Christmas, New Year and a Whole New Semester

Well, the paper deadlines were met, the exams were done and passed (thank God!) and semester one at SUNY was over!  I had such a fantastic time – clubs, pubs, parties, fashion shows, knitting, the city and everything it brought. I’m so happy I came here!

The holidays last for a whole month which is fantastic. Unfortunately, Albany is a student city, so when the holidays hit, the city pretty much dies. I decided to stay here because I have my own house here, whereas some students are kicked out of their student accommodation and moved to another quad if need be, but they need permission to stay there.  The students left and the snow arrived. And it does get very cold here; I dared to walk out without a hat on and whenever the wind blew, I got brainfreeze.

One of my sisters came to visit me for Christmas and New Year; we spent Christmas in quiet Albany, visiting the mall and downtown, which has a great free museum, a plaza, the Capitol building and a Hudson River monument, and then we headed to the city on the megabus for New Year.

Since I’m here for one year and I’m living like a tourist, I had to do the Ball Dropping in Times Square for New Year, as do 80 million other people. I headed to Times Square at about 4pm and it was already packed and they were blocking off most of the entrances. I ended having to walk up a load of blocks to find an open entrance, all of which of manned by police men who frisk you and checked your bags. Only small handbags allowed; anything larger and you get turned away. And then you are hearded down the available blocks towards the square to join the rest of the revellers. It was cold, it rained a little, there was some snow. And then you wait. And wait. And wait. There is the entertainment on a stage and large screens to see what is going on as well as a countdown every hour. It can get a little boring, but its a tradition that has lasted over 100 years. And then its the countdown, and everyone gets excited and the clock is counting the seconds, and then the lit up ball slowly decends and its the new year! Fire works go off, crowds cheer and confetti fills the air. Its fun – maybe not worth a massive wait, but its nice to be able to say you’ve done it. And then the madness begins as millions of people attempt to leave the square at once so there is shoving and pushing. I then went onto a club in Greenwich village which was open till 7am.

I did plenty of tourist things with my sister, including the staten island ferry, which leaves from Battery Park every 30 minutes and is free, the empire state building (having already done it at 1am in the morning, I wanted to see the view in the sunlight!) – this time, the queue took two hours, the flatiron building (thats the triangle building that you see on all the postcards), St Patricks Cathedral (the biggest cathedral in America), the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Centre, shopped at Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue (the grandfather store of all the others), the New York Public Library and the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

The new semester starts on the 20th of January so all the studetns have started returning and the city is alive again. I’ve picked all my classes – this year, I’m taking three business classes and two literature classes. I have to take five classes to get the credits at Glasgow. In order to take the appropriate level of class here, you have to email the international convenor at SUNY to get permission codes for the courses.

I’m excited about this semester – hopefully it will be as good, if not better, than the last! I’ll keep you updated!

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