Black Friday Shopping at America’s Second Largest Mall

2,900,000 square feet of retail floor area. Five parking lots, three parking garages. 400 stores. All completely full. Welcome to the King of Prussia Mall on Black Friday.

I am proud to call myself a two-time survivor of the crazy madness of Black Friday at America’s second biggest mall. In 2015, a friend and I woke up bright and early, and we arrived at the mall at about 6:00 AM, when many of the mall’s stores opened. The mall wasn’t crowded, the majority of the parking spaces remained vacant, and I didn’t see any of the crazy long lines of crazed customers waiting outside of stores that I had expected from years of watching the media’s portrayal of Black Friday. In fact, I decided the day was highly overrated. My friend and I shopped for a few hours, and we left the mall by 10:00 AM at the latest without a problem.

This year was different.

I figured that, since 2015 was harmless, there wasn’t a point in waking up super early and scrambling to the mall if the mad competition for parking spaces and breathing room in the mall was practically nonexistent. I picked up my friend at about 9:00 AM, and we arrived at the mall at about 10:00 AM.

Finding a parking spot was a bit more difficult. Most of the parking spots were taken, but the huge parking lot near the high-end stores had a lot of available spaces. My friend and I parked and entered the closest store, Bloomingdale’s. No problem.

The King of Prussia mall is so huge that it’s actually two malls – the plaza and the court – which were recently connected by a construction project in August. The fastest way to get to the larger half of the mall, the plaza, from where we were, the court, was to exit the plaza through the Macy’s store, take the walking path between the two halves, and to enter the court. Simple.

So that’s just what we did. We navigated past all of the expensive stores until we finally reached Macy’s, the last obstacle separating us from the plaza. We entered a madhouse swarming with shoppers in every corner. I’d never seen a department store so packed before. The makeup section, the handbags section, every other section: filled with people of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I couldn’t believe my eyes; I’d entered the human Coral Reef.

My friend and I swam past the hustle and the bustle until finally we reached the doors. We let the fresh air flow into our lungs as we made our way to the plaza. Now the good stuff was about to happen.

We hit all of the major hot-spots: American Eagle, Hollister, Cold Stone Creamery, H&M, Forever 21, and our beloved Primark. Now, I’ll break down my experience with each.

If I were to describe Black Friday in three words, I’d choose “American Eagle Outfitters,” hands down. Walking into the store was like attending a concert. Everyone was packed tightly together with barely any breathing space, but they were all there for one reason and one reason only: pure enjoyment. The thrill of experiencing the concert of your favorite band parallels the thrill of soaking in the shopping experience of your favorite brand. You feel disgusted and claustrophobic, and you wonder how the line can be so packed together in such tightly-woven curves. You feel bad for the employees for having to deal with all of these people. But most of all, you feel proud of your favorite brand for the huge crowd it attracted. Its hard-earned fans are all here, fighting for their products, and willing to wait thirty minutes to buy a scarf for half-price (I know, but come on, it was only $12! You won’t understand until you feel the softness for yourself). And you also feel a twinge of excitement that literally everything in the store is 50 percent off.

aeo

If I were to describe Black Friday in three words, they’d be “American Eagle Outfitters.”

Hollister was fairly crowded, but nothing compared to AEO. I found my Black Friday shopping experience there to be extremely frustrating due to its false advertising. “50% off everything!” it advertised. I entered the store, only to find several racks of all of Hollister’s newest and trendiest clothing, whose prices were “excluded from the store-wide sale.” Needless to say, I will not be returning to Hollister on Black Friday.

Cold Stone Creamery was amazing, as always. It’s expensive, but the rich, creamy flavor is worth every penny. I was feeling lowkey salty that it was out of cookie dough at 11:30 in the morning. It’s okay, though; the high quality of the ice cream always pardons them.

H&M and Forever 21 barely had any sales, but they did have the slowest employees ever! I’m not one to complain, but they really should have scheduled more than four cashiers on Black Friday!

Last but not least, we hit Primark, the retail love our lives. I never have a bad thing to say about Primark. The prices are low, the product quality is high, the lines are fast, and it’s really one of the happiest places on earth. Primark was great on Black Friday. And on every other day.

armor

When conquering the crowds, it’s important to suit up and put on your war paint. The trick is to wear something that provides the illusion that you’re trying to be stylish while ultimately providing your with comfortable battle attire. Pictured above is a pair of white converse, leggings, and a long, gray t-shirt, all brought together by a mini white purse. Mildly cute, majorly comfy. Score!

After a long day of fighting the crowds, my friend and I headed to the food court for some lunch. We weighed our two options: a long line, or risky food quality. After walking around the mall all day, we chose to take the gamble. We headed to the station with the shortest line: a Chinese restaurant towards the back of the court. We tried a sample of some type of chicken. The sample was pretty good, so we considered this place our best bet. My friend ordered General Tsao Chicken with fried rice. Then, I asked the employee, “do you have sesame chicken?” The employee nodded his head, took a scoop of the General Tsao Chicken, sprinkled sesame seeds on top, packed it up in a box, and handed it to me. So many question marks darted through my mind. I didn’t inquire, though; we were too hungry.

Finding a place to sit was like searching for gold during the California Gold Rush: it seemed like it’d be easy, but it was actually close to impossible. We waited for about fifteen minutes for a couple to finish their food and leave so we could snag their spots.

We plopped down, and we dug in. I didn’t really consider the taste of the food until about halfway through, when I realized I wasn’t hungry enough to finish the nasty chicken the man had given me. “This food is horrible,” I said to my friend.

“It is! I just ate it because I was starving, but now that you mention it, this is really bad.” We tasted the food again after the epiphany, but we couldn’t consume any more. It was too dreadful. We laughed, and we threw the nasty “sesame” chicken in the garbage.

It was about 1:30 PM by this point. We headed back to the Bloomingdale’s store in the court section of the mall. When we left the building, a perfectly filled parking lot welcomed us. I kid you not, every single spot was taken. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

My friend and I walked back to my car. While loading my trunk with our new haul, we heard an engine sniffle up behind us. “Hey, are you guys about to leave?” asked a twenty year-oldish guy from his car.

“Yeah,” I said, a little creeped out, but sympathetic for the mutual struggle of not being able to find a place to go.

“Thanks,” he said. I pulled out of the spot, he pulled in, and we were on our way.

Early morning Black Friday 2015 and afternoon Black Friday 2016 are two separate worlds.

At school on Monday, another friend was discussing her own experience with attempting to find parking near the King of Prussia Mall. She wanted to find a space in a parking lot of a nearby restaurant, but none was available. Then, she intended to settle for a spot in one of the King of Prussia Mall’s parking lots. When she drove up to the entrance, a parking lot attendant denied her access. “Sorry, you can’t park here. The lots are all full,” he said. I couldn’t help but to laugh; how could every single spot be filled?!

Overall, if I were to rate Black Friday on a scale of sketchers to chocolate cheesecake, I would definitely rank it somewhere close to a new laptop computer. It was fun, exciting, and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. And after experiencing it for yourself, it’s way less intimidating than it seems.

I’ll close this story with a quote my uncle mentioned on Thanksgiving: “Black Fridays Matter.”

Thanks for reading!

Carly 🙂

Places 

I’ve see the place where the sun doesn’t rise 

Where the dirt doesn’t wash off 

And where lonely hearts cry.

I’ve seen the place where mercy calls

But no one answers.

I’ve seen the place where meat is bloody

And where blood is met.

I’ve seen the place where infants cry

Where tears freeze 

Where ice doesn’t shatter

But hearts do.

I’ve seen the place where dust falls from the sky 

And where mud fills empty spaces and empty minds.

I’ve seen the place where the streets don’t meet

And where the only hands given 

Are the broken ones from those who failed to survive.

I’ve seen the place where no one wants to be. 

…….

I’ve seen the place where the willows dance

Where horses run free

Where shy children sing

And where the loud ones listen.

Where bees eat honey

And where honeys can be.

Where friends befriend 

Where lovers love

Where mice don’t hide 

And where wolves don’t hunt.

Where the air smells of fruit 

Where the fruit hugs the trees 

And where the trees breathe in air.

I’ve seen the place where the only walls

Are in the walnuts 

And where everything and everyone 

Is happy, colorful, and free. 
❤ 

Everyone Needs to Simmer Down about the Election Results 

As I scroll through social media today, I see a confused, divided people. Some are ecstatic with Trump’s victory while others are absolutely horrified. Regardless of how I feel about our next president, I must say that there is some good that’s come from this entire election process. Prior to the 2016 election, I feel that a lot of Americans preferred to remain neutral when considering politics. There were Republicans, there were Democrats, and there were the others. Now, after so much national involvement in politics, I think it’s beautiful that so many more people have political opinions. The group of people who were previously “the others” has declined dramatically. Even if its previous members haven’t chosen a political party, it’s refreshing to see that they now care about the course of action on which our Federal Government is traveling. Maybe instead of criticizing each other for disagreement of these opinions, we should respect each other and be proud that so many more of us now have opinions in the first place. 
Carly 🙂 

Phun in Philly

I haven’t blogged for a while, and I really miss it! Recently, I visited Philadelphia for a women’s leadership conference at the Constitution Center. On the way there, I had the lovely opportunity of snapping some photos. So, here they are!

img_0070

Above: A cool building.

Below: Another cool building.

img_0077img_0078

Above: Broad Street

Below: A cool random street.

img_0080img_0081Above: The Philly Skyline in broad daylight.

Below: City Hall.

img_0066

Philadelphia is a great city. The next time I visit, I’ll be sure to take many more photos!

Until next time,

Carly 🙂

P.S. – I almost forgot to mention…I’ve been accepted to Universita Bocconi, the Italian university I wrote about here! I’ll write more about it soon! 😉

8 Awesome Facts Everyone Should Know!

This is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill! Here are 8 completely random facts that everyone should know about in life. Here we go!

  1. “Casino” is the Italian word for “mess.” Coincidence? I think not.
  2. Pineapples aren’t from Hawaii. Although the tangy fruit is often associated with the dreamy Hawaiian islands, the pineapple originates from South America.
  3. “Frappucino” is Starbucks jargon. The general name for the beverage is “frozen cappucino.”
  4. The ASL term for “pasteurized milk” is a gigantic pun. In American Sign Language, the term for “milk” is signed by creating a squeezing motion with one’s hand. To sign “pasteurized milk,” sign “milk” with your right hand, and continue signing it across your forehead from left to right. You will have signed “milk” past your eyes. Past your eyes, pasteurized… actual proof that deaf people are amazing.
  5. Wawa outsmarted hash brown eaters with a 2 for $2 promo… when it regularly charges 99 cents per hash brown. Wawa, which was ranked America’s #1 convenience store in 2015, often rewards its awesome customers with promotions, its most famous one being Hoagiefest. Perhaps its most legendary (and unrecognized) promotion was its hash brown promotion, during which Wawa offered its customers the opportunity to purchase two hash browns for two dollars, plus tax. The best part was that Wawa normally charges 99 cents per hash brown, so the customers ended up paying more than they would have during the non-promo period. Well played, Wawa. Well played. 
  6. There is a difference between “farther” and “further.” Despite the common misconception that they can be used interchangeably, the two words actually differ in meaning and grammatical usage. When talking about distance, “farther” is your word. For example, you can run farther than someone else, or move farther away than you expected to. On the other hand, if you’re talking about a more abstract concept, “further” is where it’s at. It’s used if you’re explaining further or if you wish to understand something further. Or, furthermore, it can even be a filler word, as demonstrated in this sentence. Who would have thought?
  7. A coconut is considered as a “drupe.” According to the dictionary, a drupe is “a fleshy fruit with thin skin and a central stone containing the seed.” Furthermore, if the definitions are applied loosely enough, the coconut is considered a nut, a seed, and a fruit!
  8. You’re awesome. You’re a thinking, blinking, breathing human being with a heart and a conscious mind. You are alive. And as Pitbull says, “Every day above ground is a good one.” Savor life, because you only get one of them. Seize the day, and embrace the fact that you are awesome!

Now that you know some things that many people don’t know, it’s time to impress the world with your newfound knowledge! *malevolent laughter*

Have a great day!

Carly 🙂

Metaphorically Roasting High School

We the students

of the United States

are caged turtles.

We’re born free

but the more we age,

the more potential we gain

the more dangerous we become

the less they can trust us

so they capture us,

lock us up,

into first a cage, and then a tank,

where we’re placed to fight for our lives

against the other turtles.

We fight for food

for light

for space

for oxygen

for love and attention

but there isn’t enough to go around

So we slaughter one another

all fighting for the best that Earth has to offer.

We try to swim,

but we drown

in slimy water and sorrow

that cannot be cleaned

unless all of it ends.

We’d need to take a break from it all

and remember that we’re all turtles

and that we all swim towards the same light.

But we can’t

They won’t let us

Because then there would be a flaw in the system,

a crack in their shell.

But what they’ve forgotten about turtles is that

We carry our homes on our backs.

We can handle ourselves.

And that’s what they’re afraid of.

That’s why they toss us in the Lion’s Den

and watch us fight and fight

blood and tears spilling faster than the beans ever could

in this world, anyways.

We the students of the United States

await a day that lady liberty will drain our tank

and restore our lives

and our happiness.

Only then will we be able to catch the light

that we’ve been searching for

for so long…

 

All we want is to escape.

 

POST IT

 

I wrote this during junior year in attempt to exploit the flaws of the American education system (a student’s favorite thing to do). Enjoy!

Carly 🙂

“I’m good” or “I’m well”? Or both…?

As a cashier at Wawa, I encounter a lot of people who ask me, “How are you?” Furthermore, I’m usually the one to ask the question in the first place. I ask the question partially because it’s a part of my job, partially because I want to be polite, and partially because I want to perform a social experiment.

It’s surprisingly entertaining to watch people squirm before they answer my simple question. I’ve concluded that most people answer with “I’m good,” while some of the people who try particularly hard to carry themselves well answer with “I’m well.” Then there are the people who don’t answer at all, but for the purpose of this article, they don’t count. Lucky for all of these people, both answers are correct! That’s right, you can answer with “I’m good” or “I’m well”!

Here’s why:

“I’m well” is correct because “well” is an adverb modifying “am” (an adverb is a word that describes a verb, adjective, or another adverb). Simple as that.

“I’m good” is the more debatable yet equally correct response. “Am” is a linking verb, which means it’s used to link the pronoun (the word “I”) to, in this case, the adjective (“good”). Pronouns and adjectives may only be linked through linking verbs, so this case is a special one!

So, there you have it! The next time someone tries to roast you for saying that you’re good, you can simply show them this article and tell them to drop the mic.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Carly 🙂

Photogtaphy: My picture of the sunset in Wildwood, because grammar is as beautiful as a sunset. Don’t hate; appreciate.

Why I Applied to an Italian College as an International Student

Most seniors are scrambling around right now freaking out about college, and most are probably dreading back-to-school season for this reason (along with many others). I can proudly designate myself as an exception… I actually want September to roll around as soon as possible so I can find out whether or not I’ve been accepted to Bocconi University in Milan, Italy!

Allow me to explain with a Q & A styled format (even though I’m both asking and answering these questions… YOLO)

Q: What the heck is Bocconi University?

A: Well, good question! Bocconi University is possibly one of the most underrated schools in the world. Take a moment and think about how many non-American colleges you can think of. Okay, now exclude Oxford and Cambridge. Now? Probably none. Here’s where Bocconi comes in. Bocconi is ranked as the #1 university in Italy, and has numerous prestigious ranks in the Europe and around the world. If you’d like more info, feel free to check out the school’s website:

http://www.unibocconi.eu/wps/wcm/connect/Bocconi/SitoPubblico_EN/Navigation+Tree/Home/About+Us/Rankings/Bocconi+and+Rankings+home

Bocconi is an international business school. It offers bachelors, masters, and doctorate programs in  finance, economics, marketing, management, and law. The school offers two majors which are taught entirely in English in order to attract a larger pool of international students. And, well, it’s worked! 😉

Q: Won’t it be expensive to attend a university abroad?

A: Heck no! The bachelors programs last only three years, and the tuition is 15,000 euros per year! The university also allows applicants to request a tuition income bracket, which allows students to pay tuition depending on their families’ incomes. Those who earn more pay more, and those who earn less – you guessed it – pay less. On top of that, the university offers various merit scholarships, especially to international applicants. (Score!)

Q: Wouldn’t living in Italy be difficult since you don’t speak Italian?

A: Perhaps it would be. However, I’ve been learning Italian since last summer, and I plan on continuing to study it throughout my senior year. In fact, part of the reason I applied to Bocconi is because I’d like to learn a second language in college. Living in Italy would be the perfect solution!

Q: What if you find out that you don’t wish to pursue international business?

A: I won’t. I’m 110% sure that international business is the perfect career field for me. I’ve been thinking about college, careers, and other elements of my future ever since eighth grade. In tenth grade, I narrowed my career field options to business, veterinary studies, and psychology. Then, in the beginning of junior year, I discovered that international business existed! I researched the field, and I fell in love with it. After a year of reflection, I am certain that it’s the field for me.

Q: Why international business?

A: Wow, who’s asking all of these questions? They’re all on fire! Well, I’ve always been interested in languages and culture. I’ve been taking Spanish classes in school since 7th grade, and I’ve always enjoyed learning new grammar, vocabulary, colloquialisms, idioms, etc. in the Spanish language. I also found it amazing how knowing one language can open one’s mind so exponentially, and how language can reflect other lifestyles and ways of thinking. My interest in Spanish language and culture inspired me to start a Spanish Club at my school! I’ve been the president of the club since sophomore year. Last summer, I began to learn Italian since I heard it was similar to Spanish. To my surprise, although a lot of vocabulary and some grammatical rules are similar, there are a lot of characteristics that distinguish it from Spanish. I took on Italian as a challenge, and what was once an interest — learning Spanish and Italian — blossomed into a passion. That was when I realized that I wanted Spanish and Italian to be a part of my life forever.

Q: Wouldn’t you miss your family and friends?

A: Of course! However, I would definitely keep in touch through Skype, email, messaging, social media, etc. Plus, I am excited to make new friends, who would be from around the world. How cool!

Q: Will you still apply to American universities?

A: Probably. If I’m admitted, I’ll just apply to a few universities, which I’ll use as financial backup schools. If I’m not admitted, I’ll apply to some reach schools, target schools, and safety schools, just as the guidance counselors recommend us to.

So, there you have it – I may be one of the only people you know who’s excited for September’s arrival! I’m eager to know whether or not attending an Italian university will be an option.

Until then, as the kids say these days, YOLO. Do something fun today so you’ll have something to smile about in the future.

Carly 🙂

Photo: Rome, Italy. 11/10 would definitely recommend.

Dealing With People, Part 1

The funny thing about people is that, well, they are funny! And before you try to mention your grumpy old neighbor who hates everyone, allow me to provide insight.

I normally see the glass as half full, mostly because it’s too much of an emotional burden to waste my energy complaining about things you can’t change. Often times, it’s difficult to change people, unless you help them to change themselves. However, this requires two things that a lot of us don’t have: time and patience. So, if you can’t change someone, what do you do to avoid the stress and anger they may invoke throughout your life?

Option #1: Break the Tie

You could cut all contact from this person whatsoever. This method usually works best with acquaintances and people you see maybe once or twice per year. Make sure you’re not friends with this person on Facebook, and unfollow them from any social media accounts that you still use. It’s also best that you don’t share any mutual real-life friends. Be careful, though: this method is awkward when you end up running into the person in a random grocery store. If you’re someone who doesn’t tolerate social tension well, then you may want to avoid this option altogether.

Option #2: Suck It Up

If you can tolerate being around the person every so often, then you may want to consider this option as your main method of dealing with irritating people. As long as you don’t see this person on a daily or weekly basis, it may be best to limit your dosage as much as possible. This method works best for annoying friends, family members, coworkers (depending on occupation), and even neighbors, if your schedules vary drastically. However, you may want to consider how often you can get away with having “other plans.” If this person constantly invites you to spend time together, then you don’t want to be caught in a lie or an illogical excuse. If this does happen to you, you may have to spill the beans, which could make things more awkward for both of you than ever before.

Option #3: Laugh It Off       (recommended)

Since options #1 and #2 involve major or minor lifestyle changes to adjust to this bothersome person, the best option, in my opinion, is to embrace the annoying! As a customer service associate, I have learned to appreciate people’s sometimes aggravating differences. If you think about it, there are annoying people on this Earth for one reason, and for one reason only: pure entertainment! When choosing this method, it’s important to consider why you find this certain person annoying. Is (s)he loud? Obnoxious? Self-centered? Inconsiderate? Ignorant? Whatever the reason be, you probably know that you hate it. Once you figure out what it is you hate about someone, you can begin to change your viewpoint to see the detestable quality as a weakness of that person. Once that person has a weakness, you will feel more comfortable in coexisting with that person. And if this weakness annoys you, it probably annoys other people, too.

Whatever you do, do NOT try to make yourself seem better than this person. It’s always necessary that you keep calm when dealing with bothersome people. After you’re exposed to this person after an extended period of time, you will begin to notice that this person isn’t as bad as you thought (s)he was; (s)he’s now just one more person who brightens your day with the entertainment (s)he provides you. And after dealing with these people for so long, you will find that you’ve grown as a person because of them, you’ll find yourself generally more relaxed, and you’ll have more of a tolerance for other annoying people! The best part? This method works with anyone. Trust me, I know from much experience.

At the end of the day, you’ll plop down on your couch, having discovered a little bit more about yourself than you’d known when coping with annoying people before. And you’ll thank me, and you’ll share this post on all of your social media, and then this post will spread all over the world, and then we’ll all tolerate each other, and this world will be a much more peaceful place!

Okay, maybe it won’t go that far so soon. But change starts with one person. Just remember that.

Relax, and let the entertainment begin!

Carly 🙂

A Daily Dose of Inspiration

Wanna know something interesting about Pinterest? It controls my life.

So naturally, while I was on Pinterest, I rediscovered my favorite yet somewhat recently neglected board: “Quotes.” And, well, dangggg… it’s pretty inspirational! There are so many words of wisdom that I actually forgot how refreshing they were to hear.

One quote really hit home, and it’s one that a lot of people can probably relate to now.

“When life gives you a rainy day, play in the puddles.” -Anonymous

Between the unforgiving winter winds, overstuffed schedules, and a sunlight withdrawal, it’s easy to see why some of us can feel a bit down in the Winter. But if we take a step back and put our lives into perspective, sometimes it’s important to remember that we only have one life, so why are we wishing so much of it away? Even work and school can become enjoyable, if we see it in the right light.

So, the next time it “rains” in your life, take a step back and embrace the rain. Try enjoying it before you curl up on the couch with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and binge-watch two seasons of Friends.

Carly 🙂