Monthly Archives: February 2015

Life in New York City

IMG_1187
Crossing over the Brooklyn Bridge or exiting the Holland Tunnel leads to something extraordinary. Looking around, you see skyscrapers that look like they go on for miles, the hustle and bustle of the average New Yorker, and the confusion and awe of a tourist. There is something so magical and appealing about the Big Apple that catches the eye of many, drawing them to the city. Shows such as Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Seinfeld, Gossip Girl, Sex and the City and 30 Rock all highlight life in the Big Apple. Central Perk was the hang out everyone wished was accessible to them, audiences empathized with Ted as he found love in the big city and girls today fantasize about finding their own Chuck Bass and living on the Upper East Side. These fictional shows depict a picture of what living in Manhattan is like, but what is it really like? To find out I went to Ms. Faust, an Upper West Side resident and New York Experience Trip coordinator.

Ms. Faust first moved to Manhattan in May of 2006 for graduate school at Columbia University. Since her return in August of 2012 for her position at SIA, she has resided in a townhouse apartment with 2 roommates on the Upper West Side, walking distance to Central Park. Having gone to the Upper West Side and Central Park with Ms. Faust on two occasions (NYC Trip and AP English trip), I can honestly say that the area is beautiful. Ms. Faust says that the Upper West Side is her favorite place to live in the city, as opposed to were she lived when she first moved back, the Financial District. Many must be wondering how her commute is in the morning, but she insists it’s not that bad either way.

Having grown up in a house my entire life, I always wondered what apartment living must be like. When I asked Ms. Faust how she has adjusted to living in an apartment, she said “After a while you really get used to living in an apartment.” As a follow up question I asked about closet space and she added that it’s just another thing you get used to, however if she could expand her apartment, she’d expand her kitchen. She enjoys cooking and baking and wishes her kitchen were just a bit larger. On the topic of food, I had to ask her about her favorite restaurants and were she goes to eat, to which she replied “There are so many good restaurants in Manhattan, that you rarely wind up going to the same place twice.” Diverging from the topic of food, she talked about living with roommates. Unlike Friends, neither of her roommates are former high school friends of hers who ran out on their wedding day, but nonetheless they are like sisters to Ms. Faust.

Aside from her apartment Ms. Faust also talked about things she likes to do in the City and tips for anyone who plans on living in the city. When describing her average weekend she said: “Normally, I’ll run errands in the neighborhood, and then I may go to a museum or to an art installation or a special event.” Her favorite museum is the Met, and she enjoys the fact that it’s just across the park from her apartment. Back in December, Ms. Faust said there was a snowboarding contest in Central Park, and anyone who’s in her class probably has heard about the snowman she and her roommates built after the “blizzard.” For anyone who is looking for a place to shop, Ms. Faust recommends the boutiques in the West Village. The one neighborhood Ms. Faust avoids is Spanish Harlem, mainly for safety concerns. She also jokingly said how she’s never in the Lower East Side because it’s hard to get to from the Upper West Side and it’s full of young, crazy students. If there was a negative about living in the city, Ms. Faust says it’s the smell.

FullSizeRender

So why places such as McClaren’s Pub and Central Perk may not exist, there are still plenty of fun things to do. While Monica and Rachel’s apartment is much more money than the show led on, they were accurate when they depicted the dynamic of roommates. Overall, the portrayal of life in New York City that is depicted on TV shows truly is great.

 

By Andrew B. ’16

#BPConference2015

On Tuesday, Chris C. ‘16, Kristine C. ’16, and I headed to a press conference with Borough President James Oddo. Accompanied to P.S. 48 by Ms. Corigliano, the conference, called #BPconference2015, was attended by 17 different Staten Island high schools; Staten Island Academy was the only Independent school in attendance. President Oddo began the chat by thanking his staff and P.S. 48 for holding the conference. He mentioned how P.S. 48 is one of his “sweetest achievements,” to which he explained how they fought for the building of the new PreK-8 school.

When James Oddo spoke about his achievements, policies and plans, he highlighted the billion dollars being spent in four projects meant to revitalize the St. George and Stapleton waterfront. For those unaware of this, Oddo expanded, mentioning the Ferris Wheel and outlets being constructed. The other two projects consisted of one named Lighthouse Point and other apartments and retail buildings.

This led to questions from students about other possible projects in Staten Island. A young man from Tech mentioned how he wanted to start a tech-startup possibly in Staten Island, however he felt there was a lack of a technology community on the Island. Oddo was very enthusiastic about this question and went into great detail about the growth of technology on our Island and how the Mayor in his State of the City address Tuesday morning mentioned plans on a 5-borough technology community. One St. Peter’s student asked about the Tompkinsville waterfront. Another asked about re-building the boardwalk in South Beach. In reply, Oddo spoke of plans to build a sea wall to prevent damage from another hurricane such as Sandy. He mentioned making West Shore a focal point on the Island for job build up. However, while many were pleased with the idea of building up the Island and restoring the dead Waterfront, one female student from Curtis felt that revitalizing St. George would increase the price of living in the area and asked if the inhabitants of the area would be upset by the increase in tourism. Oddo touched upon how the project went through a long public process and that these problems are better than a dead waterfront and that majority of Staten Islanders are very excited about this revitalization. One thing Oddo did not touch upon was what will happen to Fresh Kills. Those plans were not touched upon, nor asked about, which seemed odd, since he spent a good block of time on revitalizing Staten Island.

On a less positive note, Oddo also discussed the problem of substance abuse. He mentioned how as Borough President he has reached out to many schools and principals to instill drug education in elementary schools. Many students asked repeatedly about starting these programs in the high school. Oddo made it clear that at this moment he is in the process of working on a program to teach younger members of our society, but is open to ideas for working with high schools on these types of programs. Oddo mentioned that after working with leaders in the movement to end substance abuse, it was brought to his attention that while they curtailed the issue of prescription drug abuse, many have turned to heroin, which may even be more addictive. Labeling this an “epidemic,” Oddo says that to end this issue, we must stop the next generation from continuing it, continue to educate the parents and talk about the epidemic, not be embarrassed by it.  However, while it may seem as though Oddo eloquently spoke of how to solve the problem, many still had questions.

One girl from Concord high school spoke of the lack of guidance counselors in her high school, which led to three or four other students asking about guidance counselors. President Oddo explained that while he has $3.65 million to spend on schools, there are certain ways it must be spent. They’re known as capitol and expense. Expense is harder to obtain and is used to pay salaries, while capitol is much easier to gain access to and is used for building and buying for schools. Come April, our Borough President must submit a budgetary plan and he confirmed it will focus mainly on schools.

The huge elephant in the room—Eric Garner—was unavoidable and one student asked about how youth-police relationships can be pacified. Oddo addressed the youth-police relationship first by saying how communication on both ends is key. When discussing Eric Garner, he left out whatever his own opinions were on the case and mentioned how many expected Staten Island to explode over the decision, and he was pleased to see it did not. President Oddo told a story about how Bishop Brown asked him to meet with the family of Eric Garner right before the decision was announced. Hesitant at first, Oddo ended up having Gwen Carr, Garner’s mom, Be Car, Garner’s step dad, Cynthia Davis, a member of the Mayor’s team, and Bishop Brown in his office. Oddo had a tool on his desk, and President Oddo and Mrs. Carr were able to connect that she knew Oddo’s father. Oddo said how this cut the tension and ended in a two hour conversation with dinner. A follow-up question was how to stop crime amongst youth. He says that stopping crime among youths has a three letter answer “Mom and Dad.” If mom and dad do not discipline at home, how can a child be disciplined by anyone else?, he asked. One interesting point he brought up was that many homes now are “fatherless.” Calling this an epidemic, Oddo says that this is a growing problem because “some men like to hit it and run.” This got several laughs and he ended his answer to the question by simply saying it starts at home. If raised right, a child will do right.

One student from St. Joseph Hill was able to change the tone of the repetitive conversation by asking about how the Borough President and his team could help students attend college without being “economically hindered.” Oddo said that the problem was above his power and was an issue for the President of the United States and Congress to handle. Speaking out about Obama’s current plan, Oddo says it did not hit the core of the problem. He informed us about how some colleges are trying to chop off a year in an attempt to cut down the cost. It seemed to me, however, that decreasing the cost would make more sense than chopping off a year. Oddo fears that the American dream of doing the best you can to ensure the next generation does better is rapidly leaving us. The next generation may not do as well as the last—a change from his own days, said Oddo. The talk of college led to him discussing his own college process and how he got to where he was today. This made the conversation much more personal and relatable. He revealed he attended Academy of St. Dorothy, a school attended by myself until fifth grade and where my sister currently attends. By the end of the conference, Oddo was sitting in a stool and the conversation was much less formal.

In the end the conference was very informative, even though we did not get recognized for being in attendance, nor were our questions answered. However, we have now been encouraged by the Borough President’s office to schedule a private conference with President Oddo. Hopefully with some one-on-one time, we will be able to have our questions answered and get to know our Borough President a little better.

 

By Andrew B. ’16