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Studienreise 2017 - New York (Englisch)

Late September 22nd

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As the 4ABEF English class arrived to the New York JFK airport late in the evening of September 22nd, exhaustion was apparent on their faces after long hours of sleepless travel. After the group arrived at the YMCA Vanderbilt Hotel in Manhattan, the sky’s colors had already long shifted to black, and, had they stayed there for the night and recuperated, they would have missed one of the highlights of the trip they had been anticipating for weeks. So the brave bunch tucked away their luggage and under-eye bags and headed for one of the city’s most famous attractions: The Empire State Building. As we entered into what seemed as a luxurious hotel’s interior, we started to make our way up the giant tower. Arriving at the Main Deck, also known as the 86th floor, Laetitia proceeded to give a presentation explaining in detail the building’s history, importance, and cultural appearances. She then invited us to observe the view from a better perspective: we then found ourselves towering ( quite literally ) an impressive 102 stories above New York’s most popular borough. After a very thorough photoshoot of the overview of the city, the 4ABEF headed back to the YMCA starving and worn out, but with stars in their eyes, glad they hadn’t given up on such a unique opportunity.

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The next stop on our list was New York’s very own Ivy League University, Columbia. Surrounded by beautiful greenery, the university’s architecture was worthy of ancient roman buildings, like its gigantic library and its halls.
At the end of an impressive tour of the campus, Jenny and Madita gave a presentation about the campus’ historical background and popular statues and monuments.
Our last attraction of the tiresome but thrilling day was one that amped us up for the rest of the evening: New York’s most famous buzzing and bright square.
We enjoyed there a presentation by Maya, who explained to us how the site had not only a cultural importance, but also a historical one.

September 23rd

The next morning, refreshed and well-rested, the English class sat down in the lobby and Mrs Pieck gave us instructions on the day’s activities. First up: a safety procedures workshop by the NYPD. After the three officers arrived, the large group squeezed itself into one of the hotel meeting rooms and listened as members of the television-famous police department gave us advice and tips for when we would wander about the city, which we would be doing a lot of; traveling everywhere from Manhattan, to Brooklyn, to Harlem by foot and public transportation. The friendly policemen and women distributed safety pamphlets and, their presentation done, gifted us with some NYPD merchandise: a water bottle and tote bags, which we then used after our trip as badges of pride. Then came time for our next stop: We headed to Grand Central Station to get our subway passes for the week. As we arrived in the vast station, its architectural and artistic beauty surprised the students: its aqua blue arched ceiling, its tall stone doorways and its large window panes through which the natural sunlight shone were an immediate hit. Students perched themselves upon the top of staircases to take dozens photographs as the teachers struggled to get the mesmerised class’s attention for their presentation of the station.

September 24th

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Day two started off early: We took the subway and walked across town to take a Ferry to Brooklyn. On the way, we passed by the well-known Wall Street and noticed some unknown yet beautifully unique sights. Some die-hard Hamilton fans noticed multiple street names, monuments and buildings that were mentioned in the Broadway-hit play, like Trinity Church. Arriving in Brooklyn, we found a shady spot where we could sit, relaxed under the hot New York sun, and, of course, took many, many photos. When all our touristy photos were taken, we enjoyed a presentation by Dennis. We then came back to Manhattan via the very populated Brooklyn Bridge: We crossed paths with bikers, runners, marchers and plenty of tourists. We then traveled to The Plaza Hotel, where we met a New York public school teacher and a few of her students who taught us about the importance of this nationwide famous hotel that none of us had ever heard of before. They brought us inside, and we got to see why it was so famous: It was a central part of an American bestseller called “Eloise at the Plaza”. The restaurant inside the hotel had pastries named after the book heroine, and it even had a special room named after her.

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September 25th

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Day three was our big day: We were going to present Swiss-German and its variations to a German class at the United Nations International School. Exiting the heat-wave September weather and entering the cool breeze within the school, we were warmly greeted by the director of the school, as well as some of the teachers, one of which was going to assist in our nerve-wracking presentation. Soon after we were given a tour of the school which, situated along the river, disposed of a magnificent view of the city from afar. We then settled in a classroom and gave our dreaded presentation, which ended up of course being less stressful and more fun: We met students of the German class who, during their turn, gave us a very helpful presentation of their favourite places in New York. Then, it was time for Mrs. Pieck’s presentation: we went to the corner between West 72d Street and Rutgers, where she presented to us Isaac Bashevis Singer and his importance within the Jewish community in New York. If there is one thing we weren’t expecting to learn from a presentation about a Nobel Prize-winning writer, it was Yiddish pick-up lines! After that, we visited the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which, in connection with Mrs. Pieck’s presentation, gave us a deeper look into the Jewish culture and how it was perceived, as well as its deep roots in New York. Most of the day done, we had some free time: Ergo shopping, relaxing in one of New York’s numerous parks, Times Square, or all three!

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September 26th

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For the entirety of day four, we went full tourist: we embarked on the “Miss New York” with a few dozens of other like-minded tourists, direction: The Statue of Liberty. Amongst our photo-hungry peers, we snapped dozens and dozens of photos of the distant skyline until it was no taller than a pencil. When we arrived on the island, we hovered off the boat, pushed along by the sea of excited foreigners, onto the symbolic land. There we managed somewhat successfully to quickly part the red sea of visitors so that we could see the statue from the front: we had a loaded day in front of us and could not waste too much time. Cameras clutched like life jackets on a sinking boat, clicks were heard right and left as we stood directly in front of the towering Lady Liberty. But not for too long, as we had to sit someplace calmer for Cameron’s presentation, explaining to us the relative dimensions of the statue, as well as its immense historical importance. Having finished that, we ran to the foot of the statue, at which angle its size was even more impressive. We hurried up the hundreds of stairs of the statue until we were right underneath its toes. Having had just enough time to gaze upon the view for a few short minutes, we hurried back down by foot again, and back to “Miss New York”, for our next stop was Ellis Island.

September 27th

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First thing on our list on day five: Greenwich Village. We sat down in the middle of Washington Square Park, and Katja and Eliana gave us a presentation about the cultural background of Greenwich Village, and how Emma Goldman had such a big influence on it. Katja and Eliana both brought us around Greenwich Village to historical sites, streets and houses. The tour done, we all went to New York University to receive a presentation from one of the students: she explained to us all of NYU’s facilities, including its vast library, its computer science technologies and its numerous sports teams, which, this last one, came in contrast with our European universities. The afternoon, once more, was consecrated to leisure time. A few hours later though, we reunited to head to a baseball game in the Yankees stadium in the Bronx, but not before attending a presentation by Nate just as the sun was starting to go down. We then sat down at our seats in the stadium and enjoyed a few hours of looking down on the game from our high-placed spot and of eating the typical baseball game food: hot dogs and fries.

September 28th

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On day 6, our first activity was the Museum of Modern Art. What we sat near of beforehand, however, was a more classical piece of architecture that made for a good photo background. That was where Fyona gave us her presentation on the MoMA. We entered the MoMa and followed Fyona for the rest of her presentation, in which she showed us artwork from the artist she chose to focus on, Louise Bourgeois. We then explored the museum by ourselves for about an hour: we got to admire the most famous painters’ artwork, as well as some by artists whom we had never heard of. We then headed to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, where we were given a very moving tour and where we realised, though its name says it, that the museum is very much a sacred place where one can come to remember the victims of the attack.

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After disembarking Miss NY, we entered the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, where Nadine gave us a presentation about the previous workings of this island, as well as some urban legends surrounding the island’s abandonment.
After that, we had a bit of time to explore the museum for ourselves, and some of us ended up finding a little reminder of home:
Soon after, we had to head back to the heart of Manhattan, and so we took a rare group photo on the ride back, with the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

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At this point of our tiring day, we were bed-ready, but continued as we knew our favourite part of the day had come: Free time, a.k.a. shopping and eating local food till our legs wouldn’t hold us up anymore. Some of us went to the legendary Hard Rock Café, others went to Hollister and American Apparel, and others yet looked around for shows to go and see. All in all, it was a long but enriching ( in terms of knowledge and shopping bags ) day.
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In particular, we were moved by the piece in the central part of the memorial, which depicted a mural of blue pieces of paper. Each piece of paper had a distinct unique color, and therefore represented each life lost during the 9/11 attack and during the 1993 World Trade Center bombing: 2’983.
In the middle of the wall of blue stood a quote by Virgil that read: “No day shall erase you from the memory of time”.
We left the Memorial heavy-hearted, and assisted to a presentation by Nadine and Monique, who included in their presentation a workshop where we had to create poems from the perspective of people on 9/11.
After leaving the Memorial, we all separated, as we had free time for the rest of the day: A half-dozen of us had the exceptional chance of seeing a Broadway show.

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Finally having the entire class’s attention, we hit the subway for our very first ride to our next stop: Central Park.
After climbing the Park’s rocks and hills to find a perfect spot, Fiona and Jonas proceeded to present to us the curious history of the Park, as well as some fun facts, like these: The Park apparently has six times the surface of the country of Monaco! Additionally, we learned that there were a few New York natives that proclaimed themselves inhabitants of the park.
Having finished the hike across Central Park, we moved along towards two culinary heavens: Chinatown and Little Italy.
Daniel and Alex gave presentations on the two New York highlights, and, starving and tired after a long day of walking, we dispersed around the two mini-cities to eat.
Little Italy, coincidentally, was celebrating “La Festa di San Gennaro”, so the diaspora was as animated as ever with dozens and dozens of delicious food and dessert stands and fully booked Restaurants.

September 29th

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On our 7th and final day, we went to Harlem for the first time in our trip and visited the National Jazz Museum. Before entering, Milena and Dennis gave us a presentation, explaining us the role that Jazz played in Harlem. Inside the museum, a tour guide further told us about the development of Jazz in Harlem; he specified that if New Orleans was its birthplace, then Harlem was where it "grew up”.  Our activities done, we went our own ways once again, and met up again a few hours later, stuffed and loaded with our last round of shopping bags before the departure. Some eager to go home and some less so, the class had all in all spent an amazing Student Trip thanks to Mrs. Pieck, Mrs. Ramsten and Mr. Pombo, and was grateful for the opportunity that they had been given. Having gotten prepared, we took a bus back to Queens and kept our eyes on the sunset along the way, as a last memory to a most memorable Student Trip.

Sophia Buset

At this point of our tiring day, we were bed-ready, but continued as we knew our favourite part of the day had come: Free time, a.k.a. shopping and eating local food till our legs wouldn’t hold us up anymore. Some of us went to the legendary Hard Rock Café, others went to Hollister and American Apparel, and others yet looked around for shows to go and see. All in all, it was a long but enriching ( in terms of knowledge and shopping bags ) day.

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