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What can your story be in the United States?

7 posts categorized "Ilze Lagzdina"


Little Things

It has been a while since I wrote my last blog post. And I have no idea what I am going to write about.. Feeling thoughtful I just want to take some time to look back and thank about all the great things I’ve been lucky enough to experience.

I can’t believe I have been in United States 9 months now. Do I want to stay longer? Well I do have 4 more months here. Do I miss home? If home-feeling lives in your heart, the physical home is exactly where you are. But of course I miss those little things… you know those little things which doesn’t say anything to others but only you.. like your dog barking or the painting on your wall or your mom’s cooking skills or swimming in your nearest lake. This morning I realized that these little things .. new habits, new relationships and weekends in New York City is what I am going to miss. I guess I should start to prepare myself going back to Latvia. Absorb all the knowledge and life experience I have gained here.. wrap it up and pack it in my suitcase. Some little things I will let go some new habits I will take with me, some things I will lock up in my heart.
Funny how all of us have completely different scale of values that changes like weather… and we tend to focus on things that are important to us right here and right now… job… prosperity… relationships… health… self-importance… harmony.. etc..etc..etc. Is it good or bad that we are never satisfied with exactly what we have? It is just how it is. Everything is relative. Oh.. it is not about you? Think twice. I guess the balance between feeling happy with what you have - who you are and what you want to achieve - who you want to be is the most important.
Oh I have been fine. Thanks. I live in Princeton now. Still balance myself in Michael’s yoga classes. If you are a yogi and ever come to Princeton this is your “must”
I went to Philadelphia Flyers game. Saw The Company of The Thieves in Philly (amazing band from Chicago check it out) Went to High Line in NYC and Chelsea Market (that place definately has some charm)
I have seen Fuerza Bruta it is kind of a modern wild dance show with powerful music and great energy. Also MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) Guggenheim museum Experienced St. Patrick’s day in Hoboken.

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St Patrick's Day in Hoboken when everyone dresses up in green

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Guggenheim museum. Visitors walk around shell type gallery and see the exhibitions on sides.

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Philladelphia Flyers vs. Toronto Maple Leaves

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Elvis@ MOMA

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NYC cookies @ Chelsea Market

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NY High Line - nice 20 blocks long walk through The City 



Home alone

I guess I have caught too much wind driving my Vespa. So I am staying home today. Well first of all good news I finally got my Social Security Number, Motorcycle driving permit and auto driver's license. So I am eligible on Jersey roads now. To be honest the online test was not that easy as I imagined. It took me couple of hours to go through The Drivers Manual before taking the test. There are some differences between USA and LV road rules despite the roads are as bad as in LV :) Interesting fact car holders have to register the vehicle annually. And nobody really knows why so which doesn't make any sense. So basically it is all about money. At least the insurance for motorcycle is 20 times cheaper comparing with a car :) Besides I knew that gas price is cheaper than in Europe... but for how much cheaper? I always got confused by gallons and USD.. so 1 l of gas in New Jersey (and this is one of the most expensive state) costs 0.88 USD (0.46 LVL) I am a little bit afraid now because I am so used to fill up my tank for 3 dollars once a week. I know that is crazy! Although today I had to argue with the Gas Station guy because I think he tricked me asking me 5.73 $ instead of my usual 3$. New Jersey is the only state where you don't have to pump your gas yourself there is always a guy who does it for you. 

The other good news is I have changed departments in TerraCycle. I have moved from Video department to PR and IT departments with the focus on Social Media which I find exciting. Time flies at work obtaining new social media platforms, tools and applications. And I am on twitter finally :)!/iLagzdina 

The other thing I wanted to share with you is our little project called American Dream. This project isn't finished yet. At the moment we have only photos taken in NYC. You can see one right here

I met Vera Kovacs in July when my friend and collegue and also the participant of the fellow internship program Daniel invited me to the West Coast trip. Me and Vera "clicked" immediatelly. I liked her artistic spirit so we decided to create something together. I am not even close to call myself a photographer but I think all of us "nice cameras' holders" feel like tiny photographers. Our gallery you can see here.  

Have a great day! 




… unique “green” start up company. TerraCycle’s purpose is to eliminate the idea of waste. Because… if you think about it.. in nature waste does not exist.  Those are humans who have created non-recyclable waste. Non-recyclable for nature but recyclable for TerraCycle! TerraCycle –hereafter TC.1 How does it work? Basically TC creates waste collection programs, “brigades,” for all kinds of typically non-recyclable waste and turn the collected waste into new products, ranging from recycled park benches or garbage bins to upcycled backpacks, pencil holders or jewelry. Recycled means the waste is reformed into new material but upcycled means that the waste material is reused.2For example here you can see upcycled dress made out of M&M’s wrappers. TC mainly works with big brands and products such as Lays, Capri Sun, L’Oreal Garnier, Starbucks, Kraft Cheese etc. that want TC to launch collecting brigades for their waste. Anyone can sign up, choose the type of waste they want to collect and start to collect waste, then print out free shipping label and send it to TerraCycle. Besides for every unit of waste you send to TC at least $0.02 is donated to a charity or school of your choice. TC constantly come up with new collecting brigades, like collecting flip-flops, cigarette butts or even dirty dippers :)34

This is the Design Junkies’ area where they come up with ideas of new recycled products as well as upcycled products for presenting brands TC work with.

TerraCycle was founded 9 years ago by Tom Szaky, then a 20-year-old Princeton University freshman, TerraCycle began by producing organic fertilizer - worm poop in used soda bottles. Since then TerraCycle has grown into one of the fastest growing green companies in the world. At the moment TerraCycle is launched in 14 countries.5 Tom Szaky, 29, CEO of TerraCycle. For Tom impossible is nothing. He is a really smart guy as well as great “teambuilder”

Yes and we do have guns in the office. Nerf Guns. Everybody owns one. Of course there are rules for using these guns. I personally like the rule #10 … “Try not to shoot anyone while they are eating. Food stains are not good for Nerf darts” And what is the most important “Violations of the Rules may lead to punishment that might include facing a firing squad”6 This is the biggest Nerf Gun in the office.

And here (  you can see what happens when you break the rules. Firing Squad :)

The interior of the office is unique. Everything is reused. Transparent walls made out of empty soda bottles, tables from old doors.789 We have mini golf in the office :)12 There is a huge gong in office. “Great News Gong” Once one hits the gong you receive an e-mail explaining the great news concerning TerraCycle.10Time only goes into one direction.11 Lunch in TerraCycle is deeellliiiccciiioousss. It varies every day. Sometimes we have Italian, Chinese, Indian, Turkish food, sometimes sushi and sandwiches.

TerraCycle and DESIGN is indivisible. TerraCycle loves graffiti as much as graffiti loves TerraCycle.13 14151617 The CAVE18Backyard19Hey! Whatz up.. This is Dean my supervisor in Design/Video department and a great graffiti artist. He loves to paint beautiful supermodels and he listens to hip-hop…  a lot. He says he likes reggae too.. but I don’t believe him J2021My desk22Me

Great Deal


Get up and GO GREEN! Have you ever considered yourself as a part of the nature? Have you ever thought how you could help to save the planet? Think about your daily activities. Maybe it is time to change some? It’s summer. What about riding a bicycle? And maybe it is not that hard to recycle your garbage? And what is your plastic bag collection still doing in your kitchen cupboard?



New Jersey

It's been a while here now. I have so many things going on right now.. Didn't have a time to update my blog.

Well the beginning wasn't easy here. First 4 days I spent in Trenton in Daniel's house (Daniel is a Hungarian intern in TerraCycle from the same program). He lives in a pretty nice house. He just went back home for couple of days so I stayed in his room. Those days I felt kind of lonely there... even started to feel homesick (for a while though :)) Daniel has a bike so I used it to go to the grocery store (took me 20 minutes) The public transport is really crappy here (sorry for the rudeness is just any other word doesn't describe the situation). Daniel goes to work by bike and it also takes him 20 min. Don't want to scare you guys but Trenton is a dangerous city.... especially for girls, that's what locals are saying. So I was checking out the Craigslist and looking for my new home. But the thing can I go to see those places without a car...? Anyways... I had to come up with some solution.... So as my first CouchSurfing experience in Amsterdam was surprisingly great I decided to contact the local CouchSurfers. And it turned out to be the second great CouchSurfing experience. I met Matthew. A guy from nearby city - Hamilton. So we went to see 2 apartments... The first one was OK, but the second one in Hamilton .... was a gorgeous palace (sorry-place.) ( :) ).. the only thing was that it is quite far away from my work place TerraCycle 10-15 min by car (which I don't have btw). So I didn't say YES directly...but I trust my as I had a dream the next night that I already live in this apartment I called Cathie next morning and said I am taking it.
 This is Cathie, landlord of the condo I am living in. Very nice person. She took me shopping and helped to choose all my girlie nice bed clothes and everything. And wine of course :) This one FETZER is my favorite from California. I was looking for it for a long time till Cathie took me to a right place to get it.

Unfortunately I couldn't take my guitar to USA.. but you know what? It turned out that my new friend Matthew is a guitar teacher so we went to buy one instrument for me. We went to one music store and I think I am just lucky. Beyonce's Sax girl was giving a small concert there. So cool!!!
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I went to Jewish Shabbat in Philadelphia. I think I like Jewish. They share a lot. With food and their feelings. Everybody told their recent high lights and low lights. My low light was - leaving my country and beloved ones but my high light was coming to USA... so i am pretty balanced :) Also everybody brought some food and had to describe it in their way. It is hard to understand. I will try to explain it. For example I brought my masterpiece - Ilze's Apple Pie (a little burned though :)) and I would say... "This Pie is made with love and forbidden fruits - apples" or something like that... a funny made up story.
The other day me and Matthew went to a Block Party. For those who doesn't know - The Block Party is typical American neighbor party with kids when they close the end of the road and party on the street with BBQ and music.
That is Matt with his 2 students playing their favorite - Wild Thing by The Troggs. Sounded pretty cool with electric, bass and acoustic guitars.
And that's Matt playing & me singing Breakeven or Miles Away (don't really remember)

This was my first week in TerraCycle. It has been great so far. I like the work and I am absolutely in love with the office it is so unique. But I will tell you all about it when I have some pictures. You just have to see it. Oh and I have figured out my vehicle problem too. :)) Also this will be in my following blog. I will just give you the name... her name is Black Pearl. (my flat mates gave her the name) And also my flat mates ... I have to tell you about them. They are super clever IT guys (my new cousins) from India and Mexico. But they also deserve a proper blog article with some photos (which I don't have yet).

Great Deal

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New York story

This is going to be a short trip. Last two days in New York City. All planned out. Today's "Things to do in NYC" first place CENTRAL PARK. It is huge. "Other New York". It was beautiful, live and green.4First time in my life I saw woman playing harp in a park.3As I ve been told that 30 years ago Manhattan used to be such a gang city... lot of crime..but then it changed when Mayor Juliani started to fight against mafia. So now a lot of cops are over there. But that is a good thing. You are safe in Manhattan.6Brand new color picker in Benjy's camera :)5Followed by long walk. Cell phone contract. Lot of conversations about Latvia, movies' soundracks, New York, home education (which is awesome in my opinion as well as any other alternative education....) True story Benjamin Stevens, 24 years, home educated (basically self educated), Graduated Oxford University, traveling, volunteering, start to work as a business consultant in Ernest & Young March, 2012 , smart, intelligent, comprehensive, talented, purposeful. Father-doctor, mother-psychologist.
Ok. Its time for Stand up comedy tonight. Let's see if Ilona is ready to go.1Oh Yes she is always ready.
So that's how the stage in Time Square's Stand up comedy show looks like. It is in the basement.2Doesen't look very promising though. And they were a bit tricky. It turned out we have to order at least 2 drinks from the bar that didn't cost less then 8 USD each, off course they didn't say anything about it when buying the tickets. There were 6 comedians. 1.5 h show. Honestly I was expecting more felt a bit disappointed. At least in the Time Squere. I must be spoiled with really good jokes though. We have this crazy cool improvization show in Latvia called "PRESSURE" (someone is laughing right now about my translation) So the guys are real bombs there.

Next day. My last day in NYC trying out traditional American diner. Diners just like in American movies...Diner's benches and tables fixed to the wall under the window. And those portions...HUGE... I bet I use that word quite often here. Whats interesting. Waiters don't get paid salaries here or it is like a really small amount of money 10 USD a day. But here they tip a lot 20% of the bill. So they earn only from tips. I guess it is rude not to tip.
2 hours till train. It is too hot. Let's get some water.8
I am in New Jersey now. But that is another story. ... I will tell you about it later.

Good deal.
  • Going from NYC to Trenton, New Jersey take a train from Penn Station, Manhattan, the ticket costs 15 -16 USD one way
  • T-Mobile contracts: a) 30 USD for 1500 min (sms is counted as 1 min) calls to all States, 30Mb internet. b) 60USD for unlimited calls within USA, free calls to international landlines, 100Mb internet. But the offers change a lot.
  • Get used to pounds, inches, miles, Fahrenheits

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I am in NYC How cool is that

Finally I am here... Flight was surprisingly nice... I had plenty of time to sleep, think and read... Couldn't decide between 3 books... MEDITATIONS for People Who Worry by Anne Wilson Schaef, KRYON (Lifting the Veil) The New Energy Apocalypse and Eat Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Well finally I decided to take it easy and start with Eat, Pray, Love :)

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I will start to work in TerraCycle, Trenton, NJ on 6th June so now I have real vacation!!! :) Technically it is my third day in New York City. I am staying at Ilona's place for couple of days. Ilona also is BAFF participant from Latvia. Very kind, helpful, hospitable, smart and ambitious person. She is a real professional in her field which is accountancy. She manages to work 9 hours in Manhattan accountancy office as well as her own company World Wide Accounting in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. 
Yesterday was the day I introduced myself to New York. Well I wouldn't lie saying it is everything you see in movies and more.. It is CROWDED, it is LIVE, it is SURPRISING and it is SPARKLING. You just have to see it. New York is basically divided in 5 parts-QUEENS, BROOKLYN, THE BRONX, STATEN ISLAND and MANHATTAN. Ilona lives in Brooklyn so it takes around 30 min to get to center of Manhattan by underground. The map of Manhattan is well organized because all the streets are straight and numbered. Besides if you look at the map all the vertical streets are named as Avenues (1 AV, 2 AV...12 AV) but horizontal streets are just STREETS (45 ST, 46 ST..etc) It is also easy to understand the locations for example Time Square is located on the corner of 7 AV and 42 ST.
So I woke up at 7am yesterday morning which is so not typical for me. Checked the weather... they said It is going to be wild-storm and rain and 83 F which is 28 C. So I went out. Found the underground and decided to start with Time Squere. But then I noticed in the map that tha Empire State Building is just 8-9 blocks away. So I decided to see the skyscrapers from the top of the Empire State Building. When I got there it turned out I have to wait 1.5 h in queue. No way! I will figure out something else. 
So I went uptown till I reached corner of  7 AV and 42 ST. Time Square. Exciting. It looked exactly like in movies. 
So I bought some postcards and started to write down my impressions. Four things that first pop up in my mind about New York... 
1st Its BIG 
2nd People don't smoke on streets 
3rd Its delusion that they don't eat nothing but french fries and burgers... well  you can get anything there...fresh salad, soups etc.
4th There are a lot of policemen everywhere 
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Look who I ran into :)
Walked around when I heard someone saying... "Stand up comedy! Tonight show! Good price!" Didn't think for a long time I bought 2 tickets for me and Ilona. We will go tomorrow.
I was pretty happy to receive two compliments about my crocs in one day :) one American lady asked me where did I find them in NYC (so it was the first time I could present (smile) my country cuz I bought them in Riga few weeks ago). And the other crocs fan was 6 years old girl :) Cute
But I still wanted to go to the top of some skyscraper to hunt the beauty of the New York. So I went inside of one building asking kindly if I can go upstairs. Security guys kindly adviced me to go to the Top of The Rocks where I could go up the 70th floor and I wouldn't have to wait in queue. So I did it...
You can see Empire State Building quite well here. I spent like 1 hour there and I was lucky with the weather...pretty hot but the wind made it perfect. No storm. Sunset :) Loved it. 
The small roof on the right is beautiful Chrysler building.
On my way to metro I met Benjy a guy who told me about one interesting program called New York Cares where he does volunteer work. It is non profit organization where you can apply for different projects every day... Beny had participated in 30 different events so far and one of the most weirdest project-volunteer work he had done was doing manicure for old ladies :) Also he had taught maths for adults as well as for children, painted benches and played Bingo with old guys :) Sounds a lot of fun.
Ok it is time to go out!
Great deal:
  • The cheapest way how to get to Manhattan from Newark airport- Super Shuttle Van (Blue Line)
  • If you don't want to stay in a long queue to go to Empire State building's 86th floor and don't mind to look at the NYC from 70th floor go to Top of the Rocks corner of 6av 49st.
  • Post office near Time Square is open until 18:30 stamps for postcards cost 98 cents, packages to Europe-Latvia cost 1 kg - $18.55, 0.5 kg - $11.39
  • 12 cans Coca Cola cost 5 USD :) Paradise for Coke drinkers 




Today was a long long day.  In the morning radio interview. Topic- BAFF  of course :) (my first time on radio :)) The rest of the day freezing in the forest... filming Latvian National Armed Forces training. There is nothing better than a hot cup of tea.