Adventures in Shanghai

Kashef Razi’ 18 is a Business Management and Computer Science major with a minor in Chinese. He participated in the College of Staten Island’s winter program in Shanghai, China.

I remember the first day I heard about the study abroad program. I was utterly fascinated and thought of it as an unattainable dream. I use to joke around with my friends and sister saying that I would definitely go one day but knew all too well that it was too difficult a task to accomplish, or so I thought. The program made it all too easy to take a trip across the globe; all I had to do was take the first step and so I did. It was one of the greatest achievements that I have ever accomplished and I will always look back at it and recommend it to others.

I distinctly remember the day we stepped out of that airplane and the exciting feelings I had. I knew that it was the start of an adventure and I could feel it underneath my skin. Even though we arrived at night, when most things were closed, I just wanted to explore. I wanted to see the people, the culture, the new scenery, and of course try the amazingly delicious food I have been hearing so much about. Shanghai became my new home those three weeks and I did not want to leave.

The people, the architecture, and the culture it all fascinated me. The trains were extremely crowded during rush hour, so much so that you would be cheek to cheek with someone for quite a few stops but even so, I loved it. Shanghai was extremely clean and sophisticated. I expected to see an overly populated China town but instead I entered a sophisticated and advanced metropolis. Watching people do tai chi in the morning and dance routines at night was definitely a sight worth seeing.

I’m back from China and it feels like it was only yesterday that we would grab a hot mango green tea between class breaks and travel to all different parts of Shanghai. The last week had us all feeling sad that it was almost time for us to go back and all we could say was that we would make the most of the final days that we had in Shanghai. We made sure not to waste a minute while we were there. The only regret I had was that I didn’t stay longer. Studying abroad in China was a worthwhile experience and taught me so much. It gave me a new perspective and helped guide me towards my future endeavors. I hope, and firmly recommend, that anyone who reads this has gained even a slight interest in studying abroad and all I have to say is that you will not regret it.

To read more about the adventures of Verrazano students, visit the Verrazano Voyager Web page.

Studying Abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica

Georgiy Lyzhin '16

Georgiy Lyzhin ’16 completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing in January 2016, but not before he traveled to Costa Rica with CSI’s faculty-led program, where he earned nursing credit!

Hola! My name is Georgiy Lyzhin and I just graduated the College of Staten Island with a major in Nursing.  Over the January 2016 Intersession, I had the chance to study abroad in Costa Rica for 3 weeks.  It was a Faculty-Led program from the Nursing department that gives students the opportunity to be immersed in an entirely different culture, studying the Spanish language, and experiencing firsthand the healthcare system that is followed there.

Being in a foreign country with a language different from yours for 3 weeks is an unreal and absolutely amazing experience.  It is a rare opportunity that everyone should experience.  I was assigned to a family that welcomed me with open arms and opened up their house to me; even though there was a huge language barrier between us.  Just imagine both parties having minimal knowledge of the other person’s language and trying to communicate basic needs or wants.  Looking back and comparing day 1 to day 21, I was surprised of my and the whole groups’ new language abilities.

Costa Rica is truly an incredible, beautiful country that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.  It is filled with lush rainforest, diverse wildlife, and breathtaking mountainous landscape.  Costa Rica is well known for their chocolate, coffee, and tourism.  The locals there, called ticas and ticos follow the Pura Vida lifestyle, which, translates to Pure Life, and is a perspective of a relaxed, laidback, and positive life.  Living the Pura Vida lifestyle has really inspired me and had me advocating this type of living to everyone back home.

While abroad, I’ve met so many wonderful people that I will always remember, from my host mom and her family, to our drivers and tour guides, to the staff at the university where we studied and the clinics, and of course, to the students that were part of our trip.  Spending so much time with these people, you form relationships that are truly unforgettable.

Apart from the trips to the national parks, volcanoes, beach resorts, spas and local city tours, we spent a great deal of time understanding and experiencing the healthcare system of this country.  Costa Rica heavily invests in its healthcare system, to provide public health to working citizens.  Visualizing the equipment in the hospitals and clinics, and comparing and contrasting nursing in Costa Rica to nursing in the United States, I was able to attain a whole new perspective on this field.

Throughout my entire undergraduate career, I have been dreaming of studying abroad.  Having finally gone in my last semester, I could not be happier.  It was an amazing experience and I would like to thank CSI, my professors, and the Verrazano school for guiding me and helping me make my dream become a reality.  Pura Vida!!

To read more about exciting exploration, visit The Verrazano Voyager homepage.

Mahwish Razi: China, guys, China!

Mahwish Razi ’18, a Verrazano student, is a Computer Science major with minors in Chinese and Political Science. Not only does she study broadly, she travels broadly! Here she shares here experiences on a winter study abroad in China (and elsewhere!).

2/5/2016
Three countries, one month, and I am officially back and labeled, “Miss traveled the world”.  I spent three weeks living and studying in Shanghai, China, four days touring Tokyo, and one week on vacation in Dubai this past winter break. I came back Sunday night and in only a few hours was back on the CSI campus. Jetlagged? Like never before. Culture shocked? Well, only the fourth time in four weeks.

Both China and Japan were at the top of my bucket list, Japan above China even. Studying abroad for me was my lifelong dream; however, when I began college, it was almost a joke. As soon as I entered the Verrazano program, there was all this talk about studying abroad and I was constantly asked if it was in my plans, and I’d respond each time saying, “Yes!” while thinking to myself, “If only.”  It’s almost funny when I figured it out; the only thing holding me back really was myself. I’d always find myself wandering into the international center whether it was for an event or to inquire about one, when I finally decided to just get that application and go.
And so I went… It was the best decision I’ve ever made. On the way to Shanghai, we stopped in Japan as it was a connection flight, and although we didn’t leave the airport, I was fascinated beyond imagination. Those Japanese toilets were something, and I remember telling my friends how I wished we came to study abroad in Japan instead of China. However, it wasn’t long before I’d be whining about not leaving Shanghai and coming up with plans to live my life out there.

Shanghai became, in just three weeks, home. My friends became my family and although my tones were off and half the time I was speaking in Chinglish, I came to a point where all I wanted to do was speak Chinese. I find myself nostalgic about everything there. There is not a single thing that I don’t miss. My friends hated being pushed into the trains, but I, for one, loved it. Yes, ask me anything about China and I will say I loved it. It was nothing like what I imagined going there. I thought I’d be going to a bigger Chinatown; I couldn’t have been more wrong. This was a place with the most amazing infrastructure; I almost thought I was in the future. With such advanced technology and architecture, this was also a place rich in culture and cuisine. Although most shops were closed for breakfast, watching the early groups enjoy tai chi and the calligraphy being painted on the park tiles filled me up right to the brim.

I still can’t believe I went to China and I couldn’t believe it there either. I’d probably say it five times a day, if not more, “Guys can you believe we’re in China? China guys, China!” and towards the end I changed it up a bit: “Guys can you believe we’re leaving? We’re leaving China guys, China, aren’t you super duper sad?” Travelling to China was definitely an experience that changed my life for the better and gave me clarity as to where I need to be headed with my future goals. I think if anything, I have been blessed for this opportunity and for the friends that became so dear to me. Xièxiè for everything China and to everyone that helped me reach such an amazing place.

 

To read more about exciting exploration, visit The Verrazano Voyager homepage.

Conducting Speech Research at the College of Staten Island

Jessica Spensieri ’17 received a Verrazano Research Grant in the Summer of 2015, and used it to conduct research in the CSI Speech Lab.

My name is Jessica Spensieri and I am a Verrazano student of the 2017 graduating class.  I am also a linguistics major and recipient of the Verrazano Research Study Grant for my work with Dr. Jason Bishop.  I have been working in the CSI Speech Laboratory alongside Dr. Bishop on a study about executive function and personality traits, and boundaries in speech.  Basically what this means is we are examining people’s speech and seeing where they pause, and determining if there is a connection with their personality traits and working memory.  We are still in the process of collecting data, so we don’t yet have results.  If you’re a native English speaker, you can actually help out by coming to the speech lab in 2S-216a to participate.  The study doesn’t take long, and you’ll even get paid for your participation, so everybody wins!

Even though I don’t have results to share, I would like to share my experience.  Working with a professor as an undergraduate and having the ability to present your findings at conferences is an amazing opportunity.  I am so fortunate that Professor Bishop took me under his wing and has given me this chance.  I am enjoying working with him in the lab and discovering new things, and am looking forward to what next semester and next year hold.  Not only have I gained this wonderful experience, but I have made friends along the way!  I have met girls that have the same dreams and aspirations as me, and I am so happy that I was able to meet them through this.  I encourage people to take part in research as undergraduates, because it makes you stand out from the rest and is an exciting way to learn new things and meet new people.  I am eager to narrow down our findings for this study and present them at the Undergraduate Research Conference in the spring!

To read more about exciting exploration, visit The Verrazano Voyager homepage.

 

 

Elisa Csorba, Business Management and Marketing Major

The Macaulay Honors at the College at the College of Staten Island has provided me with numerous opportunities to advance my academic career and prepare to pursue my post-college goals and dreams.  My career goal is to work for the Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Florida, in their Marketing department.  A great way to work towards a career in Disney is to participate in the Disney College Program, an undergraduate college internship that provides interns with the knowledge and experience needed to successfully work as a Cast Member for Disney.  Participating in this Program has been a dream of mine since I was in high school and Macaulay has helped me to achieve it.
I spent the fall semester of my junior year in Orlando, Florida as a Disney College Program Intern. This experience was made possible through the Opportunities Fund provided by Macaulay and the academic flexibility given to me as a Macaulay Honors student. The internship allowed me to gain valuable interpersonal communication, leadership, time management and networking skills. I was also able to form many personal and business connections with people who want to help me advance in the company. In addition to broadening my skill set, the internship was an extremely fulfilling personal experience that allowed me to grow as an individual.
I was recently accepted to participate in another Disney opportunity, the Alumni Internship Summer program. My role will be in Merchandise, with a greater number of guest interactions and more opportunities to gain Marketing experience. I am so grateful to Macaulay for giving me the opportunity to achieve my goals. Walt Disney once said, “Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it and work at it until it’s done, and done right.” I plan to use my creativity and strong work ethic to make this Disney dream come true.

David Brady, Computer Science and Mathematics Major

David advanced his academic career thanks to the access Macaulay has to numerous internship opportunities. Through the help of Gianina Chrisman, Macaulay’s Assistant Director of Internships and Undergraduate Research, David obtained an internship with the Tri-Institutional Training Program in Computational Biology and Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College during the summer of his sophomore year.

David focused primarily on computational simulations of the Integrate-and-Fire neuron model at the Tri-Institutional Training Program. During his time here he conducted research under Professor Emre Akasay in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics and helped develop a modular script that was used for their research through the computer-based program MATLAB.

The overall goal of this research project was to become familiar with modeling in neuroscience. Looking back on his time spent interning and performing research at Weill Cornell, Brady states, “It enhanced my programming skills and allowed me to connect my study of Computer Science and Mathematics, which I can use in any field involving modeling, ranging from medicine and biology in a research laboratory to quantitative analytics in a bank or corporation.”

Studying Abroad in Italy!

Tayla Lugo

Tayla Lugo ’17 received a Verrazano School Study Abroad Scholarship to take a class on the Medieval Renaissance in Florence, Italy. She spent a month extracting everything she could out of her experience, including traveling well beyond Florence.

 

My name is Tayla Lugo and I am a Verrazano Student and a double major in English Writing and Literature at the College of Staten Island. This summer I had the privilege to study abroad in one of the most amazing cities in the world: Florence, Italy. I went on a one month long Faculty-led program to learn about the Medieval Renaissance.

I learned about the Medici’s, who were one of the wealthiest families during the Renaissance period, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Savonarola, Brunelleschi, and many other prominent figures. My class and I went on many site visits, which included the Academia, the Uffizi, Palazzo Vecchio, a city walk around Florence, the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, the Horne Museum, and a visit to a Preschool in Florence. At the Academia I was able to view Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the David. The Uffizi, which is one of the oldest and most famous museum in the world, showcased Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and The Primavera, as well as many other works by Raphael and Giotto. My favorite museum that we visited as a class was the Horne Museum because it is a secret treasure that is extremely undervalued. This museum once belonged to the Alberti and Corsi families and contains antique furniture and famous artworks.

While in Italy I visited Pisa, Siena, Capri, Ana Capri, Sorrento, Positano, Cinque Terre, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Venice, Murano, Burano, Rome, and Paris. Every city was different in its own way, which allowed me to have a greater appreciation for Italy. Studying abroad not only opened my eyes to the endless possibilities in the world, but has also allowed me to escape my comfort zone. I can honestly say that I have matured during this unique experience and my passion for traveling has awakened. I have made true, genuine friendships that will last a lifetime. Florence became my home in an instant and I cannot wait to someday return and maybe even study there again! I am forever grateful to the College of Staten Island for this amazing opportunity and for everyone who contributed to my dream of studying abroad. I hope that my experience will allow other students to inquire about studying abroad and open their minds to the many possibilities that are out there!

To read more exciting news, visit the Verrazano Voyager website.

 

 

21-year-old launches Staten Island cell phone repair business

Adam Mohamed launched the Meiers Corners-based Fast Fix Wireless Inc., which offers cell phone/tablet repair, pre-paid smartphone services and cell phone and tablet accessories. (Photo courtesy of Adam Mohamed)

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE — Growing up in the digital age, Adam Mohamed, 21, was always fascinated with technology.

“I always liked to keep up on the latest cell phones and devices that were coming out,” he said.

As the son of an electronics store business owner, he’s been taught from a young age that hard work and dedication pay off. So when he saw how smart phones were rocketing in price, he came up with the idea for a niche business.

“I realized the potential of a cell phone repair business when I saw how cell phones were increasing in price,” said Mohamed, who is currently pursuing a business degree at the College of Staten Island.

“My first repair was actually on my own phone. I had cracked the screen on my iPhone and when I went to my cell phone carrier to get it replaced they told me to replace the phone through my insurance was more than the phone was worth, so I decided to fix it myself,” he added.

This was the catalyst for launching the Meiers Corners-based Fast Fix Wireless Inc., which offers cell phone/tablet repair, pre-paid smartphone services and cell phone and tablet accessories, in April.

“I saw the benefits of owning your own business through my father, who owned a store in Brooklyn for 22 years,” he said.

“The way I feel is you’re better to start a business when you’re young and have the time you need to put into the business. It’s now or never. The longer you wait, the harder and more unlikely it is that you will do what you want,” said Mohamed.

CARVING OUT A NICHE

Since we now live in a high-tech society, Mohamed believes his business is one that will always be in demand.

“Cell phones are used everyday by mostly everyone — young and old. If your phone breaks and you are not properly covered for it, purchasing a new phone will cost a lot more than it would to get it repaired. And the prices that we give our customers come out to be even less than going through insurance,” he said.

Working more than 16 hours per day and taking college classes at the same time, Mohamed is determined to succeed in his first business venture.

“In this business it takes patience and hard work to be successful. Like any business, it takes time for it to grow, and get it to the place where I know it has the potential to be,” said Mohamed.

“By doing this I feel I’m giving inspiration to other young business entrepreneurs who can realize if you want to do something you can, as long as you put your mind to it,” he added.

And Mohamed has learned from a young age that good customer service is integral to running a successful business.

“Seeing my customers leaving happy with service my business provided them is something that makes me feel great. But what I love most about my job is that it’s something I wanted to do, and I made it happen,” he said.

This article by Tracey Porpora first appeared in the Staten Island Advance and on SILive.com July 30, 2015. It is reprinted here with permission.