NYC Differences

aerial view of Manhattan

As my time here in New York begins to come to a close, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the differences I’ve noticed between Michigan and NYC. Given that I’m still in the United States, you wouldn’t think there would be so many cultural differences, but there honestly are!

Here’s my current list of differences:

Multi-Level Stores: Everything here is so squished and condensed! It’s a rarity to walk into a store and for there to not be an escalator or two. I must have gone up at least four escalators when my roommate and I went to see Captain Marvel in theaters (it was so weird)! Even a few Starbucks here will have a partial upper floor with additional seating (because abundant seating is also a rarity in NYC).

No one owns a car: Instead, everyone uses the subway, which makes sense, because the drivers in NYC are crazy! Even though the metro is dingy and breaks down frequently, it’s super convenient! It’s so nice to be able to hop on a train and simply read a book while you wait to get to your destination. I have been purchasing 30 Day Unlimited passes, which means I can take the subway as much as I want!

Everything here is so much more expensive: I mean, I knew this going in, but I still mourn my wallet’s empty state.

There’s no green or trees here: If you want to see trees or grass or really anything that isn’t a dull gray, you have to go to Central Park (at least in Manhattan, parks are more frequent in other places). It’s kind of a bummer. Then again, Central Park is such an expansive and beautiful place. My first time going there, I wandered around and explored, and it was really peaceful.

Gray Slush: Any snow we get quickly turns into a gray slush that makes my toes freeze. I mean yes, I’m totally grateful that I missed out on that Polar Vortex everyone in Michigan was suffering from early on in the year, but I’m still kind of sad that I haven’t seen real snow this year. Who would have thought?

It’s dirty and gross and smells everywhere: Might want to come with nose plugs. If not, you get used to it…somewhat.

It’s easy to find your own unique corner of NYC: There’s so many events and meetups happening, it’s so easy to find your own niche. I’ve been able to go to some many writing and book events that I wouldn’t have had access to in Michigan!

Never ending activity and noises: Gotta love police cars zooming by at 2am, though in all honestly, Hope has prepared me well for this with the railroad tracks that go by on campus.

Diversity: There are so many different cultural corners to NYC! You have places like Koreatown, Chinatown, Little Italy, Little Poland, etc. The weekend before Fat Tuesday, I made my way down to Little Poland and my friend and I got pączkis from an authentic Polish bakery.

Everything is so easily reachable:  I can walk out of the New Yorker and cross the street to reach CVS. Target is only a 7 minute walk away. You walk to almost any sort of store or fast food place.

One Dollar Pizza: I appreciate the existence of $1 slices of pizza so much. Honestly, I purchase it on a weekly basis; my roommate and I have made it a tradition. (And it’s also easily reachable: only a 5 minute walk!)

 

Regardless of these differences, NYC has really grown on me during my time here. I sincerely hope I’ll be able to return in the near future.

Maintaining My Book-Nerd Status Away from Home

As an English major and a book-nerd, I eat, sleep, and breathe books, so it only makes sense that I talk about them here!

I’m slowly adapting to the busy life style of New York and starting to explore events around the city. Of course, my favorite excursions have included hitting up nearby bookstores and comic stores with my roommate, especially the times when I got my books signed and meet some of my favorite authors. I’ve only managed to go to a couple events so far, but I will no doubt be keeping my eyes open for more!

On January 17th, I hit the subway and made my way up to the Barnes & Noble on 86th street to hear 3 YA (young adult) fantasy authors (Roshani Chokshi, Melissa Albert, S.A. Chakraborty) speak and celebrate the release of Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves. I had been fortune enough to win an ARC (advance reader copy) of the book beforehand, so I was ecstatic to hear and meet the author. I was completely unaware of the event until a couple days prior when I was googling “Free Events in NYC,” so it was such a coincidence that I had been reading the book at the same time!

The week after that, on January 23rd, I hit up the famous Strand bookstore to see Holly Black, co-author of the Spiderwick Chronicles, and author of the Tithe series, The Cruel Prince, and the recently released The Wicked King. Holly Black is amazing and has been dubbed by her many fans as the “Queen of Faeries” (she even has the bright blue hair and pointy ears to prove it!).

(As you can see above, I totally failed to ask Holly Black for a picture, so my roommate only managed to snap a quick pic of me getting my book signed, hence my head being cut of in the picture)

One of my favorite things about book events is the sense of community it provides. When the author references their own work, everyone in the crowd knows what’s they’re talking about, allowing for inside jokes and shared laughs. A lot of my friends don’t read the same type of books I do (or at least not to the same extent that I do), so it’s comforting to sit beside readers similar to myself and “fangirl” alongside them.

And as a book-nerd, hearing all of these brilliant ladies speak was insanely inspiring. From hearing Holly Black explain how she never writes a book right on the first try, to Roshani Chokshi stating that writing projects don’t have expiration dates and that “they won’t go bad if you give them time,” really spoke to me as a student, artist and a writer. Not to mention, my TBR pile (to-be-read pile) has grown immensely from hearing these writers speak.

Prior to NYC, I had only been to a handful of book events and I have ambitious plans to change that this semester. I have no doubt that by the end of the semester, I will be leaving NYC with a suitcase full of books.

A Journey to the Past + NYC

It had been 8+ years since I had been on an airplane, so flying into New York was exciting in more ways then one. Given that I’m participating in a domestic program, I was lucky enough to have my mom fly down and spend the weekend with me before orientation on Monday. In order to get reasonably priced tickets, our flight had a layover in Chicago. How it makes sense to go from Detroit to Chicago and then to New York City, I do not know.

My first couple of days in New York were spent exploring the nearby blocks and buying the necessities I couldn’t fit into my suitcases (such as coffee for the coffee maker I did make sure to pack). As someone who’s lived in Michigan their whole life, I found it so bizarre to see your typical chain stores, e.g. Staples and Target, in multi-floor buildings! Take an escalator to buy some bananas? So odd.

I’ve also quickly discovered that it’s quite dangerous (read “dangerous” as “extremely-tempting-and-bad-for-my-wallet”) to live across from Taco Bell and Starbucks, and especially with Arby’s only a couple of blocks away. I have yet to succumb to the 99 Cent Fresh Pizza shops, but I know it will be soon.

I’m currently staying at the New Yorker Hotel (I know, educational housing in a hotel, weird right?) in midtown of Manhattan, so there’s constantly a bustle of noise going on outside my window. Honestly, the first couple of days were nerve wrecking as my mother and I attempted to navigate the streets and poured over app upon app trying to figure out how the subway worked, but we did not get lost, huzzah!

Right before my mother left, we were fortune enough to attend a showing of the Broadway musical Anastasia. I adored the movie Anastasia, so I was ecstatic to see this performance and it did not disappoint! The renditions of my favorite songs from the movie, “Once Upon a December” and “Journey to the Past” were beautiful. And everything else, from the special effects to the scenery, was amazing.

As I’ve already hinted at, I didn’t really do much during my first weekend in NYC besides seeing Anastasia. At first, I felt ashamed by my reluctance to explore the city, holing up in my room as much as possible. But I’ve been reminding myself that I’m here for 15 weeks, and that I have time to explore. Pushing the bounds of my comfort zone and trying new things doesn’t need to be rushed. Growth takes time.

As I’m putting the final touches on this post, orientation and my second day of interning have already passed, and I can already feel the nervous energy that surrounded me being replaced with an acceptance of my new environment and an excitement to start properly exploring New York.

Let this journey begin!