By Madeline Casalino
Imagine walking through Manhattan mid-day, with no umbrella, in the pouring rain, and with thousands of other people attempting to make it back to work just before lunch break ends. Now, imagine walking through this same city, except this time you are surrounded by double the amount of people, you do not understand the language, and you are almost eight thousand miles away from home.
New York City is home to about 1.6 million permanent residents, but doubles in size during the day when commuters are coming in from other boroughs and places outside the city. Yet, these numbers seem insignificant when compared to the over 7 million person population that Hong Kong currently holds.
Sabrina Minafra ‘19 and Erika Rothman ’19 are two Marist College students who are currently spending their Fall semester in New York City and Hong Kong, respectively. Minafra, a Business Marketing major, and Rothman, a Fashion Merchandise major, have chosen to leave their homes in Westchester, NY and embark their journeys abroad in two of the most unique and fast paced cities in the world.
Sabrina Minafra, along with hundreds of other college students attending schools across the city, is living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with the Marist In Manhattan program. However, Minafra is not quite the same as a traditional student. This semester, she has chosen to take all online classes and commute to Midtown every morning to intern at the Vessey Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises large sums of money and donates it to partners such as The American Cancer Association and Habitat for Humanity.
According to their website, the Vessey Foundation “was founded to support ambitious problem-solvers around the world” and aims to support its partners in pursuing medical advancements, teaching business and engineering skills, and providing access to clean sources of energy. Minafra oversees sales and marketing for the organization, meaning that she is constantly meeting new people and traveling across Manhattan. Whether it’s watching a New York Fashion Week Runway show, a presentation for a new startup company, or a panel discussion with Forbes Magazine, Minafra has had the opportunity to attend various of exciting events alongside many impressive and influential individuals within the finance and real estate industry.
Minafra shares how one of the toughest aspects to adapt to is taking the subway to work, rather than having the advantage of walking ten minutes to class like she used to while living in Poughkeepsie. Thankfully, she is conveniently located right next to the 96th street Q train which makes it only about a 25 minute commute to Midtown, the location of her office.
In addition to this challenge, Minafra states that it was a difficult transition to move to Manhattan, knowing that most of her close friends would remain on the Marist campus for the fall semester. Fortunately, with the help of Minafra’s outgoing and eager personality, she has met and continues to meet many new people, making it easy to adjust to her new setting.
One of the best, and unfortunately worst for your wallet, parts about living in Manhattan is the thrilling and seemingly never ending nightlife. Minafra explains how she is taking advantage of the warm fall weather by either attending a happy hour on a rooftop bar or sitting outside her favorite restaurant, Toloache, enjoying Carne Asada tacos. In addition to these activities, the Marist in Manhattan program offers a variety of events to attend, such as on and off Broadway shows, baseball games, and city bus tours.
As fascinating and breathtaking as it may be to travel to another country, Minafra proves just how incredible and beneficial working and living in Manhattan can be. Whether it is a 4 a.m. Hot Yoga Class or a late-night taste of cuisine from every and any country in the world, Manhattan is truly the city that never sleeps.
Erika Rothman decided to take a bold leap this semester and study at the Polytechnic University located in Hong Kong. Considering that Rothman wants to pursue a career within the fashion industry, PolyU is a perfect fit for her because it is centered around one of the most influential fashion capitals in the world. Rothman explains her reasoning for choosing to travel to Hong Kong by stating, “It’s like New York City on steroids but on a tropical island surrounded by beaches”. With her creative sense of style and love for adventure, Hong Kong is the ideal spot for Rothman.
Rothman admits that she had a difficult time adjusting to the language barrier, a problem that most students studying abroad will face. Considering this, Rothman adds that it can be difficult to communicate with citizens and adapt to the country’s set of customs. Moreover, unlike the small and highly active classroom style that Marist offers, PolyU has a much larger classroom setting which can be more distracting than she is used to.
Another significant change is the twelve hour time difference from New York that makes it hard to talk to friends and family back home. Additionally, without the access to unlimited WiFi, Rothman must map out her destinations before leaving campus, making travel a bit more confusing, but helps to improve her sense of directions.
As far as the good parts about studying abroad in Hong Kong, the reasons seem to be endless. So far, Rothman has traveled to multiple stunning locations, such as the beachside village of Shek O and the Nan Lian Garden, a Chinese classical Garden located in Diamond Hill.
In addition, Rothman states that one of the most exciting events she and the other students have attended so far was a horse race last week in Happy Valley. She explains that the event included a variety of live music and the chance to bet and win big. When Rothman is not traveling to the coast line or sightseeing, she enjoys having a night out in the Lan KwaiFung, (LKF) District. Rothman shares that the nightlife is very different from being at Marist College because there is such a wide variety of different clubs, bars, and restaurants to try every night. Even more interestingly, LKF district is known for having some of the highest rooftop bars in the world and there are no open container laws. Whether it is sipping noodles and tea at one of the many traditional styled Chinese restaurants found around campus, or shopping at the Ladies Market on Tung Choi Street, Rothman seems to be making the most of her time spent abroad.
Milan, Dublin, Tokyo, or Brazil- the opportunities for study, volunteer, or intern abroad are limitless. Marist offers more than fifty semester and academic year abroad options to choose from. If traveling to another country does not seem like something you would like to do, there are options to study domestically, such as the Washington Semester Program at American University and Marist in Manhattan. At times, college may seem like a never ending drag of long nights in the library and anxiety stricken weeks of harsh deadlines and unrealistic expectations, but not matter what, it is an incredible opportunity that all of us at Marist get the chance to experience together.