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Samantha Sokol contributer profile untapped cities

What’s your “day job”?

I’m a History major at Barnard College with a minor in English. I write for Spectrum, which is the blog of Columbia’s daily newspaper, and I host a radio show on Barnard Radio called The Cheese Log with my roommate.

What’s your favorite Untapped spot in your city?

I know this isn’t very “Untapped” but genuinely, my favorite spot in NYC is the lower level of Riverside Park between 96th and 115th. When the weather is nice I go for runs there every day and I feel like I’m in You’ve Got Mail.

Favorite piece you’ve written for Untapped:

Definitely my round up of crazy ice cream flavors in lower Manhattan. I know they don’t typically say this at the Career Development Office but you know you have the right internship when walking around the Lower East Side on a beautiful day tasting ice cream for free is work. 

What’s the most memorable thing that happened while interning at Untapped Cities?

I was taking photos for an article about vintage music venues. While walking down the Bowery feeling generally disheveled, none other than Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend walked by me. I was visibly and audibly stunned. Ezra looked at me and just seeing his expression of fear being face to face with a crazed fan girl is my most memorable Untapped experience. I was walking on air for the rest of the day.

What’s the most surprising and/or valuable thing you learned during your internship?

I have a bad habit of writing articles which make perfect sense to me but when other less crazy people read them it is not in a logical order. This is a problem I’ve always had with my writing but interning with Untapped really made me think about how other people perceive my writing. While writing for myself is important and therapeutic, perfecting journalistic writing meant for a wider audience is extremely important. It was great to have the opportunity to workshop my articles with people who work in the field.

What’s your favorite Untapped place you’ve visited while traveling? Where do you want to visit next?

I lived in Aix-en-Provence  for a month a few summers ago, and some friends and I took a day trip to this ridiculous city called Barjols. Barjols is known for its “experimental art.” At first the city kind of freaked me out because some random artist wanted me to participate in his bizarre and frightening street show. But then the city started growing on me when we went into this incredible modern art museum that was in a burnt down factory, and we went to an outdoor meditation concert that included food.

Even though I lived in the South of France, I’ve never seen Paris, so that is first on the list. I also did a project on Strasbourg in 5th grade and I recently discovered I could study abroad there, so thats another one. I’ve also been crushing on Marrakesh for a while.

What’s your favorite obscure fact about your city?

That Tudor City used to be one of the dirtiest slums in Manhattan. The area is so beautiful you would never guess. It was called “goat hill” and people would actually have goats roaming around! The thought of goats in Manhattan is too funny.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Hands down, it’s when I went caving near Vail, Colorado. I was terrified, freezing, and sopping wet the entire time. I had to swim through a freezing cold river only to find out that the only way out of the cave was to retrace your steps. I know that’s how most caves work but for some strange reason I was genuinely expecting some kind of exit door. It wasn’t fun or pretty at all. But hey, it was caving. My relationship with nature is enjoyable only in small doses.

Best Celebrity Sighting:

I went to see Larry David be interviewed by David Steinberg a few weeks ago. If that wasn’t enough of a celeb spotting, I saw Wayne Knight (who plays Newman on Seinfeld) in the lobby after the show. I know this isn’t very exciting for those of you who don’t watch Seinfeld but I am Seinfeld’s #1 Fan so I was properly freaking out.
What are some of your favorite websites?

Well, I do attend a women’s college, so Jezebel is a big one. I also like this website called explore.org that has live-cams of interesting animals including puppies (need I say more?)

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