Americas

NYC Lessons

It’s the last week of my internship which means it’s also my last week in NYC. Hopefully not forever, because even through the trials of getting to know the different cultures of Brooklyn and the Financial District are difficult, I have thoroughly enjoyed my summer here. This is also my last regular article for Go Girl but hopefully I’ll be back to write about working or going to graduate school abroad! We’ll have to see where the applications I send fall, I suppose.

I hardly know what to write. This summer has shown me…well, lots of things. But some of the things that mean the most to me are about city living. They might be specific to NYC but I feel that they can be adapted to other cities pretty easily.

First, pay attention to the neighborhood your flat apartment is in. (Ever since returning from London, I have not been able to comfortably say “apartment”. It’s a far longer word and how do you describe the people you live with? Flatmate has no equivalent…) Even if you expect to be at work or out and about really frequently, you should still be comfortable in your neighborhood. You should definitely be fully confident in the take-out places nearby because there will at least be a few nights when you are home and don’t have a bite to eat! This summer I lived on the edge between the Hasidic and fringes of the less well-defined Middle Eastern area. And while I knew it was safe, I was not entirely comfortable. I felt awkward walking around in a t-shirt and shorts. I also had no restaurants or markets nearby that could satisfy my cravings for specific vegetables or fruits. I made do for the summer but now I will pay attention to the neighborhood where I live.

From the NYTimes blog

 

Second, subway etiquette is important! When a train arrives and it isn’t yours, do not stand in front of the door because you just might get swept in with the crowd. Stand to the side of the door as people leave so that you are out of their way and will get on sooner. If you are a guy, please refrain from sitting with your legs spread apart! I understand that there are body parts that need some space, but really, you should not take up two seats when there are people standing around. It’s called courtesy, boys.

Once you’re on the subway, there are some basics to standing and sitting. If you are sitting and the train is crowded, don’t stretch your legs in front of you. Also, don’t lean forward to play video games because…it’s awkward standing with a head leaning forward at average hip height. Just saying. If you are standing in the middle of the subway, make sure there’s room for people to pass you! If you have a large bag, put it on the ground and stand over it. It’ll be safer for you and other people won’t have to be hit by it every time you move. If you happen to stand by the door, turn whenever the door begins opening so people can pass in and out. This may sound basic, but it’s quite important and many people don’t pay attention! But you will be happier for getting bumped around less and not pissing other people off.

And third, explore your area and other neighborhoods. Have time? Then get off the subway a few stops early and walk around, eat at a random restaurant, and hop back on the subway to go home. It’ll help you become familiar with more and more places. And don’t use Yelp or reviews for everything. When I explore NYC, I hardly ever have a destination in mind. Some of the best restaurants I have discovered have been completely by smell and a quick glance around at their crowd. Are they happy? Are there a lot of people? If it’s a specific ethnic cuisine, are they a part of the crowd? I am far more comfortable in my area and other neighborhoods in NYC because I took the time to simply walk the streets and observe my surroundings. Restaurants didn’t always attract customers because of reviews online. Part of the experience of going out is being lost when people always go online to find out what’s good and where. I highly recommend going somewhere, asking the waiter about what’s good and giving it a go. You can do it, you just might find your new favorite.

To those more seasoned than me, this might be completely basic information. But it’s what I learned on this recent journey of mine in NYC. And there have been some mighty good meals, beautiful buildings and lovely random events to make me quite happy with the results. Now, to begin following this in earnest with Boston. As soon as I find the time around all the responsibilities I have at Wellesley…

Sam Wu
Sam started traveling on the wrong foot and was every traveler’s pet peeve–the bawling baby who just couldn’t be silenced. Since then she has fallen in love with planes and boats and going places. Sam once studied abroad in London but is now slowly growing more roots in NYC.

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