by Analise Guerra

From a young age, I learned the importance of exploring diverse cultures through traveling. As a recent college graduate, I yearned for adventure and what better way to do that then by exploring new places? Sometimes, it doesn’t take going out of the country to experience new and exciting things.

In June, I had the privilege to travel to New York to visit my best friend from college.  It was my first trip to “The Big Apple” and it did not disappoint. Immediately, its incredibly diverse population amazed me. New York City truly is a melting pot where people travel and live to find adventure as well as opportunity.

My friend, Paige, lives near the neighborhoods of Little Italy and Chinatown. In Little Italy, I experienced delicious cuisine, authentic market treasures, and Italian hospitality. Next door to Little Italy is Chinatown, where Chinese markets and funky foods rule, and ordinary is out of the question. Both areas have very different vibes, but remain true to the culture and diversity of the two countries.

My favorite experience of the trip was visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art – The Met. I spent most of my time taking in the Heavenly Bodies exhibit, which focuses on the intersection of fashion and Catholic imagination. This show was a profound experience. Learning about the rich history of Catholicism and the beauty behind it made me want to research more about the Catholic religion outside of my experience at The Met.

According to The Met’s website, “The Costume Institute’s Spring 2018 exhibition—at The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters—features a dialogue between fashion and medieval art from The Met collection to examine fashion’s ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism. Serving as the cornerstone of the exhibition, papal robes and accessories from the Sistine Chapel sacristy, many of which have never been seen outside The Vatican, are on view in the Anna Wintour Costume Center. Fashions from the early twentieth century to the present are shown in the Byzantine and medieval galleries, part of the Robert Lehman Wing, and at The Met Cloisters.”

I was in awe of the gorgeous, often intricate designs created to elevate the religion and its many traditions. This exhibit also opened my eyes to Catholicism’s rich history and the sacrifices endured by so many to keep the religion not only alive, but a powerful force in European and American societies.  The show itself was somewhat controversial because it was centered on religion. However, visiting the exhibit with friends who study Catholicism made me realize that the clothing was merely a framework and canvas for the designers to explain and celebrate the true beauty within religion itself.

Overall, my trip to New York City was a unique learning experience, with fun and delicious food along the way. You don’t need a passport to experience different cultures when America is so culturally diverse, full of rich history and interesting people!