Every winter, college students across the Boston area fervently hope they will be gifted with the arrival of a snow day sometime during the spring semester. This year our wish blew through on a Thursday, giving many an extended weekend and free day to play. While most settled right into Netflix and chill, I decided to brave the arctic temperatures and spend my senior snow day venturing out into the city for what could be one of the last blizzards in Boston. Although piles of dirty ice still line the streets two weeks later, seeing the city in a winter whiteout always leaves me wonder-struck. This year, my Peruvian friend even turned the fun up a notch with an inflatable llama that became the biggest joke on east campus and one of those crazy college memories I'll probably be retelling well into my eighties (an even sweeter memory: she gifted it to one of the inquiring men shoveling our dorm's sidewalks whose autistic son happens to love llamas). To all those west coast college students, I see your Instagrams by the pool with your giant inflatable swans and seventy degree weather, but I raise you an inflatable llama on a snow day, any day!
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Four years ago I started a bucket list dedicated to my college years and slowly but surely I've crossed off quite a few things and added more along the way. Some were as simple as running along the Charles River Esplanade while others were big dreams like interning in New York City. With less than 100 days until graduation, the pressure is definitely on to knock out a few more things on my list!
This winter, I finally visited the annual Ice Castles in Lincoln, New Hampshire, a Narnia-esque wonderland full of frozen man-made ice "castles" that weigh upwards of 25,000,000 pounds. Built and continuously maintained during the coldest winter months, the turquoise icicle-covered structures are truly a spectacular testament to the beauty of winter.
What: A winter wonderland of icicle
When: Winter— Typically January to Early March or whenever the weather becomes too warm
Where: Lincoln, New Hampshire
Even if you don't live in New England, they have locations in Wisconsin, Utah, and Canada!
Wear: I regret not wearing snow boots with good traction as I naively underestimated how slippery the ice would be.
Tyro Tip: While the walking under dagger-like icicles seems dangerous, read this explanation about the structures' safe framework.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
"Now you're in New York… these streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you."
New York is always one of those places that makes you a little more insightful, inspired, and, dare I say, hungry (in an ambitious kind of way). After being away for five months, it was great to be back dashing about the streets of New York and taking in the familiar energy of hustling New Yorkers. From all of my travels elsewhere, I never feel quite as inspired and energized by any other city's society. Here, there's always this special, underlining feeling of hope that promises you can be whoever you want. In the mist of the current climate on social and political issues, I've learned to value that even more this year.
Friday, January 20, 2017
New York City is magical itself, but sprinkle in some snow and it takes on a whole new level of enchantment. Recently, I spent a long weekend in the city reuniting with old friends and revisiting favorite spots. After reappearing from the subway one afternoon, the city suddenly looked like a real-life snow globe, which of course was perfect for a quick walk around Central Park. Once the snowfall became too thick to carry on, I trudged my way back downtown, rejoining the mass population of New Yorkers hiding away in cafe corners that never before felt quite as intimate and cozy.
latte of the day: bluestone lane
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Travel roughly 60 miles away from London and you will find yourself transported to one of the most intellectual places in history: the University of Oxford. Universally known for its prestigious academia, Oxford became the first home for secular learning in England over a thousand years ago. As you stroll through the "city of dreaming spires" with its golden-hued limestone buildings in the Neoclassical architectural style, you will find yourself walking along the path of some the world's most brilliant scholars (and perhaps secretly hoping that by some sheer stroke of luck you might expand your own intellect through osmosis). After all, the university's impressive list of alumni includes world leaders, British Prime Ministers, Nobel Peace Prize winners, Olympians, and literary geniuses.
The university's network of 38 colleges, libraries, and churches alone provide many interesting tourist attractions that are not to be missed including the sweeping cityscape views at the St. Mary the Virgin Church Tower and the real-life Hogwarts dining hall at Christ Church; however, there are many places of interest sprinkled around Oxford that are also oozing with history, prestige, and charm. After finishing a tour of Bodleian Library, simply continue north on Parks Road to the joint Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museum for a truly eclectic and one-of-a-kind museum chock full of anthropological and primeval gems. Just a stone's throw away you'll also find the Ashmolean Museum which is the oldest public art museum in Britain. Yet before you leave, take time to wander around the city centre which guarantees the discovery of some local gem with old-world charm like Scriptum's Fine Stationery and the Grand Cafe, England's first coffee house.
Radcliffe Camera & Bodleian Library
Views from the Tower at St Mary the Virgin Church
Oxford University's Christ Church College
Bridge of Sighs
Inside Christ Church Cathedral
The Great Hall at Christ Church College
Alice in Wonderland Shop
The Grand Cafe— first coffee house in England
Scriptum Stationery Shop
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Pitt Rivers Museum
The city is only about an hour train ride from London and the heart of Oxfordshire County, close to the coveted Cotswolds in the south east region of England.
Any time of the year, but it's more lively when university is in session which makes for better people watching and authentic scholarly vibes.
Oxford University: As the oldest university in the English-speaking world, Oxford has educated two British kings, 27 prime ministers, and countless famous writers, scholars, and actors and continues to be one of the most prestigious universities across the globe. For reference, here's a "short" list of famous Oxonians.
Christ Church: Founded by Henry VIII and transformed into a college in 1546, visitors flock to tour the inside Great Hall which inspired the dining hall scenes used in the Harry Potter films and real-life university dining halls across the pond (here's looking at you, Harvard).
Radcliffe Camera & Bodleian Library: One of the oldest libraries in Europe, Bodleian offers various tours of both their historic and modern reading rooms. The library's Neoclassical style Radcliffe Camera is also one of the most photographed buildings in Oxford.
Tower at St Mary the Virgin Church: Stop at the university's St Mary the Virgin Church to scale the 127 steps of the narrow church tower to view the city's skyline.
Bridge of Sighs: Officially know as the Hertford Bridge that links the university quad to Hertford College, the bridge is an iconic landmark of the university campus that resembles the Bridge of Sighs in Venice.
The Grand Cafe: Skip the English tea and grab a cappuccino at the first coffee house in England.
Ashmolean Museum: Founded in 1683, this Oxford University art museum is the oldest public museum in Britain and first purpose-built public museum in the world.
Oxford University Museum of Natural History: The Victorian Neo-Gothic architectural style of the museum was influenced by John Ruskin's idea that architecture should be shaped by the energies of the natural world. Charles Darwin famously defended his Origin of Species here while Lewis Carroll often visited and used some of the museum's collection of animals in his famous novel, Alice in Wonderland.
Pitt Rivers Museum: In 1884, English soldier and lifetime anthropology enthusiast, General Pitt Rivers, donated his extensive collection of over 26,000 archaeological objects to the University of Oxford. Since then, anthropologists and collectors around the world have made donations, expanding the museum's collection to over half a million objects today.
Scriptum Fine Stationery: Walk down the 600-year-old Turl Street in Oxford and you'll spot a beautiful two-story stationery shop with hand-stitched leather journals, monogrammed letters, pens, wax seals, and other unique trinkets.
Alice in Wonderland Shop: A shop filled with charming memorabilia dedicated to Alice in Wonderland. Alice Liddell— the real-life inspiration behind Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland— would buy sweets at this local shop as a child, which Carroll used as inspiration in his book when Alice visits a magical shop run by an old sheep selling curious things.
Whether you are a history buff, art lover, scholar, or Harry Potter fan, Oxford is the perfect place to escape London for the day.
Here's a fun and in-depth look from the NY Times of the Oxford locations that inspired Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. As you wander around the city, you'll recognize quite a few!