Podcasting: Been There but Have you Done That?

What is a podcast? If you’re thinking of the tab on your iTunes account that is untouched, then yes, you are correct. Apparently it’s been a phenomenon I’ve been missing out on, which I still have fomo over. A podcast combines the word broadcasting and iPod and is a radio show. It is recorded, edited and uploaded. The maker of the podcast acts as an expert in that field. There is a multitude of subjects on the web now for podcasts… ranging from “How-To’s” to even Ted Talks. They are a great way to fill your mind when your mind is idle; and also a great way to fill the pocket of time while still doing the task at hand.

The most important thing for podcasting is syndication. Syndication means that if people are interested in your podcast feed, they can then subscribe to your feed and get notified when something new is uploaded… just like how you subscribe to my blog. Same thing! Something that people get confused about is the difference between an audio file and a blog post. For example, if you have an audio file in your blog stream that you can send, embed, email…etc., is that a podcast? NO! It is an audio file with multimedia. You can’t subscribe to an audio file. A podcast connects the content creator with content consumers. The consumer can listen to a voice that has inflection, emotion and emphasis and breathes life into the content.

Podcasts date back to 2001 when Dave Winer, a programmer and blogger and even one of the creators of the RSS feed and enclosure tag, and Adam Curry, the ex-presenter of MTV aka a big radio guy got together and discussed the development of a better system to download and offer audio files through the internet. They launched their first podcast of a Grateful Dead song just because they are huge fans. Podcasts have grown immeasurably since that time. In fact according to RawVoice, over 75 million people listen to a podcast at least once a month. In fact, podcasts occupied over 30% of listening time which is more than any other single audio source. According to iTunes, podcast subscriptions passed over one billion.

There are many benefits of a podcast. Anyone can decide how to utilize the product. You can visit the podcast, webpage, listen from the web, which is also known as live streaming, podcast manual download, automatic download, also known as RSS meaning that you subscribe to the content. Another benefit of podcasts is that it is portable: it is considered walkaway content– we can adapt auditions to our lives, and syndicate to anything while on the go. The changes receivers are now transmitters, meaning that anyone can be a podcaster. A large benefit of a podcast is that they are convenient in that you plan when you want to listen, not that you need to listen when they are broadcast. Listeners feel a connection to the host due to the more intimate nature of the medium.

There are millions upon millions of podcasts, but there are some more popular than others. Podcasts are able to educate, entertain, inform and inspire. Here is a list of eight podcasts that will brighten your day or keep you informed every day at any time and are my personal favorites.

  1. TedTalks:TEDTalks provides some of the most fascinating, insightful, and intriguing discussions from professionals around the globe. Each talk is condensed into a small, short audio segment.
  1. 6eb3202e278843e9e94aa5d6362fa782WTF with Marc Maron: We all have “WTF” moments in our lives and Marc Maron is just pointing a few of them out. His twice-weekly podcast, usually recorded in his LA garage, consists of him talking with comedic friends, writers and celebrity guests
  1. Mortified‘ is a show about shame. Creators Dave Nadelberg and Neil Katcher take the awkward, embarrassing, cringe-worthy and humiliating moments in your life and broadcast them for the world to laugh. There are live stage shows in cities around the world, a TV series, a book, a documentary and now, a podcast, which is scheduled to debut in early 2015.
  1. Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!A podcast from the fine folks at NPR. This podcast is a current events quiz. The host invites listeners to phone in and they’re quizzed in a hilarious way. Use this fun podcast to keep up with the weeks’ events. The funny format encourages you to laugh and test your news knowledge. This podcast is laced with so much sarcasm that it really is hard to figure out what’s real and what they have made up.

  1. The Nerdist— Feed your inner nerd with this fun podcast from TV personality and geek extraordinaire, Chris Hardwick. You should check out this podcast because Hardwick keeps the laughs coming with this fun show full of celebrity guest interviews.
  1. 99% InvisibleThis intriguing podcast helps you look at design and architecture in a completely different light. Award winning producer Roman Mars describes how we have become numb to tall buildings, bridges, and pieces of design that we see every day. Experience innovations and feed your brain during your commute. Episodes are quick, relaxing, and enlightening.
  1. Stuff You Should Know— Increase your mental capacity for random but important things. Talks range from, “Was Atlantis a real place?”, “How did language evolve?”, and “Body Odor: You Stink”. This podcast comes from the people at HowStuffWorks.com.

  1. Freakonomics RadioA popular podcast from the authors of books Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics that discusses topics on, “Soul Possession”, “Lottery Loopholes and Deadly Doctors”, and “How Biased Is Your Media?” With conversations revolving around things like this it is no surprise that this podcast is one of iTunes’ most popular download.

Cady Heron: The Trend-Setter


I’m back and more sunburnt than ever. Really though. I could be sitting in the shade with a turtleneck on and find a way to be 50 shades of grape tomato.

Anyway, African vibes. Have you been to Africa? Probably not!! This was so unlike me and more Cady Heron Mean Girls of me. To be honest even after the weekend I’m still ridiculously freaked out that I didn’t have to get shots or anything like you would for any other country in Africa or 3rd world area. Well at least I could come home with such a great souvenir…. malaria. Ok enough with the cynical-ness for now.

The weekend started beyond bright and early… seriously like never before (not even Lisbon). I only had a half hour of sleep and my alarm was my roommates’ friend visiting who felt the need to FaceTime at 5 am when our flight was at 8. I just don’t even have a comment for that but it’s fine. To say the least, I refused to be in a cab with her. We flew Iberia and stopped in Madrid to then flew to Marrakech. The flights were easy and thank goodness not Ryanair because apparently they’re on strike. Why? Did someone complain about the music they play at the end? Maybe. I’ll find out the scoop. We arrived at the Marrakech airport and immediately converted our Euros to Dirham. One Euro is 10 Dirham aka I’m RICH. I love when a currency is in my favor. It obviously feeds the addiction of shopping.

unnamedWe arrived at our Riad accommodation and got settled and then went on a walking tour of the area, which are known as the souks, featuring all of the different leather, shoe, wood and jewelry markets that are native to the culture. unnamed-1Even though I have been dressing conservatively in order to respect the culture, being purred and looked at as a toy and even being told I have a nice “arse” has made me really uncomfortable and self-conscious. I already texted my personal trainer at Equinox that I have to make a meal plan with her and we scheduled appointments for my return. The SoulCycle app for the iPhone even came out that day so I obviously signed my life away with that as well. So thanks Moroccan men… your leering has only worsened my abnormal obsession with being healthy, working out, and the spin addiction to the point of AA. (I’m Jess and I’m a Spinohaulic/Cyclepath….nice ring to it?)

The tour united when we got back to the riad to watch the sunset and join together for a traditional Moroccan meal featuring native dancers and music and an abundance of Advil after. The Moroccan cuisine is very suiting for me even though I was told to bring snacks by the Bus2alps coordinator. It consists of a lot of different spices such as cinnamon and cardamom and also meats, vegetables, tagine, mint tea, couscous and rice. Up my alley people thank goodness.


Woman of the House

Woman of the House

The next morning we woke up and took off to the Ourika Valley and the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. I stuffed my bag with 50 pounds of Snyder’s gluten-free pretzels which my mom schlepped from America upon my request. So thank you and your 60 pound luggage for five day’s mom. Without you I wouldn’t be starving, just cranky and complaining more than I do on a typical basis. (So a lot obviously) I also packed 20 granola bars because my mother ingrained the Jewish mentality of “you never know” into my head and everyday life decisions. I have So much to thank you for mom, really. Don’t complain when my bags are overweight on my way back due to spur of the moment “you never know” purchases. I have you to thank for that!!! Anyway, we had breakfast and took off really early for a tour of a Berber home. The Berber house is similar to that of a kibbutz but with a twist. It’s one home as opposed to a small village or closed off community of people. Everyone works together in these houses or communities. They are each other’s family and depend on each other.

In Arab cultures, generosity is one of their main core values, and this is especially seen it terms of offering hospitality. They will deny no one and will give their guest(s) nothing but the best–this includes food for eight days, the best room and most comfortable bed etc. unnamed-4We saw the different animals they housed in order to have food and milk, the different ways they prepare olive oil and tea, the bathroom which was what I expected for the rest of Africa- one of those weird standing toilet things that on so many levels isn’t sanitary… so I held off on using the bathroom for a while for obvious reasons. We sat down with the woman of the house and drank mint tea with her, a Moroccan staple. She is essentially the leader of the house and all decisions go through her. Women Power!!! YEAH! One of her granddaughters was performing henna, another custom of the culture, so my friends and I decided to support the family as they graciously invited us into their home. This wasn’t the permanent kind, which soothed my anxiety since I don’t particularly care for tattoos or ink on my body. There are two different kinds of henna, red and black. unnamed-6The black is more of the professional kind and stays on A LOT longer. Wasn’t planning on interning in the city with my hand covered in henna… I think my professional skills would be questioned. I felt better that I supported them knowing that it would stay on for a minimum of three days. I asked someone in a store what my henna said since I had asked her to freestyle and then write my name, and he said it said Stephanie. STEPHANIE? How on Earth do you get Stephanie from Jessica? So I’m really thankful I didn’t leave on the henna for that long because I’m sure she didn’t think I was going to know or ask what my name said in Arabic. Stephanie ugh. How ugly sounding. I don’t even look like a Stephanie (no offense to anyone out there named Stephanie).

humpdayAfter the Berber tour we had a short drive to the camel rides. Prior to this trip, I had been on a camel on Birthright in the deserts of Israel. Definitely not my favorite activity to do, but since it’s a part of the experience I thought why not. I had even bought a purple silk scarf to wrap around my head in order to look like a hejab, or native. I think I’m more of a dog person… no other animals. Just dogs. I think the outdoor animals know I really don’t like nor want to touch them since they smell and probably have lice and sense that I just want the picture with them. So instead of a selfie with a camel, I have an ear in pain due to the fact that it attacked my ear. That’s the last time I #tbt Hump Day. The ten minute ride was pretty even though the entire time I was nervous the camel in front of me was going to poop and the camel in back of me was so close to me it’s nose was in my butt. Nevertheless, pretty views….

After that, we had another short ride to the 1.5 hour hike we were about to venture on. I really really tried to contain my complaining… I promise. Just to throw it back, I was the first one up Masada on Birthright. Do not forget that!!! This hike was NOT like Masada and I was about to cry.  Just remember that this is 20 girls who really want the pictures without putting in that much effort considering the fact that ten of them were wearing flip flops since the woman in charge said it would be fine. Well, I love myself for my Nikes and for especially bringing them on this trip.


This was an EXTREME hike… like one that really really active outdoorsy hikey people do. I’m not one for hikes… unless you count the stairs from the parking garage to the entrance of the Short Hills Mall (and that’s only if I don’t valet). This hike was more of the dangerous, rock climbing with no side rails with the view of a waterfall, stepping into water, sliding down dirt and serious leaping over people and rocks. Let me go into detail. unnamed-25I kid you not, this was not enjoyable and the view was beautiful, but I couldn’t even tell you what it looked like since I was so focused on my feet. I didn’t want to take out my camera, which is also an indicator that it was too strenuous. There were also many bridges to walk over, I thought I would be in Terabithia by the next one but I was only disappointed by more rocks. There was so much water and leaping and climbing and touching dirty rocks. This is not me at all. Not only crying my eyes out and screaming that I was about to jump in or stay in my place, but we had one guy who was helping us. unnamed-23We honestly needed a team of 40 so each girl had two people pulling them up. I didn’t even care nor I was embarrassed. I wanted him to carry me the entire way. Jamal had feet that literally glided across the water and rocks. He seemed as if he were a mix between a track star and dancer. He would be at the bottom helping one person and maneuver his way all the way up to the top without stopping or falling and he did it so quickly and effortlessly. You can obviously tell that Jamal and I became friends real quick because I wouldn’t (couldn’t?) move without him. The way down was just as ridiculous due to the fact that it was all rocks and everyone was slipping and falling. I was really really appreciative that I made it down in one piece because I heavily considered log rolling down or even worse, turning on my cellular data to call the police with a huge emergency.

After that anxiety episode with no medication, we are lunch at the bottom of the waterfall. The cuisine was that of typical Moroccan. We then had a long car ride back, and we walked through the famous square, Jemaa el-Fnaa. We walked back to the riad, stopped at a few more stores in the market, relaxed for a little, and then came back to the square to eat dinner. The people in the square are aggressive. They say that Moroccans are known for bargaining. If you go to Morocco and don’t bargain, you don’t do it right. I bought a lot of random, practical things that were obviously bargained for. Thankfully I’ve had practice with that. We called it a night and went to bed.

The next day was the day of relaxation. I just laughed when I wrote that. I’m “relaxing” from the four month vacation that I’ve been on since it’s been “sooooo” strenuous. Everyone needs a Spa day!! We woke up early in order to walk to the Hammam. A Hammam is a very integral part of the Moroccan culture. It is used for a different purpose in marriage, but is also used for spa/shower purposes. This Hammam had a complete spa and salon attached. It was an interesting experience, but I definitely recommend doing one with people you feel comfortable with, and trying to at least rent out the place so that you aren’t with random people. I don’t think I would have wanted to experience a Hammam with random people. We had a little free time so we walked to the popular square again. unnamed-14Warning, don’t take pictures of the snakes or monkeys. I used to be obsessed with monkeys. OBSESSED. I can make a very realistic monkey face without putting air into my cheeks. I also had Paul Frank bedding. When you walk up to these people in the middle of the square, they hound you like no other. I didn’t even ask for the monkey to be put on my shoulder, but he just placed him on me without saying a price or anything. That’s how they reel you in. We felt so bad for the monkeys. They looked miserable and they were on chains. He even tried to stay on my shoulder and bite his owner. I’m sure they’re treated extremely poorly. unnamed-15When he took the monkey he asked for a lot of money and we said no and just threw a minimal amount at him. They try to make you feel bad. Don’t do it. It’s just sad and I’m not saying that because I was able to fulfill the picture of my childhood dreams. Minus the chain. That’s a downer. The snakes are worse. I would never put one around me but you’re not even allowed to take pictures from afar. They freak out and demand to see all of your applications– including photos, Instagram and snap chat to check and see if you took a picture. My friend found out the hard way but she actually didn’t take the picture. So take that one ridiculous man who enjoys snakes around his neck all of the time. Creepy and so not as chic as Britney Spears.


Nope, not this

We then met up with the rest of the group and had lunch with a little more down time. We walked around with our tour guide Ali saw some of the more historical sights of Marrakech. This included the famous spice market pharmacy, the Marrakech Museum and the Ben Youssef Madrasa with a few market areas. We ended the weekend enjoying the beautiful sunset at a terrace restaurant. What a perfect weekend in Africa.

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Safe travels and no bed bugs or malaria,



CIAO forever bellas

When in Rome, do as the Romans. I’ll get to that later but I think I would have made them proud over the course of the weekend. After taking off from Nice, we landed in Roma and after my impulsive shopping; I was ordered to not shift my eyesight from my feet in the airport so that I wouldn’t purchase anything else excessive. If you didn’t already know, Rome’s airport is known to be designer. The entire building has everything you could ever imagine. If only it was my actual closet. Every gal’s dream– Bvlgari, Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gabbana… need I say more? We made our way to what I thought was a hotel, but it wasn’t. I really felt that I couldn’t be my normal self and was having a conniption -10 minutes prior, but the place was actually atrocious. The lights didn’t work, the entire building would shake when there was a train coming, and just all around no. I almost took four Xanax. (I’m prescribed but I’m sure you figured that out?)

selfie stick #2

selfie stick #2

Not to mention that people were walking around the halls barefoot. L’chaim to the fact that the other girls weren’t so thrilled about the place because I had already started looking up hotels. They also neglected to tell us that there were rumors of bed bugs in the first place we stayed in. Note to those going abroad or just traveling: there’s a difference between being cheap as opposed to being cost efficient. You don’t have to stay in the most atrocious place just to save money, because you’ll end up paying thousands to wash, throw out and buy new of everything/buy treatment for the disease or bed bugs you contracted. Do yourself a favor and spend a little more so you don’t waste it in the end. Enough said. Anyway, I called many hotels and finally found one. Ivan at the Piccadilly, I will forever and always love you. We grabbed dinner at a random place, with multiple glasses of wine, checked into the hotel, and called it a night. One HECK of a night.

The next day was a lot better. We woke up on the earlier side to do as tourists do. We ate at a place right near the coliseum. Another note to self, don’t eat at those places, they always suck. There was hair in my omelet. I hadn’t even eaten it yet and I didn’t plan on starting. 11130147_10152923470568386_6409407420639124825_nThey’re always tourist scams, but I wasn’t about to say something after the episode the night before, so I let the girls enjoy as I sat and cringed myself to an equilibrium. We then bought tickets to the Coleseum. If you can buy tickets online, I would and I would definitely recommend skipping the line because that line is like that of any department store on Black Friday. A HUGE NO. Not to mention the fact that you have illegal residents in your face aggressively trying to sell you selfie sticks around the entire perimeter of the Colesseum and every other tourist spot. I know friends that bought their selfie sticks from them, so I thought I would give it a try. Being my bargaining self, which I get from my heritage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nb_R1VZqLcE%5B/embed I know how to work a bargain. As the sixth guy approached me, I decided that it was now or never. He tried to sell me the selfie stick for 40 euro.

I will now repeat the conversation we had:

(selfie seller= SS)

SS: 40 euro, 40 euro

J: 40 euro? (take selfie stick in hand and act very interested with a small shrug) eh I don’t think so (hands back selfie stick)

SS: no? 30 euro how about 30 euro

J: I can find these in America for $1 SS: ok 15 euro J: more like 5 euro (Now my tour group is about to leave) SS: (aggressively laughing) haha no 15 euro J: guess not (start to walk away)

SS: ok ok 10 euro

J: nope sorry 5

SS: no I can’t do 5, 9 euro J: 8 euro or I’m leaving

^^ and yes I got it for 8 euro. I’m sure it was illegally gotten and costs about 1 euro to make but wouldn’t you say your girl could bargain? It’s all about confidence. I mean come on, if I can bargain in the Homeland, I can bargain a selfie stick in Roma. That would be outwardly depressing if I couldn’t. We joined a group tour of the coliseum, (got to cut the line) and walked around. I then take out my selfie stick to take a picture and guess what happens. IT BREAKS. I am basically as pissed off as the Romans, so when we were done with the tour, I immediately charge over to the swarming men who attack you at the exit of the coliseum and demanded a new one. Yes, demanded. I think you could see the vein in my forehead. This is where I was bullied and told I had no common sense. Me? No common sense? Look whose selling selfie sticks at the Coleseum you illegal immigrants. 11136693_10152923470353386_6445543137208381314_nPeople walked by me and laughed because these men were so obnoxious and rude. Anyway, I heckled about three more guys until one had a ten-minute argument with me. Some of my arguing points were: “I will leave you alone if you give me a new selfie stick.” “I will get the police over here because what you’re doing is illegal.” “One euro for the new selfie stick and that is it.” Overall, he tried selling me the same EXACT one while trying to convince me that it was different. He also said that the one that I bought (and the same one he was trying to sell me) was the more modern one, so it was five euros and that the old one, was still five euros. I twisted up his words so much that he and I finally bargained. Woohoo. A whopping four euros. No police involved either. Moral of the story is: don’t buy a selfie stick from them. It’s most likely stolen. We then walked around the Coleseum and stopped at one of the many gelato stores.

Street Artist

Street Artist

After that we passed a lot of street vendors who were making artwork with spray paint. It was incredible. The man saw that I really liked this one design and then painted the exact same one on spot. I really didn’t want to buy it, but felt obligated to because he made it just for me. Strike two in ridiculous purchases today. Although Rome is historic and pretty, cabs are such an annoyance and I didn’t know Rome had Uber until the very last day. Classic. It is impossible to just hail a cab in Rome. How do they make money? I really don’t understand. That night we made our way to the Trastevere area and ate at a restaurant called La Scala that was actually on my to-do list. We were there for our friends 21st birthday celebration! Hoorah!! Note to self, when you order fish, the head will come attached. Scarred. For. Life. I also don’t feel that it was THAT great… the service was ridiculously slow and the food was just mediocre. In my opinion. Take into account that I could barely eat anything served there.  After dinner, my friend and I were ready to RALLY. DON’T LAUGH BECAUSE I SAID THAT. I hadn’t been out and it’s Spring Break. Let’s go!! So we went to a bar called Scholar’s, which was apparently the thing to do there. I felt like I was at the Grove at school. Not that great of a bar and beyond Americanized to the point where you see everyone you know. And I obviously did, for instance, my neighbor in Livingston. What are the odds of that? I obviously would run into 100 people I know, including my neighbor. LOL Moving on, there was even karaoke. I felt as if I was in a scene of a Southern Romantic Comedy and the bar was the closest thing to social interaction as they could get. You know what kind of movie I’m talking about? Well, now picture this. My friend and I end the night with a crowd-pleaser, front and center on the stage and a very nostalgic tune– My Humps by the Black-Eyed Peas. Such a throwback to the Bar and Bat Mitzvah era.


Throughout our time in Rome, we made our way as much as my feet could possibly walk. Highlights include, the Vatican: which I didn’t realize was going to be a huge ordeal. All I wanted was the Sistine Chapel. I zoomed through the entire thing and it still took two hours! Best part is that you can’t even take pictures of the Sistine Chapel!! Well, Oops…  The Spanish Steps which were conveniently under construction although the shopping around the Spanish steps was impeccable… that being every designer possible. I wish I could have gone to the Trevi Fountain, but that too was under construction. I thought about going and taking a picture with me throwing a coin into an empty fountain with the caption “I guess luck ran out for me.” But I didn’t to save myself from harassment. We also did the Jewish Quarter and had a delicious kosher meal at Ba Ghetto ending with a quick tour of the Jewish Museum. I always love doing the Jewish Quarter. It makes me feel connected to my roots. Happy to tell you that I found gluten-free pizza restaurants in both Florence and Rome. I could eat in Italy after all!! Two meals that were somewhat difficult for me were Tony’s and Dar Poeta.

My dinner at Tony's

My dinner at Tony’s

Tony’s is the Americanized-Italian place where you don’t decide what you eat. Well, when you tell them that you are a gluten-free vegetarian and they bring you out a plate of grilled chicken, it is somewhat of an issue. Tony was not my biggest fan. He made up for it by making me an absurdly large salad with 90% of it being lettuce and the other 10% being grilled veggies saturated in oil. It’s okay though. Dar Poeta has a few salads, but not substantial enough to be a meal. Another interesting thing to do in Rome is the Catacombs. I didn’t think I was going to make it out of them because our tour guide was actually freaking me out, but the Catacombs are underground tombs and it’s really interesting. No photos allowed. Had to learn the hard way. I ended the time in Rome celebrating Passover with a slab of Gluten-Free pizza from Ristorante dai Sandri di Trastevere.

We took a train to Florence. It was so easy and made traveling a lot more enjoyable. You don’t have to get there two hours prior, which is a great change of pace. There’s even Wi-Fi on the trains usually. In Florence, I honestly felt that I conquered the entire city in a day. To be frank, I only wanted to go there for the leather market, particularly one store that is notorious for girls in my area, Massimo. To say I conquered Massimo would be a more concrete and valid statement.

Gluten-free pasta at ZaZa

Gluten-free pasta at ZaZa

I definitely conquered Massimo… three times I might add. (and again, thank you to the world’s best mom) One might say that it was excessive, but I was only in Florence once so I had to do it right! What else is there to do in Florence… well as I mentioned before, I found gluten-free pizza and pasta. Trattoria ZaZa had incredible

View from the Duomo

View from the Duomo

gluten-free pasta. I would definitely recommend going there and it’s in a central location– near the leather market. Also, Le Botteghe di Donatello had gluten-free pizza and it was very good as well! The Duomo. Ugh. If I have to hear the name of that building one more time. The one time my friends and I are in Florence, it is the one time the line to climb the 400 and however many steps is wrapped around the building three times to the point where they closed it off and people could only climb the bell tower. At least I climbed something? We made our way to the David, which, I wasn’t particularly interested in, but I guess you have to do since you are there. The Ponte Vecchio Bridge. The place where everyone takes photos. Why? That water is such a filthy color it was horrifying. It really made me miss Barcelona. One of the better attractions was Piazza de Michelangelo, which we didn’t know you could drive up so we trekked up the abnormal incline of stairs at sunset with a glass of vino. We tried to go out, but nightlife doesn’t exist in Florence and it was somewhat depressing compared to Barcelona and Miami.

Ponte Vecchio is overrated

Ponte Vecchio is overrated

Ahh, Venice.11080991_10152923487958386_996020831102969666_n

Well, my dreams of a romantic gondola were crushed all thanks to our gondola man who would not stop screaming at his friends and then smoking a cigarette. Not to mention it was a complete rip-off for a half hour. Anyway, Venice was a beautiful city and we just went for the day, but without Wi-Fi it was such an annoyance. 11065871_10152923508848386_3351636572932287103_nThe entire city is all bridges and they all look the same. We got beyond lost and couldn’t find our way back to the hotel. We did manage to find the Jewish Quarter, which again, I love to do. Overall, my Spring Break was amazing, but definitely not as relaxing as I had hoped. Not to mention my flight back to Barcelona, the couple next to me wouldn’t stop sucking each other’s faces. YUP. Time to get back to what I call home PLEASE.

This water couldn't look good even on a sunny day... BARCE > ITALY

This water couldn’t look good even on a sunny day… BARCE > ITALY

The Impact Social Media has on Political Campaigns

Since the evolution of technology, creating a social media strategy for a political campaign has become an essential part of every candidate’s campaign to get elected to office. With social media sites often getting more traffic than an official campaign website, it’s important for candidates to be connected.

According to business professor and advisor Hubert Massey of South University, Savannah, “The use of social media in today’s campaign is not only important — it is critical. Millions of people are involved in using social networks daily. It is the opportunity to be in touch with large numbers of voters quickly, constantly and at a low cost.”

Candidates and elected officials have been quick to adopt and leverage social media in order to engage and educate voters. The pivotal example would be the 2008 and 2012 United States Presidential Elections. Barack Obama had dozens of social network profiles ranging from MiGente.com to Facebook to BlackPlanet. He was the once-in-a-generation-type candidate who had the celebrity appeal that made people excited to actually be his friend and network online with him.  However, even though Obama is the exception and not the rule for extreme social media success, it doesn’t mean that your campaign can’t still have a formidable online presence that supports your offline efforts.  It’s no secret that the campaign website is the hub of a candidates online activity, but social media are an important supporting cast that can drive valuable traffic to the site and engage voters on a more personal level.


However, you do not want to ruin your campaign by overdosing with the social media, which makes it difficult in deciding what social media to use. The choice ultimately comes down to the candidate’s approach, appeal, resources, and target audience. Who are you trying to reach? What is the best way to reach them? Think about the platforms the target audience is utilizing the most. Do you think our grandparents know what Pinterest is? I don’t think so. One of the most important rules of social media is to not have your presence become a “ghost town,” meaning don’t join networks that you don’t have the available resources to update or be active in.  It reflects negatively on a campaign to have a vacuous social network profile – a rarely updated presence makes it appear that the campaign doesn’t value that network and its demographic while also suggesting that the campaign is more of a spammer than general conversation constructer. Moral of the story is quality over quantity. Don’t overload the platforms just so you have a greater presence.

There are four major platforms that every candidate must be on and be active on, regardless of the target audience. They are considered the Big Four, which includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. They’re the fastest growing and farthest reaching of social networks; they represent four distinct ways of publishing to and connecting with voters. There are a lot of benefits of being active on these platforms:

  • Facebook is comprehensive and allows you to post pictures, add videos, send detailed mass messages, publicly interact on walls, and more.
  • Twitter excels in short message bursts, event updates, blog post pushes, and breaking news.  It allows a campaign to instantly send a succinct message to 1000’s of followers and also lets the campaign interact with other people in a one-on-one manner.
  • YouTube is purely a video medium.  However, its reach cannot be underestimated.  The service’s search engine is second in use only to Google!  The staggering number of searches makes it essential to own your candidate’s name for search on this platform.
  • Flickr should be used to publish campaign photos.  With more than 4 billion images and over 30 million monthly visitors, it’s an important place to be and exposes your campaign to an important network.

Tom Murse is a United States Political Expert. He feels that there are many benefits of being active on social media for a political campaign. The reasons are:

  1. Direct Contact With Voters 

Social media tools including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube allow politicians to speak directly to voters without spending a dime. Using social media allows politicians to circumvent the traditional method of reaching voters through paid advertising or earned media.

  1. Advertising Without Advertising 

It has become fairly common for political campaigns to produce commercials and publish them for free on YouTube instead of, or in addition to, paying for time on television or radio. Often times, journalists covering campaigns will write about YouTube ads, essentially broadcasting their message to a wider audience at no cost to the politicians.

  1. Organization 

Twitter and Facebook have become instrumental in organizing campaigns. They allow like-minded voters and activists to easily share news and information such as campaign events with each other. That’s what the “Share” function on Facebook and “retweet” feature of Twitter are for.

  1. Message Customization 

Political campaigns can tap into a wealth of information or analytics about the people who are following them on social media, and customize their messages based on selected demographics. In other words, a campaign may find one message appropriate for voters under 30 years old will not be as effective with over 60 years old.

  1. Fundraising 

Some campaigns have used so-called money bombs to raise large amounts of cash in a short period of time. Money bombs are typically 24-hour periods in which candidates press their supporters to donate money. They use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to get the word out, and often tie these money bombs to specific controversies that emerge during campaigns.

  1. Controversy 

Direct access to voters also has down sides. Handlers and public-relations professionals often manage a candidate’s image, and for good reason: allowing a politician to send out unfiltered tweets or Facebook posts has landed many a candidate in hot water or in embarrassing situations. See Anthony Weiner.

  1. Feedback 

Asking for feedback from voters or constituents can be a good thing. It can also be a very bad thing, depending on how politicians respond. Many campaigns hire staffers to monitor their social media channels for negative responses and scrub anything unflattering. But such a bunker-like mentality can make a campaign appear defensive and closed off from the public. Well-run modern day campaigns will engage the public regardless of whether their feedback is negative or positive.

  1. Weighing Public Opinion 

The value of social media is in its immediacy. Political campaigns do absolutely nothing without first knowing how their policy statements or moves will play among the electorate, and Twitter and Facebook allow them to instantaneously gage how the public is responding to an issue with or without controversy. Politicians can then adjust their campaigns accordingly, in real time, without the use of high-priced consultants or expensive polling.

  1. It’s Hip 

One reason social media is effective is that it engages young voters. Typically, older Americans tend to make up the largest portion of voters who go to the polls. But Twitter and Facebook have energized young voters, which has had a profound impact on elections. President Barack Obama was the first politician to tap into the power of social media during his two successful campaigns.

  1. The Power of Many 

Social media tools have allowed Americans to easily join together to petition the government and their elected officials, leveraging their numbers against the influence of powerful lobbyists and moneyed special interests. Make no mistake, lobbyists and special interest groups still have the upper hand, but the day will come when the power of social media allows like-minded citizens to join together in ways that will be just as powerful.

It is interesting to think about the next US Presidential election and what potential outlets will be used now that society is accustomed to the technological campaign.

City So Nice They Named it Nice… SB2015


A 10-day vacation that allows me to brag to everyone in America that I’m still abroad and their lives suck. 10 days of unreal abroadstagrams and relaxation. Relax. Interesting concept… as if this semester hasn’t been much of a joke anyway. So I guess this is considered a spring break from what has otherwise been defined as my four-month spring break. I’m so satisfied with that. Well, spring break plans are always difficult to coordinate with your friends. In high school, my grade was the only grade that didn’t plan the requisite Bahamas trip and in college, my friends and sorority didn’t go to PV. Not that I’m complaining, because I would obviously rather sit in bed with my mom watching movies, but it’s crazy that every other year seems to be more competent and efficient. With that, spring break planning with a big group of girls… you can only imagine the outcome of this scenario. Nothing was done for weeks. I had been die-hard Greece since day one. Santorini and Mykonos with a slight chance of Tel Aviv. I promise it wasn’t just for the instagram. The Mediterranean lifestyle calls my name. I’m pretty sure I’m cut out for their way of living– hummus, olive oil and bargaining as a profession. The food could not be more spot on. Mediterranean is by far my favorite type of food and while I have found places in Barcelona, it doesn’t compare. Even when I was on Birthright, the places we stayed at were embarrassing to the culture in the sense that their hummus must have expired circa before my Bat Mitzvah. (10/21/06 holla holla. All About Me themed because what else would it have been? Mazels bitches)

Anyway, it started to not work out in terms of planning so I just continued to cry myself to sleep and tell my Birthright medic who I had planned on visiting that our dreams of eloping together must come to an end. Literally. Eloping. The only advantage and positive memory of Birthright was the fact that I had a PERSONAL doctor who responded to my every need and was at my hip at all times. No joke. It was a known fact during the trip…. “Jess’s medic.” Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 1.58.32 AMAt least I know how to pick them. The point of Birthright IS to make Aliyah, but I wouldn’t have for the typical and most common reasons, religious duties. JK EVERYONE GOES FOR THE HOT ISRAELI MEN AND THE HUMMUS ON HUMMUS ON HUMMUS. Zohan, I plan on joining you in a bath of hummus someday. If only it were in the United States…. sigh. When that dream was crushed, I decided to do South of France and a tour of Italy. I probably sound like the most ridiculous person abroad and I obviously was still excited for it but Greece was the one place I wanted to cross off the most. Whatever, I’ll go with my medic husband (or just force my NJB of a husband when I’m married) in the near future…. Hopefully that’s sooner rather than later but I refuse to ride the donkey up the hill. Just no. And EW. Horrifying PTSD.

Nice. According to the Betches, Nice is the place to be. I don’t trust a betch, but I do trust the Betches so I knew Nice was a perfect spot for Destination SB2015. We left for Nice early Friday morning after I celebrated spring break the night before getting a massage at the W. Luxurious life of a 21 year old… because I have so many “hardships” right now. Just the usage of my moms credit card but I try to avoid thinking about that. (I love you mom!!!! I’ll house you I promise… only if you cook, clean, and take care of errands while I just look pretty) I didn’t go with my roommates, but with a different group of friends. It was nice to have a change of pace so it wouldn’t result in a huge fight after being with the same girls for so long.

11050263_10152923469593386_1410244251387905405_nAfter the short flight to Nice, we arrived at where we were staying and immediately made our way to the beach. The water was the most pure blue I have ever seen and it took my breath away. The weather was incredible… which I wasn’t prepared for. We saw a waterfall while walking along the beach and decided to check it out. Unbeknown to us, it was one of the sites we were planning on seeing the next day, Castle Hill. They even had an elevator!!! It’s a beautiful place to picnic or run/workout or take a class of yoga or Pilates. You have an entire view of the city. After that we walked around more. We then ate lunch on the beach at a place called Opera Plage. Pretty mediocre, but at least we had the view. The glass of sangria wasn’t worth what I paid for it… and I never order alcohol so that was annoying.11051794_10152923469463386_3313128411700040676_n

We saw girls eating frozen yogurt and ice cream and 11005_10152753552776629_7868634507834500241_nsince we were drenched in disgusting airplane sweat, we decided to go where they recommended. Apparently it’s a famous place in Nice, Fenocchio. The place was great and there are many locations. The only downside is that they don’t let you try any of the 94 flavors they pride themselves on. Which is kinda ridiculous considering they have the most obscure flavors, such as lavender, chili chocolate, avocado and more. We walked around the main areas a little bit. The weather was beautiful and I certainly didn’t pack for that. It then was FREEZING at night. Actually freezing. We went back to where we were staying, got ready and walked around for dinner. The place we ate at was nothing noteworthy, it actually kinda skeeved me out. Again, I couldn’t complain, these girls didn’t know me yet. After that, we grabbed a bottle of wine (or multiple bottles) and drank by the beach. That is apparently the scene. It was actually really fun and something my friends and I aren’t used since it’s illegal in the States.

The next day we woke up on the early side, grabbed a quick breakfast at So Green (YUM but ridiculously expensive), and made our way around Nice. We took it over by wheels. Actually. We went rollerblading down the boardwalk. It sounded a lot cooler than it was. I mean don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of fun, but wow do I sound old when I think back to my childhood days and remember how easy it was for me. What happened? I’m in the prime fitness stage of my life… I can spin for up to 90 minutes, run miles on a treadmill, swim for hours yet can’t roller blade. Give me a break. It was so hard that when the boardwalk was on a slight slant, I started to scream frantically and head toward the railing. Could I scream more like a tourist? After minutes of laughter, we returned our gear at Roller Station. 11053401_10152923469743386_2422994477320185854_n988511_10152753565441629_5011634984037345719_nWARNING: bring HIGH socks. They smell well, you know… ALSO, I know this sounds ridiculous but please bring a hairnet if you’re renting a helmet…. just EW. After our roller blading, we ventured to the Chagall Museum. I actually found it very interesting… and yes, only because he is Jewish. #supportthetribe Chagall is referred to as the “quintessential Jewish artist of the 20th century.” Bold title he has, so for me, it was a must. His paintings tell the stories of all of the things you learned at Hebrew School, ie: Moses parting the Red Sea, Abraham and the sacrificing of his son, Noah’s Ark etc. After, we went back to the center part of Nice to where there was a small market. It was definitely something really cute to pick up food with the 100s of vendors. We stopped for froyo and gelato. Dinner was at another place I didn’t feel was that great… maybe it’s just me… I don’t know. I don’t think I care to support the French economy.

Overall the weekend in Nice was very relaxing. I loved it, and it’s shopping. We stopped at the market again on Sunday morning and bought veggies, cheese, fruit and some bread to have a picnic at the beach. It was just as amazing as it sounds. Everything was so crisp and fresh. 10995556_10152923470103386_4304854039223597158_nThat’s my kind of breakfast. WARNING: Something I will STILL not get used to. Nude Beaches. Just no. Picture this: Your entire family at the beach and then your grandma decides to go nude. Yup, I said it, Grandma. It was the most uncomfortable site I have ever seen. That child must be scarred for life. I don’t even understand how parents let that happen. If they’re with their entire family, how are they comfortable with random, disgusting older men just NAKED? OY. I don’t even want to think about the millions that would be spent for my child’s therapist.

IMG_6363Moving on, we then made our way to the airport, where I made a very impulsive purchase at the Hermes store… My excuse is that it’s cheaper in Europe. I PROMISE. (and once again, thank you to the best mom out there).

Tune in for SB2015 PT2

Anything You Can Do, He Can Do Better

Valentí Sanjuan lectured our blogging class on Wednesday, March 25th. He began his lecture with an ambiguous question. “What do I do?” Throughout the entire lecture, Sanjuan spoke about the different adventures he has had and how he has arrived at where he is today.

Sanjuan seems to have done it all, but he initially started his career at a Catalan radio show. Unfortunately, after seven years at the company, he was let go and didn’t know where to turn. He needed money, a life, content and an interest to keep him going. Even though he was let go from the radio show, he took the contacts he had made over the seven years at the radio station. From there, he began to promote himself and found that as he did he image became stronger and he even began to be offered sponsorships from various organizations. Ultimately, he took a position with Visto lo Visto, and it started off very similar to a radio show– there were interviews, a live audience and it was a more relaxed feel than the radio show. People drank beers with a group talking about the Internet. It was more of a transient state between radio and a TV show… an evolving period due to technology adaptation.

As a result of all of the trial and error, Sanjuan grew Visto lo Visto and it evolved into what it is today– a very successful show that airs once a month with 700 live audience members and about 2 million monthly viewers. That is quite impressive, right? What did he do differently then so many others? Like I said before, it was a lot of trial and error for Sanjuan, but he managed to make a name for himself. At first, there was a large audience of young teens, and that wasn’t really the demographic of his choice. This is where it got tricky and innovative ideas had to be implemented. Sanjuan wasn’t sure how to approach this situation in terms of trying to gain an older audience without making the younger audience angry. He switched out YouTubers and added more comedians… again, according to Sanjuan it was a lot of “trial and error…and error and error and error and error and then some trial.” Obviously, when trying to grow a business, this is commonplace. It takes a lot of error to find the correct working percentages.

Ultimately, the show today has a little bit of everything: stand up comedy, partly some music, various parts interview alongside some famous YouTubers… it is a more interactive environment then it was originally. Sanjuan spoke about how if your content is good, you can create and reach large audiences. You don’t necessarily have to work for a big company in order to reach a large audience. This is the driving force behind online activism in the digital world. For example, Arab Spring which was a revolutionary wave of protests and demonstrations in the Arab world. Twitter became the platform as to which everyone found out what was going on. Tweets were being sent at rapid succession and for the entire world to see. It was citizens who were tweeting and informing the public of the events, not a big company.

Out of all of the major points Sanjuan brought up, there was one thing he mentioned that most Americans forget. How to live. In America, there has always been the question of working to live or living to work. Truly, most people work to live, but Sanjuan is the perfect example of someone who lives to work. He enjoys what he does, and even though he doesn’t believe so, there is a lot of meaning behind his adventures. His videos portray parallels with life and living in a difficult moment. There are a lot of messages and core values that could be extrapolated from them as well– uniqueness, creativity, leadership… and the list goes on.

One of the videos that was most impactful was the video about his mother. Sanjuan’s mother passed away from cancer, and he dedicated a video to her on his personal YouTube page. What he did was run from Barcelona to the northern most point of Spain, Galicia. This took him about 10 days to accomplish and finish at his goal. The endpoint of the journey was the Church of Santiago. The Church of Santiago is significant because it is considered to be completing a religious pilgrimage for loved ones. This is just one of the many examples as to how Sanjuan sends out inspirational messages and values to his followers and the rest of the world. It is very common for him to dedicate videos to loved ones and those who have passed. He even has inspirational messages on his Instagram. Due to his talent and being able to brand himself well, Sanjuan is considered an influencer. Companies have contacted him in order to make videos, and they then claim that he is wearing or using one of the products from their company. It becomes a mutually beneficial relationship.

Overall, Sanjuan is an inspiring, motivating, and carefree soul who truly understands the meaning of life, makes the most of it and then takes what he has in front of him in order to jump over the obstacles. He could be compared to the American TV show, Jackass, but he is definitely more professional than them. The Jackass crew is the only people who are adventurous enough to partake in ridiculous stunts and pranks and they do not understand the true meaning of life. Maybe they should be taking lessons from Sanjuan.

The Gals are Back in Town


Finally. The weekend that I had been most looking forward to. My best friend in the entire world coming to visit me!!! My mother!!! If that sounds weird to you, you can stop reading this post now…

Friday morning, or late Thursday night, I’m not completely sure how it is categorized, but I left my apartment for the airport at 5 a.m. in order to meet my mom in Lisbon, Portugal. No, you aren’t reading this wrong. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning in order to be out of my door at 5 a.m. I was not about to hail a taxi at that hour, so I used the app on my phone called MyTaxi. It is the Uber of Barcelona but sucks 100 times more. I miss Uber. MyTaxi was great in this case, and if there was no cab at 5 a.m. waiting for me they would have heard from me, but luckily when I got outside there was the taxi waiting. The driver’s ringtone was “Call Me Maybe.”

She was actually the first female driver I’ve had. Anyway, MyTaxi is not always reliable… and especially without Wi-Fi. Once I leave my apartment building, I no longer have Wi-Fi so when the driver says he’s there and isn’t… that’s generally an issue.

Regardless, I got to the airport very quickly. I definitely could have left later than I did, but everyone makes me more nervous than I already am about flying. Well thanks to the amateurs who never have anxiety and now do abroad. I fully blame you. I even went out of my way and researched alternate routes to the airport and the times of rush hour. Well seeing as everything starts later in Barcelona, I’ll know for the next time that a 5 a.m. drive to the airport (that’s 20 minutes away from my apartment in Gracia) for a 7 a.m. flight is an immense amount of time to just sit there and curse yourself for not setting your alarm later. 99problemsWith that, I passed out on the flight to the point where I was annoyed we landed since it disrupted my peaceful sleep. I cleared the floor of the airport in order to get a running start when I saw my mom. If you didn’t already know, we are two peas on a pod, aka very close and it’s been somewhat of an adjustment for me to be this far to her. Yes, while I go to school in Miami and rely on flights to go and come home, being in a different time zone and not being able to call every five seconds has been tough… but probably necessary for us to do. I still text her for her opinion on where I should go out for dinner, as if she knows the restaurants in my area. She did come bearing gifts– that being all of my gluten-free favorite treats from a store near my house in New Jersey, Squirrel and the Bee.

6bopyHFlutGgwBiDp3OgJHRY5G2fwyEGdyBywh6z4cPbYn8SxGCYURmTBtbaB5ptYlj8O2HoygyXfzHTV-UP_w7ZwDZdHnTQr-chH0g4r19hZZAPEM6g94-mBQD0BEoeBBUpOHrhNMlOBeoHN69E8d8pscGgPxRMmnssUwIritWvdZNGPeelgl-XcG2-4NUMkVkArssWW5PVvWe arrived at our hotel quickly, and immediately started our day. We began by going to Sintra. In order to go to Sintra, there is a metro that takes you directly there. We walked over to Rossio Square, which is historically known for the train station. It was very helpful that Starbucks was there to help re-energize our day. Then, I kid you not, the train was departing in 30 seconds, and so we sprinted there. Sprinted. Seeing my mom run like that I almost fell over my own two feet. This man held the door open for us as every other door was closing and he couldn’t help but laugh too. The train ride was very easy and about a half hour. 2tAkv2s7m2rblBJgNG4Koen6yF9lO_vzOQdGTglD9SdNZ_KmN6cH9bQcJGpU02sVMVdS1BcAl_JzbPLbLMfZ4sReKyPTSOzdTyQ0DMwGpCpOp4zQwoG_hTXmIgQ3Dktze1SAhLAIKDUR5J2-ftBu2ZxM5-rvy9g6YhhbqIBSWxPgzYcr6Qdy-yPrDFeWEDmtqytikySt7st8xThe only confusing part is that the train doesn’t have an automated voice that says the next station. So my mom and I were frantically looking around each time in order to see what stop we were at and if we should get off. By the end of the ride, we realized that the next stop appears on a screen at the end of the cars. Oops. For those of you who don’t like walking around a lot, Lisbon is not the city for you. It is ALL HILLS. I didn’t mind… not that I’m bragging about my gym obsession, but I thought my mom was about to slide down every climb or even push a baby aside in order to sit in their stroller. I don’t think their parents would be thrilled although her height is deceiving and could be mistaken for that of a teenager. (Sorry mom)

x2FgguCZKmTeGvDP0pl1nh8GTP7KylzytbCClSdqG62p6DNuVS7WtBK0Ap4pWVW2j4UP6WwbPzbD9xFP1bc_MxgJ339zkRQUlSt2bDRIkAMM3FtuoyS6Mq3b0BZvDTdrL9FOdYBTZQi3KYXEi683v4KfTIvKW1t8F38jtzRUtGN4GIv07zRRwlNH49ZTx5Y28qkY9mJvG2KW2Sintra was absolutely beautiful but as I said, Lisbon is all hills. It was essentially the equivalent of the trek to Parc Güell. After arriving at the Sintra train station, there are a few options as to how to tour around the area of Sintra ranging from private tours to shuttle buses at different points up the hill. It can be a tour that is an entire day or just a few hours but definitely not less than an hour. It would take an hour just to get the shuttle up that hill! The shuttle took us to the last stop, YUahRLiFrOKyahG21y7qqO8zuPJM3WDN6nQRGux4uRuL_UT6uDFHD_H2Jjrwdwd1dNStDgQDtBm3BlLNz__r9ToaxaMEVdU8c4xM4-ao7MtyPFTYnN-Pf9fapnVau0I1C7JRUuGA3bpee7iCtlSYEYN6iGDZkLriibcmeawjINKVq8t7puREtKJkZhEWxW5p2mT57hfiQQEecwhich was the Palace. It was painted in many pastel colors, which was interesting because my OCD was kicking in. We bought tickets and waited in line for the next shuttle to take us fully up the hill to the National Palace of Pena. Little did we know that we had to pay for that as well, and we had been waiting for such a long time at that point that we decided to walk up. I told my mom that if the mother with her stroller got to the top of the hill before us that I was going to be seriously annoyed since they started a good 10 minutes after us. (We only beat them by 10 seconds, but it definitely served as some motivation!) When walking around the Palace, I couldn’t even imagine how people let employees walk down the narrow path that goes around the entire perimeter of the palace! It was a little nerve-wracking!

o-NgVc6M_cwrDSdR6Aj_sn76w4QeAjSGag4OoIn0xPOG4uvU701Z0ENzdcRLAI30GLTu-JI-BTPzeYs00iVC2g6c3aHImiwhC8hCqxnljJjOhNBliOnARBZT1MuCB3wAkZga_v-_n9RLuu_qzdCuJjGqlDN2fj91WXcdJoqSR38JBen_ESYa_pYIIvvUj40JtBZRUJoA2JBOHWe then took the train back to the Rossio station and decide to walk around the shopping areas. Every time someone mentions great shopping in a city, I am immediately determined to find clothing, trinkets or even shoes that are unique to the culture as opposed to the mainstream H&M‘s that I have seen in every country…literally. I was told that Chiado, Barrio Alto, Baixa and Principe Real were the main shopping areas. We started in Chiado because that was the location of our hotel. It has truly become a Murphy’s Law. When I am actively seeking something to buy, there is absolutely nothing. Nope. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Then, when I’m told I can’t buy anything, just about everything within my peripheral vision is something that I would “die” for or is “so unique.” Typical. We then headed over to the Principal Real area to a place called Embaixada. I had previously researched Embaixada because it wasn’t just an ordinary mall, but one that is a renovated palace. Each room of the palace is a different store and there is a central restaurant. The building was beautiful and although I didn’t buy anything, I loved the concept of it. It also wasn’t as touristy, which was great for me considering I didn’t want to go to the mainstream stores. Outside of the mall was a small fair with different kiosks of trinkets that were handmade. There was one stand in particular that stuck out to me which was a bike stand (obviously). Think of any bike accessory or enhancement, and they had it. They even went as far as a bike pizza cutter!


After that, we made our way around the area a little more and headed back to the hotel to regroup. This is where it got interesting. My mom is a huge planner, which is where I get it from. Everything is organized, 6c4ff2b4ee8259b0e1eae742291d1b2bcolor-coded, with lists and lists and even lists for those lists on yellow sticky notes. I planned our entire itinerary up to every second (with a color-coordinated sticky noting nuances such as rainy day activities). All I asked is that my mom look into restaurants. We started our night at an Italian restaurant called Come Prima. I looked up the menu prior to our trip and it seemed fine! There were a few risotto dishes to choose from and some salads. Well, when we arrived at the restaurant, put in our drink orders, and started to eat some of the snacks they put on our table, we soon realized what we were getting ourselves into. I asked our waiter for the Wi-Fi password, and his response was “Well how am I supposed to know that? Why would I know that?” It wasn’t a language barrier issue, but the only think I kept thinking to myself is the lack of intelligence this guy has for saying that to a customer and that he really didn’t know who he was dealing with. Okay, whatever. Moving forward, I began to order one of the risotto dishes since I had about six to chose from. The waiter’s response was “Oh sorry we don’t have risotto tonight. We aren’t making it.” my-water-GF-memeEXCUSE ME? That was basically the only thing I could eat on the menu, and how do you just delete six options off of your menu? My mom and I instantly looked at each other, and we got up from the table and told him we couldn’t eat here. He was so offended. Sorry that you suck. I mean come on, no risotto? Wi-Fi? Try to cater to customers a little LESS why don’t you. This wasn’t a local Portuguese-style restaurant, it was Italian!! Learn your menu.

Well, after that great start, I told my mom that we were trying this other Italian restaurant that had a Gluten-Free menu called La Trattoria. IT WAS FABULOUS and just what we wanted. They were more than accommodating for every dish and the waiter was so sweet. I ordered a goat cheese salad and for my main, I had a great risotto (suck on that Come Prima) that initially had meat in it but they substituted it with cheese for me. Yum. My mom ordered a caprese salad and ravioli. The ironic part was that I had made a reservation here for the next day and seeing as the night went well the first time around, I kept it just in case we needed to repeat night one.

e2sWRtVdsZwPCYokoJVNpChx8cmLHUbOQICwuwWR3y-BuT5ES--aipU94QsQ10RZ3QnDXHnvelbeD26K7OJv8zRaZpxYp4fCbMzY41-oDOSuH87EF-jZ0r9O2o2kqzjLNLiIcR-FPVcWLVGS1TL2Mg4a3zaOvDst9nQNyFsNrYLjm-VACGxqYvoeDf-XI8TZT9yzfNUM1tcbkThe next day we woke up and decided to do a Segway tour of the medieval area of Lisbon known as Alfama. The company leading the Segway tour was Lisbon By Segway. The tour was amazing and my mom and I had never been on Segway’s before. WOW, some great blackmail let me tell you. I have never laughed so hard yet had to contain myself for the sake of falling off of the Segway. The tour was an hour. I had thought it would be more of a set path so that we weren’t in the way, but to the contrary. Weaving through people, in the middle of traffic, I was so nervous to even look at the sights for the sake of hitting someone on the street!!! We zoomed by the secrets of the Alfama area, Castle of Saint George, the area of Graca and the Church of Santa Maria.

Sights on the Segway Tour:

To be honest, I was convinced that I was going to do this tour by sliding down the narrow streets of Alfama. The Segway’s were easy to maneuver, but going downhill became a struggle… just for me…obviously. I think I almost gave the tour guide, Candy, a heart attack when we went down one street and I couldn’t slow down to the point where I was screaming help and going so fast that the Segway felt as if it was lifting all the way up and I should be saying hello to my new method of transportation–sliding. That would be some serious degree of cobblestone-burn. mQ3zDaq8Al7TpWpqeGicbMZ9sZfMZvYY9akk67UKzmZvGYQmma9qJtrvKKj5SJavpERucCLQCu84DCbjH2WEM2q2xEh88H7B5UsOOgWdA4fDDm6Jucsg9dGu4n-GINL4Dm-4vjtoENvHxP_mLD3DA9Hsitz062CWw7iIqjRoapnntVzCSi0-KD_FzH3wLUgjzQiT2X2A4_y9rI apologized immensely to Candy and she basically held my Segway like a child for the remainder of the tour–attached to her hip as she effortlessly guided the two of us with one hand on her Segway. (show-off). My mother continues to gloat and I probably won’t live it down that for one time, she was actually better at an activity than me. After that, we walked around to find tiles to bring home. Lisbon’s tiles are beautiful but I knew the amount my mom was looking for wasn’t going to fit in her suitcase. I’m sure she can find it online. We had a small snack at a coffee shop called Quinoa, and then walked around for a little more around the Chiado area. rmUOWhCYSBaK93Es43D0PuAxWV4tNv9CsYS1KXc6MqlDYweA3XDZ8SPzFX23ZELXcdCy9TaB_JpUShkdvJluvq-Q71vzn9zeRciZHvuMbcn7yRdUb2uBbFi4HLIuU9fDy3TMqx6EQFHox4IaOZOT4HsSA9LZqwnT_7Icth7Nz5bY_AuTKugaX--LhdsMmTMxqd9ho1i2Pt2UBFor dinner we made a new reservation at Sacramento. It was recommended to us by a friend. I couldn’t see the menu online, but I knew I had the reservation at the Italian restaurant if need be. It ended up being really great! My mom and I shared a few vegetarian dishes and loved them. As we went back to the hotel, we stopped at the Santa Justa elevator to see the view from the top. Once again, this is something that would only happen to my mom and I. All day we had passed the entrance and the line was around the corner. As we walked after dinner, there was no line. We didn’t know it was the last group allowed to go up, and went we went to go down, it was locked. We had to walk an additional ½ hour to get back to our hotel after seeing the beautiful views!

The next day we made our way back to Barcelona. It was so exciting to be able to show my mom my city and everything that I love. I wanted to show her everything, which is hard because she didn’t have that much time here. It seemed as if it was the day from hell though, because everything went horribly wrong. We immediately got in a cab from the airport and the driver didn’t understand my address. I know that I don’t have an accent, but it’s never taken me seven times to have to explain myself. I live on a very “popping” and “trendy” street in Gracia. He then went this abnormally obscure way to my apartment, which didn’t lessen my anxiety whatsoever. We dropped our bags off and made a move on it to have brunch. We went somewhere that I had never been before but wanted to try, Dostrece. It was really yummy until by stomach felt like it was lighting itself on fire which quickly subsided. Whatever, what else is new.

QRtKHDoQuPWSR131B7knpTpAIwSIGT0IwBl4zRAkq1W8WItulhnNyo0gvWq3wvZARERe4ngE5VAwmeVKpoIndr5aH2gjtDCp7aX5HbhUm2trTgNfnKT_VLcA26UUXtZf9KnnFQVW7VCi18h583k4bg37mI_8Iv8HFh8a5uwNt9XA9rWh0uRUlsKT1vzd6QL4ylLNJ3oH0mGtxWe then walked over to La Boqueria. uTzviTGxTfk01oV-f_3Xu6SftSlS1Kj_-hvUhkWXt54p6Qm_zR4I2TwVzoONObHfXuE9th54qINbOTuERgHU2uwq-NZ-3CljgXvHae2xf3Yv-exk621qlb5IA5B-MfIWhLAmp69Zyx_oQCfm5hkOuixtzcwZtZqSxL99XMN420STcZEenhnCZGjihqMH2Wgvy8EnVEvOfqWSwWell, thanks to no one for telling me that it was closed on Sundays… epic fail #1. Epic fail #2 was then tripping over my own two feet getting back into a cab and now being seriously injured and not being able to work out the week before Spring Break. YUP. Epic fail #3 would then be the fact that we trekked all the way up to Parc Güell, to find out that the next opening was at 5 and we were there at 3:15… and we had reflexology appointments at the W Bliss Spa at 5. My mom didn’t care but I really just wanted the trendy picture (blaming it on her needing to take that picture since she’s in Barce and everyone HAS TO take that picture) and not wanting to waste a really cute, well thought out outfit just 9oxZptB5lC3NgfyLeb1GzB9uSpq4rXXoJgqV-klgVB6XnWcgWTufiUG31xwg39oPlvvD8iyI0M9z2LIexVO2VtNJCVIjtvXcy_fjlqPHTmaSUEIis1vMXKvyjY4WvoEZ97DgWv-rfVv55yh6BA7Q4MjernyWA7m95HrHKuLUn7WhE3y9_JCZR5LPFNZ3QyZFlfNkMaHSCsqTgfor that picture!! We walked around Parc Guell anyway, with my foot being in more and more pain, but getting some amazing photo shots in the park area. Then the W. Ahhh, relaxing. Any massage appointment is such a tease. You get situated and then it’s already over. After that, we went to the bar of the W for sangria. We were sitting there for about a half hour and our sangria never came. The bar wasn’t even busy… and we didn’t even order filet mignon… so we got up and left once we sat in their really fun swivel chairs and took the requisite pics. I’m sure their sangria wasn’t good anyway and I was satisfied that I didn’t waste the calories. After that we needed to get into a cab back to my apartment in Gracia. Well again, thanks FC Barca vs. Real Madrid game. That took about 30 minutes (but Barca won!). After that, we got ready for dinner and went to Cornelia& Co. I really liked it there and I’m hoping to go for brunch sometime soon.

The next day my mom and I took it kind of easy. We finally went to the Boqueria, then a leather store I had been meaning to go to buy some leather jackets, brunch at Milk, and then some walking around the Gothic Quarter seeing the church and the historical synagogue, and obviously a pit stop at Happy Pills. I needed a rest so we recharged ourselves and ate dinner after at La Luna. I love the area of El Born. There’s so much to do there and has a lot of great shopping! We ended the night at Ice Barcelona, being more frozen than Elsa and Olaf and then pulled an all-nighter talking the hours away.


We had an amazing weekend and I was so sad to see my mom go but I am sure her tears filled the Atlantic Ocean as she flew home. She’ll be regretting the feeling of missing me now when I come home and annoy her every day!!

Love you mom!!!




Nonlinear, Not a Problem


A multimedia story. A relatively new concept introduced in the world. A multimedia story combines text, pictures, audio, graphics and interactivity presented on a website in a nonlinear format. The information in each medium is complementary, not redundant. They each provide background information on the story, which include databases, information boxes and graphics along with providing feedback. Multimedia tools provide reporters with a better means to communicate and narrate events to their audiences and therefore, these tools have assisted in breaking the barriers of storytelling.

There are two factors of a multimedia story that determine if a story is multimedia or not. These factors are nonlinear and complementary. Linear would be a typical newspaper article, where it starts at the top and finishes at the bottom and more or less guides the reader where to go. Nonlinear refers to jumping around. The story doesn’t tell you where to go and at any point at which you start, you won’t miss any details or be penalized. Multimedia stories have to be nonlinear. The other concept of a multimedia story is complementary. This means that every single element in the story is presenting information that is important and is highlighted in different ways. It makes it easier to draw in viewers due to its interactive content and therefore attracts and holds the attention of the viewers.

Here’s a short video to help sort out any confusion you might have about Multimedia Stories.

In my opinion, here are a few examples of exceptional Multimedia stories:

1. World Under Water: an interactive experienceScreen Shot 2015-03-18 at 11.04.22 PM where Web GL and Google Street View is used to demonstrate the catastrophic effects of climate change and ultimately bring awareness to the masses that it is a critical issue and change needs to be implemented.


2. Bear 71: Zooms in on one grizzly bear, Bear 71 that was collared at the age of three in Banff National Park and has been watched ever since via cameras in the park. This interactive documentary goes into depth about the connections between humans and the animal world and the effects that human settlements, roads and railways have on wildlife. There is an interactive map that allows users to monitor and follow Bear 71’s movements by scrolling over the cameras.

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3. Pine Point: Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 11.09.41 PMOriginally supposed to be a book, Pine Point is an interactive documentary produced by the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada. It tells the story of a city that has been destroyed in the last 10 years. It pleases the eye with its use of graphics and animation.

4. Live Hope Love: The point of this interactive documentary is to share the experience of those in Jamaica living with HIV/AIDS and to have them connect with those around the world.
A US based writer and poet, Kwame Dawes, Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 11.10.53 PMtraveled to Jamaica to document what the people living with HIV/AIDS go through and examine how the disease has affected and shaped the course of their lives. There are many ways to be interactive on this site, but the objective is to have visitors put a human face on the epidemic that is rarely seen. It also serves to demonstrate how artistic expression can be used in unconventional ways in order to garner the interest of the broadest public possible.


Stories that are not considered multimedia, o-NY-TIMES-INSTAGRAM-FRONT-PAGE-facebookare stories that are typically found in newspapers. They are linear. You are guided where to read from start to finish. The information in the story and the images are repeated. Non- Multimedia stories can still include pictures, audio, graphics and interactivity aspects. As you can see from the New York Times example, your eye naturally goes where the paper takes you from top to bottom, start to finish.


There are multiple ways to make a Multimedia story appealing to viewers, but keep in mind that you don’t want to get sidetracked. Below are a few tips in order to better your Multimedia Story.



Tips for Multimedia Journalists to Make their Stories Better:

  1. Offer Options– this isn’t a linear story. Start basic and then add elements in order to make it more complete and attractive. For example, after the introduction to the topic, an interactive map could be added and each section have an area where you can click in order to go into more detail, or a virtual tour, or even a picture slideshow.2. Planning– A Multimedia Journalist must know how to plan because when reporting, you must investigate the topic or event in advance in order to decide the best medium in which to tell the story.
  2. Always Check– This can happen to anyone. Check to make sure you have all of your equipment ready along with multiple chargers, batteries and backups. You never know.
  3. Quality over Quantity– The availability of tools is endless and should take full advantage of your platform. Do not feel obligated to add more tools in order to satisfy and attract viewers. You will end up recirculating the same data, which we do not want. All elements should complement each other, not repeat information.

I-Rish, U-Rish, We All Wish We Were Irish

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To say that you have participated in one of the most celebrated holidays worldwide, in the country that created the holiday… Mom have i thanked you enough?

Dublin weekend.

It all began early Thursday morning. Since this trip was booked well in advance… prior to even arriving in Barcelona, no one knew their schedules. I nervously missed class, and made my way to the airport. I didn’t know there was a time difference, but the flight felt as if it took forever. The Aer Lingus ride was pretty easy. No complaints… besides the fact that they kept saying I needed to put my purse on the ground. I’m sorry, but girls don’t part from their designer bags… it’s one thing if a girls back took up their entire lap and seat, but mine literally couldn’t have been smaller. But, whatever. We got there. DUBLINOThe 8 of us took a cab to the Temple Bar area and I volunteered to sit in the front… but  I accidentally tried to sit in the driver’s seat because I hadn’t been in a country where they drive on the opposite side and direction. My bad. The Irish are such kind people. Eamon, our cab driver, talked my ear off the entire time about Ireland and how much him and his family love New York. Such a sweet guy. When everyone else got out of the cab to drop their bags off at the hotel, he tried to explain to me where my hotel was. Since I’m directionally challenged and don’t understand how to navigate, he told me to get back into the cab and he led me in the right direction. It was actually a 30 second walk from my friend’s hotel to mine, but again, directions and I don’t get along. So thanks Eamon. Since this weekend is generally the only one people book in advance, the most common hotels to stay in that sell out very quickly are The Temple Bar Hotel, The Morgan, Blooms Hotel and The Temple Bar Inn. Anything in that area is where you want to be. The “American” area.

I’ve already been to Dublin, which is ironic considering I remember only a small bit… back in the day… I didn’t have a cellphone. WEIRD. With my family we did the Guinness factory, where I couldn’t drink, Trinity College, which I don’t remember, a castle of a sort, an abundance of meat lasagne and the cold weather. That’s the extent of what I remember. When we got to Dublin this time, we walked around the area of Temple Bar, which is notoriously American for the holiday of Saint Patrick’s Day. After walking the entire area, we grabbed lunch at GBK. They had a few different vegetarian options so I was thrilled. They also said on their menu that they had gluten-free buns but they were out. Luck of the Irish, eh? My roommates and I parted ways to our different hotels. Since a lot of people from different abroad locations weren’t even in Dublin yet, I didn’t want to sit around and drink beer, so my friend and I went to go see Kingsman in theaters. It was interesting. Glad I could do something else other than drink. We ate at Eddie Rockets, which is the American equivalent to Johnny Rockets. We ended the night on the earlier side due to our early morning rise.


Friday at 6:50 a.m. we met at the Irish Day Tour buses for a full day of touring around Ireland. The end destination was the Cliffs of Moher, which is one of the seven wonders of the world. Pictures do not do the Cliffs justice.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 12.11.32 AMThe tour stops were beautiful but you can’t capture them within one picture. I’m an American girl who takes an excessive amount of pictures. What if it’s not on my good side? The wind blowing my hair in my face? So many different factors that could affect the final picture and it’s always better to have a plethora and be able to choose which one you like… especially for instagram. Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 12.14.58 AMOur tour guide definitely wasn’t prepared for the amount of American study abroad students and felt sympathetic toward the one family on the tour who definitely hated us by the end. You can’t expect anyone to take only 10 minutes to take pictures. It was just unrealistic. Also, he kept talking and talking while we were all trying to sleep. I wasn’t particularly interested in what he was saying, and when he wasn’t talking, there was Irish music playing in the background. Epitome of the weekend. The other stops and sights on the tour included: Galway Bay, the Curragh, Treaty Stone, Dunguaire Castle, Fanore Beach, the Burren, Bunratty Castle, King John’s Castle and the River Shannon. After a full day of activities, we made our way back to the hotel and decided to take it easy. We ate at this Thai place called Thai Orchid around the corner. FINALLY I was able to have some salmon teriyaki.

That night my friends and I strolled the streets of Temple Bar. It was one big happy reunion. The streets were filled with every American (and a few locals) parading around and I don’t think the festivities ever stopped as even when I woke up the next morning, the streets were still packed. In order to participate in the day-long festivities on Saturday, we woke up on the earlier side in order to tour the Guinness Storehouse. guinness-storehouseI wasn’t there THAT long ago but to be honest I didn’t remember a single thing besides the green waterfall. It was still very interesting even though I don’t drink beer. We made our way back to the Temple Bar area in order to immerse ourselves into the celebration! The two hotspots were The Temple Bar and Fitzsimons because everyone else was in the streets. Fitzsimons could accommodate more people due to the fact that it had an outdoor terrace. In both places you could barely move or breathe so I stuck to the friendly outdoors. I think I received whiplash due to the amount of people I knew and was turning my head to say hi to. It was amazing to reconnect with basically everyone I have ever known. It was a lot different (and better in my opinion) than Abroadfest in the sense it wasn’t as “sceney.” Even though everyone you know is there in such a small proximity of the Temple Bar area, it wasn’t as “sceney” as I was anticipating.

Sunday, everyone packed up but I was one of the few who had a late flight. I spent my time eating at Elephant & Castle, a popular brunch place in the area. There was one vegetarian place that I wish I made it to, Cornucopia. It looked amazing and had great reviews! Hopefully, next time.