New York City Your Best Tool for Learning English

Summer in New York City can be incredibly fun, and it often feels like there are endless possibilities for staying entertained with things to do, see, and experience. The weather can often be a bit unpredictable, as one day it could be in the 90s and sunny, and the next day could be in the high 60s and rainy – you’ll learn quickly to roll with the punches and prepare for the unexpected.

Now that we’re coming off the heels of the pandemic and restrictions are also being lifted, it can also feel like a summer that we’ll never forget. We finally get to experience a sense of “normalcy” after missing out on regular life for over a year. With this in mind, there are quite a handful of opportunities to celebrate this post-pandemic summer so you can also simultaneously keep your English skills fresh and active. Get ready for an awesome summer!

1. Governor’s Island Luxury Camping Retreat

So even I’m new to this, and I just found out about this (believe me when I sent this to my friends to see who’s interested!), and it seems like it could be such a fun experience. Not only will you be able to reserve one of three options for sleeping spaces, but you’ll also have tons of amenities that you’ll be able to partake in throughout your stay, not to mention the incredible views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan! If you feeling like saving some money, grab a handful of friends to help split the cost, and be sure to pack the sunscreen! Because this is an experience that offers collective experiences, you’ll meet tons of new people, allowing you to practice your English social skills! Pack a book for some relaxing evenings by the water so you can also keep your English reading skills sharp – this is an experience you won’t soon forget!

2. Concerts Under the Stars, Various Locations

If you haven’t learned yet, rooftops are EVERYTHING in the city summers. Not only do you get breathtaking views, but the gentle breeze and spirit that comes from feeling like you’re on the of the world can transform you to a completely different mindset. This year, grab a handful of friends and splurge on a fancy night out at one of the various locations that is hosting a concert under the stars. Live jazz music by some of the biggest names will take you back to a simpler and more elegant time and will make you feel like you’re part of the Rat Pack and living in a different era. You’ll be pinching yourself all night that these kinds of experiences are right in your back yard.

3. The Tiny Cupboard Comedy Club, Bushwick

To continue the theme of rooftop experiences, this is another amazing option to enjoy the summer nights safely and with a hearty laugh. Not only will you, again, get to check out some of the best views known to man, but you’ll laugh till you cry while you take it all in. Located in the heart of Bushwick, you can easily continue the evening with some splendid Brooklyn eats and drinks. Because you’ll be speaking, listening, and reading English all night, your English skills will continue to be used and practiced in a functional way so it doesn’t seem like you’re in school!

4. Little Island, Pier 55

I absolutely HAD to include this one because it’s so new and exciting! With plenty of green spaces and walkways and even performance venues, you could easily spend an entire summer day here, with never ending views of the Hudson River and the NYC skyline. It’s the perfect day trip to get some fresh air, Vitamin D, and the chance to put your English skills to use by bringing your friends and catching up with one another. You’ll meet tons of other curious New Yorkers during your day of adventure, so be sure to bring your smiles!

There’s no doubt that the city is back (I’ll even argue that it never left), so be sure to take full advantage of the warm and sunny summer days this year in New York City – because you’re in the greatest place in the world! Wear comfortable shoes, pack your sunscreen, and get ready to make some post-pandemic memories. Fall will be here before we know it, so be sure to take full advantage of everything you have at your fingertips.

Category : Stay in New York

The pandemic has been quite the experience, huh? I experienced a range of emotions throughout this whole time, from worry and concern to frustration and irritability to more recently, hope and excitement. No one could have predicted the journey of 2020 and 2021, and I think that’s what caused so much anxiety amongst us as a people.

It felt like it took a really long time for us to arrive at this place where we can start living somewhat “normally” – on the other hand, when I stop and think about it, it’s pretty incredible that we were able to understand the virus and develop a scientific solution to it in less than two years. We’ll continue to feel like the effects of COVID-19 in various ways for the years to come, but for now, while I write this from my Manhattan apartment, I’m enjoying myself for the first time in months. I’m seeing friends more often, and I’m doing activities that I hadn’t done in over a year, like attend concerts, go to bars, and experience indoor activities.

While these restrictions that are lifted are providing people hope and the reminder that our lives are close to going on as normal, it’s still important to be safe and think carefully with everything you do. Even though I’m fully vaccinated, I still bring a mask with me wherever I go because I know that some people have varying comfort levels. I know some people that are not vaccinated, and I know people that have contracted COVID even AFTER they received their vaccination. In other words, it never hurts to be extra cautious. Here are a few recommendations that I can share with you as a fellow New Yorker.

1. Keep bringing protection

Again, even though I’m vaccinated, I still always have my mask on me. When I go into stores, most still require that you wear a mask. I’ll wear my mask in a restaurant until I’m seated at my table. I also always carry around my sanitizer – I know that we, as a world, started to take cleanliness and hygiene to a new level when this all started, and that should be something that we continue when it’s all over. You have one body – please do what you can to protect it and others. As we continue to hear more and understand these new variants, it’s important to stay diligent and responsible, even as we get stronger and healthier as a world.

2. Respect others

We all have our personal opinions and beliefs – we’ve arrived at these stances from personal experiences, which should be a reminder that the same is true for everyone else. There are some people that are not comfortable with receiving the vaccine, and some that are all for it – regardless of your position, it’s important to stay respectful. I feel very strongly and in support of the vaccine, but when I listen to friends and family members that are hesitant, I have to respect their decision, even if I may not agree with it. Please keep this in mind as we continue to move forward.

3. Take a second to appreciate life

At the end of the day, we lost thousands of lives to the pandemic. Whether you were personally affected or if you were one of the lucky ones, it’s important to keep perspective on the entire experience. As I said earlier – you have just the one body. It’s up to you to take care of it, to be mindful and careful, and to treat it with respect. If putting on a mask is a rule for a business, just put it on – it could save a life.

2020 will go down as one of the most difficult years of our lifetimes. As much as we’re all excited to put the year behind us, we also have to do what we can to keep it close, to learn from it, to know how we grew as a people. I’d imagine that this won’t be the last global pandemic in mankind, so we must do what we can to learn from this experience so that future generations can learn from us and use the 2020 pandemic of an example of what to do. It’s up to us to now shape the future of human health so that our children and their children and their children can avoid a repeat experience of last year.

Category : Stay in New York

It certainly feels as though we’ve been living through this pandemic for a long time, doesn’t it? I think back to the days of commuting into my office every day, attending comedy shows and concerts, socializing with coworkers in packed bars…it’s hard to believe that so much has changed so quickly and so drastically. It’s hard to imagine life before the pandemic sometimes.

As we approach the 2021 summer season, there’s a certain spirit in the air that I haven’t felt since all of this started. With people being vaccinated and lockdowns being lifted, it almost feels as though normalcy could be close. I understand that “normalcy” is a very flexible word, but I’m truly looking forward to the day when I can hug my friends again, see my coworkers in person, and live characteristics of my life without fear again.

I received my second vaccination shot a few weeks ago, and upon going home that day after that second shot, I felt that spirit, too. It felt like I finally had the permission to look forward to things again. While I was sitting on the bus on my way home, I remember thinking about all the things that I want to start planning for – visits to family members in other states, meeting new family members that I have yet to meet, going to the beach…the list goes on.

That hope stayed with me for a few days. Even though I’m vaccinated, I still wear my mask when I’m running errands or going for a walk. I ask my friends their vaccination status before meeting up with them. I’m still incredibly careful. I predict that as we get deeper into the summer months and more people celebrate that hope that I explained earlier that we’ll see large numbers of people letting their guards down. Understandably, it’s an individual’s choice to do so, but as we still live in a densely populated city, I highly recommend to keep practicing safety as much as you can.

1. Bring your mask

I know this is broken record, but I can’t stress this enough. Again, even though I’m fully vaccinated, I wear mine to continue to play safe. I don’t want to put my body at risk for anything, just to be on the safe side, just because I didn’t feel like wearing a mask anymore. It’s also been a strange security blanket for me over the past year – it’s like bringing your purse everywhere – it becomes a part of you without even realizing it. I also continue to wear my mask out of respect for other people. I want people to understand that I respect THEIR bodies and that I’m wearing it for THEM.

2. Don’t go crazy

It’s probably really tempting after the year we’ve had to max out your credit cards and double up on your vacations that you couldn’t go on for over a year. But again, I urge you to think cautiously – there are going to be LOTS of people with the same ideas in mind, and you may not know how they feel about vaccines. It’s your life, yes, so be sure that you’re thinking wisely about what’s important and the best way to keep you and your loved ones safe. When in doubt, mask up. That’s all I’ll say.

3. Respect boundaries

Unfortunately, the pandemic very quickly became political, causing even more division within our country. The pandemic has also become a personal experience for every single individual. Not one person knows how their body would react to an encounter from the virus OR the vaccine – as much as we know that science is really on our side, we also have to take into consideration that some people may not feel comfortable putting something foreign into their bodies. It’s easy to disagree with those that have different viewpoints on the matter, and at times it can even be infuriating, but we have to show respect for these differing viewpoints. As long as people are safe, you should understand that you should do what you can to stay safe as well. We’re all learning about this as we go, so the more togetherness we can achieve out of this circumstance, the longer we’ll be in the long run. Respect each other, and respect each other’s boundaries, and before we know it, we’ll be in the clear with COVID and the past year behind us as nothing more but memories.

Category : Stay in New York

It’s kind of unspoken, but the Memorial Day weekend always feels like the start of the summer season to me – it reminds me of being a kid in school and knowing that the last day of school was soon and that the long days of summer bliss were just around the corner. Even though I’m now in my mid-30s, I still get that same kind of giddy feeling towards the end of May as we inch closer to June. For me, it’s a mindset of allowing myself to have fun, relax, and make memories. This summer, I’m hoping, is looking to be a lot different than last summer, especially since I’m fully vaccinated and ready to make up for lost time. As with any scenario, New York City will be right there with me along for the ride. Sure, I’ll probably take a few trips and a few weekends away, but for the most part, I moved to New York City to LIVE in New York City.

If you’ll be here for the month of June like me, you’re probably looking for a few ideas on what you can do to entertain yourself while still staying safe as we’re navigating these new days of the pandemic. Bonus: if you’re looking to put your learned English skills to use during these events, I made sure to highlight ways in which you can put your learnings into practice for listening, reading, and speaking English. With that, grab your sunscreen (and your mask), and get ready to kick off the summer season in New York City.

1. Governors Ball Music Festival, June 4 – June 5th, Randall’s Island Park

If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t want to spend another minute indoors after the year that we’ve had. And since the weather is really kicking it into high-gear, I really want to make sure I’m outside as much as possible. Even though I’m fully vaccinated, I’m still navigating my events safely and consciously, so an outdoors event is perfect for people like me that are looking to still stay safe in all ways possible. You’ll want to bring your mask just to be on the safe side, since you’ll be around new people throughout the event. If you’re new to English and looking for practice, what better place to put your skills to use than an outdoor musical event? Brush up on your favorite artists, learn the new and trendy music, and be sure to sing along with your best pals.

2. Sunset Yoga, June 9th, Staten Island

I absolutely HAD to include this event because there’s truly nothing more magical than dusk in New York City – and if you can make it down to Staten Island for the day, I highly recommend checking this event out – not only is it in-person to cater to our need for human interaction in real time, but it will also provide you stunning and breathtaking views of the cityscape, that might make it even more difficult to focus on what you came to do in the first place – yoga! Grab a few friends and check out this outdoor event – you’ll learn new stretches (in English), and if you need any help, don’t hesitate to ask for personalized guidance so you can ensure you’re practicing yoga safely but also putting your English-speaking skills to good use.

3. Broadway, ongoing

Even though this doesn’t fit within my theme of outdoor activities this month, I felt compelled to include this in my list because it’s been a tough year for Broadway, thanks to the pandemic. They did what they could to stay alive, but virtual events could really only go so far in terms of massive entertainment. As Broadway begins to slowly and cautiously open its doors again, we should all come together and do what we can to bring Broadway back to the force that it once was. Once tourism picks back up and we reach greater and stronger vaccination levels, we’ll hopefully begin to see Broadway build itself back up again, allowing visitors from all over the world to revel in its majesty. While you’re here and while you can, do what you can to support this business and help it arrive back on its feet. No matter what show you can catch, you’ll put your English listening skills to use, and don’t forget to pick up the Playbill so you can learn all about the production in your own time – using your English reading skills, of course! Let’s bring the city back to life!

Category : Stay in New York

It’s certainly been quite the year for all of us – if you’re anything like me, you’re eager for this late spring and early summer season more than any other year in the past. I’m officially halfway to full vaccination, and this has brought me so much joy and hope for our future. I’m always excited for the month of May in the Big Apple, but this year just feels different – I feel like a little kid all over again! I can’t wait to see my friends, travel, and just feel like life is just generally getting back to normal. May is always an awesome month to be in the city, so if you’re looking forward to life in the city this month like me, I wanted to pull together a few things you can take advantage of.

If you’re trying to keep your English skills sharp, these activities will allow you to keep that practice going and ensure that your reading, speaking, and listening talents are in constant improvement – all while enjoying all the benefits of living in the best city in the world!

1. Central Park

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I know this may feel and seem pretty simple, but after being couped up for what feels like ages, this is the perfect destination to take advantage of the greenery, the fresh air, and the beautiful scenery. We’ll still need to practice mindful distancing and safety as everyone else continues to get vaccinated, but this the ideal place to get caught up on fresh air and time with your friends. Pack snacks, music, and a list of clever games to play that can get you reacquainted with your social circle – to make it fun and interesting with your English skills, try only speaking to each other in English and helping each other out if one of you gets stuck. Not only will you have fun in the coolest park in the world, but you can keep your English skills sharp and fresh.

2. Governors Island

After months of shut-down, this hidden gem is opening back up this month. It’s kind of one of the city’s best kept secrets – a simple (and fun) ferry ride out of Lower Manhattan, you and your friends can sightsee on a gorgeous spring day, get some fresh air, and get a change of scenery. There are a ton of historical sites for your group to check out and plenty of bike paths and walking trails to ensure you’re getting your exercise, too. Be sure to visit all the written guides so you can keep your English reading talents alert, and with plenty of island signs all over the place, you’ll be reading so easily that you won’t even realize it! (Don’t forget your sunscreen and your mask!)

3. Cinco de Mayo, May 5th

So while this is an event and holiday that the whole world celebrates, you can be a part of this regardless of your ethnicity or origin. There are TONS of restaurants all over the city that honor this fun holiday with dinner and drink specials to commemorate this widely celebrated Mexican holiday. You could actually get a win-win out of this holiday, as you’ll likely be able to practice your English with your friends as you’re socializing and catching up with one another, but most of the menus will likely be in Spanish, so you can also even see how skilled you are in this language as well! New York City is still operating at strict percentage laws, so be sure to keep that in mind as you’re looking for places to go, but with all the options in this great city, you and your friends shouldn’t have any issue finding the perfect spot to grab a few tacos and margaritas.

It’s been a difficult year for all of us in New York City – if you stuck it out and stayed here like I did, this spring season probably feels even more sweet for you. It can feel like we’re getting a second chance! If that’s the case, I still strongly urge you to practice safety and thinking as you’re spending more time outdoors and around people again. People are still getting vaccinated, so we’ll need to continue to operate wisely, so keep wearing your mask, bring hand sanitizer, and always think ahead about the plans you make. We’ve made a lot of progress, but we still have some work to do, so don’t let the warm weather take down your guard.

Category : Stay in New York

So it’s clear that 2020 was a year for the books. It’ll certainly be a time in all of our lives that we won’t forget, and generations to come will likely know of the eventful 2020. We faced a global pandemic that forced all of us to reassess our priorities, our relationships, and our habits. We saw perhaps the most tumultuous election season in history, dividing our country in a way that caused even more friction. We witnessed a major social justice movement for racial equality and a call for change. All of these events have caused significant trauma for many of us – for those of color, it’s brought generations of pain and suffering to the surface. For those that have been marginalized and segmented, it’s been a moment of silence yet disruption.

All of this friction has left a lot of uncertainty in the air – it’s caused many people to respond with physical violence, heated arguments, and silence. It’s forced all of us to think about how we’re talking to one another, interacting with each other, making decisions, and thinking about how all of this has an impact on our futures.

For many, this is an incredibly stressful time. Because we live in New York City, we have access to tremendous diversity and populations of all races, ethnicities, belief systems, and backgrounds. I’d like to think that for most of us, this is a valuable trait to have for the city that I call home. Others may not appreciate this as much and actually might be threatened by this diversity and open-mindedness. This knowledge, as a result, often makes me worried about my own safety from time to time. I know that at any moment, I could be a part of or witness a hate crime; protests are constantly taking place in areas all over the city.

I often think of all of these events and shifts in our world this way: we’re in the middle of a growth spurt. We’re adjusting to new developments with the pandemic. We’re making social change. We’re trying to soothe the divisiveness within our political atmosphere. It just so happens that we’re right in the middle of all this change. It can often feel uncomfortable and nervous about what this means for our future. But here’s what I also learned about staying safe and informed, especially since we live in a city that is diverse and progressive but also often in the public eye.

1. Stay informed

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This includes staying updated with current events around the pandemic, politics, and our social justice movement. Staying in-tune with these developments will not only keep you informed, but you’ll know about the tools that you have available to help in that change – volunteering in your community can help people with limited access get appointments for vaccines, speaking up when you see injustice can help shift behavior, and having conversations with people of different political opinions can help soften rigid thought processes.

2. Pay attention to time

We all have our personal rules about staying out late. For me, if it’s past 11pm, I won’t take public transportation – I’ll get a cab instead. Use this intuition. Despite the change that’s taking place in our city, there are still people out there looking to cause a stir. There are still people angry about injustice. The last thing you want is to get caught in the crossfire. Stay home. Use your instincts on what is the safest decision.

3. Keep talking with one another

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Again, there’s just generally a lot of unrest happening right now. As we all continue to spend a lot of time at home, it can be easy for many to become more isolated mentally and emotionally. Check in with your loved ones to see how they’re doing. Check in with your friends of color to find out what you can do to help support their community. Keep talking about “uncomfortable” things like race, access, and equality. Keep normalizing the mental health conversation. The more that EVERYONE talks about these topics, the easier it is that we’ll make and see long-term progress.

2020 and 2021 have been difficult years for our city and our country at large. If you want to be on the positive side of history, keep having these conversations and do what you can to be a part of the change – while also staying safe. Be mindful, be considerate, but also be daring. We can get through this all together if we work together.

Category : Stay in New York

It’s been quite a year – one that no one would have seen coming. We saw so much tragedy – from jobs and industries being sacrificed to thousands of lives lost, we witnessed one of the hardest years that our world has ever seen. In the midst of that, we witnessed social injustice and political division. We had to connect with loved ones over a screen and had to cancel momentous events for the safety of others.

Amidst all of this, we’re seeing some silver linings and some hope. Because of the devastation that 2020 brought, we saw how mental health became a national priority. Our country is working on removing the stigma around needing mental and emotional help. We’re asking each other how we’re doing, and we’re actually listening. We’re helping each other – and we’re helping each other get help.

Additionally, we’re seeing a glimpse of what our future might look like, thanks to the vaccine roll-out, happening all over the city. We’re helping our seniors and immunocompromised loved ones get taken care of first, allowing them to receive the protection that they need the most. We’re watching our friends share their vaccination cards proudly, showing us their stickers and band aids. We’re seeing diagnosis rates go down – all at a time when I think we need this hope the most.

Because of these vaccinations and more and more people staying protected, we’re seeing other areas of hope:

  • People are reconnecting with one another

Even though it’s still strongly encouraged to be safe and smart when gathering with loved ones, the ease of doing so is drastically better. People are visiting their grandparents and loved ones that were previously hyper-protected from the outside world. Friends and family are gathering (still safely) to reconnect with one another and catch up on lost time that FaceTime was previously helping with.

  • Travel restrictions are lifting

We’re seeing that bans and guidelines are being loosened, allowing people to take those trips to visit loved ones, travel, and get out of their regular surroundings. The travel industry will likely recover drastically once these are lifted even more, improving our economy and the ways in which we connect with one another.

  • Spring and summer might feel a little normal

In any given year when there isn’t a pandemic, the early days of spring typically bring in so much hope and positive feelings – but this spring, those early days of sunshine and nice weather are just hitting a bit differently. Those daily walks outside are so much more meaningful, especially after the darkest winter that the city has probably had in years. It probably feels like we’re seeing hope and feeling just by embracing the warm weather and the knowledge that the worst of this pandemic is likely behind us.

  • Hope for rebuilding and healing

Because we’re seeing some light at the end of the tunnel and the idea that the worst is over, we’re thinking about all the ways that our world and lives will improve. There are so many industries that are going to have the chance to rebuild and recover, like travel and dining. I have another prediction that we’re going to be just a little bit nicer to one another – because we all experienced this unique time together, the pandemic has oddly united us in so many ways. We’re going to be more cognizant about our mental health and the ways in which we’re taking care of ourselves.

Celebration isn’t celebration without the recognition of hardship. It’s similar to the idea that we can’t appreciate the rainbow without the rain. We’ve overcome and sacrificed a lot to get to this point. We’re still some ways away from what could be considered “normal” again, but we’re making tremendous progress and movement to better days. It’s crucial that we still practice safety and distancing when we can, just due to our knowledge of variants and others not being vaccinated just yet. We’ll only keep on this path of improvement if we continue to maintain using common sense and listening to science.

In the meantime, I urge all of you get outside as much as you can! Hit those parks and take walks along the water. Keep asking your loved ones how they’re doing and reaching out to those that might need your help. Keep wearing your mask and using sanitizer when you can – the more diligent we can continue to be, the faster we’ll beat this and move on from this pandemic.

Category : Stay in New York

As we’re inching closer to spring and warmer weather, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably ready to start spending more time outside. All winters are rough, no matter how mild or brutal the weather conditions are, but this past winter was probably the most difficult that we’ve experienced in a while. While strict orders to continue quarantining stayed in place over the cold months, our lack of outdoor excursions decreased significantly. My daily walks stopped just because it was too cold outside – I didn’t think it was worth it. The daylight was so short-lived, and I felt defeated when it was pitch dark by 4 pm. Even the holidays were tricky since travel was strongly discouraged. So this spring feels even more of a rebirth than any other spring in the past. I expect the city to pop open with excitement and eagerness, full of excited New Yorkers. We must continue to practice safety while the vaccination process is still in motion, but as long as you maintain caution, you can still have fun this April in New York City – while having plenty of opportunity to keep your English skills active and sharp.

Here are just a few ideas to keep in the back of your head as you’re packing your winter clothes and pulling out your sunnies.

  • Book a helicopter tour

So this is actually something on my own list, as I have yet to experience this myself! Sometimes, I’ve found that it’s kind of easy to forget that we live in New York City – we get so engrained in our day-to-day, especially for those of us that are working from home, that it can easily slip our minds. It isn’t until I venture out of my neighborhood that I’m snapped back into reality that I get to live in this amazing city, and that’s why I’m so interested in booking this tour! You’ll be able to see parts of the city that you know well from a view that will amaze you – and because it’s narrated and guided, you’ll be able to keep your English skills sharp as you whiz by some of the most iconic scenes and locations of the Big Apple. Grab your friends, and be sure to make a day of it!

  • Hit the Chelsea Market food tour

April can still be an unpredictable month – some days might be warm and sunny, while others might be damp and cold. If you need something to do on one of those “April showers” days this month, be sure to consider the Chelsea Market. Either roam around on your own, or book a special tour that will take you to some of the best hidden gems with tons of back stories along the way. You’ll eat your way through while burning calories, so it’s a great activity for the full day! And since you’ll be guided the whole time, you’ll be able to practice your English listening and speaking skills as you go. What better way to keep practicing?

  • Visit the High Line

And on those nice and warm days in April, you’ll definitely want to be outdoors, soaking up that Vitamin D we’re all craving. Central Park and other parks in the city tend to be very popular the first couple of weeks of spring from my experience, so if you’re looking for less people, the High Line might be a nice option. There’s plenty of walking trails, scenery, and sights. If you’re with your friends (don’t forget your masks!), be sure to take note of everywhere you’re going so you won’t miss a beat or thing to see. There’s so much there, and it’s beautiful in the beginning spring, so wear your comfy shoes and try your best to engage with new people (from a safe six feet!) so you can practice your English while you’re there!

I want to reiterate that even though April starts to show signs of nice weather, you should continue to practice distanced socializing and be mindful of your mask-wearing and how often you’re using hand sanitizer. We might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, so let’s not mess it up now! While there’s always plenty to do in New York City, pandemic or not, it’s still always imperative to be mindful of others and stay safe. As vaccinations continue to be distributed, we should all continue to follow protocol to protect ourselves as well as our loved ones.

Category : Stay in New York

By now, we’ve all grown accustomed to the new way of life of living in a pandemic. Masks have become a natural part of our going-out attire, we’re used to social distancing, and we’ve gotten creative with our time spent at home. While it still doesn’t feel normal, it’s a normal that we’ve been forced to adjust to. While it may be awhile until we’re completely back to any kind of normalcy that we were used to pre-pandemic, there are still ways that you can introduce new things into your life while you’re in New York City.

New York City is one of those rare places that despite change, it will always be the same. Because of the high rates of positive cases in the city, many residents flocked to other states to escape it – for those of us that stayed, you may feel that it feels lighter. I actually kind of like that there’s less people – it makes me feel like I’m surrounded by the authentic New Yorkers. These are the people that are the most resilient, the ones that will stay no matter the circumstances. Because of this lighter population, it’s never been easier to social distance and experience sites that have may previously been overcrowded because of tourists. I definitely feel like I’ve been able to experience highly trafficked areas easier because of this, which has inspired me to spend more time in these spots as a result. And if you’re looking to continue your English practice as you go, these experiences will certainly allow you to do so in real-time so you won’t feel rusty or out of practice.

  1. Empire State Building visit

This is crazy to admit, but I have yet to visit the top of the Empire State Building, and I’ve been living here for almost six years now! The issue is that it’s a huge tourist hot-spot, and it’s always convinced me to stay away. Because tourism in the city is down, this is a great time to check it out! The operators are very diligent about social distancing, cleaning protocols, and reduced capacity. Call ahead to make a reservation, and be mindful about who you invite to come with you for the day. While the operators are practicing social distancing, you also want to make sure that your company is safe and has tested negative as well. With tons of signage and voiceover regarding the building and its history, you’ll be practicing your reading and listening English skills, so also try to engage with others (safely!) so you can stay sharp on your English-speaking skills as well!

2. Statue of Liberty

This is obviously another Big Apple staple, but you’d also be surprised at how many long-term residents have not made the visit to see the statue in person – and I’m one of them! While the inside tour is not active because of the pandemic, you should still take advantage of the lower tourist rate and make your way there! With strict social distancing rules and cleaning protocols, you’ll feel safe in your journey to see the timeless view. Similar to the Empire State Building, the written and audio English throughout the tour will keep your English skills sharp and active.

3. 9/11 Memorial Museum

This is a must for any New Yorker. This day in history impacted everyone all over the world, and this memorial and museum honors those that lost their lives on that day. I went once, and I’ve wanted to go back again ever since. Be prepared to get emotional, as the storytelling as you make your way through will remind you of the impact and fear that struck all of us. Thanks to social distancing and rigorous cleaning measures, you’ll feel safe as long as you wear your mask and remain attentive. Because of lower tourist numbers, you’ll be able to take your time throughout the museum, so take advantage. There is a ton of written and audio throughout the experience, so you’ll be able to activate your English skills while there for the day.

Being a New Yorker this past year has been a badge of pride and honor, and because I’ve stayed, I’ve never felt more of a New Yorker. If you’re like me, I recommend taking advantage of these destinations while tourism is as low as it is so you can experience what everyone else that comes to our great city gets to!

Category : Stay in New York

It’s a bit mind-boggling to consider everything we’ve experienced in the past year, as we approach the one-year mark of our lives being completely turned upside down by COVID-19. The impact of the pandemic and how it forced us to change our behaviors, interactions, and thought processes will likely stay with us for the rest of our lives.

There were moments during the pandemic that I had to tell myself to focus on reflection – it was really easy to grow frustrated with being home all the time, and there were days that I was more worried about my social life than the big picture. In those moments, I forced myself to reassess. I had to remind myself that this pandemic will impact our economy for a long time – entire industries were shut down and millions of people lost their jobs. I had to remind myself that people were losing their loved ones to this virus and that the healthcare industry will never be the same. Anytime I found myself thinking about ‘me,’ I had to remind myself to think about ‘we.’ Reflection has been a heavy practice for all of us this past year, and it may have been overwhelming at times. For me, I wanted to share how I’m choosing to reflect as we arrive at the one-year mark – these stories will be with us for the rest of our lives, so I want to be sure that I can process all of those thoughts while we’re still experiencing it.

1. Flexible work situation

I made it a point to express gratitude that not only was I able to keep my job during the pandemic, but I was able to do it from the safety of my own. I didn’t have to commute to go to work, and I didn’t have to expose myself of risk. I was fortunate enough that I could perform my work tasks successfully, and this change wasn’t a direct disruption to my daily life or the quality of my life. Anytime I found myself complaining about working from home, I again recentered my focus to gratitude that I had a job and could do it safely and productively from home.

2. Technology saved us

It was technology that allowed me to perform my work successfully from home. With easy internet connection, innovative devices, and products that helped our teams connect, I recognize that this is what allowed me to perform my work successfully. This very technology allowed me to stay in touch with my loved ones – I had Zoom parties with my friends that were in the city with me, which made me feel connected with them, even if I couldn’t see them in person. I used FaceTime to chat with my family in other states since seeing them over the holidays wasn’t a possibility. While it will never be the same as being in the same room as them, I recognize how this has been a huge game-changer for staying in touch and “seeing” everyone. Additionally, thanks to delivery services, I was able to order groceries, home necessities, and even meals straight to my door, which made my changes of contact even lower. I’m thankful that we have this kind of technology and innovation during this pandemic.

3. We all reassessed together

There is not one person in this world that has not been impacted by this pandemic in some way. There have been very few events or instances that have affected our world as a whole, and as terrible as this experience has been, it’s one that we can all experience together. It helped us reassess how we speak to one another, how we talk to one another, and how we consider others’ circumstances. I have friends and coworkers that have lost loved ones, others that have had to homeschool their kids while still working, and others that have slipped into depressions because of the intensity of living solo in combination with social distancing. As a result, we’ve all become hyper-aware of human impact – we’re giving back and supporting each other. We’re asking our friends and coworkers how they’re holding up. We’re expressing human gratitude a little more.

Any time I find myself slipping into negativity or complaints, I remind myself of the luck I have and my health. I check in with my loved ones, and I ask what I can do that can help. It’ll be some time before we reach recovery, so I suggest that we continue to come together as one, and reflect as often as we can.

Category : Stay in New York