Sunday, November 3, 2013

Lessons Learned in NYC

It's November now, which means I've been a resident of New York City for a little more than six months. The time has both flown by and been a time of great stress, change, fun, and a whole lot of new experiences. Here are a couple of things I've learned or gained a new perspective on over the last six months:

1. Distance is relative.
My friend Andrea came to stay with me last weekend, and when she heard how long it took me to get places, she asked how I didn't go crazy. It made me pause for a moment, since I no longer consider a 40-minute commute to work or a 30-minute trip to Trader Joe's (or really anywhere) much of a big deal anymore. It's just how it is. Funny how just six months ago I'd complain about the 10-minute walk to campus.

2. How to secure a seat in a crowded subway train.
Always work your way to the middle so you're blocking the 4 seats jutting out. Pretend you're pregnant or have a limp. Glare at the man taking up two spots until he feels uncomfortable and scoots over.

3. How to eat a meal for less than $5.
Food stands. $1 pizza. Becoming a deli loyalist. Groupon. It's not impossible to eat cheap in the city.

4. But it IS really hard to diet here. 
See my earlier post.

5. You can feel really important one minute and then tiny and insignificant the next.
You have a tendency to become selfish here: regarding time, sidewalk space, or pride in your super-awesome job, but you are literally one of millions in this city who consider themselves the center of the universe. All it takes is a look out the window to feel humble.

6. Anything can happen here.
Want a job doing whatever you want? Come to NYC! It may take a couple of tries, but there is definitely a spot for you here somewhere. Want to attend a party specifically for TV-watching, video-gaming, flower-arranging, basket-weaving, or whatever it is your passions are? Not hard to find. Want to eat at a restaurant from a country you've never even heard of? New York's got it. It really is a concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There's nothing you can't do. (Thanks Alicia Keys)

7. The outer boroughs are awesome. 
The Bronx has a bad rep they're slowly trying to restore (no thanks to Bansky), but I didn't have any trouble while I lived there and I loved the industrial surroundings of my neighborhood. And Brooklyn is wonderful. It has really gorgeous and yes, hipstery areas, as well as places like my neighborhood, where five dumplings cost $1 and there's a karaoke bar across the street. How much cooler can you get than that? Don't discredit living in the outer boroughs. Except maybe Staten Island. They're still listening to Christina Perri, for goodness sakes.

8. Dishwashers and air conditioners are for the elite. 
Bedbugs are a real thing. So are rats. You learn a whole new definition of comfort while you live here.

9. It's not what you know, it's who you know. 
Luckily in this city it's easy to meet people.

10. The importance of diversity. 
I went from one of the least diverse places in the U.S. to one of the most diverse. And it's changed my perspective in so many ways. I love hearing 30 different languages on any given day. Or getting my ice cream from a drag queen in the East Village and hearing her life story. Or learning about Ecuador from a cabbie or about Yemen from the owners of my favorite deli. Every day's a new cultural experience and it's been one of my favorite things about living here.

11. It's important to set aside time for yourself. 
Work is so fast-paced and there's so much to do here that time can slip away from you all too easily. It's important to not become so wrapped up in everything that you don't make time for yourself. The times I spend at home on my bed watching TV are some of my favorites, because it gives me a change to unwind and be away from all the craziness and just relax. Everyone should find their own thing--whether it's the spa, yoga, taking a walk in the park...whatever it is, it's crucial to set aside time to rejuvenate yourself.

12. Don't take things personally.
This city can knock you down just as easily as it can lift you up. It's important not to take things the wrong way. Whether someone looks at you funny on the train or critiques you at work, you learn to quickly build a thick skin and bear it.

New York, it's been an interesting and educational six months. I can honestly say there's no other place I'd rather be right now.  Here's hoping for many more great learning experiences to come.


  1. Loved this post!!!! I didn't know that you are so funny!!

  2. I'm so jealous! I really want to be in the city right now. I marathoned the Carrie Diaries and it made me want to be there even more. I'm trying to save up so I can get out there this summer!