New York City Your Best Tool for Learning English

It seems that everywhere we turn, we continue to face heartbreak, challenges, and horrible realities in our world. We’re still facing the realities of the global pandemic, we’re watching countries suffer war, death, and famine, and we’re experiencing the highest cost of living in our history. For me, there are some days when my daily challenges seem pointless when I think about the larger events happening in our world. People are losing their loved ones, their homes, their freedom – it can be difficult to concentrate on my day-to-day responsibilities when these things pop into my mind.

So I started the exercise of seeing what I can do to help, give back, offer support, and just be there for my brothers and sisters in mankind. These things can be big or small, but it helps me feel like I’m doing what I can to make sense of all these horrific events, and even if I can help one person a day, I’ll feel more at peace, and it will inspire me to take more of these actions on a regular basis. Kindness is contagious, and there’s never been a better time to showcase your generosity and spread the good spirit.

1. Make financial donations

Given the war, there’s so much we can do from the outside to provide resources and support for victims and their families. The healthcare system is overrun with outstanding needs, so you can donate blood, volunteer, or even give meals to healthcare workers that are overworked and being stretched too thin. If you have the means, you can also make donations to families in need that might be affected by inflation, the low minimum wages, or even at homeless shelters that need resources.

2. Make a pass through your home

Every 6 months or so, I like to do a full inventory of my apartment to see if I own anything that might serve someone else in a better or more efficient way. This could be anything from clothing or shoes to personal toiletries or books. When I make the donation to Goodwill, I ask the team in-store what items people are asking for the most often. I’ll take that list into consideration for my next semi-annual home pass to see if there are items I can bring on my next trip.

3. Build awareness

For many of us, having additional resources might be rare, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to contribute or give back to your larger society. Another great donation you can make is your time. Thanks to our digital technology in today’s world, we’ve never been more connected to the rest of the world as we are now. Spreading awareness is the backbone to making any kind of change, so if you can’t contribute your finances, time, or items, you can donate your words. You can sign petitions, share posts about communities in need, participate in marches, or even contact your local government if there are changes needed in your immediate community. Your voice is just as powerful as your wallet, so there are so many great things you can do if you want to be more involved in making a change in the world for the better. A really effective strategy to raise awareness for causes that may be close to your heart is to round up a list of nonprofit organizations that focus on a specific cause or group. You can create this list, complete with their widgets that call for donations, and then distribute that list within your digital social network. It’s amazing how powerful the share button can be, and there’s no harm in sharing with your network what is important to you. Maybe for your birthday, in lieu of gifts, you can ask your network to instead donate to a cause of your choice.

4.Listen and engage

Ultimately, change cannot take place without active listening and engagement. We must participate in a dialogue that is respectful, helpful, and engaging. We must share our ideas and ensure that we really listen to the various perspectives and experiences from others all over the world. It isn’t until we truly listen until we can see a change take place. Encourage your friends and family to participate and join in the conversation so that your loved ones can be a catalyst for change.

We’re living in a very strenuous time right now all over the globe. It can be difficult to focus on your daily needs and responsibilities when it feels like the world is crumbling all around us. Help your neighbor, but it’s just as important to take care of yourself as well.

Category : Stay in New York

April is a WONDERFUL time of the year to flex your outdoor activity muscles, as the weather is significantly more forgiving, meaning you’ll have so many more options to explore New York City, see new things, reconnect with old friends, AND put your learned English skills into real life application. April is often considered the “rebirth” month, thanks to the Easter holiday as well as spring showing her true colors with warmer days, blooming greenery, and fresh air. THIS is the month when I tend to come out of hibernation mode, as I officially pack up my winter jacket and start bringing my sunglasses everywhere I go. April gives me a second boost of energy, thanks to the excitement of warmer days and more fun things to do.

As the pandemic restrictions continue to lighten, this also means that you can reacquaint yourself with your favorite activities that you may not have been able to participate in over the past two years. This goes without saying, whether you’re fully vaccinated or not at all, it’s still strongly encouraged that you bring a mask with you, be conscientious about washing your hands, and still get those tests so you know when to stay home and recuperate. And if you’re looking for ways to put your English skills to use in real life as we’re adjusting to spring as well as the lightening of pandemic restrictions, look no further than the list below!

1. Easter Parade, April 17, Midtown Manhattan

Regardless of the religious background in which you were raised, Easter is a major holiday for celebration, and New York City is no exception. Parades are an absolute staple in the Big Apple, so here’s your chance to witness another iconic event. The event starts at 10 am, so be sure to leave earlier than that so you can grab a good view, and don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes, as the parade runs from 49th Street to 57th Street. There will be huge crowds here, so again, just be smart and bring your mask to be on the safe side. This spectacle is going to be visually stunning, so make sure your phone is fully charged so you can snap the best pics, share them with your networks, and use your English writing skills to make your photos viral, using the trending hashtags and tagging all your friends in this historic event.

2. Earth Day, April 22, New York City all over

This holiday has been around for as long as I can remember, but there’s never been a better time to be more cognizant of our home and how we treat our planet. Global warming’s effects are increasing at rapid speeds, and we all need to come together now more than ever before to do what we can to mend, heal, and repair as best as we can. I’ve been more diligent of the footprint I leave behind, and I’m always looking for new ideas to preserve our natural resources and protect our home. This year, I encourage you and your friends to come together on April 22nd to participate in community events, give back, donate, or simply devote some of your energy into planting trees, cleaning up parks, or limiting your energy resources. We won’t be able to see or make change overnight, but small habits can quickly and easily turn into bigger ones, so let’s do what we can to prolong our planet’s lifespan for as long as we can. Follow social media hashtags to see what’s going on in your neighborhood and engage in English to build your own network as well as your own English skills!

3. Central Park picnics

I want to stay on the environmental theme this month in honor of Earth Day. I’m making it a mission to not only be sensible and conscientious on the day itself, but I’m striving to extend those behaviors into the whole month of April. I’ll walk to my destinations instead of hailing a cab; I’ll open my windows to stay cool instead of turning on my fans; I’ll unplug my appliances when they’re not in use. We have one of the most beautiful parks in the world in our backyard, so I plan on wrangling my social group to spend our weekends here to soak in the fresh air and do what we can to give back. See if you can do this challenge as well!

Category : Stay in New York

Technology advancements and innovations have allowed us to work more effectively and efficiently together than ever before – and COVID propelled us even further with our virtual capabilities and all the ways in which we can collaborate, even if we’re in different time zones. The tools we use to adapt to these changes help us work better together, which means ultimately, arriving at stronger final products, more strategic thinking, and a more optimistic outlook towards the future.

With cloud-based technology in our back pocket, this kind of collaboration is easy for educational organizations as well. While being together in one classroom certainly has its advantages, there are far more benefits from learning remotely, thanks to this technology. We can remove commuting time, stay physically safe from risk, and we ultimately save money and energy to then redirect our attention to the things that matter the most to us in our lives.

Small businesses and education organizations alike are adapting to these software systems that bring teams together to brainstorm, ideate, plan, and activate – all with ease. Here are a few that increase productivity, allow for creativity, and boast collaboration.

  • Miro

This software allows for the optimum space for students to bring all their ideas together in one place. With the same characteristics of a physical whiteboard in a classroom, Miro steps it up with easier design features, clean functionality, and supportive options that allow for positive reinforcement and encouragement. It beats its competitors when it comes to adaptability across devices, which is a crucial tool since we’re all accustomed to working essentially wherever we are, at any time. And Miro isn’t just great for collaborative projects, but it’s also helpful to keep all the appropriate stakeholders on track, as Miro aids in task management, organizational mapping, and even time management.

  • Lucidspark

This platform is a similar structure but wins in other categories against its competitors. It’s the easiest to onboard, which might be helpful if your students are younger or adapting to technology for the first time. This ease of use will make adjustment easier and encourage a softer transition into a new way of thinking. If your students are visual learners, Lucidspark is known for its innovative drawing functionality, which will help if you’re discipline is in the arts or communication fields. As your students adjust to the new platform, they’ll also realize the benefits of working in a cloud-based system and will want to expand to other cloud-based capabilities, which is something that Lucidspark excels at – your students will be able to practice their organizational skills by learning how to store information on the cloud that will translate to higher efficiencies and ease of use in the long-run.

  • Mural

Newer to the space is Mural, if you’re looking for a platform that is also probably the most cost-efficient model in the category, as they have custom packages for educational systems that are built per case, which is also ideal if you’re just getting started with this kind of technology. Mural has almost all the features that Miro and Lucidpsark have, so you’ll benefit from all the collaborative features and capabilities, but there are some elements that users are particularly fond of. The ability to create custom icons can make the experience more personalized for your students, which can aid in their engagement if they’re new to the topic. Users also really love the voting feature, which can make your students feel more connected with one another if they’re all working remotely. Mural is also compatible with in-browser, desktop, or mobile so your students can be a part of the conversation wherever they are.

Cloud-based software systems have completely changed the way in which we work and learn – it saves time, money, and efficiencies, and your workers and students can still feel connected and collaborative with their team members. We’re working faster than ever before, so ensuring that our efficiencies match that speed is imperative, and systems like Miro, Lucidspark, and Mural all help to ensure that final product is successful. Learning this technology will also keep minds active, collaboration skills refined, and excitement rejuvenated.

Productivity and efficiency are two tactics that any business or school organization needs to deliver on missions. Your employees and students must feel challenged yet supported, and they have to be seen and heard – these software systems can provide all of that while simultaneously moving forward in innovation, critical thinking, and bettering our future.

Category : How to Learn

The saying for March weather is “In like a lion, out like a lamb” – at the start of the month, the weather is completely unpredictable as spring tries to make its way into our lives. One day it could be windy, wet, and blustery, and the next day, we could be taking walks with our sunnies on without a care in the world. But by the time we reach the final week in March, we can feel pretty confident that we can hang up our winter coats for good. This can make the month of March feel a bit goofy when trying to make plans, but luckily, if you’re in New York City this month, you’ll have plenty of options!

One of the other benefits to living in the Big Apple is that you’re never short of diversity or being surrounded by people speaking various languages – this means if you’re trying to hone in on your English skills, you’re in the best place to put your skills to use. Not only are people patient with language barriers, but they’ll also be willing to help you if you need a little push. That said, I wanted to highlight activities that will be supportive of your English skills AND keep you entertained! Happy Lion Month, everyone!

1. New York Travel & Adventure Show, Hell’s Kitchen

This is actually an activity that I’m bookmarking for myself as well. As we near the two-year anniversary of COVID, it’s amazing to think how much we may have put on hold. I haven’t seen many of my loved ones, I’ve had to cancel trips and activities, and traveling now just seems like a luxury that’s far from reality now. Not only will tons of experts be there to share tips and tricks, but you’ll learn about the new age of travel thanks to the pandemic. If you’re like me, you’re both eager and anxious to get back on planes and trains, so if you need a bit more information before making any big decisions, I recommend checking this event out. Plus, you’ll walk away with plenty of swag (in English and tons of other languages), so this is the place to connect with others that are just as well-traveled and skilled in multiple languages as you are.

2. Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects, Upper East Side

Calling all book lovers! This brand new exhibition will be a dream come true for anyone that grew up reading Sherlock Holmes and all the adventures that came along with it. Curated from Sir Conan Doyle’s belongings, you’ll become immersed in all things Sherlock Holmes, making you feel like you’ve been transported back into time. This will be running until April, so you have some time, but be sure to add this site to your list so you can check off all the amazing things related to this literary icon. With so many writings, you’ll easily brush up on your English reading skills, some of which is actually handwritten from the author himself! Don’t forget your pipe!

3. Free museum nights at MoMA

Um, hello? Did you know about this? Starting March 4th, every first Friday of every month, this iconic destination is offering free admission to NYC residents from 4 to 8pm. If you’re a bit tight on funds or just looking to take advantage of an activity without breaking the bank, this is the activity for you. As you can bet, word about this awesome event will get out, so be sure to hit up the first month’s opening before too many people hear about this. I know COVID feels like it’s on its way out, but just be mindful about how many people are there and bring your mask just in case. Grab your friends, collect your pamphlets, and enjoy the second-floor café when you’re ready to give your feet a break.

It’s been a long two years since we started adjusting to a completely new way of life. Sometimes it’s hard to believe we’re still in this reality. As we start to look ahead at a possible “normal” life in the coming months, don’t forget to cater to your mental health. Keep checking in on yourself and your loved ones because adjustment anxiety is real. Let’s come out of this whole experience as better versions of ourselves and better people to the ones around us. Let’s use COVID as a lesson to be better!

Category : How to Learn

The past two years have been tough on all of us – I haven’t met one person that hasn’t been affected in some way. From transitioning to working from home full-time to figuring out vaccine schedules and learning more about mental health needs to experiencing polarizing political conversations, we’ve endured so much in the past two years. It can be tough trying to figure out how we’re going to make it through this pandemic without scars.

It seems like every segment of this pandemic brings us something new, as it’s impacted almost every aspect of our lives. We’ve witnessed an incredibly volatile presidential election and transfer of power; we’ve watched the heavy debate around vaccines; we’ve seen our economy fluctuate; we’ve said goodbye to thousands of people. It’s hard to imagine a world post-pandemic sometimes because of how disruptive it’s been to our lives.

I don’t have all the answers, but I’m happy to share some of my own tricks and hacks as a New York City resident. Everyone is different and has personal levels of pandemic practice, so please take my recommendations with a grain of salt, and feel free to personalize these ideas as you see fit and as they pertain to your own individual practices.

1. Take advantage of talk therapy

I recognize that I’m incredibly lucky that my talk therapy is covered by my insurance. It’s incredibly helpful that I have someone to talk to on a weekly basis (it’s virtual, too!) – sometimes we chat about how the pandemic is affecting me, while some weeks the topic doesn’t come up at all. I see my weekly therapy appointments as regular maintenance. There are some months in my life when I feel in control and steady – it’s nice to talk with my therapist during these times because she can see me when I’m confident and in a good place. There are other weeks when I struggle, either with work, relationships, money, or even just my energy levels. These weekly check-ins help stabilize my moods, force me to reflect on what I can do better, and to identify areas that I need to work on. I’ve been able to overcome a lot of barriers and hurdles in my life from simply going to therapy once a week. I understand it’s not for everyone, and I also recognize that I’m lucky to have access to this kind of mental healthcare, but I’ll recommend this practice to anyone that is looking to improve themselves.

2. Helpful to think ahead

Sometimes it seems like we’ve been frozen in time, hasn’t it? So many of my days seem to blur together, and it so often feels like every day is the same. Beyond family visits, I haven’t planned anything for myself in two years. It feels too risky to book a vacation, only to get excited about it then have to cancel due to another variant. This has had me in a weird, dark place as I think about my future. Will we be doing this two years from now? Will all my days be identical a year from now? This kind of repetition has given me a lot of anxiety and stress, so I’ve tried to look for a solution that can help with this kind of gloom. Instead of planning for trips or vacation, I set personal goals for myself instead. Because I’m not spending as much money on travel, dinners, or events with my friends, I’ve been able to save a lot of money the past two years. With that realization, I’ve started to create monthly goals for myself, most of which are financially related. When I paid off my student loans last year, thanks to the interest pause and saving so much money, that gave me the idea to keep thinking ahead. I now have a goal that I want to reach for my 401K, a figure I want to hit in my savings account, and I’m starting to put aside some money for a major vacation once this is all over and done with (whenever that is!). Having these goals gives me something to work towards AND something to look forward to.

It’s important to remind yourself that you’re not alone – we’re ALL going through this time together. We all have different and unique struggles, so check in with your loved ones, but also be sure to check in with yourself. Make sure you’re giving yourself what you need!

Category : Stay in New York

Yikes, I forget how tough February can be in New York City. The days can chill you to your bones, and this is the time of year I feel a bit sick of the dreary days. While I love staying inside and being cozy during this time of year, I also start to feel a bit antsy. I start to crave longer days, warmer temps, and higher energy. It’s tough trying to figure out what my options are when we’re still trying to figure out this pandemic stuff, so I figured I’d share with you some easy ideas that will still keep you entertained and safe at the same time. The weather is always a hit-or-miss factor in deciding what you want to do, but I’ve come up with a few interesting ideas that can keep your mood up and without breaking your wallet.

1. Ice Skating – Central Park, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center

I know this is pretty standard and expected when you think about New York City in the winter, but it’s kind of a perfect solution. Not only does this activity get you outside in the fresh air, but it’ll get your body moving with fun exercise. Whether you’ve got your own skates or need to rent, these parks will have you covered no matter your skill level. Since we’re still in a pandemic, the outdoor setting will keep you safe. (I still recommend bringing and wearing a mask, vaccinated or not.) You’ll also be able to meet tons of new people while you’re practicing your ice skills, so be sure to bring your best English talents so you can share and trade tricks with your new friends. Bonus: these parks are surrounded with plenty of amazing restaurants so you can warm up and recharge no matter where you decide to go.

2. Broadway

This is an activity that I’ll flag as “use caution.” Because this particular option is indoors and you’ll be surrounded by dozens of people, be sure to check your theater’s rules for vaccinations and masks. Depending on your status, you’ll need to check out their guidelines before going. As Broadway starts to ramp up again in as we continue to sift through the pandemic, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of these shows, just in case another strict lockdown is on our horizon. If you’re looking to get your English skills some practice, spend some time with the Playbill before the show, and do your best to translate the spoken English on stage in your head. After the show, grab dinner with your friends and share your favorite parts – in English!

3. Hit the spa

Okay, so this activity isn’t completely for just February, but I wanted to include this because I’m realizing just how important self-care is these days. It’s been a tough two years in New York City, thanks to the pandemic. I’ve spent more time indoors these past 24 months than I have probably my whole life. I’ll admit that I don’t work out as much, I don’t eat the best foods, and I’m definitely not drinking enough water. It’s hard to take care of ourselves when the world is so uncertain these days. So to ensure that I’m treating myself from time to time, I take myself out for a massage about once a month. Not only does it give me something to look forward to, but it physically helps me relieve built-up tension from stress. If a spa isn’t your thing, figure out what will help you “reset.” Maybe it’s a library day, or perhaps it’s a night you treat yourself to your favorite dinner. Either way, it’s so crucial to ensure you’re taking care of your well-being. This could be something you do independently or with friends so you can keep your mood positive and your outlook optimistic.

February is a tough month overall – the days are short and cold, and it can be tough to be optimistic for warmer days ahead. I try to beat my seasonal sadness by getting out of my apartment for walks and Vitamin D, I chat with family and friends as much as I can, and I make sure my schedule has enough things to look forward to – I recommend doing something similar and finding things that make you happy, active, and entertained. We’ve still got some time working through this pandemic, but in the meantime, make sure you’re still tending to your mental and emotional health.

Category : Stay in New York

The premise of a new year always entails a fresh start, a new perspective, a new you. This can be a lot of pressure! What if you’re exhausted and can’t possibly fit another thing on your list? What if you’re pretty content with how things are? What if there’s still an ongoing pandemic that makes your planning a bit complicated?

I recently discovered a list of things that I wanted to accomplish in 2020. This was, of course, prior to COVID being in our vocabulary, so I had things like “go on a real vacation” and “meet 10 new people” on my list. I couldn’t help but laugh when I read some of those ideas, as there was no way I could have accomplished those goals, thanks to the pandemic. On one hand, it felt like I was relieved from the pressure to do all those things, and on the other hand, it made me kind of bummed out. How are we supposed to better ourselves, improve ourselves, if we’re being limited of our own capabilities?

I sat down the other day to make a list similar to the one above, as I was thinking about the year ahead and imagining what I might encounter in 2022. Since we’re all somewhat used to the pandemic and this “new normal,” I know now that my list will have to consider the impact of COVID. While I’m not back in the office on a full-time basis, I know that I can go in a few days a week if I want to. While I know that riding a plane or going on a cruise is not ideal, I know that as long as I’m safe and maintain my vaccinations and testing, I can still live my life.

It’s almost as if I made my list for 2022 with built-in buffers. I added in “travel,” but kept it vague because no one really knows what that sector will look like in 2022. I included “more socialization” – understandably, I won’t be attending any parties soon, but I want to deepen the relationships that I already have and make them more meaningful. Through ongoing therapy and processes that improve my own soul, I strive to use this increased alone time to work on myself, to be a better family member, friend, and person within my community.

COVID took a lot from us. But it’s also important to remember that COVID taught us a lot, too. I’m thankful and lucky that I didn’t lose a loved one to COVID, and I’m lucky that I was able to receive all 3 doses of the vaccine. I’ve learned to be in the moment more, and I’ve learned to cherish the relationships that I have. I’ve also listened to myself more, which has helped me understand what makes me, me. With all this in mind, I was able to create the most personalized list of goals that I’ve ever created. Each person’s will be unique, but I wanted to share a few of my own bullets and how I plan on achieving them this next year.

  • Get savings account to x amount

A good rule of thumb is to have 3x the amount of one month’s living expenses in your savings. This can be challenging for anyone, but I’m up for the challenge. A few quick mathematical notes, and I know what I need to do to reach that goal. It also helped to break it down monthly so it’s easier to grasp the logistics.

  • Treat myself to one solo vacation

My family lives all over the country, so I’ve found that the past couple of years, I use my vacation days for those family trips. Those trips are wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but I promised myself that I would take myself on one trip by myself this year. It could be somewhere as close to an hour away for a weekend or to another country for a week. No matter what I decide, I want to treat MYSELF for all the hard work I’ve put in.

  • Pick up journaling again

This is an interesting one, as I used to be an avid journal-er. I’d write almost every single night, and it was part of my routine. It’s been at least ten years since I had a journal, and I miss the alone moments when I would reflect, vent, cry, celebrate, and collect all in one sitting. Thanks to therapy and all the alone time the past two years, I want to rebirth this habit and find some time in each day for reflection and self-learning.

Category : How to Learn

New year, new you, right? There’s something about the beginning of January that gives me a jolt of inspiration, a moment of reflection to admire how far I’ve come and where I’d still like to go. I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions, but I do try to make a list of things I want to accomplish in the near year. Sometimes they’re big (one year I had a goal of reading 20 books), and sometimes they’re small (one year I strived to build a new habit of working on my posture). No matter what you have set in store for 2022, chances are you’re a little uneasy given the uncertainty of the next year, thanks to this ongoing pandemic.

Whether you’re looking to work on your resolution list or simply hoping to make the most of the first month of 2022 while in the Big Apple, I’m confident that you’ll find a way to make it all happen. New York City is certainly not the same place it was two years ago, but my love for the city is unwavering. I feel we’re through the worst of it (I’m really hoping), so I’ve been testing the waters here and there to get back into the swing of things – I’ve been taking the subway more often, trying to get used to larger gatherings while still practicing social distancing, and I’ve also been working on my in-person social skills (as an awkward person to begin with, this is an area that really needs my attention in the new year!).

Either way, here are a few things you can do this January in New York City, whether you have resolutions, an interest in becoming more active, or just simply hoping to use your English skills in real life. Don’t forget your winter jacket, your mask, and as always, some hand sanitizer!

1. Winter Market, Bryant Park

I may have written about this experience in the past, but I want to ensure that this falls on your list because it’s one of the coolest winter experiences in the city. All sorts of shops and eateries gather their best inventory for window shoppers as they sip their hot chocolate and unwind from a hectic holiday season. With so many unique products and services available at this market, you’ll find out about some of the coolest independent shops in the area and support small businesses at the same time. Since you’ll be interacting with dozens of people as you shop around, you’ll be putting your conversational skills to use, and if you choose to follow and support these businesses on your social media feeds, you’ll also put your reading and writing English skills to use at the same time! You can also rest easy since this market is held outdoors, as COVID continues to remind us of its ongoing presence.

2. Brooklyn Bridge

So this is a New York City staple, obviously, but I want to ensure that my guiding includes destinations that will keep you outside yet warm enough to enjoy it. Since you’ll be walking a ton while visiting this spot, you’ll stay warm but also safe. The view on this bridge never gets old – I’ve been a few times, as I bring visitors to this spot so they can see the bridge in person and experience the incredible views themselves. Not only will you get your new year exercise in, but you’ll be getting fresh air and views that are indescribable. You can put your English social speaking skills to use when you ask strangers to take your photo – don’t forget to offer the favor back to them in English!

3. Restaurant Week, January 18 – February 13

This is another rotating event, as restaurant week happens twice a year (and obviously lasts for more than a week). This is the perfect opportunity to give that new restaurant a try or explore something outside of your traditional visits. Not only will you benefit from reduced prices, but you’ll expand your palette and add more unique cuisines to your list. The added benefit is that outdoor dining seems to continue to be popular amongst us New Yorkers, so if you prefer to eat your meals outside instead of inside (thanks, COVID), you’ll be able to still benefit from this lasting feature. With written menus, spoken orders, and ongoing conversations, your English skills will be tested and easily used throughout your evening, so check out the participation list in your borough, and start making those reservations!

Category : How to Learn

New York City in December is one of my favorite times here. There’s something in the air that feels (and even smells) magical, and maybe that’s my inner child, but either way, I love taking the long way home in December. I’ll walk wherever I can as often as I can so I can take in all the holiday decorations, smell the early winter air, and appreciate the jovial feelings in the air from both locals and tourists alike. Sure, I’ll avoid heavily trafficked areas this month, like the Rockefeller Tree or Bryant Park, but the whole city is ready for the holiday season, so even if you want to avoid the denser areas, you’ll still feel like you’re in the most magical place on earth.

Whether you’ve been here for a while or pretty new to the Big Apple, there are quite a few ways to enjoy New York City in December, even if you’re trying to put your English skills to use. As I’ve said before, one of the major things that makes New York City so special is that this area is a gigantic melting pot – people from all over the world live here, and you’ll be surprised to hear all the various languages that are spoken all over the five major boroughs. Because of this, if you ever need any help or guidance, you’re bound to find someone that can help you.

So, if you’re looking to keep your English skills sharp this December while you’re walking in the New York City winter wonderland, check these options out below.

  • New York Botanical Garden Glow

If you can manage getting up to the Bronx this month, it’ll be worth your travels to check out this outdoor event. Only in its second year, this light festival will not only keep you safe since you’re outdoors, but it’ll put you into the holiday mood. With plenty of photo opportunities, you and your friends will have memories to last years to come. If you need help navigating or with translation, be sure to check in with your friends to see if they can help OR be sure your translation app on your phone is ready to go so you can get the answers you need right away. Don’t forget to dress for the chilly night temperatures!

  • Urbanspace Union Square Holiday Market

I’m personally really excited for this one because it didn’t operate last year due to COVID, so you can bet that this year, the activation is going to be better than ever before. Keep this in mind as you’re planning your day here, as you can be sure to expect lots of people eager to get their market shopping done since last year was a bust. I recommend checking out the map and vendor list so you can set up an action plan, including specific “routes” to take while you’re at the market so you can hit the stands you want to hit first and then leisurely stroll once you have your targets done. This is a GREAT opportunity to practice your English back-and-forth with various vendors, so get ready to chat with some locals!

  • The Greens Winter Cabins at Pier 17

I might have written about this installation over the summer, but I never got around to trying this myself! When COVID hit, places like this tried their hand at catering to the guidelines but not alienating peoples’ need to socialize, and it worked! So now they’re converting their summer pods into winter “globes” so that you and your pals can stay warm but still socially distanced from others around you. This is super trendy, so I highly recommend you contact the organizers so you can reserve your spot with enough time and without breaking the bank. Pack your activities, extra socks, and don’t forget the games – this is the perfect opportunity to practice your English social skills with one another! You’ll definitely want to Instagram your experience too, so start brainstorming those hashtags!

December is not a month with a shortage of things to do in New York City. All you’ll need to do is keep an open mind, dress with layers, and always be conscientious about staying safe and protected since we’re still trying to get through this pandemic. You’ll have so many options to stay entertained and to put what you’ve learned in your English classes to use in real life that you won’t even have to think about what you’re going to say next!

Category : How to Learn

To me, December is one of the most unusual months in New York City. It seems like the whole month is out of schedule – I’ve found that traffic volume is completely unpredictable, attitudes are hit-or-miss, and the weather can make you either really festive or incredibly cranky and impatient. Despite all of that, however, I enjoy this month greatly for a variety of reasons.

For me, my work schedule becomes a bit lighter, as my coworkers are all staggering their vacation times, and people are starting to get into the holiday and time-off mindsets. Getting around town is unusual because I find that people are keeping non-typical schedules due to special holiday events, gatherings, and even traveling out of town. December is certainly a cold month, but it can still surprise you with out-of-season temperatures. It can be snowy and bitter one week, warm the next, then back to harsh and windy again. All of these unusual characteristics make December an exciting one, and I can’t help but feel like a little kid again because nothing seems normal this month.

So here are a few tried-and-true suggestions that I can offer you to help you get through this upcoming month, and as we’re still navigating elements of the pandemic, I’ll ensure that these tips will be relevant for this time as well.

  • Coordinate with your social groups early

Everybody celebrates different holidays, and some travel while others stay local. If you’re looking to be social this month or hold some kind of festive gathering, the earlier you can plan, the better. Please also keep in mind that we’re still doing what we can to social distance and be mindful of health safety, so it’s a good idea to know who is vaccinated as well as to understand peoples’ levels of comfort when around other people. People tend to plan travel and social obligations in advance, so it’s a good idea to do the same if you’re hoping to have a holiday social gathering yourself.

  • Wear and where

December in New York City in the time of a pandemic calls for a lot of questions that we may not have had to ask in years past. While indoor dining is back, some people may not be comfortable, and since outdoor dining continues to be a reliable addendum, you’ll need to consider these factors when deciding what and where to go. Of course, winter attire is also of high consideration, thanks to the rigid temperatures, considerations for public transportation, and knowing how to stay comfortable. I will continue to urge you to be connected with your weather forecast app, as I’ve found this will tell me what I need to wear, how long I should stay out, and even how to get there (listen, if it’s snowing, I’ll skip my heels).

  • Expand your thoughts for others

No matter your religion or the primary holiday you celebrate in December (if any), one of the main ideas of the season is consideration and gratuity for others. This is always a good time to remind yourself others may be lack in blessings, whether it’s employment, local family, extra finances, or even a positive mindset. While this time of year is wonderful to celebrate the love and blessings in your life, it’s also an opportune moment to remember those that may not have those same blessings. Do what you can to give back, whether it’s your time through volunteering, extra food, clothing, or money through donations, or even just extra love to your close ones – it’s never a poor time to think of others that may be less fortunate.

There’s no doubt that it’s been a tough two years, thanks to the pandemic. December is a time for us to reflect on what we learned, what our blessings are, and what we can do differently in the future.

As I look ahead to the next year, I’m hoping to be in contact with my friends and family, both locally and far away, more often. Because of COVID, I’ve been able to spend more time with myself, working on my short-term and long-term goals. I’ve picked up new hobbies and had the opportunity to experiment with different habits and schedules. I’m on a never-ending search to better myself, and as I face another December in New York City, I’m more hopeful for the future than I have been in the past.

Category : Stay in New York