From the Big Blue to the Concrete Jungle

On the water in the morning and by afternoon, walking through a bustling fair on 8th Street, NYC. That was my Saturday. If that could be my life regularly, that would be one successful life.

A trip to NYC is not something I will write about often, as I attend school in Long Island and frequently visit, especially when I have an internship. Plus, I am not trying to write a blog about my adventures in NYC. If that were the case, this blog would be named “Sara in the City.” However, Saturday filled me with the epitome of satisfaction and I am eager to share it with you.

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Saturday started off with a beautiful ski on the Toms River. This was my first run of the season. The water was cool and the air was warm. The whole group was there: my dad, my dad’s father, Pop Pop, and my dad’s best friend, Mario. We hit the water like we hadn’t stopped for almost a whole year. The entire time I was skiing I was singing and squealing like a kid who just opened the most epic present ever. I was pleased with the duration of my ski, and even more pleased with the fact that I kicked a ski off so effortlessly, risking hurting my already inflamed and bruised toe. Our ski trip was a short one, as Pop Pop and I had an exciting day planned for us: We were headed to see Les Miserables on Broadway with my grandma.

I was in such a light and cheerful mood after my ski that I decided to run a mile along the water before hopping in the shower and rushing to get ready for Pop Pop’s 9:25 am arrival at my house. There’s nothing like some action on the water and a brisk jog to start the day off right.

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Running Route

We decided to take the bus to New York, which takes only 1 hour and 15 minutes from the NJ Transit terminal in Toms River to Port Authority in the city. My grandparents chatted with me the whole way up, and I could tell they were beyond thrilled to be seeing this with me. This was a super special trip for all of us because they tried persuading me to see this show with them when I was a child, but what eight-year-old girl wants to view a show about a war in France? Not this one. It took me until I saw the premiere of the motion picture of Les Mis with my high school theater group to fall head over heels for this show. For those of you who do not know, Les Miserables is about the hunt for a man who broke parole, and his adopted daughter who falls in love with a university student fighting for revolution in France during the 1800s. A movie description from IMDb can be found here. Ever since I realized how moving this show was, it was my dream to see it with my grandparents. Although this was my third time seeing it on Broadway, this was just as special as my first time seeing it, and I knew this would be the last time I see it before it ends its run on Broadway.

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Carmine’s Bread Pudding

Prior to the show, my grandparents were enthused to take me to Carmine’s, a  famous family-style Italian restaurant. The incredible thing about this place is that one plate of food can serve multiple people. Although the restaurant says a plate of pasta can serve three to four people, each dish can definitely serve at least six. We met a nice family there; apparently the father had gotten out of jail not too long ago, and had been saving money to take trips with his two children. It was a very inspiring and unusual encounter. We ended up giving them our dessert because there was no way we would finish it.

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We finished dining and headed over to the Imperial Theater to see the astounding musical. As assumed, it did not let me down and I think I can say the same for most of the theater, as all I heard were awe-struck sniffles around me at the end. We headed back to the bus station and headed home to end our fantastic day.

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Grandma and I

Why did I want to tell you about this? This was simply another appreciated visit to my favorite city to add to my list, but for others, NYC is a huge trip. The thing about Saturday that made me so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude is the fact that I was able to wake up to a sunny, bright day, hop into the water, get some exercise, and then two hours later be breathing in the hustle and bustle of New York City. I often struggle with myself about what exactly I will do when I am done with school and where I will live. I am in love with the fast-paced, colorful city life, but my heart is also anchored in the ocean. Saturday showed me what life could be if I work hard enough and ensure that I continue doing what makes me happy.

“Step with care and great tact, and remember life’s a great balancing act!”

-Dr. Seuss

That’s what Saturday was: a balancing act. I morphed the two things that fill me with passion into one day. To be able to do that brings me great joy and appreciation for what I have done and can do in life. Being aware of what is possible will hopefully help me achieve my goals and balance my passions as I journey through this beautiful life.

 

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A Reel Great Day

 

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I leave for Costa Rica in less than a week. During my stay, I will be fishing for two days, so what better way to prepare for some staunch fishing than to go fishing? Wednesday’s trip was for bluefish, which was my first time hunting this fish.

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Sunrise at Approximately 6 a.m. on the Toms River

We woke up at the crack of dawn to head out to the ocean by six in the morning. The best part about waking up this early was seeing the sun slowly creeping into the air, illuminating the pale sky with vivid oranges and yellows. We fished out of the Barnegat Inlet, which is right off New Jersey’s Island Beach State Park.

My dad was stoked to get my sister and I out on the water before we hit Central America and he promised a great day to get a base tan for the trip (Dad was really trying to get us to come). Between the the clear skies and calm waters, low temperature system and westerly breeze, it was bound to be a good day. However, it did not quite pan out to be a busy day on the water.

We chased the blues a few different ways. First, we used a type of fishing called “trolling.” This involves dragging lines behind the boat at a slow speed to get a fish to hop on the hook. While our 23 foot Chaparral motor boat was not in motion, we would cast our lines and reel them in at a moderate pace, while bopping our poles up and down. Attached to the lines were a type of rig called “bunker spoons” which bring the rig downward into the water and resemble a fish swimming. While trolling, we also used an umbrella rig which is made to look like a school of fish. For every one foot of depth, it is necessary to let out about ten feet of line. The deepest we fished was up to 40 feet.

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Putting up a Fight for the Fish

Without much luck outside the inlet, we headed towards the inside of it, where we saw some birds preying on bait fish. We knew that since there was a lot of bait fish in the area, there must be some blues underneath. Our luck changed once we moved to the inside of the inlet, because my sister caught an impressive bluefish. It was no easy fish to land. Just to get the magnificent creature in the boat, I had to stable the pole as my sister reeled the line in. We definitely made Dad proud when we won that battle.

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Catch of the Day

Being in the sea opens up a new appreciation for nature’s beauty within me. I am surrounded by an ocean so large and so deep, I can only skim the surface of the majestic mysteries it has to offer.

That fish was our only keeper of the day, but we did not mind one bit. Something I have really thought about lately is how important it is to have good company. Today I had the best company, I learned a few things and I spent the day soaking up the sun and breathing in the salty air. The best part of the day, however, was the reward we had for dinner-our own fresh fish.

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Grilled Bluefish

Skyping Across the World

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I just skyped with two Europeans. One was in Rome and the other was traveling who knows where in Europe. The things that technology can do are amazing. Even more amazing, however, are the projects these two Europeans I connected with are using technology for and the fact that I get to work with them this summer.

During my Roman study abroad trip through The Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, better known as “SCO in Rome,” I will be working with a nonprofit called “Shoot4Change.” This group binds together amateur and professional photographers, videographers, designers and artists who shoot humanitarian exposures. The group’s motto is “Shoot Local, Change Global.” The aim is to engage in photo storytelling to bring local social issues to life, free of charge. S4C believes that information can change lives and that everyone should be free to express his views and opinions.

The group of students and I, also known as the self-dubbed “Hofstra Romans,” are super excited to dive into Roman culture by working with S4C. So far, we plan to help with some of its biggest projects: documenting the serious political consequences from the earthquake in L’Aquila that destroyed the area several years ago and the Syrian refugee crisis. The gentleman we skyped with, Antonio Amendola, the founder of the Shoot4Change, and Andrea Ranalli, seemed equally enthusiastic.

The next time I speak to them, it will be in person in Rome, Italy. Stay tuned for more updates!

 

Opportunities are Meant for Taking

When I wrote the article, “How to Plan a Study Abroad Trip,” for my first internship last year, I had never actually been on a study abroad trip. I wrote it with the advice of others who have planned trips abroad, common sense and with a hope that I too would one day get to travel abroad for my studies. That time is less than a month away.

I have always been ready to go wherever, whenever. I recall playing at my friend’s house in elementary school, who then invited me on a trip to Maryland with her family the next day. I went in a heartbeat. My first time traveling outside America was also in elementary school when I flew to Jamaica for a family vacation. blog1My first time traveling to Europe was with my Pop Pop, when he took me to Paris in sixth grade (How was that almost ten years ago?). I did not find out until recently that apparently I begged him to take me to the City of Love for years. I’m pretty sure I got the travel bug from him, and I am sure glad that it bit me.

Some people don’t have the opportunity to travel abroad, while some don’t see a good reason to. There are some people who enjoy a relaxing beach vacation (me) and others who appreciate a fast-paced and heavy itinerary  (also me). My point in all of this is that I try to take advantage of every opportunity I can and to live life to the fullest. I have been so fortunate with my life experiences thus far, and I hope to be able to expand my horizons through travel throughout my life.

No matter what it is, as long as it is legal, I encourage all people to find something they enjoy and to pursue it. Whether it is seeing concerts, trading cards, singing karaoke, or anything else, it is important to have something that makes one’s soul lively. Taking advantage of every opportunity I can is my way of helping my soul stay lively.

“To travel is to live.”

I saw this quote by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. I do have multiple other things that make me “live,” but traveling is definitely one of them. This resonates with the feelings that exploring new places gives me.

I cannot wait to see where my travels take me whether it’s through a study abroad program or by own endeavors, and I would love for you to come along for the ride.