“You’re so lucky your in New York”, is something I’ve been told a lot from various people back home. Don’t get me wrong, from the little time I have been here (just over a week), I have met some amazing people, seen a great deal of the city and partially found my feet (there is still a long way to go, but they are slowly coming out of hiding).
It would be very easy for me to type overly exclaimed sentences on every blog post I write, only mentioning the snippets of my day that filled my heart with joy, happiness and a sense of awe from being in such a great city. However, that wouldn’t be right. There is a lot of bad that comes with the great, and I think honesty is the best policy. So here goes. Want to know the real deal of life in New York? Lets start with the subway. Yes, it runs 24 hours a day, which is incredible. But unlike the tube in London, it comes far less frequently. The other night, I had to wait 40 minutes for the next train to come. I then had to change twice more with a lot more waiting time squashed in between. As a result, it took me two hours to get back home. I think it might have been quicker walking. Another thing is the smell. My oh my. It is so unbelievably packed with people all day everyday, that by noon you really don’t want to be hovering around it for more time than you can help. The smell has faded these last few days, which makes me suspicious that I have just gotten used to it.
As an outsider, I have also noticed a huge cultural language barrier. As a super polite English person, I find the directness of New Yorkers startling. When I arrived at my hotel last week, the receptionist looked at my passport photo and exclaimed “my, you look so much better in person”. I guess that is nice, in a backhanded kind of way…
Although Instagram (my addiction) manages to perceive an idealistic brightly coloured visual documentation of your life, I have managed to carefully edit out some of the everyday unattractive elements of my experience so far in New York. For example, my legs are hidden in any photograph of myself. If you were to see them now, you would be in for a treat. I have a mix of bruises of all shapes and shades, bites and scratches. Climbing balconies, questionable bed bugs (I am praying they are mosquito bites) and clumsy walking are now part of my everyday existence and appearance.
Another thing people don’t seem to get is that although I am staying in Manhattan, I am actually in Harlem. Although it is a super nice part, the West is best and all that (it just rhymes, I don’t really feel like that for everything – although I am sure Kayne likes it – boom!), I have managed to find myself in the East far too regularly. Without wanting to insult anyone that lives there, I will just point out that walking along alone at night that side of town is not that glam.
I am also still getting used to things like the tipping culture, getting people to understand my sarcasm rather than mistaking me for a very self deprecating posh girl, and getting used to people coming over and telling me they like my voice. Having said this, I have met some pretty awesome people who I hope I will stay friends with. As a good friend of mine would say – its not all bad, give yourself a pat on the back (and a slice of pizza – sorry, I just needed a link to my next photo!)
The point of this post really, is just to say that just because I am (anyone is) having a great time somewhere, it doesn’t mean that filtered photographs can represent the daily changes to your routine, the jet lag and cultural barriers that you face when moving somewhere new. For most of the time these things are exciting, fun and at times damn right tragic, but they are also just part of my new normal, my reality. Travelling/ living abroad is great fun, but its not luck that gets you there, its how you go about making it work.