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Visiting The City That Never Sleeps: New York


Frau Hannah in New York

In the end of August, I was in New York City with the DAAD.


While we were there, we had the chance to explore some amazing New York attractions such as Time Square, The Met, the New York Starbucks Reserve, and more!


Let me tell you all about it!

 

The Hotel

The DAAD put all of the Young Ambassadors up at the Even Hotel in Midtown Manhattan.

The Even Hotel

The Even Hotel was a pretty nice hotel! It was very health focused, so the restaurant had a lot of healthy food options, the gym was always busy, we were constantly meeting people dressed in athleisure in the elevators, and each room had workout equipment in it. That was the first time I had seen that in a hotel.


Something that was also new to me was the elevators. To use them, you had to scan your key card first, then press your floor number. If you didn't scan your key card or it didn't scan properly, you couldn't use the elevators unless it was to street level or the lobby. New York takes security precautions very seriously.


There wasn't a complimentary breakfast at this hotel, but that didn't matter much as the DAAD often catered our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners throughout the entire trip. To see the breakfast spread, click here (daad article hyperlink).


Since there were 16 of us on the trip, we each had to share a room with another Young Ambassador. I lucked out with having a great roomie. She was from Seattle (birth place of Starbucks) and was studying chemistry. Over the summer she went on the DAAD's RISE program where she got to work in lab in Germany that focused on renewable energy studies.


She was also introverted like me, so while we learned a lot at the the workshops and enjoyed the outings, we both had some daily social drain. It was nice to have someone who understood and also wanted to go back to the hotel to recharge at the end of the night. Talking one on one is often easier for us both too, so we had lots of really lovely chats before calling it a night. It was only 4 days, but I really enjoyed getting to know her. I definitely miss having her a roomie.




She's also an amazing artist! You have to check out her art! Look at this amazing rendition of the Frau Hannah Logo!



The Even Hotel


The hotel also had this beautiful terrace on the second floor that overlooked one of New York's many busy streets. I often went there in the mornings to relax and to give my roomie some space, as I typically woke up a couple hours before her.


It was also in a great location being within walking distance of the Grand Center Station, The Empire State building, a Whole Foods, and Chipotle - my 2 favourite things ever.


Overall, the hotel was really lovely! I'd definitely stay there again.




The Met

The Met

After the first day of workshops, the DAAD arranged a guided tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for all the Young Ambassadors.


If you've read my other travel posts, you know I love going to any and all kinds of museums when traveling. I went to 3 museums (art, science, and history) while I was in Virginia, so I definitely enjoyed my visit to the Met. I just wished we had more time to explore.


The Met closed at 5pm and we got there around 3pm. We had an hour long tour with a guide detailing the history behind each art piece we saw, then we had an hour to explore on our own.

The guide did a fantastic job. She took us to see this gigantic Egyptian Temple called The Temple of Dendur. It is believed to be from the Roman period. The walls were covered in symbolic carvings as well as graffiti from those who had visited the temple before the Met acquired this piece of history. Prior to this, the temple stood along lake Nasser in Egypt. When the Met was awarded this temple in 1967, they decided to keep it this way as the graffiti added to the piece's history.


Washington crossing the Delaware

Our guide also showed us this impressively massive oil painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware created by Emanuel Leutze in 1851. This painting was unreal to be in front of as it was framed in gold and 3.78 m x 6.48 m. For reference, I'm 5'5 or 1.65m tall. This painting is 2.29 me's x 3.92 me's or 12.4' x 21.2'. Apparently, this is the third rendition of this piece as the first and second both burned, one in a studio fire and the other in a bomb raid, so it had to be remade. Emanuel Leutze had a lot more patience than me.


In the hour we had free, my roomie and I decided to wandered around the Met together. I wanted to see the Egyptian temple again as we didn't get a chance to see the details up close, and my roomie wanted to see the musical exhibit.


Musical exhibit in the Met

I think my favourite moment from our time in the Met was exploring with my roomie. We got so lost trying to find the musical section. I think we spent 45 minutes trying to find it when it was literally 1 right turn away, but we kept going left. Neither of us had great orientation skills, but it made the visit that much more fun!


Fun fact that you may already know but was new to me, did you know this is where they hold the Met Gala? I'm not big on pop culture, so I never put two and two together. It felt so cool to be standing where well know personalities have stood.


The next time you're in New York, you have to set aside an entire day to explore the Met!


Time Square

DAAD Young Ambassadors at Time Square

After the Met, we had some free time, so a few of the Young Ambassadors and I went to check out Time Square.


If you go to visit Time Square, you have to go when the sun is down to get the full New York experience. That is exactly what we did.


This place is crazy. The lights are blinding, the billboards are absolutely everywhere and advertise anything and everything, the buildings are taller than you could imagine (way taller than Toronto), and the crowd is very dense.


Time Square

I used to think Toronto was this busy, bustling city, but compared to New York, which has about 3x the population, Toronto feels so peaceful now.


Nothing happened to us while we were exploring, but I would urge you to be very cautious and aware of your belongings and the people you're traveling with while in Time Square. It is incredibly easy to get lost in the crowd.


During the trip, a couple of us were saying how it still didn't feel real to be in New York. But the second you step out of the subway station and into the bright lights of Time Square is when it really starts to sink in. Time Square is definitely the epitome of New York for tourists.


The entire time I was in New York, I kept thinking about how this city is amazing to visit, but not a place I could ever see myself living long term. If it is this busy on a normal day, I can't imagine what it is like during New York Fashion Week, the Met Gala, or the Tribeca Film Festival.



Starbucks Reserve

New York Starbucks Reserve

Before we went to Time Square, we checked out the Starbucks Reserve. This was my first time at a Starbucks Reserve location and Oh. My. Goodness! I can't believe this place is a Starbucks!

Frau Hannah's Starbucks collections
Kassel, Michigan, North Carolina, Minnesota, Niagara Falls, Virginia, Austin, New York, New York Starbucks Reserve

Going to Starbucks is something I already do when I travel because I collect their Around the Globe mugs. I currently have 7 mugs from the collection, with my Starbucks Reserve New York mug making it 8. I found out one of the other Young Ambassadors does the same, though his collection is much more impressive than mine, so we decided to go to the Reserve together.


He was the one who told me about the Starbucks Reserves. Essentially, these Starbucks Reserves are specialty Starbucks that look nothing like your average Starbucks. There are only 6 in them in the world and they are located in New York, Tokyo, Milan, Shanghai, Seattle, and Chicago. While researching this, I found out that New York apparently has 2 locations, one in the Empire State Building and one in Manhattan. We went to the Manhattan location.



The one in Manhattan is insane! It was had 3 floors! The bottom floor had a coffee bar, a sitting area, and the washrooms. The main floor also had a coffee bar, a bulk coffee bean counter, the shop, and a sitting area. The top floor had a proper bar called Arriviamo. Now I don't drink alcohol, so I'm not sure what they have, but it's interesting to think of Starbucks as a place that serves alcoholic drinks. They also had this gigantic esthetic coffee roaster in the center of the Starbucks. Just look at how big it is!

Starbucks travel mug from the Reserve

I ordered my usual ice drink, an iced green tea lemonade and honestly, it was so different in a not good way. The lemonade was subtle and the type of green tea they used was slightly minty. I think the best part was that the drink came in this collectable travel mug.



Frau Hannah and DAAD Young Ambassadors at Starbucks
Look how cute we all are!

You definitely need to check out this place the next time you're in New York. It's unreal and feels so bougie!


Instead, of getting the drink I got, you should definitely try out some of the specialty drinks you can only get at the New York Reserve.



The Weather

Oh my goodness, New York was so hot and humid! I don't know if it's always like this, but it was brutal. I only packed business casual clothes, not thinking about the weather at all, so I only had pants and long sleeves. Thankfully the hotel room had strong AC.


Frau Hannah hiding from the New York sun with her phone fan

I also bought this fantastic contraption prior to the trip, not knowing it would be the best thing I brought. Essentially, it is a little fan that connects to my phone's charging port and uses the battery to power it. It's tiny but mighty. It was such a life saver for not just me, but for the other Young Amassadors on the trip.


The humidity also hit my roomie and couple others on the program hard with some serious congestion. I have naturally dry skin and airways, so the New York humidity didn't bother me. Back home was where I struggled though. I guess my airways loved the humidity, but didn't not like going back to the dry Canadian air.


As I'm writing this, my nose and throat are so dry! I've had 3 cups of tea already and have my face is over top of my humidifier right now. Looks like I need to spend some time in a steam room.


This reminds me of the time I did halo-therapy in London back in October 2022. I thought it would be awesome and relaxing, but the salty cold air actually irritated my nose a fair amount. That said though, I do love winter.


I wonder what New York is like during the winter?



The Ferry

New York ferry

After the workshops on the second last day of the trip, we took the Ferry from Wall St/Pier 11 to Long Island City where we were having a sushi dinner.


Initially, I was a little nervous getting on the boat as I can get sea sick sometimes, but the ferry ended up being lovely. It was so relaxing being on the top outer floor of the boat with the cool breeze blowing past and the warm sun shining down on us.


New York skyline

I got some amazing photos of the various bridges in New York and the unreal landscape.


By the time we go to the restaurant, I was still so full from the Chipotle I had for lunch, that I didn't order anything at the restaurant. But I still had a good time chatting and laughing along with everyone.


Subway

If we weren't walking at a New Yorker pace, we got around using the infamous subway system.


During the entire trip, the only part that made me nervous was taking the subway given the reputation. Thankfully, I didn't really need to take the subway by myself much as all the Young Ambassadors tended to stay in groups. I don't know if I was lucky, but it ended up being a good experience.


New York Subway

Even though it was a new for me, getting from the airport to the hotel on the subway was pretty simple thankfully. From LGA, they have free shuttle buses that connect to the subway system, and I didn't need to get a metro card as my credit card tapped just fine.


The only 'bad' experience I had was when I got my suitcase handle stuck through the 3 pronged rotating bars. I learned the hard way to just pick it up or push it under the bars.


I would say the New York subway is very reminiscent of the TTC in Toronto, just a lot bigger, busier, and dirtier.


Overall, it wasn't nearly as scary as I made it out to be in my head. It was really convenient and simple.



LGA

LaGuardia airport

LaGuardia is such a nice airport!


My first time ever in LGA was when I was flying to Virginia back in December 2022 since I had a layover. I was only there for 5 minutes or so, but I had enough time to grab a key-chain and sticker (something I do for every place I visit). This time around, I actually got to spend some time in the airport and it was so nice!


The security was so smooth and seamless. No stress or pressure, no long crazy lines. It took maybe a maximum of 15-20 minutes to get through all of security. Finding the gate wasn't hard and there were tons of yummy food options. It was great!


The terminal I was in had this musical water show every 10 minutes or so. The fountain was pouring from the ceiling, would change colour, and make patterns. At one point it spelled out city names such as New York and Boston and the water would do synchronized 'dancing' to the Frank Sinatra song New York New York. Such a cool and entertaining addition!


One of the other Canadian Young Ambassadors happened to be flying out of LGA around the same time as me, and our gates turned out to be right next to each other, so we hung out in the airport together. She was such a cool person to chat to and get to know. Thanks to her I now know how to pronounce ATEEZ properly, and have a Korean language learner buddy!


View from Air Canada flight

As always, I flew with AC- Air Canada (if I like something, I'm very brand loyal as I'm sure you can tell). The flight attendants we lovely. They checked my carry on for me at the gate, which meant I didn't need to stress trying to shove my carry on in the bin above me while holding up the boarding process. They also bumped up my board zone so I got on earlier.


The flight was nice too, I watched the Adam Sandler movie Blended.


My one tip for other Canadians flying to the USA is to download and fill out the MPC app before getting to customs as you get expedited to the front of the line, at least in Pearson. What would've taken me 45 minutes in Pearson, took 5 minutes with the app.


Favourite Moment

DAAD Young Ambassadors during a workshop

I have to say, my favourite moment of the entire trip was during the workshop where we were discussing how to leverage our international experiences in our careers. On this day, we all shared the struggles we went through while abroad. I got to hear stories from students just like me, who had fallen in love with German/Germany, so they took the leap of faith and decided to go abroad for study or work.


Frau Hannah during teaching in Germany
From when I was teaching abroad

Studying or working abroad has many challenges, ones you expect and ones you don't. I felt quite disheartened after my last trip to Germany, so much so that I wasn't sure if I would ever go back. But that broke my heart. I so badly wanted to love living in Germany with the same intensity that I love the German language.


To hear that other's went through similar experiences while abroad in Germany, and to see how many of us were here on this program to still encourage other to go abroad to Germany in spite the struggles, was so healing for me. Yes we struggled, but thanks to those hardships, we've learned and grown to become the amazing and accomplished people we are today. It was nice to know I wasn't alone in how I felt and so nice to have a community of people who understood.


On this day, I also had the opportunity to chat with Hanni Geist on her podcast about these struggles and give advice for those wanting to study abroad in Germany. Talking with her was also quite healing as she had many wonderful insights and offered a beautiful perspective on my struggles. After this trip, thanks to all the amazing people I met, I feel a lot better equipped for the next time I go abroad to study/work in Germany.

 

DAAD Young Ambassadors group photo

The DAAD has given me such a beautiful gift. I've traveled New York, I've learned what it means to be a brand ambassador, I've made many new professional and personal connections, and I've learned so much about myself in the process. I'm so grateful. I cannot wait to show them my appreciation through doing amazing work for them!

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