Happy Fourth of July, everyone!
Its funny, the different traditions everyone has for spending Independence Day with their families. For me, its always been a barbeque in someone's backyard or kitchen before gathering somewhere way up high to watch the fireworks from across the bay. Apparently, in New York, the biggest attraction is the beach.
My suite had planned at the last minute to head out to Long Beach for the day, but us ILCers had already decided to head out to Coney Island with Mrs L about a week ago. Getting up before the rest of my suite had even stirred, the five ILC students met at the gazebo around 8 to sleepily ride the subway to our old haunt, Columbus Circle, where we met Mrs. L and grabbed coffee and breakfast; I know that I certainly perked up after food and caffeine. After our quick Starbucks stop (with the lack of Peet's in the city, I'm afraid I'm becoming quite the Starbucks convert; their chai tea is amazing), all of us hopped on the subway once again, taking the D train down to Coney Island. The ride was long, but the first two-thirds were made fun by a big family on the subway, obviously headed to the beach, who graced the car with great music from a throwback boombox they had with them. Milani and I definitely enjoyed the music as it woke us up and reminded us of home, and even the incredible amount of graffiti we passed by during the trip gave us a faint sense of nostalgia (I love graffiti; a large percent of it is really impressively artistic).
So, finally, we arrived at the Coney Island station. My first impression was of the overwhelming amount of people everywhere I looked, and that held true until the minute we left. And I thought Manhattan was crowded!
First up at Coney Island was the hot dog eating contest which is, apparently, a really big deal. The world record there is 68 hotdogs (including buns!) in 10 minutes. That is terrifying and impressive at the same time. The guy holding that record, Joey Chestnut, was at the contest this year too, and he won first place, even though he was still 6 shy of his previous world record. Watching these guys eat is mildly repulsive while still being incredible fascinating. And the announcer is hilarious! He was constantly cracking jokes or giving commentary or firing up the crowd: he turned MCing into an art form. It was worth going just to be entertained by the announcer alone.
After the contest, we puttered around the park for a while, grabbing some lunch, riding a rollercoaster, playing some games on the fairground, and dipping our feet in the water before we packed up to head home. The ride home was a lot less fun than the ride back: no music, and everyone was pretty tired after the intense crowds we'd been fighting our way through; I was so burnt out I took a nap. Speaking of burning... I didn't get sunburnt! First thing I did when we got off the subway was to buy a brimmed hat and a pair of sunglass before slapping on some more sunscreen, even though the sky was still pretty cloudy. Yes Mom, your nagging has finally paid off! I'm incredibly happy that it did: the hat kept my head cool, the sunglasses protected my eyes, and a sunshirt and sunscreen worked together to shield my rather fair skin, as the Scottish do not tan. We have two color settings: sheet-white or lobster. It was a great feeling, not being in that complaining lot that had gotten sunburnt at the beach that morning, and I can go to bed without slathering aloe and moisturizer over smarting skin. Thanks Mom!
When I returned to the suite, everyone was home and taking a break after a morning and afternoon at the beach, and I gladly took the time to study and just generally relax in my air-conditioned room for a few hours. Our entire suite went out for Cuban food around 6:30 PM, munching our way through yummy empanadas and mufungo (an utterly delicious dish!) before heading to the river to watch the fireworks, which were, as I had hoped, fantastic.
I'm beginning to get really close with my suite-mates, which is a really wonderful feeling. Two of the girls in the rooms next to me are incredibly friendly, always willing to introduce me to their friends and include me in anything they do. Heck, we painted each others' nails tonight before we went to bed! Maybe that's a silly thing to put in a largely academic blog, but this seems to me to be more about new experiences that just studying hard with our noses buried in textbooks, and being this close and friendly with a group of girls I'm living with is a great new experience!
Sorry this post is shy on pictures: I had purposely left my camera at home during Coney Island, as it is rather bulky and I'm terrified someone will steal it or it will get lost, and the photos from the fireworks still need some editing in photoshop before I can even consider posting them.
Anywho, good night and a happy Independence Day to everyone!