Categories
Culture

Dear New York, I Miss You

Roughly a month ago, I was lucky enough to call you home – except I didn’t know how lucky I was until I was given two days to pack everything, arrange a storage company, and return to my country.

As grateful as I am to be well and safe at home with my family in the midst of a global pandemic, I can’t help but realize how much I miss everything about living in New York City.

Some say it’s dirty, some say it’s loud, some think it’s overrated, but I think it is THE best. The image of the city without its lights on and the impact of the news we get each morning on the spread of the virus are truly heartbreaking.

In this time of crisis, I had way too much time in my hands to contemplate on a decision I made last year, precisely, the decision of attending NYU. The more I think, the more I realize how lucky and right I was to make that decision. The more I think, the more I realize how much I love New York City and its synonym: NYU.

There are numerous things I miss about the life I had a month ago and they are not fancy, occasional events I got to attend, they are daily habits I had the privilege to form.

I miss my dorm, the dorm that was located so conveniently that I found myself in the mesmerizing streets of Soho in just 30 steps.

I miss Washington Square Park, the one that surrounded my school, and I miss walking to class with the serenade of the guy playing the piano in the park, the sight of a dozen skaters, artists, bands, and, well, the man with 50 pigeons on his shoulders.

I miss the people of New York. I miss the freedom of walking around for hours just because I was entertained solely by the act of observing my surroundings. I miss being inspired by passerby, their clothes, behavior, and interactions…

I miss the precious ability to have brunch in some hype Instagram spot on a late Monday morning in between classes, and the privilege of knowing we will never run out of the endless scroll of options.

I miss the excitement and motivation that emerged from the unknown, of what the next day – or hour – will bring. I also miss jumping on to every other opportunity I found. I miss the luxury of always being somewhere, doing something, meeting someone.

I even miss the lines. The lines that often lasted for hours, you know, just to get seated — for coffee. Or more likely, I miss having the opportunity to wait in line for a place so highly demanded by New Yorkers.

I miss the Subway, the occasional guitar player, napper, conversation- starter, and the one person who is just as confused as me. Oh, and I miss the construction sites as well, preferably without the noise.

I miss my friends, those who I saw on the streets and chatted for half an hour even if we had to be somewhere else, those whose company I could rely on for the next museum opening, and those whose mere presence would immerse me into in an entirely different culture. I really miss being around unique, goal-oriented overachievers and being inspired from each one of them.

Well, I think I simply miss the luxury of learning just as much – if not more – outside the classroom as I did during a lecture, which is hard to get on Zoom. So, I hope remote education stays as a temporary “new normal” and doesn’t extend into a lasting one.

Categories
Culture

From workout and diet challenges to DIY tutorials, these are the 6 stream-worthiest YouTube videos created for quarantined viewers, by quarantined Youtubers

Ever since staying at home became the new normal to prevent the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), there has been an explosion of YouTube videos with quarantine content to entertain the public, but not all of them serve to their purpose as well as the ones on this list.

Whether you need a boost of positivity, creativity or energy, YouTube offers an endless scroll of options to fuel you up, and I have selected the best ones so you don’t have to.

1. If you want to make your own hand sanitizer – or because you have no option

If you paid a visit to a grocery store recently, chances are high they ran out of hand sanitizers because people began stocking them months ago. Luckily, Youtubers are sharing DIY (do it yourself) tutorials for quick and easy hand sanitizers. When the WhatsUpMoms channel shared a DIY video 4 years ago, it received fewer than 50 views per hour and today the same video is getting over 1,200 views per hour. So, next time you realize your local grocery shop is out of Purell stocks, you may follow along this 2-minute video to create your own sanitizer.

2. If you want to experiment in the kitchen with what’s in stock

Since there are shortages in food supply in some regions, Youtubers are providing recipes that require ingredients that are likely already in your pantry and can easily be substituted if not. Whether you are vegan or bored of regular rice, you might want to check out the second episode of the Washington Post’s “Quarantine Cooking Show” on YouTube that guides viewers through a 5-minute coconut rice recipe in an easy-to-follow format.

3. Turn your living room into a gym without equipment

Your regular gym is closed, you are not allowed to leave your house but you still have to get your workout done. However, you have no equipment, limited space, and a bunch of people at home? No problem! From Pilates to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), there are numerous options when it comes to home workouts, but Blogilates’s Silent Cardio workout is ideal for burning fat without annoying your neighbors. It is short, fun and effective.

4. If you want to destress during these really stressful times

The unknowns about COVID-19 are creating high levels of stress and anxiety that intensify during quarantine and social distancing. It is important to take care of ourselves — and of our houses, which may require cleaning, organizing, and more cleaning. However, not everyone is an obsessive cleaner like Monica, so cleaning may not cure stress for some (or most) people. If that sounds like you, checking out Carrie Rad’s simple but effective stress management tips may be helpful.

5. If you want to laugh – a lot

Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel used to make us laugh from their studios and now they are inviting us to their houses as virtual guests. Beloved late-night hosts turned themselves into vloggers after productions shut down due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but their home-based productions are just as entertaining, if not more. If you are ready to meet the funniest vloggers yet, I recommend starting from the first episode of The Tonight Show’s at home Youtube edition, and there are 5,7 Million viewers to back me up.

6. If you want to find to stay positive but struggling to find a reason

Positivity is great at any given time and condition but it is especially great under these circumstances. Instead of regarding quarantine as an unfortunate necessity, we should be grateful that we are able to stay at the comfort of our houses, with access to a variety of food and activity choices. Jo Franco has a video dedicated to simple reasons we should remain positive under quarantine and it is worth checking out the next time you need a positivity boost!

Bonus: If you are still bored after these recommendations, I dare you to listen to the Coronavirus Rhapsody until you begin to mistake the new lyrics for the original (Bohemian Rhapsody) version. You are welcome!

Categories
food

Six years after its opening, Dominique Ansel Bakery still has a line outside its doors – But not for the Cronut

About six years ago, foodies – New Yorkers and tourists alike – were bedazzled by the taste and photogenic appeal of the Cronut when it was introduced by Dominique Ansel Bakery in 2014. The shop, the lines, the cronut went viral and the line formed as early as 6 a.m. Today, the croissant with a donut exterior sustains some of its hype but the shop’s savvy owners have come up with a new product: the DKA, a small caramelized croissant with brown sugar. 

The Instagram-famous Cronut was famous for the taste of its cream filling, the freshness of its smell, the variety of its flavors and the elegance of its decoration. Today, there is still a line for Cronuts in front of the store but it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to get inside.

The lines are shorter partly because Dunkin Donuts offers a $2.49 “croissant donuts” versions of the $6 Cronut and partly because the original Cronuts are now available online, where customers can buy six pastries at once as opposed to the two-units limit in the store.  

Among those who waited in line on a sunny New York afternoon were kids impatient for their desserts, girlfriends already taking pictures for Instagram and tourists checking off another item from their bucket lists. They were all first timers and were disappointed to find a sign inside saying: “Cronuts Sold Out for Today.” 

Apparently, limited production and high demand is what sustains the line: “It takes three days to make a Cronut, so our daily production is limited to 500 items, and they are sold out before 12 p.m. everyday” said Khalid Sirjue, who works as a waiter.

In response to the continued demand—and as a marketing strategy to keep customer coming in the afternoon after cronuts are sold out—Cronut inventor French Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel created Dominique’s Kouign Amann, (DKA). The small Cronut-shaped pastry attracts regulars as well as newbies who can’t get a Cronut fix.

The bakery got so popular that it hires greeters to tell people that the line to enter the store starts outside. The interior is quite simple and the pastries speak for themselves. Seating is available inside, starting from the register all the way back towards the open kitchen, and at the terrace where a floral wall serves as a designated Instagram spot.

Marcelle Danza of Florida was waiting on line one recent early afternoon, sadly too late. “It is kind of devastating that they are sold out but the other options are just as great,” she said, as she took a bite of her DKA.

Dominique Ansel Bakery is no stranger to special occasions with its unique pastries: “It is my birthday today and my boyfriend decided to take me here,” said Kinjal Patel, who blew out the candle on her stack of DKA’s. “I’d prefer this over a traditional birthday cake every day,” she said.

Categories
Culture

Galentine’s Day: An Unromantic Celebration of Love

Because Your Friends Love Surprises and You Love Your Friends

A nail spa retreat for two, a waffle-brunch date, a bottle of champagne and a pink heart-shaped chocolate box are not just things you get every day; they are things you gift or receive on Galentine’s Day. In an era where Ice Cream Day is a national holiday, don’t close girlfriends deserve a day of their own too?

Ten years ago, ‘Galentine’s Day’ originated from an episode of sitcom “Parks and Recreation” during a girls-only mimosa brunch.  Now the festivities have become big business, just like Valentine’s Day. Celebrated on February 13, Galentine’s Day is a girls-only celebration among supportive friends to show their appreciation for each other.

The rising popularity of this female-friendly holiday caught the eye of modern-day businesses as Hallmarks began selling special Galentine’s cards and Auntie Anne’s started offering free delivery with promo code GALENTINE on checkout.

 “Galentine’s Day is an awesome day to celebrate friendship in my opinion,” said Carrie Chen, an NYU Freshman. “It’s important because we are used to celebrating our romantic relationships, but we should spend time celebrating friendships as well.”

Chen started celebrating the day back in high school even though some of her friends had boyfriends. “I would totally celebrate Galentine’s Day if I had a boyfriend,” she said.

The celebration is not part an anti-Valentine’s Day movement. Still, while being single is not a requirement for the celebration, not having a romantic significant might act as an incentive to cherish friendships.

“I think it is really sweet for friends to go and have fun, especially if they are lonely and don’t have boyfriends,” said Natasha Kozaric, a freshman at NYU. “The company of other people makes them feel better and there is nothing wrong with going out with friends.”

Kozaric went out for dinner with close girlfriends and exchanged small gifts like boxes of chocolate. “We don’t have boyfriends but it is fine, we have fun and support each other,” she said.

Categories
Culture

New York Fashion Week: A ‘Simple’ Breakdown of a Hectic Week

This week was by far my busiest since moving to New York, but it was undoubtedly the best. I was fortunate enough to be hired by an organization for NYFW SS’20 and I couldn’t be more humbled about it. Tears of joy, beats of excitement, and tons of responsibility.

Imagine a bunch of diversified teams blending in a pool of passion. Fashion is an industry where on time is late and perfect is inadequate – A rule of thumb is to overachieve or leave.

It is crazy backstage, but in the best way possible: Everyone’s running, taking directions from one another and being assigned a new task before digesting the current.

Sounds overwhelming, yet, somehow, everyone is more than willing to be a part of this mania better known as Fashion Week. I know because I was, am, and likely always will be.

 In its simplest form, being part of the glamour on and off stage is so inspirational, flattering and intriguing that the 5 am call time is a compromise well worth the struggle.

Imagine 50 hairdressers —51 with rainbow-dyed hair and 50 make-up artists—51 with triple nail extensions. Their time is very limited and there is absolutely no tolerance for wrongdoings so everyone brings their A-games on. 

The space is stocked with unopened boxes sponsored by cosmetics brands and the walls are decorated with mood and vision boards that are both visually appealing and artistically insightful.

You learn to pick up trash if necessary and blend right in, offering help to whomever needs you for whatever purpose, whenever and wherever. It is not all rainbows and smiles but it all adds up to something spectacular.

            Models arrive, find their make-up seats, try not to move as 5 people pull their hair to different directions, scrolling through Instagram as their nails are painted.

Once the glam part (or at least the time arranged for it) is over, dressers make sure the models’ looks are complete, helping them change as quickly as possible during and in between shows.

            One by one, guests start to arrive, each more extravagant and fashion-forward than the other. The ushers and greeters smile as they direct them towards their seats.

Front rowers check out their customized gift bags, take pictures and post them using the hashtags reserved for the shows — the more publicity and social media recognition, the better.

            This is the moment for the DJ’s to really hype out the crowd, so they deliver. It is now about time the show begins.

Front row guests are kindly instructed to unfold their legs, put their bags under their seats, avoid flashes, and enjoy the show!

            Lights go off and boom: Models flow on the runway. Every guest aims for the perfect shot, some complain about the angle.

Everyone walks just fine, no one falls, no hair loses volume, no dress unzips. The show is a success and everyone is glad.

            The designer closes the show with a final appearance and a proud smile that further intensifies the loud round of applause.

            The guests are kindly instructed to leave immediately as the area should be prepared for the next show.

Months’ worth of work and hours’ worth of preparation end in 12 minutes, but the process is magnificent from the inside out.

You are extremely humbled to be present there at that moment, having somewhat contributed to the occurrence of a real-life dream.

Until next time,

-THE END-

If you haven’t already, check out my Instagram stories for exclusive behind-the-scenes and on-the-runway content: @yaprakugurses

PS I would like to clarify that I chose to leave out details regarding the workplace, its operations and employees, having signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement by the organization I choose not to specify for confidentiality purposes and I acknowledge that this is content is fully subjective.

Categories
Culture

The Not-So-Usual Streets of New York

Where a Brief Walk in a Random Street is Worth Countless Movie Scenes

The intersection of Broadway and Prince Street hosts an organized chaos of pedestrians seemingly in a rush: A pink-haired woman with oversized red glasses navigates on her electric wheelchair, a small dog trying to keep up the pace; twins in strollers push through with great difficulty, and a couple refusing to unclasp hands press into the overbearing crowd. Their impatience skyrockets as yet another set of cabs approach along a touristy Big Bus. 

Once the lights switch in their favor, the New Yorkers hustle to the opposite side of the street where a halal stand offers chicken biryani and shish kebabs, with a strong smell that draws some in and others out. 

The white-bearded vendor in a navy apron keeps the window of his stall slightly open to avoid discouraging customers from ordering, but keeps it closed just the right amount to stay warm and read his newspaper without distraction. Making sure to check the crowd every now and then, he waves at a gentleman whose outfit matches the yellow and blue umbrellas of the cart. 

Seven steps ahead of the stand is a street artist showcasing his paintings on subway maps, accompanied by rap music so loud, it attracts a crowd. Somewhere between his speaker and his art equipment, the artist begins to dance and so do his potential customers and passerby. 

 The corner becomes a party spot as a man in a designer outfit and a purple-haired friend are joined by a little girl with a shiny pink bag. 

A man in cargo pants and a hoodie purchases two posters from the artist, whose words: “Thanks again man, appreciate it!” echo along the ongoing rap ‘concert.’

Twenty steps and fifty pedestrians later, a professional photo shoot is staged. A supermodel in black vinyl pants and a matching crop top, holding a metallic clutch poses for a photographer in an all-white outfit lying on the dirty sidewalk to capture the perfect shot.

The photographer keeps guiding the model to “tilt her head a little bit more to the left, and gaze at anywhere but the camera.” 

Two girls pass through the fashion scene as they try to figure out which direction Google Maps is pointing towards, and right behind them are a father and a son enjoying the last bit of their ice cream. 

A few seconds later arrives a man with long white hair and a matching beard, reaches the trash can to collect plastic bottles, and looks deep inside the can once again to make sure he has all. He slowly heads back on the road with two bags overfilled with garbage…

One random place and one incomplete hour yet countless faces and numerous stories unite to unravel the harmony behind the chaotic image of the city.

Categories
Culture

Reflecting on my First Semester

Now that I have officially completed my first semester in New York, I have decided to share some of my most remarkable experiences!

First things first: I had a delightful move-in day and welcome week, met extremely unique individuals, had numerous coffee dates, memorized and forgotten hundreds of names, and made many friends from all around the world.

@NYU Kimmel Center

Besides being in a Macroeconomics class with 491 other students, I have joined NYU’s Fashion Business Association and became the editor of our Zine issue, signed a living agreement with my roommate, rushed for sororities, became a laundry expert, managed to survive with 5 hours of sleep, became a mentee at NYU Luxury and Retail Association, had the pleasure to meet and network with H&M and Lululemon executives, joined a conversation with Microsoft President Brad Smith, put myself on a major challenge and joined a robot workshop, learned some basic software, became a devoted member of our yoga club, attempted to attend some meditation sessions, showed up in the library about 3 times, interviewed random passerby for journalism purposes, pitched new articles weekly as a staff writer for the school newspaper, danced with strangers on Washington Square Park on my way to my dorm, made my peace with squirrels, had my first real thrifting experience, evacuated for three weeks in a row as a safety precaution at 2 am, had the coolest class trips to the VOID and my marketing professor’s agency, had some issues navigating the subway system, saw Kim and Kanye, got thrown away by their bodyguards, accidentally found myself in midst of various protests on my way to class, became a pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats fish), had breakfast next to Rosie H. Whiteley, saw a Yankees game, joined an extended coffee workshop at Stumptown, volunteered to read and edit 50+ short stories, partnered with a senior and pitched a hypothetical business model, hosted my parents for the first time as they paid me a visit on my birthday, joined the Halloween and Thanksgiving Parades, went ice-skating at the magical Rockefeller Rink, went to more attractions and museums than I could keep track of, had my first on-campus job as a backstage prop manager, and received my first official paycheck!

And these barely reflect half the attractions…

I surely did learn and experience a lot, and more is yet to come.

Until next time!

Best,

Yaprak

Categories
food

Craving Chocolate? I Got You Covered!

Wherever you are reading this from and whenever you are reading it, there is at least one commonality: a shared demand for satisfying our ‘chocolate-tooth’ and let’s face it, what better place to do so than New York?

NYC is known for its myriad alternatives for everything and desserts that specialize in a chocolate overload certainly is no exception; whatever it is your sweet tooth wants to indulge in, ‘the’ city definitely has locations to offer it. In order to make it easier for you to spot exactly where you want to go, below are three of my favorite spots for special chocolate cures. These by no means are the only options but rather the ones that I have had the pleasure of exploring thus far in my journey of Becoming A New Yorker so stay tuned for more recommendations to come!

  • Levain Bakery: A New York classic that probably enriches your Instagram search feed with convenient locations at 167 W 74th St and 1484 Third Ave, Levain is accessible enough to satisfy your most insatiable cravings, yet distant enough to not become a daily habit that will eventually destroy your health. When you get an ideal dose of Levain products in your life, your routine surely will get more exciting and your seratonin levels will immediately skyrocket.           fullsizeoutput_3ed.jpeg                               (@Levain Bakery, NYC)

What Should You Eat?

Whether you are a cookie monster or just an outsider to the concept, you MUST try out Levain’s prominent cookies which come in 4 options including but not limited to Chocolate Chip Walnut and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip flavors, the latter being my absolute favorite. The names may sound rather ordinary but I promise the taste is by no means close to ‘ordinary.’

Another amazing item in their menu is their blueberry muffin which can be paired to perfection with an Iced latte for breakfast!

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  • Blue Stripes Cacao Shop: A less popular dessert spot that bears great potential of becoming a true cholate lover’s best friend. Conveniently located at 28 E 13th St both for Parsons and NYU students, this coffe-shop exteriored chocolate-everything provider is attractive mainly for the wide and creative selection of products it offers.

What Should You Eat/ Drink?

Unlike me, you might want to switch your regular choice of Iced Americano because Blue Stripes offers Chocolate Clouds which happen to be drinkable chocolate mousse on tap! In case that didnt convince you already, you are given the options of ‘molten milk, Nutella foam, and ruby floral’ to choose from. If you claim to have an adventurous personality and are up for a challenge, their menu has weird items ranging from Cacoa Froot Beer to Spinach Bowl with Cacao Fruit.

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(@Blue Stripes, NYC)

If you are just up for a fulfilling chocolate indulgence, however, I strongly recommend their ‘Famous Chocolate Pizza’ or ‘Build Your Own Turtle Kreamz’ option where you choose a base of soft serve chocolate ganache or vanilla bean and add toppings including but not limited to chocolate shells, salted caramel, berries, and honey peanuts. They have a lot to offer so you are encouraged to check it out in person.

  • Max Brenner: No matter how intense your chocolate cravings get, Max Brenner, located at 841 Broadway is where you are guarenteed to find a solution. This dessert spot doubles as an actual restaurant so you might want to reserve a table in advance to avoid any waiting durations. *Disclaimer: Their portions are giant and desserts are not the slightest bit of healthy so make sure this addictive location doesn’t become more than a rare cause for treating yourself.*

What Should You Eat?

Now, to the fun part, my favorite menu item is the Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet topped with vanilla ice cream. Their signature items include sweet pizza options such as Cookies and Cream, Brownie, and Peanut Butter, with toppings like toasted marshmellows. You can also opt for their ‘Chocolate Mess to Share’ which is a chocolate-y surprise for those who want an unordinary and exciting treat. For classic advocates, my recommendation would either be the ‘Chocolate Fondue for Two’ or the Belgian Waffle which is tied with the ‘Banana Praline Crepes.’ Pro Hack: Be extra and order a chocolate syringe which will completely change your perspective towards vaccination.

I hope these chocolate-intensive dessert shop recommendations will help resolve your next sweet tooth craving! More advice is yet to come as I continue my process of Becoming A New Yorker:)

Until then, stay happy and enjoy chocolate!

Best, Yaprak