University in Australia vs. College in the States

On my decision to come to SUNY Oswego for an exchange semester, I knew that things would be different, but I assumed that more or less Australian and American university life and culture would be very similar. I was wrong. I have outlined the main differences below. Enjoy.

College is love

College is love

1. College is love, college is life. Literally. Since beginning college my days typically consist of eating all my meals with friends, going to class, going to the gym with friends, doing homework with friends, watching Netflix with friends, and sleeping. This is vastly different to my university days at QUT as everyday would always be completely different. In Brisbane some days I would go to work, others I would have class, and others I would do absolutely nothing but hang out with friends. I like the structured format of college in the states because I am forced to be more dedicated to my studies and I actually feel like I have time for things (such as working out) because everything is on campus.

2. Homework and pass grades. At QUT in my course, to pass a subject you simply need to get 50% or higher, which is simple and makes sense to me… Here it varies on the subject. For instance one of my subjects is 60% and another is 70%. However it is easier to get marks here (from my recent experience anyway) as professors tend to give out marks for attendance and small homework tasks. Which brings me to my next point; homework. Per subject at QUT I would have two exams during a semester and 1-3 large assignments, and class work/homework is completely optional. Whereas at SUNY Oswego I actually have to keep up to date on course work by submitting graded homework tasks weekly. I like the feelings of always being on top of my course work here, and it gives me reassurance that I will pass and do well, but I do miss weeks of procrastination and doing things last minute as I work well under pressure.

3. Structure of classes. At QUT all of my weekly classes are made up of two parts: one being a lecture which takes place in a hall and is run by a professor, and the other is a practical session in a classroom environment which may be run by a professor or a researcher. At SUNY Oswego all my subjects are in a classroom environment. I feel as though I am back in high school at times. I prefer my university’s style of teaching because a lecture might be one day, and the practical session the next, so it gives me time to digest the information. However I feel as though I have the potential to develop closer, more meaningful relationships with professors here as the contact is more personal and regular.

Snow storm

Snow storm

4. Classes are cancelled if there is a snow storm. This is vastly different to what I am used to. It doesn’t snow in Brisbane, but when we do have extreme weather, scheduled activities are rarely postponed (the exception being sporting events). I was surprised that classes were cancelled when there was a blizzard because most students live on campus and have the warm clothes needed to withstand these conditions anyway.

5. Not everything will kill you in the states. I was bitten by a spider two nights ago and I did not die; I initially thought it was a mosquito bite as it was itchy, small and hard, but turned out it was a spider bite. If this had happened in Australia I probably would have gone straight to the ER. I am enjoying the fact that I do not need to fear for my life when I encounter bugs and reptiles here.

6. American’s have awesome accents. I am always interested in what my peers and professors have to say because I cannot get enough of the accent.

7. American’s have a different definition of thong. I was telling some new friends about my regular encounters with spiders and how I kill them with my thongs (flip flops), and they thought this was hilarious because they were imagining me killing them with a g-string. Lol.

College food

College food

8. Dining halls. At QUT we do not have any dining halls, rather we have food courts, cafes and bars, where items must be purchased in $AUD. When I arrived at Oswego the whole dining hall and dining dollars thing was so foreign, amazing & like something from an American movie. I love that there are so many dining halls on campus and their hours are long and flexible. I wish we had this culture at QUT.

 

Peace Out

 

Ski Trip to Bristol Mountain Ski Resort

Yesterday I went twilight skiing. It was awesome.

Beautiful views

Beautiful views

As a student from Australia, the idea of going skiing as a college related activity, is unheard-of. There are always posters around SUNY advertising upcoming events and I saw this ski trip to Mt. Bristol listed. I was in. I signed up for the trip, paid the small fee and was all ready to go with eight of my closest friends.

The mountain is only 1 hour 30 minutes from campus and besides not having cell reception for most of the way, the bus trip proved to be enjoyable. When we arrived I was so ready. I had been ready since I saw the trip listed and finally I was here.

I had only ever been skiing at Coronet Peak & Perisher prior to this trip so when I arrived and looked at my surroundings I was amazed. The flora and fauna was completely different to anything I had seen or skied in before, it was beautiful.

feeling very 80s with my beanie

feeling very 80s with my beanie

We skied between 4pm – 10pm which forced me to make productive use of the time (i.e. spend as much time on the slopes as possible). Some of my friends elected to take lessons before skiing, so whilst they were doing this I was exploring the slopes with two of my friends who, like me, did not need a lesson. We warmed up by skiing around 6 or 7 green runs until I decided I was comfortable enough to take on a blue. I was wrong. The sign indicated that there was a blue trail ahead, however it lied (or maybe I read it incorrectly) and there were only two track options – both black diamond runs. Fortunately it was still early in the afternoon (so I was not tired and my technique was fine) and the snow was powdery. I only fell over twice, ejected from my skis once, and most importantly did not get injured. I am glad that I challenged myself and went down this first diamond run as it gave me confidence, and desire to explore the mountain.

My friends and I all met up for dinner in the Rocket Lodge and it was perfect. It was this big wooden hut with long tables, a canteen service, and great vibes. We ate hamburgers, pizza and waffle fries – can I seriously be doing anything more American? I love it.

I think by the end of the night the only runs I had not attempted were the double diamonds, and skiing through the deeper woods. By the time 10pm came we were all fatigued and ready to go back to campus. We stopped at a McDonald’s on the way back and all went to sleep content.

wow pretty
Thankyou SUNY, you are awesome.

My Journey In Japan, Part One

(NOTE: This is one of those blog entries that I probably should’ve started working on much, much sooner. Perhaps one could consider this a testament to the amount of adventures I’ve been having as of late?)

As I write this, I’m not currently in Oswego. Or in New York State. Or even on the North American continent.

Nope, right now I’m in the middle of a semester abroad at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata-shi, Osaka, Japan. I’m only halfway through the semester, and I already have found it to be the most worthwhile experience of my entire life. This is the realization of a dream I’ve had since I was in middle school (and probably even before that), and is the culmination of over a year and a half of diligence, hard work, and perseverance.

Eleven years in the making, and I'm finally here...

Eleven years in the making, and I’m finally here…

 

 

I’ve got so many stories to tell about my adventures thus far in Japan that I’ll need more than one post to talk about them. But first, let’s talk about two things that have been fundamental in making this even possible in the first place: choice and responsibility.

This is my senior year. I plan to graduate in May, which means I have a little over a semester and a half before I’m expected to go out into the “real world” so I can “make something out of myself.”

As a Creative Writing major, I get a lot of comments from people asking me what I plan on doing after undergrad with that kind of degree. These comments often have a somewhat derogatory tone to them, as if I’ve somehow wasted all my money on something completely worthless.

Now, this is the part where you’d probably expect me to say something along the lines of, “The Creative Writing major is actually super-versatile, thank you very much,” and then drone on and on about how I could be a technical writer or a PR manager, both of which are rather profitable jobs.

Fortunately, that’s not what I’m gonna do. Instead, I’ll tell you the absolute truth.

The truth is, I don’t know what I plan to do outside in “the real world.” I sure as hell don’t want to spend my life rotting away inside a cubicle at a job I hate just because somebody else told me to. That’s not me; it’s not my kind of environment. Sure, it’s secure, but it’s also boring as hell. As Joseph Campbell (whom I’ll probably get to talking about in a later post) once said, “There is no security in answering the Call to Adventure. Nothing is exciting if you already know what the outcome is going to be.”

Now, where does Japan come into all of this?

Well, it’s simple: I’ve wanted to go to Japan since I was a little kid. Over the years I’ve heard a variety of people say a variety of things about the variety of reasons why it would be impossible and/or stupid to go to Japan.

“It’s too expensive.” (Nah, it wasn’t really.)

“Someone like you wouldn’t survive a week over there.” (Try eight. And counting.)

“You’re too stupid to get into a university over there.” (Honors Program with a 3.3 GPA.)

“What’s the point? You’ll just end up owing boatloads of money over nothing.” (See below.)

“Stop being irresponsible, Tom. Just graduate and get a job like everyone else. Worry about Japan later.” (Again, see below.)

Well, if this post is any indication, in the end I didn’t listen to them, and I’m so glad I chose not to. The truth is, this semester abroad wasn’t just the best decision I’ve ever made, but the most NECESSARY, as well. I’d been exposed to too much cynicism to that point, and I needed to break free.

[*cue minor tangent*]

You see, I hate cynicism. It’s probably one of the worst qualities to find in a person, as it more or less translates as a sign of laziness and apathy (which are two equally terrible character traits). I especially hate when I hear my fellow classmates back home (many of whom are juniors and seniors) whine and moan about how “the last four years have been worthless” and “I still don’t know what I want to do with my life” and “[Insert name here]’s got a degree in [Insert Liberal Arts major here], so he’s gonna be flipping burgers when he gets out of here.”

Here’s the thing: people who say that kind of stuff seem to have missed the point of college; they act like all they need to do is attend class during the week and party during the weekend and they’ll somehow magically figure out who they are and what they want to do. They neglect opportunities like study abroad or clubs and organizations, saying that they’re just a waste of time. School is work, and to them, work should always be separate from play.

And then when they realize they were wrong, they blame it on their parents and other adults who told them that getting a degree was the only important part of their college education.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

See, the thing that so many of those cynical students seem to forget is that college is about learning to make your own decisions, as opposed to following the will of someone else. Thus, whining about how you gained nothing from college is a sign that you didn’t learn how to think for yourself. That’s a skill you often can’t fully learn how to use in a classroom setting; you can only apply it there. You have to learn about yourself and the world around you by actually getting out and being there.

[*end minor tangent*]

Which is where I turn once again to my experiences in Japan. I’ve known for a while that I probably won’t become a full-time writer; for one thing, it’s been hard to come up with something original, and for another, I have a rather short attention span that makes writing for significant length of time somewhat difficult. (Which is why it’s actually kind of weird that this post is as long as it is…)

[*cue another minor tangent; don’t worry, kids, it’s all relevant in the end*]

But I do know one thing: I love stories. I love telling them, I love reading them, and I love learning about how they work. And I also love games; playing games, talking about games, and learning the science behind games.

And I know that I can take these two bits of knowledge and tie them together. And I know that by tying them together I can see the world from an entirely different perspective. And from that perspective I can find things to do and make that can change the world as we know it. Things that take my creative writing and cognitive science backgrounds and turn them into the impetus behind a force of good.

Knowing that, I feel there’s only one choice I can make, because I have a responsibility to myself (rather than to the people around me) to do something extraordinary with my life.

And the best way I can think of is to pursue cognitive video game studies in graduate school.

[*end minor tangent*]

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Man, does that Tom Kline likes his tangents. But trust me when I say that this all ties together rather nicely.

Because when I first came to Oswego as a freshman, my parents and high school teachers had already told me that I had a responsibility to study what interested me, because in doing so I’d learn to appreciate the gift of choice that came with that opportunity. And so I became a Creative Writing major and Cognitive Science minor, and somehow ended up in Japan.

There, we’re back on track.

Now, having finally come to Japan, I’ve been rewarded for my self-faith and conviction by being granted so many other opportunities while being here. My birthday, September 19th, was the day of the Jugoya full-moon festival in Kyoto, and I got to go to a celebration at Shimogumo Shrine. That night, the full moon was said to be the prettiest full moon of the year (in contrast to a similar festival in May, which is said to be the most powerful full moon of the year).

It was a great night.

 

What’s more, I spent the next four days in Tokyo for the Tokyo Game Show 2013, which was an industry expo similar to E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo, held every summer in LA). Unlike E3, however, the last two days of TGS are open to the public.

The ticket for TGS 2013

 

While I was there, I got to play a bunch of crazy games that might not even come out in America.

 

This guy was from a Sega game for the Nintendo 3DS that had something to do with fighting using Japanese yen. I barely understood what was going on. At the end of the demo they gave me a box of tissues that looked like a 10,000 yen bill. Japan, people. Video games.

And my favorite part of the trip was getting to meet a bunch of independent game developers. These are two-and-three-man studios who come together to make games on their own terms, free from any corporate meddling. They often make more avant-garde games with interesting mechanics that in turn can influence the rest of the games industry.

Here’s me with the guys at VisionTrick, who are working on a game called Pavilion for the PS4 and PS Vita. There’s an interview with them that I’ll post soon. They were pretty awesome.

Rickard Westman(left) and Henrik Flink (right) of VisionTrick Media. Talking to these guys was really, really cool.

 

And here’s me with Henry Fernandez and his brother, who are working on FluffEaters, a mobile game for Android and iOS devices. An interview with them should also be going up in the near future:

Me with Henry Fernandez (aka Henry Kun), left, and his brother (whose name sadly escapes me at the moment…), right. These guys were also really cool to talk to.

It’s great to talk to these developers because they operate on a more easily-approachable level; they make games, but they’re not Shigeru Miyamoto or Cliff Blezinski (from Nintendo and Epic Games, respectively). You can go up to them and talk about game design and playing games without feeling like you’re speaking to a suit (or, in the cases of Miyamoto and Blezinski, a legend). In a way, these guys are artists who are making their dreams come true by creating something unique for others to experience and interpret and learn from. They could’ve gone and become businessmen, rotting away at a job they hate, but instead they decided to do something awesome with their lives.

Thus, we’re not really different at all: I love games, they love games. I’m in Japan at the Tokyo Game Show experiencing the insanity that occurs within, and so are they. And most importantly, I’m here because I never gave up on my dream, and neither did they.

That week alone was one of the greatest and most life-changing periods of my entire life. And none of it could’ve happened (or at least, not to the extent that it had) outside of Japan. If I hadn’t made the choice of going to Japan now while I’m still an undergrad, I’d be letting down so many of the people who got to where I am today.

But that, friends, is a story for another time. Until next time, stay tuned for more coverage from the Land of the Rising Sun!

The semester ends when?!

Like most students on campus, I’ve been as busy as ever juggling  jobs and classes, relationships and hobbies, and most of all… me time. This also means that I neglected updating all of you with how my semester was going. So, here it goes. It’s been a long one. It’s interesting to see how far I can push myself and it’s really rewarding when the grades that come back reflect the work that’s been put in. Graduate school is no joke, but at the same time I feel that this is where I’m supposed to be and that I was prepared for the work. Civic Engagement is going well, we were super busy until the election and now we’re planning for next semester, which is just as time consuming. The Women’s Club Hockey team is off to a decent start, not where we usually are at this point but we picked up our play as of late. Coaching teaches me a lot about leadership roles, professionalism, the game of hockey, and myself. Right now we’re 5-3-0 with a few games left this semester to improve that quite a bit. It’s something that I love to do, though it’s really time consuming. On a lighter note, being a graduate student means no finals! it also means that there are only 8 days left in my semester. Definitely thankful for that. Well, hope all of you are doing well. I’ll try to get on this more often to keep it updated.

Look! Up In The Sky! It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s…Some Guy Introducing Himself!

Hmm… given that we’ve been out of school for almost a month, you’d think I would’ve posted at least something by now. It seems procrastination, sleep, summer classes, sleep, looking for a job, procrastination, finding a job, sleep, working at said found job, eating, and sleep have gotten the better of me.

But now I’ve finally arrived, and am ready to finally make my first appearance on this fine Student Blog of ours!

My name is Tom Kline, and I’m a junior Cinema and Screen Studies/Creative Writing double major (with a minor in Theatre). I hail from the lovely (and rather quiet) town of Endwell, NY (which is about 20 minutes from Binghamton, for those of you playing along at home). I went to high school at Seton Catholic Central High School in Binghamton, where I graduated as a member of the Class of 2010.

I have what you’d call a “spirited” personality, which is to say that I tend to get excited fairly easily, and my voice often carries as a result. This ability to project is key to being an actor; in the real world, however, it often doesn’t fly. But that’s okay, because I find I’m still able to express my views and opinions (as well as fictitious anecdotes and the like) through writing, which in my experience has been an arguably quieter activity.

And if what people tell me is true (which is not always the case, sadly), I’m pretty good at this whole writing schtick.

Needless to say, much of my extra- (and even inter-) curricular activities involve extensive writing, editing, and other ways to mess around with the English language:

– I’m a member of the College Honors Program.

– I’ve been a regular Staff Writer for The Oswegonian for two years now, and some of my movie reviews have won journalism awards. I even served as a Copy Editor for a semester.

– I am currently a tutor in the Writing Center for the Office of Learning Services. Our office in Penfield Library is a perfect place to find help with papers and other forms of writing.

– My screenplay “The Chase” was featured in the Spring 2012 edition of The Great Lake Review, SUNY Oswego’s semesterly literary journal.

– Last semester, I was inducted into the Alpha Sigma Eta chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English and Creative Writing honors society.

– And of course, I’m writing for this blog!

As I mentioned, I’m also an actor; I most recently made my return to the stage in last semester’s production of Much Ado About Nothing, in which I played Friar Francis and the Sexton. Here’s a photo, courtesy of Lakeshore Images:

That's me in the front, with the Obi-Wan Kenobi-esque robes.

It was my first college theatre production, and I’m really proud of how it turned out. I’m looking forward to working with the Theatre department in the future.

When I’m not chained to a desk, writing, acting, or sleeping (or acting like I’m sleep-writing while chained to a desk), I enjoy playing video games and watching action movies (my favorites are Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 and Die Hard, respectively). I’m also interested in mythology; as part of my Honors thesis, I’m researching the various ties to world mythologies found within anime, manga, and popular culture at large. It’s just one of the ways I’ve been able to fully embrace my “nerdy” interests by integrating them into my academic studies (but more on that some other time).

Well, I guess that’s me in a nutshell. In closing, I’d like to thank Tim Nekritz and the others involved with this blog for allowing me to become a contributor. I’m looking forward to posting some of my more interesting stories about SUNY Oswego sometime in the future.

Until then, thanks for reading!

 

A Moment of Gratitude

I am truly grateful to have met the friends that I have while here in Oswego. They are all new friendships and bonds formed with the exception of one, my good friend Rufaro or Tumbo, best known as “DJ Tumbo” outside of that 6 year friendship the ones I have formed are mostly a year old or so. But that didn’t change the amount of love and companionship we all shared Sunday night as we gathered for dinner.

While many students who live nearby go home to celebrate Easter , there are a small portion of us who can’t simply because the 5 hour trip home just doesn’t work out how you would like it to sometimes. Watching everyone hop on the bus or cramming into cars to go home can make those of us forced to stay a little sad. So imagine my excitement when my best friend Damaris not only announced that she was staying on campus as well but would also be making Sunday dinner!

Since Damaris moved into the Village (the suite styled housing which I adore for it’s beautiful exterior and even more impressive interior detailing , a place I wish I had chosen to live instead of off-campus) Sunday dinners have becomes somewhat of a regular occurrence for us.

Doing what she always does so well she played grand host and master chef , whipping up a home style feast of meatloaf, creamed mashed potatoes, baked macaroni and cheese, green beans and biscuits. The food was good but the company of great friends was even better. And as the night which was filled with moments of laughter,some jokes funny enough that I found myself on the kitchen floor doubled over in laughter and lively serious debates came to a close I felt an extreme sense of gratitude. Gratitude for being blessed to have such invaluable friendship to share my happiest moments…any moments for that matter because they have been there for some of my less enviable ones as well , I am grateful. And while for many people Easter has an entirely different meaning. This year friends,love and happiness is what I’ll remember Easter to be.

Too Hot to Handle

 

 

 

I don’t know where you are right now but chances are it’s hot as blazes. I happen to be home on a week long vacate in NYC and I feel as though I moved onto the sun. According to my roommates and friends back in Oz, it’s no better there. I’m actually writing this in front of a fan by the way. For whatever reason the AC isn’t running in my house and this has lead me to delirium to some crazy thoughts, such as wishing I was back at Oz to jump in the lake.  My latest genius idea was just to soak my shirt in cold water and walk around outside like “its all good baby.”

Anyway. I was browsing the internet while I waited for my megavideo time limit to pass (trying to catch up on The Office) and I came across an article on yahoo.com about the top ten ways to stay cool. I cannot attest for all of them ( like “leave cabinets open as well, as they will store heat.”) but I do know from experience that putting you fan by the window does bring in the greatest natural cool air mankind has ever felt in his room. Of course you need to have somewhat of a breeze blowing outside for this to work and right now there is none -_- . However desperate hot times , call for desperate cool off measures so give the list a once over and see what may or may not work for you. In the meantime I’m going to go give # 4 on the list a try.

 

( source link)

The 411

One summer class down and the swan song on math in undergrad. Not too shabby huh? What have I been doing in this past week since class ended absolutely nothing. This is the first true break for me since the spring semester began, yeah travel back that far.

Alright, I may not have been being a complete summer bum, I just took out three books on loan from Penifield. Two by James Baldwin and one by David Benioff writer of the 25th Hour famously turned into a Spike Lee directed Movie, he also wrote the screen play for The Kite Runner and Troy. I figure three books is a enough to keep me pleasantly busy while allowing my mind to recuperate for the way I repeatedly put it through the grinder over these last 5 months. I’ve also been trying to make my way down to the lake as often as I can while the weather is nice and at the risk of this sounding like a match.com profile , I’ve been doing some bike riding around town as well.

At this point I may be enjoying summer days more than my friends. Everyday feels like a gift. One part of Oswego that is so underrated is the summer . We always hear about the snow, the strong wind gust and of course the sunset but summer is the town’s best kept secret. I have made it a goal of mine to share all of the different things that can be done for fun during the summer but I need to be selfish just a while longer.  Think of it as a finders fee.

Anyway I need to resume to this summer relaxation but don’t fret you’ll be seeing (hint hint) somethings from me pretty soon. Until then as Rob would say ” let that boy cook!”

Enjoy your summer day everyone,

Kwame

Let’s Catch Up

Wow

It has been a while since I’ve really gotten into the flow of  things. Not to worry I am back and fully functioning. Took a much needed break. You know how hectic things can get for a college student. Hopefully to the demise of you the reader (just admit you miss me). With so much time passing , comes so much news.

This past semester I went through a lot. I grew a lot , I experienced a lot. I am grateful for it all , maybe not while it occurred or soon after, and truthfly there are issues I am still trying to resolve. However my new outlook has led me to be grateful for it all. Rain, sleet, Oswego sized snow days and sun. Whatever the problem I may be experiencing in the end will be worth the journey.

Success has found its way to me this year. This past spring semester I was inducted into the Lambda  Pi Eta National Honor Society of Communications. It was a pleasant surprise because although it has been my goal since day one of Oswego to receive academic recognition I never set out for this one in particular. Which made the induction and initial nomination that much more of an honor. I learned that when you take care of your business , stay focused on the goal at hand, the blessings will come. Also it never hurts to be able to send your parents a quick picture of you holding a Honor Society Certificate , all dressed up, with a great big smile with the caption “Hey mom just in case you thought I was going to Thirsty Thursdays every week.”

So all in all there has been a lot to occur. My birthday was exactly a month ago to the date( old & gray) , I received stitches for the first time (a lesson learned from that!), celebrated BSR (woop woop!), became Mr. BSU(check me out), My niece is 7 months and teething (poor baby sister).

As hectic as that may seem. I am still busy at work up here in Oswego. I’m taking summer classes, looking for employment, working on a possible intership/shadow position, and experiencing all that Oswego has to offer in the summer time (besides allergies and a sinus infection).

Rest assure though , we will be in touch!

-Kwame

Busy Bee in NYC

Although I feel more like an actual New Yorker the longer I’m in NYC, I’ve still done a decent job of hitting up tourist locations. Since I can’t share a lot about what I’m doing at work, here’s a sneak peak into my life outside of magazines!

First and foremost, I’m still a fitness guru at heart and it’s always been on my bucket list to go running in Central Park. I’m always so envious whenever I see people in their jogging pants and sneaks, just trucking around the reservoir like they do any other day. I realized that my time here was quickly running out, so I laced up my sneaks and hit the pavement in the cold 35-degree weather, looking just like any other local.

And let me tell you, the views were worth it.

While I wasn’t in NYC for it, I was lucky enough to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra live. My mom and step-dad bought tickets for my three brothers, sister and I for Christmas, so we were all able to experience some awesome musicianship together. The pyrotechnics they used throughout the show covered the price of the ticket alone.

Once I was back in NYC, my boyfriend, Dustin, came to visit, as did my ASME friends and future roommates, Libby and Victoria to celebrate the new year. We made sure to hit up plenty of restaurants along the way, including my favorite Mexican restaurant, La Esquina. If you’re ever in the city, I highly recommend you try it. Insider tip: It’s a big place for celebrity spottings, so you have to reserve two to three weeks in advance.

We also made sure to hit up Tom’s Restaurant, famous for it’s recurring presence in Seinfeld.

I walk by this retro-looking diner every day on my walk home from work as well, so I tested out an Italian meatball sub and french fries at the Metro Diner, too. It was my first time having fries in over six months, but these were delicious!

Dustin and I also ventured around Times Square and took advantage of the M&M factory because he had never been. After we were hopped up on sugar, we played in Toys R Us. I tried to ride the ferris wheel, but you had to pay, plus the line was really long and full of little kids. I settled for a huge lollipop from the Willy Wonka side of the store instead.

And to prove I do super-cool things for my job, I took Dustin to a Harlem Globetrotters game! We were able to go to the VIP party and eat dinner with the players before the game. The Globetrotters worked with us on an article to help make a girl’s dream come true — she always wanted to play with the wacky team, so we made her dreams a reality! Check out a spring issue of FITNESS to read all about it.

What fun things have you done over winter break? Are you ready to head back to school?