Student Ambassador Winter Series: On Doing “Nothing”

By Carolina Gazal

After the peak of finals season, I told myself I would spend every day of my winter break living my best life, hanging out with my friends, exploring New York City and all the magic it had to offer, especially during the holiday season. Unfortunately, my break didn’t pan out like I had imagined. I found myself with a raging fever and pounding headache on the day of my last exam, unable to remember the amazing plans I had meticulously concocted for myself during those cold and brutal study days.

Thus, I spent the first half of my break in bed as I scrolled through Instagram, watching my friends travel the world and embark on service trips as I quickly binged every episode of “The Office” and my only friends became Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe on “F.R.I.E.N.D.S.” I had never believed in FOMO – the fear of missing out – until I realized I had spent my last winter break holed up in my room while everyone else seemed to be having the time of their life. I promised myself that once I felt better, I would spend every single day trying something new.

Though it wasn’t financially feasible to travel somewhere new every day, I found my solution: trying new food in my very own neighborhood. Luckily enough, I live right by a strip of restaurants and bakeries that I often overlook. With my new plan in mind, and my renewed appetite, I was able to discover my city and the unique cuisines and restaurants throughout Queens.

I rung in the New Year with fresh calamari and warm buttery baguettes, stayed toasty in an “igloo restaurant” while eating fried chicken drizzled with lime, ate classic New York City bagels with lox and capers, and spent Three King’s Day eating mouth-watering pomegranate and walnut khoresh with Persian rice. In between, I satisfied my sweet tooth with pastries from the french bakery around the corner from me, trying apricot tarts dusted with powdered sugar, delicate pistachio macarons paired with thick espresso coffees, and flaky croissants.

Even though I didn’t travel anywhere, I quickly cured my FOMO by unearthing the hidden gems in my neighborhood and satisfying my sweet tooth before returning to my usual diet of ramen and El Pelon burritos. Now when friends and peers ask how my winter break was and if I went anywhere, I smile and say, with satisfaction, “No.”

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