I might put on my resume that for the summer of 2016 I was a part-time ice cream taster.
Totally wasn’t, but you’d think I was with the amount of it I ate.

With Summer finally around the corner, I wanted to give you a heads up on my favorite locations in NYC! Be sure to give my top 3 favorite ice cream spots in New York City a try. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

1. Ample Hills Creamery

Ample Hills Creamery prides itself in being equal parts ice-creamery and bakery because of the mouthwatering, homemade mix-ins (chunks of goodness mixed into the ice cream). The “Ooey Gooey Butter Cake” is hands down my favorite flavor. It’s creamy vanilla ice cream with generous amounts of Louisiana style butter cake and MAN OH MAN is it to die for! I’m not even one who typically goes for vanilla based flavors if that tells you anything. The other flavors are just as creamy and wonderful.

They have 4 permanent locations — 2 in Brooklyn and 2 in Manhattan.
PS: they sell pieces of the butter cake itself if you find yourself hooked.
PPS: “Chocolate Milk and Cookies” was the employee pick.

2. Sundaes and Cones

You’ll find a unique range of flavors here. They have everything from classics like chocolate and vanilla to corn to Thai tea to red velvet (you get the picture). Lavender is one of their most popular flavors. Every single one I’ve tried (and the ones my friends have tried too) have been sure winners.

The real test for me was when I sampled their banana ice cream. If you don’t know this about me, banana is my favorite flavor, but most places do not do it justice. Every ice cream shop I go to I try their banana ice cream (if they have it), and it usually ends in disappointment. Well, folks, Sundaes and Cones passed the banana ice cream test! Passed with flying colors actually.

Stroll down to the East Village and you’ll be in ice cream heaven!

3. OddFellows

Another ice cream shop not afraid to venture into uncharted flavor territory. Think: cornbread and miso cherry (just to name two). Personally, I have my eye on carrot cake cream cheese for my next visit. The flavors available change regularly because this Williamsburg-based shop makes fresh, small batches of their ice cream.



Now it’s no secret that I am a romantic at heart. You could even say that I’m in love with love itself. So, unsurprisingly, I’m almost always in the mood for a rom-com or romance movie. As my brother once pointed out, I’ve probably seen most major, and lesser known, romance movies out there (I begrudgingly admit I even enjoy the insanely cheesy ones).

So here are some of my top picks at the moment. Four movies that will give you all the feels, but not leave you heartbroken. Nothing is worse than wanting a feel-good love story only to be left ugly-crying because of something like Nicholas Spark’s The Best of Me (still love you, though, Sparks).

Age of Adaline

I’m no cinematography expert, but I genuinely appreciate the craftsmanship behind this film. Not only is the story line great (although not realistic — fair warning if you’re a stickler for those things), but also the acting is just as wonderful. It’s a bit Benjamin Button-esque in that the plot plays with the concept of age and time.

Love, Rosie

I like to call this one the “Avia Approved” choice. In a nutshell, what this means is even if you hate everything and anything remotely mushy, and would much prefer a great action or superhero movie (like my best friend Avia), you’ll still appreciate AND EVEN enjoy this one. It’s beautiful, and the cast is pretty great: Lily Collins and Sam Claflin aka Finnick Odair from The Hunger Games. Spoiler: they make a great duo.

The Longest Ride

This one is for the Nicholas Sparks fans. Aside from The Notebook, of course, this is probably my favorite of his movies. Scott Eastwood is quite pleasing to the eye if I do say so myself. But aside from that, it’s a beautiful, arguably predictable, love story (which I don’t find to be a bad thing since I’m a sucker for happy endings).

The Holiday

This one is a throwback to the early 2000s. It’s about two women who swap houses during the holiday season. One lives in England and the other lives in LA. The cast? Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black, Jude Law, and Eli Wallach aka the type of old man that just makes you smile because he’s so cute. Probably one of my favorite holiday movies out there.

Grab some comfy PJs, a cup of tea/hot chocolate, and embrace the beauty of chick-flicks, my friends.


Not gonna lie, I’m not a huge lipstick connoisseur. Given how often I eat or drink something, it seems like a waste. When I do choose to wear a lip color, I’m all about natural and no fuss. A bit ironic because I do love a dark berry lip, but I can’t be bothered on a day-to-day basis.


I’m not sure how these colors would look on deeper skin tones, but if you’re extremely fair like me, odds are you’ll love them too. They’re both pinky nudes, but they have different undertones: one is on the warmer end of the spectrum while the other is cool toned.

Presenting, the ever wonderful Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon in Sedona Sands and NARS Velvet Lip Glide in Bound.

Swatches top to bottom: NARS, Burt’s Bees

Have you tried either? What are your favorite everyday shades?

5 Tips to Save You Money While Studying Abroad


1. Cook for yourself

A week’s worth of groceries can end up being the equivalent of two meals eaten out. An
additional idea is to cook with friends. Not only is it more fun, but also each person can buy a few ingredients instead of all of them. Cooking for one person is difficult anyway (ex: how do you eat an entire bag of carrots by yourself before they go bad [unless you eat carrots all day every day]?) Need some inspiration? Start here! Or, maybe here?

2. Start with free activities

This doesn’t necessarily help if you’re being spontaneous, or if your abroad program doesn’t provide you with important dates from the start (ex: finals). BUT, as much as you can — plan ahead. Airfare can be significantly cheaper. Even smaller things like renting bikes, or going on a tour can cost less if you buy ahead of time, usually online, instead of once you get there.

3. Plan ahead

It will probably take longer than you expect. Especially in some cities like London, where 99%of the museums are free, you’ll be kept busy and save money. Even if you’re in a location where museums and exhibits cost a pretty penny, get outdoors! Have a picnic, explore a different neighborhood, walk around a park — the possibilities are endless. Of course, don’t miss out on something you really want to do because it isn’t free, but know that if you’re on a tight budget, you won’t be sitting around doing nothing all day.


4. Have an arsenal of discount/deal websites at your disposal

Sky Scanner, Expedia, Google Flights, and Airbnb will be your best friends.
There are also websites for discounted tours, entrance tickets, etc., but I find the biggest
expenses are getting from Point A to Point B, and housing once you’ve arrived at Point B. I realize Airbnb isn’t necessarily a discount site, but my friends and I used it for almost every trip and, honestly, it usually ends up being cheaper (and nicer) than a hostel. Highly recommend.

5. Spend money on experiences

Something I made a priority for myself, and also something instilled in me by my mom (she’s a
wise woman), is to spend money on experiences rather than souvenirs/possessions. Your taste in clothing will change over time, that keychain you HAD to have will sit in a drawer, and will you REALLY use that ceramic plate of the cat in an “I ❤ (insert city here)” t-shirt? That being said, certain things are cheaper in different countries, so if you do want to splurge on an item you’ve had your eye on, check if it’s less expensive in the country you’re visiting.

A Weekend in Nashville

I documented each hour of what turned out to be a 15 hour road trip (in one go, I might add) from New York to Nashville. I came up with the idea a few days before our trip, and told my friend the game plan upon getting into the car the morning of. We were going to be switching off driving so I needed her to assume the role of photographer for a few hours, which she did graciously. Although I can’t lie, Falon did 75% of the driving and I embraced being DJ. Taking the photos actually made the time go faster — we’d be like wow it’s already time for hour 8’s photo? I remember everyone thought Falon and I were crazy to drive, let alone do the drive in one day, but it was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.



Spend some time in 12 South

12 South has my Nashville heart. It is hands down my favorite neighborhood in Nashville. Our Airbnb was actually a 5 minute walk from the heart of 12 South, which was incredibly convenient. There’s a long, yet cozy strip, of quaint stores to explore and restaurants to eat at. We’re actually going to break down this recommendation into a subset:

○ Imogene and Willie
If you’ve done any research into Nashville, this store is practically always mentioned. Of course, I did zero research before our trip because Falon had visited before so I let her take the lead. Wonderful interior, super friendly staff, and quality items. I bought one of their classic Nashville shirts, which has been extremely well loved since.

○ Amelia’s Flower Truck
Often parked right outside Imogene and Willie, Amelia’s Flower Truck is iconic (however it does move around so I recommend checking their website for the schedule). It’s a flower shop on wheels and they hand craft extraordinary bouquets. We didn’t buy any flowers because we didn’t exactly have anywhere to put them, but part of me wishes we did anyway.

○ “I Believe in Nashville” street art
Does this even need further explanation? It’s huge and so aesthetically pleasing. Taking a picture although not required, is highly recommended.IMG_6173.jpg

○ Burger Up
It still surprises me that Burger Up made it into my Nashville recommendations mainly because I’m not a big burger person by any means. However, Falon and I had a craving and I’m so happy we did because it ended up being one of my favorite meals of the entire trip. I got a turkey burger, Falon got a fried chicken sandwich, and they were both fantastic.


Take a walk down Broadway

Broadway strikes me as the Times Square of Nashville; tons of neon signs and lined with bars (seems to be super popular among bachelorette parties). I wasn’t 21 at the time of our trip so we went during the day and it was really cool to see. You can walk from downtown to the pedestrian bridge that spans the Cumberland River. It’s really beautiful both during the day and at night — I wish I had a picture of the bridge, or the view from the bridge, to share with you guys, but I surprisingly didn’t take any


Get your biscuit fix at Loveless Cafe

Ah, Loveless. It is on every guide to Nashville that has ever existed/probably will be on every future guide to exist as well, and for good reason. Their biscuits are heavenly. I mean, just look at them. It’s not technically in Nashville, but the drive outside the city is more than worth it.

Gluten Free Boston

IMG_9210.jpgNo pizza, or pasta, or bread? OH MY!
If you’re someone that continually gets my references/puns, I appreciate you.

Fear not my GF friends, Boston has got some great options for you.

Dig Inn

Dig Inn may still be considered the new kid on the Copley Square block, but it’s been incredibly popular since it opened last summer. The menu revolves around what’s in season, and everything that contains gluten is labeled (among other common dietary restrictions). Some of my favorite GF options on the menu right now include the brussels sprouts with maple & sriracha, roasted sweet potatoes, and grilled apples (also the brown rice and chicken are always fantastic).


I’ve realized asian cuisines can be difficult because a lot of sauces sneakily contain gluten, but Wagamama has a great GF menu. I’m a big fan of both the chicken and prawn itame, and am looking forward to venturing into the ramen and lettuce wraps. I can’t image they’d disappoint!

Papa Razzi

Just because you can’t have traditional pizza doesn’t mean you won’t crave it. Papa Razzi on Newbury Street has not one, but multiple GF pizza AND pasta options. Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like cardboard. To be honest, it tastes so similar to the real thing that I had wondered if they mixed up my order (they didn’t).

Thinking Cup

If you didn’t already love Thinking Cup enough, let it be known that there is quite a selection of gluten-less treats like tiramisu, snickerdoodles, and chocolate chip cookies. They also have GF bread on hand for gooey grilled cheese sandwiches.


New to Boston’s Seaport, by CHLOE is an all vegan restaurant that happens to be quite GF friendly. All salads and pastas can be made GF upon request, and both the classic and guac burgers can be made on a GF bun. I’ve tried the guac burger, quinoa taco salad, and the french fries — all of which were amazing. Keep your eye out for the Fenway location opening later this spring!

Final Newstrak Roundup

Throughout our semester in JO304, I have been covering Al Jazeera America and recently changed my coverage to focus on Al Jazeera English. Although I have been looking at Al Jazeera English, I continued to watch Al Jazeera America to see if anything changed. Therefore, I feel I can speak to the future of Al Jazeera America more so than Al Jazeera English.

From starting with Al Jazzera America, I noticed it was a digital news site that was slowly but surely losing its mojo. It has a very unappealing website structure, very little multimedia content, and the multimedia content they do produce seems dated or more appropriate for Television broadcast news. In short, it is not a site that I would recommend to my peers because there are so many other sites doing the same type of reporting Al Jazeera America is doing, but better.

Here is a list of 5 major observations I have seen over the past few months following Al Jazeera America:

  • Dry/Dated Website
    • This observation did not really surprise me  because I had heard about the decision to close down the American branch of Al Jazeera. According to a report on Al Jazeera American, they are scheduled to close down the cable tv and digital operations by April 30th, two days from now. Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 1.32.14 PM.pngAs I continued to watch the site, I noticed a lack of sparkle in their presentation online. I could only assume it is because they are shutting down certain parts of their operation that keeping the page updated like their others was not their main priority. Their main page is very plain and dated, it reminded me of a website from the early 2000s. When I think of a major news organzation such as Al Jazeera, I imagine the content on their websites to reflect the importance of staying up to date in the digital world, and I found their site never reflected this expectation of mine.
  • Video Content
    • I recently posted about Al Jazeera’s video content, but I need to emphasize again that their video content was lacking what I have seen on other news sites. Their breaking news coverage was never live coverage videos, it was broadcast journalists sitting behind a desk reading a report. This tactic, in my opinion, is not the best way to capture an online audience, especially when we live in a time where the audience we are attempting to reach comes online for quick and direct clips of news. You can read my more in-depth analyzation of Al Jazeera’s video content here.
  • Social Media Platforms
    • Al Jazeera America does not update their Snapchat channel or their Instagram channel frequently. Also, their Twitter could be used to be more interactive, something I have seen through other outlets such as NBC News or CNN. The importance of reaching your audience on all types of social media platforms is only increasing and I think Al Jazeera America is missing their chance to reach a younger audience.
  • Breaking News
    • I noticed during live news coverage events, such as the Brussels attacks and the Oscars, the site was slow to update their breaking news section. Also, after one or two days of coverage, the information would subside into the site, forcing people to search for the information which I found to be very taxing. The search engine brought too many article options to the forefront that were not relevant to the information at hand.
  • Investigative Journalism Projects
    • I noticed that Al Jazeera had a lot of coverage of “special” reports. These reports were of investigative nature and were not being portrayed in a beneficial way for the site. They could really emphasize this coverage for a bigger audience to their site. Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 2.30.15 PM.png

All in all, Al Jazeera America is a site that I do not see flourishing in the future unless they realize that the audience they are catering to wants more than just words on a website. They need to update their information to fit the current times of multimedia reporting to garner the type of following other major news sites have.





Charles Sennott Live Tweeting

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to hear Charles Sennott speak at the College of Communication at Boston University.Charles Sennott is the Founder and Executive Director of The GroundTruth Project, as well as being an award-winning foreign correspondent, author, and editor with over 30 years of experience in the field of journalism. He spoke about The GroundTruth Project as well as the status of journalism in our world today. I covered the event live on my twitter feed with updates and pictures of the event and what wisdom Sennott had to share with his audience. unnamed.png

Al Jazeera and Snapchat

Snapchat has become a common tool in multimedia reporting, with the app itself having a “Discover” page which is devoted to news sources. Every morning these stories are updated, and in some cases such as the CNN discover page they are updated multiple times a day to stay up to date.Snapchat-Discover-Tool1-350x289.png

While I am not surprised Al Jazeera does not have a  discover page, I was surprised at their lack of motivation to use Snapchat. As of 2016, Snapchat has about 100 million daily users and over 4 billion video views per day. The exposure on Snapchat would be helpful for the news site.

After following Al Jazeera and looking into their background, I would say their target audience is not necessarily millenials, who are known to use Snapchat more than older generations. Despite this fact, I believe Al Jazerra could benefit from using Snapchat.

Apparently their digital team agreed, because they created a Snapchat for Al Jazeera America in December 2015.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.48.09 PM.png

After announcing their Snapchat name, the channel said it hopes the app will allow it to “deliver news in a more engaging format.” In their press release, they said Snapchat users can engage with the Al Jazeera channel by adding the “AJENews” account, which will post regular updates drawing from both newsroom journalists and those in the field.

I added their Snapchat this week with the hope of following their stories. Unfortunately, they only added to their story one day, and it was not that informational. The 30 second segment had one journalist in the shot, describing how she was in Cuba waiting to see President Obama at one of his many stops in the country this week.

Although the newsworthiness of Obama being in Cuba is very important this week, I was shocked that they did not use Snapchat after the attacks in Brussels this week. From following their website I know they had reporters on the ground in Brussels after the attacks. CNN had a full story devoted to the Brussels attacks on Snapchat and updated it with new information by the hour, whereas the Al Jazeera snapchat story stayed quiet for the day.

I think the importance of using Snapchat in multimedia reporting is only getting stronger. Al Jazeera taking the step and making a snapchat is one step in the right direction, but they need to remind themselves the importance of capturing their audience’s attetion and reminding them often why they deserve to have their attention.