Thursday, October 30, 2014

Semester Abroad: Bienvenue à Nice, France.

Veronica LaManna, a member of the Verrazano Class of 2016 studying International Business with a minor in French, is spending the Fall 2014 semester in Nice, France.  Veronica arrived in Nice a couple of months ago and is having a great experience so far!  Read below for her first impressions after her arrival in France.

Bienvenue à Nice, France.

I have just begun my study abroad adventure in Nice, France.  I decided to take the same flight as another student who attends the College of Staten Island and who would also be studying at the same school in Nice.  We also decided that it would be better for us to stay with each other and try to find an apartment together.  When we arrived in Nice we did not have an apartment to live in yet, so we stayed in a hostel while we searched for one.  Living in a hostel is something I think everyone should experience.  A hostel is similar to a hotel except it shared with strangers who are usually traveling.  The hostel we stayed in at had two sets of bunk beds, a shower and a sink.  If you needed to use the bathroom, you had to leave the bedroom.  We shared our room with two older women who weren’t from America so they had different ways of doing things that we weren’t used to.  The hostel we stayed at also had rules.  Everyone had to be back in the hostel by 11 o’clock at night.  The hostel also only had Wi-Fi in the lobby downstairs so we weren’t able to have Internet while in the room.  In America we take these small luxuries for granted.  

It was a little hard getting used to life in Europe.  Everything is smaller here, so we had to take turns bringing our luggage up to our room since there was only room for one suitcase in the elevator.  The first few days were extremely stressful since we were jetlagged, unfamiliar with Nice, and living in a different country.  We also were stressed because we wanted to find an apartment to live in quickly. Our school helped us find an apartment, but we had to do most of the work on our own.  It was challenging since we had language barriers with most of the landlords, which caused a few misunderstandings.  After five long days of searching for an apartment we finally found one in Ville Vieux, also known as the Old City.  I have just a ten-minute walk to school and a two-minute walk to the beach.  

The town I live in is very touristy and has a very interesting history.  Our apartment is full of different accents and cultures since it is shared with a few other students who are from different countries.  After getting settled in we had orientation at IPAG, where we got to meet the other Erasmus students and our professors.  In our school we must speak English.  Our student body is made up of students from over thirty different countries.  I have already become friends with so many of the students and it is so interesting to learn about everyone’s culture. Even though the first week was extremely challenging, I have been having an amazing time and I am truly enjoying studying abroad in Nice already.  I am finally getting used to life in Nice and I am looking forward to experiencing this lifestyle for the next four months. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Life Changing Internship At The Brennan Center for Justice

Allison Fremer, a student in the Verrazano Class of 2017, was selected for a competitive internship at the Brennan Center for Justice for Summer 2014.  Here, Allison shares her experience and the opportunities she's had through this internship.

Allison at the Brennan Center for Justice
My name is Allison Fremer, and I’m an Accounting major in the School of Business at the College of Staten Island and a member of the Verrazano Class of 2017.  I am currently a Finance and Operations Intern at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law, where my title is “Junior Accountant.”  I heard about this paid internship opportunity through Joanne Hollan, Associate Director of the Career and Scholarship Center, and Katie Geschwendt, Associate Director of The Verrazano School Honors Program,   Eager to start exploring the workforce, I decided to apply. The application review process was highly competitive. Despite this obstacle, my online resume was one of the top ten finalists.  Then, phone interviews eventually narrowed down the competition to five candidates, including myself. The potential interns were called in for a one-on-one interview at the Brennan Center.  I found out several weeks later that I had landed the internship opportunity.  Believe me, I know its a difficult decision choosing between going out with your friends or going to work.  However, I firmly believe that the internship was one of the best decisions I have made. 

The Brennan Center for Justice is located on the Avenue of the Americas in Soho, where there are numerous activities and a large assortment of places to eat.  Through this internship, I’m given a wide variety of tasks including, but certainly not limited to, entering accounts payable invoices, preparing Microsoft Excel spreadsheets in uploadable formats, depositing checks from contributions, maintaining the credit cards for employees, and making adjustments to the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.  The hands-on approach that the Brennan Center has provided me throughout my stay is teaching me in ways that go far beyond what is learned through a textbook.

This internship opportunity has changed my perspective in unimaginable ways and I am excited to continue learning more in the future.  As an intern at the Brennan Center for Justice, I've become more knowledgeable about what is associated with my chosen career path. During the summer, I was offered an extension to my internship, and I made the life-changing decision to continue there during the fall semester.  

Allison with her fellow interns on a break
The professional work environment and being surrounded with positivity has encouraged me to better myself. I have met many intelligent individuals that I will keep in close contact with for a lifetime.  The interns have made a conscious effort to put aside at least one day a week where we eat together to form a bond with one another.  Ive opened my eyes to cuisines of many cultures that I would have never tried if it wasn’t for my fellow coworkers.

The Brennan Center for Justice has many events including “Brown Bags,” where prominent guest speakers talk. My personal favorite was Andrew Weissmann.  Other events include: “Bagel Tuesdays” where we have a conference with the D.C. office staff members, “Pizza Thursdays”, “Trivia” & “Game Nights”.  The annual barbecue at the home of President Michael Waldman and the annual picnic at McGowan Park in Brooklyn were also among the list of events. 

I’ve learned so much through this internship, and I encourage other Verrazano students to find internships that will help them gain very valuable experience.