel free to comment, I am always interested in other people’s opinions and thoughts!

Stay tuned,
Sophie

 

Pin it and don’t forget it!Reasons-Pinterest-NYC

NYC #7 – Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge, as well one of the most touristy places in New York.
No caption needed, I just hope you like the photographs of this architectural masterpiece. Additionally, you will be happy to hear that my New York City Photography series comes to an end and there is only one post left.

Brooklyn-8Brooklyn-2Brooklyn-9Brooklyn-7Brooklyn-5Brooklyn-11Brooklyn-10Brooklyn-6Brooklyn-3

Stay tuned and have a great week!

xx, Sophie