Hamilton Not Throwing Away Their Shot …

When writing this blog, I had many ideas in mind.  After sitting thinking about which idea would be interesting for people to read, I decided to write about something that I am huge fan of, and that is the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Anyone that knows me will know that there is nothing that I love more than Broadway musicals. One of the biggest musicals of the last decade has been Hamilton.  This is a Hip-Hop musical about the American Revolution and it has broken records that no one could have even imagined. Since Hamilton opened on Broadway in August 2015, in the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York, it has received a record-breaking 16 Tony Award nominations (The Oscars of musical theatre), winning 11 including one for best musical.

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So how does a Broadway Musical become so successful? How has it been able to attract millions of people to go to see a Hip-Hop musical about the American Revolution?  How has Hamilton been able to attract people through their doors, from members of the British Royal Family to the everyday theatre-goer? Well, it’s simple – they have been able to use public relations and marketing to make Hamilton one of the most sought-after shows on Broadway.

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Hamiltion was created by Lin Manuel Miranda and it is based on the biography of Alexandra Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Lin Manuel Miranda is one of the main factors forHamilton’s success. Having already achieved success with shows like In the Heights, he had a huge fan base amongst musical theatre fans. He was also able to use his social media profile to attract attention for his new show, even before it opened. Once the show opened on Broadway, it soon became a huge success attracting many A – list stars such as Beyoncé and Oprah, to name a few. These stars would then post photos of themselves on social media, thus creating a desire for other people to go see the show.

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With the buzz of the show, and the amount of people trying to secure tickets, the show soon made headlines. People where literally willing to pay someone to stand in line at the theatre to try and secure a set of tickets. Trying to get tickets for Hamilton soon became impossible, with tickets selling for up to $1,150. The high price of tickets caused negative headlines for Hamilton, implying that it was impossible to get tickets unless you could afford the huge prices. To manage this crisis, and wanting to make Hamilton affordable for everyone, the Ham4Ham lottery was started where you could enter to win tickets for the show. In addition, the cast would often perform for crowds of people who were waiting outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre to see if they were lucky enough to win tickets. The #Ham4Ham would often be used by people at the show gaining extra social media attention for Hamilton.

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With Hamilton gaining so much attention, and not everyone being able to make their way to New York to see it or pay the huge ticket price, there was soon a huge demand for Hamilton merchandise. In this small way, you could get a taste of Hamilton even if you could not make it to the show. Marketing Hamilton means it is more than simply a Broadway show. Hamilton’s soundtrack was charting so well in the iTunes charts that they released a mixtape of the soundtrack, with songs being covered by popular artists such as Sia, Chance the Rapper and many more. There was such a huge demand for Hamilton merchandise that there is even a store in New York to keep up with the demand from Hamilton fans.  MH12

Hamilton was soon becoming a cultural phenomenon and was being used to talk about current social issues that were happening in the United States of America.  For example, Hamilton was being used when talking about politics, with the cast even performing for the Obamas at the White House. After Trump was elected President, and with protests breaking out around the country about the policies that he was introducing, many people were seen with posters at the protests that had lyrics from the musical on them such as, “History has its eyes on you” and “Immigrants – We get the job done”. During one of the shows when Vice President Pence was in the audience, the actor who played Aaron Burr, Brandon Dixon, asked Mike Pence after the show finished, and while he was still in the audience, to respect the diversity that the cast represents.  This got widespread media attention as was caught on camera by members of the audience.  Although it received negative reactions from people, including President Trump, many others applauded the cast for speaking out about social issues that were affecting the country and using their platform to educate people about politics.Image result for hamilton musical

I believe that Hamilton has made Broadway more popular than ever and has succeeded in bringing in a whole new generation of theatre fans.  Hamilton created such a buzz about Broadway musicals that there was even a Broadway Carpool Karaoke with James Corden, which not only included Lin Manuel Miranda from Hamiltion, but other big Broadway stars such as Audra McDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jane Krakowski. This has led to the success of many new Broadway musicals such as Dear Evan Hansen, which has achieved similar success to Hamilton.  Hamilton has also helped to change the world of Musical Theatre, attracting new fans and showing that it is okay to break down barriers and change the norm.

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Muriosa Houston is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @MuriosaHouston ; Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/in/muriosa-houston-32b41413b

Lil Lemon in the Big Apple

As I sit down to write my second ever blog post the one thing that keeps coming to my mind to write about is New York City and the short time I spent there. This is strange because anytime in person when I try to describe my time there I can never seem to find the words, nor when I do find some words do I feel like they do the place justice. However, I will give it a go.

In a city that never sleeps, I never slept. How could I when being here was something I fantasied over in my dreams for as long as I can remember. It seemed to be a distant dream, one that I never knew would come true so quickly and at the tender age of 21. The television and a movie with NYC in it was the place I’d go to get there on a weekly basis. Once I got there and hopped off the bus it was clear that neither my dreams nor the television ever came close to what it was like actually being there.

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My cousin Micheal and I at Times Square

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge. I will advise you on what not to do though if you are going to walk it. Don’t do it with a hangover and don’t do it in near 40® C heat, it’s a bad combination. This is the most important one, do not under any circumstances bring your luggage consisting of two kit-bags and a full suitcase across it with you. If you can’t check in like us then just do yourself a favour and ditch the luggage. You’ll be doing yourself a favour and taking in the views will be a lot more enjoyable. Also do not dress like a white trash hillbilly like this guy below. There are thousands of people walking across that bridge and they will all give you that same dirty look. I blame Patron Tequila from the night before for the fashion mishap that day.

 

 

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Hillbilly gets picture on the Brooklyn Bridge with all his luggage

Visit Ground Zero. This is where the famous Twin Towers once stood and where the new Tower One stands, dwarfing all the other buildings in the city. Standing and taking in the atmosphere around the footprints of where the Towers once stood before the cowardly attack took place was one of the most surreal things I have ever done. It is hard to describe but everyone just knew to be that little bit quieter. Standing where thousands of people lost their lives would have that effect on people and that little show of respect by the thousands gathering at a time was something I will never forget.

 

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9/11 Memorial site

Get to the top of the Empire State Building. I wouldn’t recommend climbing it quite like King Kong did but each to their own I guess. I’m easy going so I took the elevator. It is a long ride to the top but the elevator music was good. I was in the elevator for a good length of time and could almost hum the tune exactly how it was six months on. The long elevator ride was worth it though, the view was stunning. The sheer size of the city was almost incomprehensible. The fact that I once again had a slight hangover didn’t help with me trying to get my head around this head staggering view that was Manhattan. It’s starting to sound like I have an alcohol problem but I promise that’s not the case. It was one weekend away in New York and I turned 21 that Friday, so cut me some slack.

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Top of the Empire state Building

There are many more famous things to do that I could tell you about but a personal recommendation and one you’ll not get anywhere else is what I’m about to tell you.

Accommodation. When booking a place to stay in New York try to avoid hotels and well known apartment spots. Narrow your searches down to apartments that you haven’t heard of as much but still have a look at the pictures of the place to make sure it isn’t a dungeon. Once you’ve found the spot do not book it online or over the phone. Instead go to the premises and try to bargain with the owner. If you pay cash you’ll be sure to get a massive discount. Also be sure to ask for a top floor room, if you are lucky like me and my friends were you’ll find the exit to the rooftop. No need to go to a rooftop bar when you can have your own. Get a speaker, put on the tunes, crack open a beer and take in your very own rooftop view. It will be hard to find one as good as this spot below but here’s to me hoping you do and that you make it to New York. It is safe to say I will be back and that I found some words to describe my time there. I hope you all take something from this.

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Apartment rooftop views. Two blocks away and standing above was the Empire State Building lit up in French colours on the day they won the 2018 World Cup.

NYC, As You Were. CL x

Connell Lemon is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Instagram – connell_lemon97 ; Facebook – Connell  Lemon.

The Best Five Days!

                           ‘New York; Concrete Jungle where dreams are made of…’                                Shop to you drop, eat until you explode and sight see until your eyes ache.

                                                             28/10/17 – 02/11/17                                                                                                                7 girls, 5 days, 4 nights

When thinking of what to write about for my next blog it appeared obvious- my latest adventure…

As I boarded our direct flight from Dublin to Newark Airport- a number of things circulated in my head. I wonder what New York is like? I wonder if it really is a concrete jungle? Do they actually have yellow taxis like you see in movies? Is it as busy as people make it out to be?

YES. YES. YES. They do!

Even though it is known as ‘The City that Never Sleeps’, it is almost impossible to see New York in 5 days. Even if you lived here for 4 months I still don’t think it would be enough time to actually see it all! I seen quite a lot when I was there and I think I got about 16 hours sleep the whole time!

5 Must Do’s When In New York and 1 Don’t

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  1. Shop to you Drop- Jersey Gardens

AMAZING DISCOUNTS AND AMAZING SHOPS. From Tommy Hilfiger to Ralph Lauren to Victoria Secret. This place is amazing! Just remember your passport and you get a book full of discounts and freebie coupons to shop with until your hearts content.

 

  1. Hop on, Hop off Open Top Bus Tour is best for Sightseeing

A MUST HAVE. ThAR25is bus saved our legs for 5 days! Sounds silly but so true! Buses run basically 24/7 and stop at all of the key tourist attractions, streets and landmarks. Within our package we got four tours; an Uptown, Downtown, Brooklyn and Night time tour as well as entry into two main tourist attractions for $100! It also included the boat over to Statue of Liberty 🙂

Although heights are not my forte, if you would like to observe the whole city from above, the Rockefeller Center and the Empire State building are a must do! If I was to pick one of the two, I would go to the Rockefeller Center as you can see the Empire State building from it and the queues aren’t just as mad! Personally I think it is best to go at night to see                                                        the beautiful view and the millions of lights!

  1. Carlos Bakery & Stardust Diner are AMAZING!

After a fun filled day shopping at Jersey Gardens we stopped off and had a bun and coffee at Carlos Bakery. Carlos Bakery is an attraction in itself with lots of treats and tasty desserts 🙂

Stardust Diner is a must-do also! Ever wanted to feel like you were part of a Broadway show while eating breakfast, lunch or dinner? Have characters from all different Broadway shows dance on the tables and have a singsong while others serve your food on rollerblades?

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If you are into jewellery and think that you deserve a treat then Tiffanys is definitely a good shout! Although if you are indecisive like me, make sure the company you are with don’t mind waiting as there is an awful lot of amazing jewellery to pick from! 🙂

 

  1. The Statue of Liberty

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The Statue of Liberty is a must-do! (Although hopefully you won’t have the same experience as I had) The Statue of Liberty is bigger than you could ever imagine and a prime spot to get the ultimate insta pic! We stayed on the boat and did not get off as the boat does a loop around the statue and given the short time frame that we were there for we didn’t want to waste any time! It was at the Statue of Liberty on the second last day when we knew that something was wrong…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6. 31/10/17 – Halloween Day – 3:30pm – 8 killed, 12 injured                          

We were walking alongside the harbour (shown below) looking for the boat over to the statue when the commotion started. Police, ambulances, helicopters and pedestrians frantically running on the other side of the street. As we spotted the boat we seen the Captain frantically waving and shouting ‘Everyone onboard… last boat, last boat!!!’ It was only 3:30pm… why was it the last boat of the day? Alarm bells started to ring and we started to run onto the boat… as the boat started to leave I looked at my phone- 8 messages from family and friends asking if I was ok and if I was anywhere near the trouble in New York. The attack was breaking news on Sky and was all over different news channels worldwide.AR30

Eight people were killed and more than a dozen injured after a man drove a truck nearly a mile down a bike path in lower Manhattan striking pedestrians, cyclists and a school bus.

After smashing into the school bus, injuring two adults and two children, the 29-year-old suspect exited the truck displaying “imitation firearms”. The suspect was shouting “Allahu Akbar”, Arabic for “God is great”, before he was then shot by police in the stomach. The suspect was arrested, and a paintball gun and a pellet gun were recovered at the scene.

Donald Trump tweeted about the incident: “In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!”

Despite all this, I have already planned another trip back to New York at Christmas, this time to visit a cousin who is going there on placement! Next time I will definitely squeeze in a Broadway Show, a basketball game and a horse and carriage ride around Central Park 🙂

Love,

Aimee xo

Aimee Rourke is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aimee-rourke-593013109/ 

Whatever it takes.

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Metro World Child is an international, faith-based humanitarian organization dedicated to serving inner-city children throughout New York City and various urban centres around the world. As their slogan indicates, Metro World Child seeks on a daily basis to provide hope that promises to sustain a concrete future for boys and girls growing up in the roughest circumstances and environments.

Through weekly Sunday school services, child sponsorships, special programs and personal home visits, staff and volunteers from around the world endeavour to do as much as they can to support disadvantaged children and their families.

Having had the privilege to witness first-hand the hard working dedicated nature of team members in New York City headquarters it is no exaggeration that they work tirelessly with maximum determination to do “whatever it takes” to reach as many children and their families as they can.

Every semester a team of 40+ interns arrive in Brooklyn to volunteer alongside the devoted staff members.

It is through this “Sidewalk Sunday School” internship programme that I got to experience what ‘real life’ for the majority of inhabitants in New York City is like and not the glamourous, over commercialised, deeply coveted “city of dreams” that the media convinces us it to be.

Yes, Manhattan is all kinds of wonderful in its own way – but I was most shocked to find that within the five boroughs of New York City, it is a very small part.

Of course, it could be argued that media producers wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t highlight and enhance the best parts of the city and add their personal touches of creative flair to produce the perfect movie scene or the most eye-catching advertisement. But it did sadden me to learn from personally talking with children who lived in New York’s public housing apartments, there are kids living within New York City, that have never stepped foot in Times Square or Central Park.

From their tiny, cramped, bed bug ridden, weed-infused housing project apartment, it’s understandable that the children living there can’t appreciate that there is more outside the unpleasant environment that surrounds them daily. For many, their future is expected to be a snowball of their parent’s bleak reality; unless there is someone who will choose to encourage them to look past their present circumstances and see the potential they have within themselves in a city where anything is possible.

The Why

It is nearly 60 years ago now when a young boy sat on a street corner for three days and three nights waiting for his mum to return. Time passed and no one took any notice of him until a Christian man whose own son was suffering in hospital decided he would make it his concern to see if there was anything he could do to help, he brought the young boy home, prepared him food and paid for him to be sent to a Sunday school camp. It is from that point this young boy – known today as Pastor Bill Wilson – the founder of Metro World Child – came to know Christ – and today makes it his mission to ensure “whatever it takes” is done to meet the needs of underprivileged children around the world.

With 174,282 families living in NYC’s public housing apartments (NYCHA, 2017) you can imagine the overwhelming task of ensuring that every child has the opportunity to attend Metro’s Sunday school programme. Through this after-school kid’s programme (known as “Yogi Bear” to the locals) the children are taught valuable life morals and precious truths centred on God’s Word, the Bible. For many kids their day is filled with yelling, neglect, tears and hurt so to have the opportunity once or twice a week through the outdoor programme or door-to-door visitation of offering a hug, smile, word of encouragement or “I love you!” to these kids who feel so much rejection on a daily basis, you can imagine the joy it brings to their little faces.

Based on the principle that “It is easier to build strong boys and girls than to repair broken men and women” Metro has developed an effective method for building relationships with children and their families in order to be a consistent source of hope and positive influence in their lives.

I am SO thankful to have had the privilege of serving alongside the people that make Metro World Child what it is today and I am so thankful for the goodness and faithfulness of God that I experienced during my time there.

I have no doubt that this ministry will continue to grow under the guidance of leadership who have a desire to serve God and the people of New York wholeheartedly.  I pray that God will continue to bless the efforts of His people in this place so that they can be as effective as possible in reaching the next generation of New York City for Christ.

You can learn more about Metro World Child here: Metro World Child

Rachel Henry is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Linkedin at: Rachel Henry

 

Road Tripping the West Coast of California

Travelling the West Coast of California was the most incredible experience I have had to date and I’m excited to share it all with you in the hope that it is on your bucket list by the time you finish reading this post.

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First things first, when booking flights, accommodation and car hire set yourself a budget in advance and this will make it much easier to manage and save your money.

TIP: Book all accommodation through booking.com (cancellation up to 24 hours), look out for car hire deals on Rentalcars.com on a daily basis (if you are under 25 it will be more expensive), luckily, we got a deal which included the young driver fee.

On 28 August, we arrived in beautiful San Francisco or ‘Fog City’ as some prefer to call it, where you are surrounded by stunning architecture, parks, VERY steep streets and the gorgeous bay area.

 Three of my favourite days in San Francisco

  1. Hop-on-hop-off tour bus, I know what you’re thinking… tourist central, but it is honestly the best way to see the city and after all, you are a tourist!
  2. The Alcatraz Tour, this will take up most of the day and is worth every penny
  3. Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 are beautiful areas to walk, eat and people watch

TIP: 5-7 days is enough time to explore the city, bring comfortable footwear, it is chilly so bring jeans and a jacket and I assure you, this is the only time you will need this attire on your trip!

During our time in San Francisco we allowed 2 days to travel to Yosemite National Park, where we reserved a camp space ($18) 5 months in advance. Yosemite gave us the full camping experience, from cooking dinner & breakfast on a campfire to having zero phone signal.

TIP: Hike to Nevada Falls, it was unbelievable. The route is ranked ‘difficult’ but is definitely doable and took us 4.5 hours.

 

 

Back in San Francisco, we picked up our little blue racer and headed for Highway 1, not before Cathal almost drove into the side of Walmart, the sound of the American woman’s voice is still ringing in my ears ‘WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING, DUMBASS.’

Our next stop was Avenue Inn and Suites in San Luis Obispo (SLO), a small ‘student’ sort of town, although we didn’t get to a sorority party it was the cutest town EVER. A one night stay was perfect!

TIP: Stop in Monterey on the way down for lunch at any restaurant on the pier. In SLO look out for ‘Bubble-gum Alley’ it is disgustingly cool.

Next up was Santa Barbara, the quirkiest town with beautiful houses, cobbled streets, unique shops and restaurants all within walking distance from our accommodation, the Orange Tree Inn.

TIP: There is a handy bus stop every 200 metres down the strip, the open bus comes every 10 mins, this will take you to the beach for ($1.50).

Hi View Inn & Suites in Manhattan Beach was by far the best accommodation of the whole trip. We chose to stay just outside LA and used Uber which was cheap and cheerful. Manhattan Beach is a relaxing area with very few tourists which we loved!

TIPS: Stop in Santa Monica before you reach Manhattan Beach, hire bikes and cycle the boardwalk to Venice Beach it is SO much fun!

Hike to the Hollywood sign, it takes about 2 hours and you will get amazing views of LA.

Visit Rodeo Drive, the more luxurious side of LA with a strip of designer shops.

Finally, have a coffee break at Alfred’s Coffee House (490 N Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, USA).

 

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San Clemente was our second last stop, this was really only to ‘rest our heads’ for one night. There isn’t much to do here except chill on the gorgeous beach which is walking distance from San Clemente Inn.

TIPS: Stop off at Laguna Beach before you reach San Clemente, parking is cheap, it is a beautiful place to have lunch and a walk around the town.

In San Clemente, dine at The Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar with the sound of the waves crashing right below you.

Last but certainly not least of our West Coast (‘best coast’) experience was San Diego. We stayed in the amazing Kings Inn, it is 10 minutes out of the city centre but easily accessed from Highway 1, driving into the city was super easy (says me in the passenger seat) but Cathal agreed! It was comfortable, spacious and had a great pool and Jacuzzi.

TIP: Visit the zoo (we are children at heart), it is the rated the No.1 in the world and I couldn’t agree more!

Pay a visit to Fashion Valley outlet shopping mall for all the best deals

Dock the boat from downtown San Diego to Coronado Island for $5 and cycle around the 84.6km island, the 15-minute boat ride provides breath-taking views of San Diego’s skyline.

I mean… you can’t fly all the way to the states and not pay a visit to the big apple. New York was our very last stop before heading back to Dublin.

TIP: The trusty hop-on-hop-off tour bus, in just 4 days we were able to see the city under no pressure.

Our favourite places where Brooklyn Bridge, Top of the Rock (go during the day), Central Park, 230th Roof Top Bar on 5th Avenue, 911 memorial… I guess all of it was pretty amazing but those are the ‘must-dos’

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GENERAL ‘MUST KNOWS’ FOR THIS TRIP:

  •  All accommodation SO easily accessed from Highway 1
  • Do not pay extra for a GPS from the car hire company, your iPhone is just as good
  • You’ll notice that there isn’t much negativity in this post, that is genuinely because everywhere we visited and stayed was amazing
  • If I have been successful in inspiring you to book a trip to palm tree paradise & spectacular New York City, I hope you enjoy every minute of it!

 

Laura Duffy is a final year Public Relations Student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Instagram @laura_duffyy and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laura-duffy-8803b7105/ 

Christmas in New York City!

Christmas in New York City!

 

It’s not every year that you get to visit the most magical place in the world at Christmas with your family. In a year as tough as this one, with assignments and exams piling up, it was definitely a well-needed trip to escape the world of final year (even if only for a few days).

One thing I learned from my trip is that you can never be fully prepared for New York. Having been there before during Summer, I thought I was prepared for the ‘city that never sleeps’ but one thing that is for sure, New York in Summer and New York at Christmas are like two different places. I would highly recommend researching and having your days planned out, this way you don’t waste time. Here are a few other tips I learned…

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First of all, it is COLD! I opted out of the nice outfits and instead wrapped myself up like a fish supper, with barely an inch of skin exposed to the crisp December air. As well as this, forget about packing those fancy boots, and throw in the Skechers laying at the back of the wardrobe. In New York, no one cares about your footwear and after walking approximately 77,824 steps (well, according to the health app on my iPhone) I’m definitely glad I had my trainers.

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Before embarking on a trip to the Big Apple, one thing I did was thoroughly research the streets and avenues, attempting to understand my way around Google Maps before I hit the real thing. This might sound strange, perhaps it was, but lets just say I’m very glad I did this as on the first night, my brother (who has NO sense of direction and would get lost if you spun him in a 360 degree turn) ended up wandering off on his own, only to end up on 20th street…our hotel was on 40th. Quite convenient that his name is also Kevin!

Another thing that I did before the trip was researched many different types of restaurants, making sure we stayed well clear from the Caviar, lobster and $300 bottles of wine type places. New York at Christmas is crazy, with people flocking from all over the world, so having your reservations made and tables booked makes life a lot easier. I would highly recommend downloading the app ‘Open Table’, it helps you search a specific area and restaurant and tells you which reservations they have free, allowing you to book your spot there and then, super handy!

As well as this, occasionally it is worth it to avoid the tourist activities (I’m quite the hypocrite as my video below has TOURIST written all over it) however visiting smaller villages, classic boutiques and drinking at dead-end bars with the locals, sometimes turns out to be one of your favourite days.

Lastly, remember that you really would need a few weeks in New York to do EVERYTHING, a few days simply doesn’t cut it, but try and squeeze in as much as you can! And, don’t just do things for the ‘Instagram pics’. I learned this the hard way after standing in a line to have cocktails in the Plaza Hotel for over 45 minutes to find out that Taylor Swift was inside, probably with her 13th boyfriend this year, and they weren’t letting anybody in. Thanks Taylor!

MUST DO:
Central Park – This really is a must, especially if it is snowing. It is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Saks on 5th Avenue Christmas Lights – I think the light display happens every 10 minutes, so if your passing and it hasn’t started yet, it is definitely worth the wait.
Katz Deli – A real traditional American diner with SERIOUS sandwiches, it would knock O’Brien’s and The Sandwich Co. way out of the park.
Rockefeller Tree and Top of the Rock – The Rockefeller Tree is the most magical thing to see while in New York at Christmas.

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Broadway show – Shows such as the Lion King and School of Rock play all year round, but it definitely is worth it to splash out and see the Rockettes or Elf!

IF YOU HAVE TIME:
Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to Soho
Have a drink in the Plaza (as long as T.Swift isn’t there!)
Visit a Rooftop Bar, this one is amazing.

Have a look at my video below for some other top activities to do in New York at Christmas!

 

 

Loren Ward is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @lorenward and LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/loren-ward-b93049a8

Better (than I could ever imagine!)

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In the summer of 2015, it’s not surprising that when you’re due to begin a placement in the industry you’ve been studying in and things don’t appear to be falling into their perfect place – panic begins to kick in.

Yes a placement year in CAM is optional, but when you’re as super unsure about what direction to steer your life in as I was, all practical experience is welcome.

Amidst floods of tears and feelings of failure I couldn’t help but hold on to the ounce of optimism I had when I chatted with friends and they encouraged me that perhaps it was because there was something better “just around the corner.”

However, that little glimmer of hope was immediately disseminated with my instant response of doubt and disbelief “It’s a pretty BIG darn corner!”

*sigh*

A little patience goes a long way.

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Looking back, I’m sure being patient was the last thing I had in mind (and I’m sure my parents can vouch for that!) but looking back, I can now fully appreciate the process and time it took to fully prepare me for life a few thousand miles away from home in the Big Apple.

Little did I know, that for just under 8 months I would spend my time living in Brooklyn in Metro World Child headquarters, with Metro staff and interns from all around the world, endeavouring to serve God and be a small part of His big plan for reaching children and their families with the gospel in the darkest neighbourhoods of New York City, presenting them with the only source of hope that is found through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Having been involved with different aspects of ministry in my local church at home in Northern Ireland, I was super excited (and nervous!) to work alongside an organisation that was involved in a similar style of outreach in New York City (a place I had longed to visit!) and see how God was at work in another part of the world with people willing to be used by Him.

All things work together for good.

RH2

From a young age, when posed the question “Where’s your favourite place in the world?” I always had one answer, “New York City.” Having never been there I guess that’s a bit of an irrational statement, but nonetheless, it was a desire that I knew was put in my heart for a purpose.

It was about 5 or 6 years previous before I set off on my New York adventure when I sat in my youth group on a Sunday evening after the church service and listened to a young girl, Sarah Reynolds share about her experience with what was formerly known as Metro Ministries in New York City. As we listened to her share the first-hand stories about “Sidewalk Sunday School”, “Yogi Bear Kids” and hearing gunshots while teaching children from the Bible on the streets of the poorest areas in the city, it all seemed like an overwhelming mix of intense excitement and legitimate fear. Still, I’ll never forget whispering in agreement with my friends, “I want to do that someday!”

A promise from above.

RH1

When you live in a family of four children with a father who much prefers going to airports to have a picnic as you watch planes come and go every day of summer before he’d ever step foot on one – you can guess that foreign family holidays weren’t a thing in our house. So I’m sure you can imagine the horror of even suggesting I board a plane and cross an ocean by myself to a city full of strangers and streets rife with criminals.

Yea it took a while to get over that one.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the loudest, bravest, boldest person that exists and probably the last person you would want to send to the ghetto of any city, but when you’re in the centre of God’s will and He gives you a promise from the Bible like the one above from Acts to hold on to, stepping forward in faith is the best direction to go.

In every detail.

If I was to begin to tell about the kids I had the privilege to meet, the people I had the pleasure of serving alongside, or even the moments I saw God’s hand most evidently at work, well, we would be here for quite a while. So in an attempt to sum up my feelings on E V E R Y T H I N G that took place during my time with Metro World Child in New York City here’s a verse from the Bible, which even before I left for NYC could use to describe the amount of ways I have seen God at work in my life.

RH4

Of course, there were tearful moments, sleepless nights and pesky lice problems (to name but a few hurdles along the way!) but I wouldn’t exchange my experience and memories for the world.

When people ask about my placement year and the reason for two years out of my studies I often jump to the most logical explanation I think they’ll understand for why I didn’t choose the ‘normal’ placement path. This range of excuses include: “I couldn’t get a placement”, I don’t think I tried hard enough”, “I didn’t apply for enough companies.” When in reality, perhaps it was just because God had something better in mind.

*Insert most commonly asked question*

Would you go back? To visit, for sure! Forever? We’ll have to talk to God about that one.

For now and until graduation, I’m just going to enjoy good old Northern Ireland.

Rachel H

Rachel Henry is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn at: Rachel Henry