Saturday, December 31, 2011

The End of 2011

Hey everyone! Today is the last day of 2011! I left Spain this morning (or last night depending on where you are!) and I got back to New York a few hours ago. This is going to be a very special New Year's, since it's the first time I spend it abroad. Even though I have been away from home for a while now, I had always stayed there for New Year's Eve.

Even though my holidays in Spain have been very short, I have enjoyed a lot and I am excited to be here for such a special day. At this point, this city means much more than just a city to me, and even though it's always sad to leave home, I always feel a rush of adrenaline when I land in JFK and I hope I'll never lose it.

I'm not the kind of guy who makes New Year's resolutions, because if I need to change anything, I don't need to wait to the last day of the year to think about it! But I do like making a little balance at the end of the year and be grateful for everything that has happened so far.

To be honest with you, this has been one of the most exciting years of my life, and I'm happy I've been sharing big part of it here in this blog. I can't complain about any of my years, especially the last ones when I started living abroad and many of my dreams came true.


I have many memories from 2011, and I know I will always remember them. I have kept in touch with all the people I love and I have far away, and I have made new friends that are just like a family for me now. I have experienced a lot of great things at Berkeley College, which makes me be very happy of the decision of choosing this school for my education.

I can only say good things, because it would be too rude of me to complain. As cheesy as it sounds, I promise you I used to dream about the life I have now and sometimes it's hard to believe that I'm here, doing what I like and enjoying more than I thought I would.

Sunset in my hometown
These last days in Spain I truly realized how lucky I am. I bumped into many people in my hometown and they asked me about my experience here. I could only say good things and I think they noticed how my face lit up when I spoke about it. I also see my family happy with what I'm doing here, and that makes me feel really well because I couldn't do anything without their support.

I don't know if I deserve to be that happy when I know there's so many people struggling, but I am just going to be very grateful about it. These are not good times concerning economy, specially in my continent and in my country, and I am aware that many people would give anything to do what I'm doing but they don't have the chance.

For those people, I just wish they fight for it! There's always ways to do things and, even though you have to be patient, working hard always pays off.

I thank everyone who made this year as good as it has been and I wish you all an even better 2012!! It's going to be an amazing year, I'm very confident about that. Thanks a lot for reading my blog, and enjoy your parties!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Feast of the Holy Innocents

Hey everyone! Yesterday (28th of October) was the Feast of the Holy Innocents in Spain, or el Día de los Santos Inocentes, as we know it in Spanish. That's our equivalent to the April Fools Day, when everyone is allowed to make practical jokes to people.

It's a funny day, unless you're the victim of a tough joke. Each year, the media carries out a lot of jokes. They publish false headings with shocking news that end up being just a joke. I'm pretty sure it's the same thing as April Fools, but around Christmas time.

I tried to make a couple jokes to my friends, but I wasn't very successful this time. They caught me pretty quick! However, I didn't believe any joke, so it's not that bad. Some years that I did not realize it was 28th of December, I actually believed a few jokes... Especially from my father, who loves making jokes!


This little paper guy you see in the picture, is the symbol of the "innocent" in Spain. We also have a TV show called Inocente Inocente which aims to collect money for charity purposes. In the show, which is aired for the Holy Innocents day, they carry out practical jokes to celebrities and film them with hidden cameras. Some of them are actually very funny!

As I usually do, I started wondering about the origins of this peculiar feast. Wikipedia is great for this kind of things (remember, I did not say it's great for your school projects guys!) and this is what it says:

"The Massacre of the Innocents is an episode of infanticide by the king of Iudaea Province, Herod the Great. According to the Gospel of Matthew Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi. The incident, like others in Matthew, is described as the fulfillment of a passage in the Old Testament read as prophecy, in this case a reading of Jeremiah: "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children."
The infants, known as the Holy Innocents, have been claimed as the first Christian martyrs. The number of those killed is unknown but likely to be in the low dozens.The historicity of the episode is disputed: "an open question that probably can never be definitively decided". Read the article here: link.


Wow, I wasn't expecting that at all! I thought it would be something merrier... Anyways, nowadays it is meant to be a happy day where people have fun making jokes, and I would keep it just the way it is! Plus, I get to have the same thing again in April, since I'll be in America! See you soon!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Amic Invisible, our Secret Santa

Hey everyone! I'm very happy today because I got to see my friends from Barcelona! It had been a while, and I really missed them! Also I have to say that we make a big effort every year to meet for Christmas, because each of us comes from a different place in Spain, and right now some of us are even living abroad.


These are my friends from college, the ones I met five years ago when I started studying in college in Barcelona. It has become a tradition that we meet every year to celebrate Christmas together even if we're separated during the rest of the year. I think it's very important to keep friends like that, and this is a great way to keep in touch. During that meeting, we also do our version of Secret Santa, which we call "amic invisible" in Catalan (it actually means "invisible friend".)

We always have a lot of fun with that. Not only the day of the gifts exchange, but also during the weeks before. We get our "invisible friend" like a month before Christmas, so that we have time to prepare it, and we always spend those weeks trying to guess who the others have.


Since we have known each other for such long time, we are getting really good with the presents! We are all ex advertising students, so we are supposed to use our creativity! Therefore, there's always some handmade gift around. Those are my favorite, because the person actually spend time thinking of you and they are always nice things to look at when you're nostalgic.



What you see in this bizarre picture above is the gift I made for Adam. I got this glass ball with snow and personalized the picture. I took Tommy Hilfiger's picture from this Christmas campaign (because I knew he liked it!) and replaced the faces of the models with our faces. It's the most original thing I could come up with, and I think he liked it!


My "invisible friend" was Cati, and I was very happy with her present. I've been wearing a watch (that actually she gave me) for more than a year, and it was about time to change it. She gave a very nice one! I hope it will last just as much as the previous one!

Adam made a recipe book with recipes from all of us

Apart from that, there were some hand made gifts that made my night. She gave me a dictionary made by her with words from her dialect of Catalan translated to mine. That's because I always make fun (in a friendly way!) of the way she speaks, because she's from Mallorca and they speak Catalan in a very different way we do in Catalonia. Finally, there was an album with pictures of us around the world. It turns out that she's the person I have been in more countries with. We've visited 9 countries together, and the surprise comes in the page of the album, where it says "USA" but there's no picture. She booked flights to come visit me for my birthday coming up in April! She'll come with another friend, Marina, and I can't wait to have them here.

All in all, it was a great night. It was very sad to leave the next day, because it went by really quick. Anyways, I'm very grateful to have friends like them and I'm happy that we still meet up and have fun like we did at the beginning when we were together in Barcelona.

I hope you're having a great time, and see you soon!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Delicious Christmas Day!

Hey everyone! I hope you're having a merry Christmas! I'm enjoying these holidays a lot. I was really excited to come back, and maybe the fact that these are going to be short (cause I'm already leaving next week) is making me enjoy every bit of it.

If you've been reading my blog before, you'll know I'm very interested in learning about other cultures. I think food is a very important part of every culture. Some people say we are what we eat, and I do believe it. I also have to say that, even though I love trying food from everywhere, it never feels as good as it feels when I eat at home. By home I don't mean my country, I mean my house, I mean the food my parents cook.

There are many things attached to every meal. In these special days of the year, we usually eat the same things, even though my parents try to innovate a little bit every year to keep everyone enjoying the meals. This year we are eating a lot. I'm actually about to explode! I took a couple pictures of the dishes that, for me, represent my Christmas the most and make me the happiest eater alive. Let me share these delicious dishes with you.


These are "gambas a la plancha", grilled shrimps in English. We just put some salt, grill them and eat them (of course, we peal them first.) Some people add sauce, but I prefer to have them just like that. This is a very Mediterranean thing to do, and I can't love it more. Moreover, my hometown is in the coast and there's a huge seafood culture. They can't be missing in such an important celebration as Christmas is!


This year we also had what you can see in the picture above. I don't know the exact name of it, but it's meat, eggs and dried plums wrapped with chicken. Then we roast the wrap with some vegetables and cut the wrap in slices. With the vegetables we make the sauce. Finally, we eat it all together. I promise you, it's delicious!! I could not get enough of it.


Finally, I could not finish this post without talking about paella. It's one of the most famous dishes from Spain, and it's also one of the most delicious things you can eat at my place. My father took over my grandmother's recipe when she passed away and he's become a pro when it comes to paella! There are many kinds of paella, but this is by far my favorite. It's mixed (it has seafood and meat) and it's lacking the yellow tone it usually has. That's exactly how my grandma used to do it and I just love when he cooks it that way. Of course, now that I'm only home for a few days, I have the right to ask for the meals I want and be spoiled!

I hope you guys had a great Christmas and that everyone's enjoying these days. See you soon!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lightning Reaction Reloaded

Hey everyone! First of all, I want to wish all of you a merry Christmas! I can't wait for tomorrow's dinner for Christmas eve... Only thinking about it makes me feel hungry!

I've been visiting my friends in Barcelona, and this time they shocked me. They literally shocked me! Let me explain. They got a game named "Lightning Reaction Reloaded" and it's nuts! I love this thing!! I can't wait to get one myself. Instead of trying to explain how it actually works, because it's quite bizarre, let me show you a video that will make it easier:



So, that's what I played last night. That freaking music is stuck in my head! It makes it so intense! I can't say it doesn't hurt, and I can't even tell you where you can find it, because it's obviously not the best "toy" for kids to play. However, I have found it online and the price ranges from 20 to 30 dollars. I'm not suggesting you get it... Just saying!

This is the one we played with!
I was surprised to see their game at my friends' place, because I had already seen it before. I've mentioned a few times that I watch "Charlieissocoollike" on Youtube quite often, and he made a video with this game a few months ago. I thought it was very silly to shock yourself to have some fun, but it was fun to watch others (like himself) doing it! However, there I was last night doing the same thing! Kids... See the video I'm talking about here:



I can't deny I enjoyed this game and that I'm planning on getting one myself. Maybe I should use it to release some stress between classes when I go back to Berkeley for the Winter quarter, shouldn't I? Don't worry, I'm just kidding!

Now it's time for me to go help my parents prepare tomorrow's dinner! I will make sure I get pictures to remember that dinner when I find myself in times of Ramen noodles in New York!

Again, merry Christmas to everyone and I wish you the best for these holidays! See you soon!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Walking Around Blanes

Hey everyone! How's the Christmas break going? I'm feeling much better now and finally enjoying this peaceful time of the year. I walked a lot today around Blanes, my hometown. I was hanging out with my brother, trying to find a gift for his Secret Santa party and we found a Christmas market in the center of the town. I'm going to share some of it with you!


I had forgotten about it, but I used to go there every year when I was a child. It's the same kind of market as the one in Bryant Park, but it's also very different. It's different because it has traditional stuff from Catalonia, the region where I live. It has also changed a lot along the years.

As a kid, we used to go there with friends and it was a tradition to throw raw eggs and that funny foam spray to the other children. It was obviously really annoying for the people who was trying to sell stuff and for the adults that wanted to visit the market, so they started banning those games. I also messed up a lot of jackets with that spray and the eggs... it was a nightmare for my mother! When they started banning it, they weren't really strict, so the kids would still do it and run away from the police (it only made it more fun for them, to be honest). Eventually, they got a lot tougher and no one dares to do that again, which is really convenient for the town!


These funny logs you see in the picture above are our equivalent to Santa. It's called "Tió" and this is how kids get presents over here at Christmas. I wrote about it last year, and if you're curious you can check it out here: link.



This picture above shows some of the most delicious parts of my country. We call it "embotit" in Catalan, but I can't find the exact word in English. Probably, the closest one is "sausage", but it doesn't really convince me! We cut very thin slices and eat it with bread (we toast the bread and spread raw tomato and olive oil on it). You can't imagine how much I was missing those!


Finally we also had time for some homemade sweets. We eat a lot of nougat for Christmas, and we have many varieties of it. It's the best thing to eat after a filling dinner! Sounds healthy, doesn't it? (And yes, I was being ironic.) Oh well, I'll have time to go back to the gym once I get back to the city. For now, let me enjoy the pleasures of Christmas in my country!

I hope you're enjoying your time wherever you are! See you soon!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Back in Spain for Christmas

Hey everyone! Ah it feels good to write from my room. I mean my room from home, the room I had when I was 15, and when I was 12... Well, it has changed a lot ever since, but it always feels good to come back here.

The journey from NYC to Blanes was quite awful. But it's all worth it! I didn't sleep much my last night in the city and I got quite sick. It's just a winter cold, but it's really annoying to get on a flight with that.

My friend and fellow Berkeley student, Andrea, who is also from Barcelona, got the same flight so we could take it together. It's great to have a friend on the plane, otherwise it gets really boring. Also it's great to share a cab from Manhattan with someone, since it makes it much cheaper! Anyways, let me tell you, flying sick is not that pleasant. Fortunately, the flight was on time and everything was ok. However, I could not sleep a minute on the plane, which means I skipped a night.


That's why I am feeling exhausted now. However, I'm on my own bed now and this feels really good. I'm also very happy to be with my family again, so I'll have time to rest and get better. And yes, most of all, I'll have time to eat the food I miss so much when I'm in New York!

It's funny that every time I land in Barcelona I have the same thoughts. My life in New York feels like a joke. I'm back in the town were I grew up and everything looks just as it was when I left. I know it might sound creepy, but it's like if I've been living in a different dimension while this place was on "pause" mode. I think it's a good thing though, because I would feel really weird if I came back and everything was different.

This is how the sea looks like from my town right now!

I'm really grateful that I can live that experience. When I say it feels like a joke it's because I had dreamed about it for a very long time before I got the opportunity. When I'm there I usually don't have time to think how awesome it is, but when I come back here I realize that this is what I wanted, and it's an amazing feeling!

Now it's time for me to go eat some good stuff and have a great rest in this comfy bed to be healthy and ready to enjoy my holidays in my country with my people. For those traveling, I wish you a safe journey and hope that everyone is enjoying the Christmas break! See you soon!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Secret Santa Party

Hey everyone! How is everything going? I'm sure most of you are quite happy that the winter break is finally here. Yes, the fall quarter for Berkeley College is over!

I'm leaving to Spain tomorrow to spend Christmas there with my family and friends. I'm very excited about it! However, I could not leave without having some Christmas party time with my friends over here in New York City. It's becoming a tradition for us to do the Secret Santa, since we also did it last year at the dorm where I was staying back then.

I know the secret Santa is something people do in many other countries, even though everyone has a different name for it. In Spain we call it "amigo invisible" (which means invisible friend) but it's the exact same thing. For those who haven't heard about it before, the secret Santa is a gift giving game within a group of friends, classmates, people... Every member of the group gets the name of another member and has to give a present to that person without anyone knowing who you have. The best part is that you never know who is going to give a gift to you and the other people don't know who you have neither. However, I must admit I have a lot of fun trying to figure out who everyone has!


We gathered at our friends' house in the upper east and had a great time there. The gift exchange was fun, and I got great stuff from my friend Lisa, who, by the way, fooled me! She made me believe she was giving her present to someone else in the group, and I did believe her. But guess what, now I have an awesome pair of gloves that I don't have to take off when trying to use my touch screen phone, because they work on it! We also ate a lot of things, in big part due to my friend Andrea, who is an awesome cook and who I did the present for.


So what's next? Barcelona! I'm so excited about going back home that I know I won't be able to sleep much tonight... That's why my roommate and I have decided to clean the apartment and leave it perfect for the holidays. Also I'll have to start packing at some point!

I'm sure you're all having dinners and parties to celebrate Christmas with friends or colleagues before the break. I hope you enjoy those, and of course be careful with excesses of all kinds these days :) See you soon, next time writing from Spain!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Time Management Tips (Finals!)

Hey everyone! Oh yeah! Finals are done, I can finally breathe and get ready for Christmas now! How were your exams? I hope everyone did well and that the hard work pays off. I must say I'm quite happy with this quarter. It's been quite challenging, dealing with an internship and tough courses at the same time. However, I think everything is worth it when I look at the results and, hopefully, the grades will reflect that!

I have had to develop my time management skills a lot this quarter. I did not have enough time to procrastinate or to leave everything for the last minute, and I think that has been the toughest part. That's why I thought it would be interesting for you if I wrote some simple time management tips that helped me a lot.

I found an article about time management that was very interesting. You can read the whole thing here link. I'm taking the tips I think can help you the most and adding some personal advice as well:


"Study difficult subjects first
." I really try to follow this one. I'm one of those students who prefer doing the hard thing first so that I can relax later on... However, I understand sometimes everything looks just as tough. In that case, just make sure you start early enough!

"Avoid scheduling marathon study sessions." That's very important to me. If you make a study plan, make sure it's not a 10-hours session with no break... no human brain can take it! From my own experience, I need to plan study sessions smaller than 2 hours. Otherwise it's pointless... after a couple hours I need a break or I will not be able to focus anymore. What I do, for instance, is two hours of study, and then one hour work out. After that I do two more hours and then I go and cook some dinner and relax for a bit... and finally two more hours. That way I'm much more productive.


"Be aware of your best time of day (when your energy is highest)." In my case, I work better at night. That causes many problems sometimes, because I need to wake up early and that means less sleeping time. However, two hours at night are worth much more than two hours in the middle of the day for me. You need to find what's best for you and plan your study sessions accordingly. 
Use waiting time. (Such as between classes, waiting for appointments, etc.) I recommend using those bits of time for reviewing. If you've been making mind maps or summaries, this is the time to revise them. 
 

"Don't get too comfortable." Or you will fall asleep! Not that it happened to me... ok, it did happen more than once when trying to study laying in my bed.
Agree with living mates and or family members about study time. If you share your study plans with someone who's living with you, you will be forcing yourself to do it so that you don't let them down. Try it and you will see how it will motivate yourself!

"Get off the phone." I would also add: gett off your laptop, ipad or whatever gadget gets on your way. Don't fool yourself with the common "I need to do some online research" excuse. I'm sure you have your books, notes or print material to keep you away from the Facebook monster.
Learn to say "No, not now; perhaps later." I always repeat to myself: there's time for everything, but first things first! And I think that's enough said.   

"Ask: Would I pay myself for what I'm doing right now? If my occupation were that of a student, would I pay myself for the job I am doing right now?" The fact that no one is supervising you when you're studying gives you that extra freedom. Make a favor to yourself and look at you as if you were your own manager. Would you want your manager to think you're a lazy procrastinator? I don't think so!

I hope these tips can help you get on your books. I wish you the best if you're still doing finals! Good luck!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santa Con 2011

Hey everyone! Have you been around NYC this weekend? If you have, then I'm sure you've seen many Santas walking around the city. Last Saturday was the Santa Con! For those who never heard about it before, it's a concentration of people dressed up as Santa that takes place in many cities all over the world. I'm getting the information from this site: http://santacon.info/.



I remember last year I saw it on the streets of Downtown and I had no idea what was going on. I actually found it really funny. This year I already knew what the whole thing was about, but it's still shocking to see so many Santas partying around the streets!

According to the website, they broke a world record in 2007, when over 13,000 Santas gathered in Ireland. Even though the Irish where the ones who set the Guinness record, it seems that about 70,000 Santas had gotten together in Moscow one year earlier in 2006.


I thought it was something that had started recently... but it has actually been going on for almost a couple decades! Here's the story of how it began: "The first SantaCon took place in San Francisco in 1994 and was sponsored by The San Francisco Cacophony Society. The original inspiration came from an earlier SF adventure club called The Suicide Club who's founder came up with the idea after reading an article about a Danish political who mobbed a Copenhagen Department store just before Christmas. However, the first American and all subsequent SantaCons around the world are non-political, purely surreal Santa prank events." You can read the full story here: http://santarchy.com/santarchy-history-the-early-years/.


From what my friends and I saw, the Santa Con in New York looked like a massive pub crawl with everyone dressed up as as Santa (we saw a couple Elf too.) However, I know the main purpose of the concentration is not going from pub to pub.

As I mentioned, my roommates and I were busy enough setting up our Christmas tree, so we did not enjoy that fun this time. However, I might pull off a Santa dress next year!

Pictures from the Dailymail (link)

Good luck with your finals and see you soon!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How to Set up a Christmas Tree

Hey everyone! First of all, let me tell you this was a fun post to write. Why? Because I'm about to tell you how my boys and I have just set up a fantastic and surprisingly pretty Christmas tree. This is actually my particular way of telling you the holidays are very close!

This was a tough weekend considering that tomorrow we start finals at Berkeley. However, a little break is always needed. When? Friday night... wait, Saturday at 3:30am. Yes. That's when we decided it was about time to get a Christmas tree. I don't know at what time those people stop selling trees, but I swear it was 3:30 am when the picture bellow was taken!

Let me break it down in 7 easy steps on "how to set up a Christmas tree from scratch when you're a student in NYC and live with two other guys"
  • Step 1 - Go out and get a real tree 
Getting a tree at 3:30am with my roommates
An artifficial would be fine too, but then you don't get the smell. We tried to bargain a little bit. Luckily, the kind man who sold us the tree spoke Spanish, which is a big plus when it comes to getting discounts. We got a very nice looking tree for $30, which is what a small one usually costs.
  • Step 2 - Decide the location

Here's the thing. The tree was quite big considering the size of our lounge. Also, we have all our stuff set up in a way that doesn't contemplate any tree during the rest of the year. We moved the couch, the table and the light; and finally got enough space for our tree to be seen but not disturb. Hence how happy we look. This picture above was taken around 4am I believe... so that was it for the night. Went to sleep and woke up with the lounge smelling like Christmas!
  • Step 3 - Go out (again) and get the decorations

That was the worst part. It was cold, and we couldn't find what we wanted anywhere! We had a clear idea of the colors and the stuff we wanted. In fact, Danny was obsessed with getting silver tinsel just as much as I was with getting candle-color lights. We ended up at Kmart, where they actually have a whole floor dedicated to Christmas stuff! It saved us.
  • Step 4 - Set up the lights

200 led lights shining around our tree. It's not as easy at it seems! Be careful not to break the branches of the tree...
  • Step 5 - Wrap the tinsel around the tree

Not much to explain. We decided to mix silver and blue. Yeah, we're that sophisticated!
  • Step 6 - Hang the balls around the tree

We matched the colors of the balls with the tinsel. Don't say it doesn't look classy!
  • Step 7 - Set the star at the top

Finally, the moment of the star. And yes, it is also matching the colors.

There you go! Here's the result of all the hard work which was finally worth it. Ok, I must say the three of us are maybe too proud of this little Christmas masterpiece, but hey... we're going to send the picture to Mr. Rockefeller for next year!


I don't know how I can be in such a good mood on Sunday night right before my exams start... I guess it's the effect of the Christmas music we've been listening to lately! I hope everyone had a great weekend and wish you the best with your finals. See you soon!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Apple Store Opening at Grand Central

Hey everyone! Any Apple fans out there? Well, if there's any of those who is around NYC now, then you will already know what's going on. The firm just opened an insane store! When I say insane, I don't mean the store is any different from the rest... I mean it's located at Grand Central Station! And when I say at Grand Central, I'm not talking about those closed stores around the station, no... I'm talking about the huge room you see in the movies with the clock in the middle. Does it ring you a bell? Here's a hint:


Apple has transformed part of that room into a store! Have a look at the opening moment:



I find it crazy! All that for an electronics store? And what about Apple taking over a building such as Grand Central Station!Anyways, I must say it looks pretty cool.

The store is located in the mezzanine level of Grand Central, and the space is just beautiful. I find it so much better than the famous Apple store in 5th Av (yes, the one with the huge glass cube at the entrance.) Some more information from http://www.digitaltrends.com:
"It’s thought that the new store covers somewhere in the region of 23,000 square feet of floor space, making it the largest store in Apple’s global retail empire. London’s Covent Garden store held the record up to now.
The arrival of the company’s new Grand Central store isn’t without controversy, with New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli currently investigating the terms of the deal between the electronics giant and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which is responsible for leasing the space inside the terminal building.
The store will be Apple’s fifth in Manhattan, adding to its more than 350 retail locations in 11 countries."


I assume Apple has made quite an expensive transaction here. However, they wouldn't do it for no reason. That article also says that half of the people commuting in Grand Central, makes more than $100,000. They know what they're doing there then! I also see it as a brand image thing. Let's deal with it... the store looks pretty awesome. Maybe that's why they're going to open at 7am every morning during the weekdays... trying to catch the early commuters?


Berkeley's midtown campus is located very close to Grand Central, which means most of us commute there. I guess I'll walk around there quite often then!

Now go and enjoy your weekend. See you soon!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ordering Food Online in NYC

Hey everyone! How is the week going? I think week 11 is usually one of the busiest weeks in Berkeley College quarters. Since the finals take place on week 12, most of the final projects are due this week. Also, many professors place their finals here so that we don't have all of them the last week. Plus, it's the week where we should start preparing for the exams.

All in all, it's a tough week and that's why I thought I should share with you what I do when I don't have time (or energy) enough to cook myself a decent meal: I order online. This is one of those little things that changed the way I see life. Not even kidding.

Sure I had ordered some pizza through the phone back home, but from that to order a full meal from any restaurant you want, pay and tip for it and get it delivered in about 30 minutes with just a click on my phone... there's a difference! It's so easy, and most of the times you don't pay extra for delivery, so it's basically the exact same price.

Let me show you the two sites and apps that I usually use (whenever I feel lazy) to grab a bite:

  • Grub Hub
Link: http://www.grubhub.com/ (also available for smartphones)

That's the one we use the most at home. It's very simple. You register once, fill the forms with your address and phone number and you're ready to go. They have an incredibly vast variety of restaurants where you can order food from. We usually go for the ones that are closer to our area (that way they can make it faster.)

You can decide if you want to pay by card (which you can do online when you order) or in cash, then you pay it to the person who brings the food. Don't forget to tip!
  • Seamless
Link: http://www.seamless.com (also available as a smartphone app)

We don't really use Seamless that much, but I have used it at some point and it works just as well as Grub Hub. I have also seen many people use it, and I'd say it's very popular in the city.

What I think Seamless stands for is the way you can search for food. As you can see in this picture, you can add all those filters easily and it will adapt your results list to your needs.

Again, you can also pay either card (online) or cash (directly to the delivery person.)

Now it's time for me to get back to business, and most probably I'll ended up ordering some dinner later! Good luck with everything, see you soon!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas at Stuytown

Hey everyone! A couple days ago, I wrote about the tree lighting at the Rockefeller center. I don't know what's in the Christmas things this year, but I'm loving them! That's why last week, my roommate and I joined some of our neighbors at Stuyvesant Town for the tree lighting ceremony.


I'm glad we moved to this area of the city. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, Stuytown is a neighborhood complex in the east village. There are so many apartments here that it feels like a community itself. That's why there's always going on around our parks. For more information you can check the website here: link.


We had seen people setting up Christmas lights around the trees in the park, so we figured out there would be "some" Christmas decorations. Then we received an email announcing the Christmas tree lighting ceremony. We were home for that evening, so we decided to go and check it out. It was in the Oval Park, which is quite a big one! We arrived there when Santa was already speaking to the crowd, and here's what happened. I recorded and uploaded a video to share it with you:



How awesome it looks! They lit up so many trees around the park. Whoever did that, I admire their patience! Hence the colors on the water fountain as well. It's such a pleasure to walk around now!

After the lighting, we all went to the ice rink. Yes, they have set up an ice rink in the park as well. I wasn't expecting this place to be that cool! The ice rink is a great alternative to Bryant Park, Rockefeller or Central Park rinks, because it's so much cheaper... even free sometimes!


That evening, ice skating was free for residents and refreshments were served too. However, my roommate and I didn't feel brave enough to go ice skating surrounded by dangerous children wearing super sharp blades on their feet. Didn't sound safe at all, but we will do it at some point!


Then we saw some people singing the typical Christmas carols I used to see in the American movies by this time of the year when I was still back home. That was one of those "click" sounds in my mind saying "José, it's Christmas!!" In fact, just two more weeks and I'll be back home. It's going so fast!

I hope you guys have a great week and start getting ready for the finals! See you soon!