To jump start this blog, I want to begin with some key points that I think every person should know when moving NYC.

I must admit that making this list was difficult. Even though I grew up in NYC, I left the city for 5 years to study and work in Philadelphia. As a result I occupy an outsider-insider relationship with NYC: I love it and am comfortable yet still feel like I don’t have a grasp on everything in the city and am still learning. In any case here are some things that I have learned over time since leaving and I think people will find useful. At some point each of these points will be elaborated on to give additional details.

Health in NYC:
1. You will get sick. And dirty. I came across this great quote: “NYC is the only city that when it rains it makes its own gravy.” That’s how dirty the city is. Be prepared to have the sniffles when you first move here because of the dirt and smog in the air, to buy a humidifier, and to have any light colored clothes turn yellow.

2. If it is not an emergency, you will find yourself waiting forever or not being helped at all. So learn to deal with pain or get yourself some amazing health insurance so you can see a doctor when necessary.

Communication/Awareness in NYC:
1. NYC = 5 BOROUGHS! Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island. No, Long Island doesn’t count, neither does Yonkers. And don’t even think about suggesting Jersey…

2. Learn the lingo: Bodega (corner store); “Can I Get A…” (instead of “May I Please Have A…); “A Slice” (instead of plain pizza slice), “Hero” (instead of hoagie or sub).

3. Don’t confuse being firm with being mean. This will take a while to get used to. Just because people are straight to the point doesn’t make them mean—they simply want to get their point across with as little confusion as possible. So grow a thick skin and be prepared hold your ground. It’ll make you stronger in the end.

4. Don’t let the celebrations of diversity blind you to reality. The biggest selling point about NYC is that it is so diverse. Let me tell you something, my neighborhood was all black. Next door all Jewish. A few blocks up, all hispanic. We didn’t hang out and we didn’t play nice. It was an antagonizing experience. And that’s just on a personal level. Sean Bell and Amadu Diallo show racism on an institutional level. And in case you missed it, a black high ranking off duty police officer was stopped by white cops.That should tell you something.

Transportation in NYC:
1. DO NOT TURN RIGHT ON RED.

2. Know the driving directions to where you need to go BEFORE you get in a cab. If you let the cabbie decide, you will get screwed.

3. Subway lines are recognized by their NUMBERS/LETTERS not colors. If you say you want the green line you will have 4 options: 4, 5, 6, and G.

4. Train exits are labeled SW-NW-SE-NE so you can find your way around. If you need to go to a building located on the “Northeast side of 34th street” there you have it.

5. While NYC may have the largest public transportation system in the world there are frequent delays, it is often filthy, hot, slow, and full of crying babies. Subways are horrible on the weekends, so learn the bus routes and be prepared to walk a lot.

Working in NYC:
1. Bring your A-Game. Don’t come here if you’re looking for an easy escape. Anyone who is anyone moves to NYC with the hope of making it big. Therefore competition for even the smallest things is fierce. However, there are many organizations available for young professionals to help you make a name for yourself in the city. The Young Non-Profit Professionals Network (free) and Young Professionals in New York City ($50) provide networking and professional development opportunities. Check to see if your college has an alumni chapter in the city and participate in their events. With schools like Columbia and NYU nearby, take advantage of conferences and continuing education programs.

2. Volunteering is good for the soul and the resume. Looking through some of the volunteer opportunities available, many of them read like jobs. Additionally, many non-profits have young professionals groups where you can network, learn, and give back to the community. While this may be daunting, it is also exciting since you can contribute to the greater good of the city while learning some skills. So if you are just starting at an entry-level position, buttress that job with some volunteering.

3. Look good. Not everything looks good on everybody but take pride in your appearance. People will notice if you don’t.

Food/Entertainment in NYC:
1. The carts that sell fruits and veggies are great. Don’t be afraid of them. Same for the guys that sell bacon and eggs on the corner.

2. Only tourists go to the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and the Circle Line. Well, tourists and elementary schools for field trips.

3. However, go to museums and galleries whenever you can. The difference between museums and the points of interests mentioned above is that museums and galleries can change their focus and bring you things about the city (and country) that you may never find any place else. You go to the Statue of Liberty once, you’re pretty much done. But at a museum, one week you can be learning about African-Americans in government and the next week about pop music. It’s quite wonderful.

Living/Buying in NYC:
1. Get a library card. The libraries in New York, especially the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library have massive amounts of books, videos, and periodicals—not to mention the research libraries such as the Schomburg which focus on specific groups and events and the technological upgrades taking place across the city at all of the libraries. You learn so much about the city as well as increase your access to a wealth of materials by getting a library card.

2. Cheap purchases are available if you look. Century 21, Loehmann’s, Strand Bookstore, The Greenmarket at Union Square, and Canal Street (on the 6 line) have an abundance of cheap quality items (although with the last two, be prepared to haggle). However, be prepared to become more materialistic. I have never in my life seen so many COACH or Louis Vuitton, and other name brand bags in my life (however, most of them are knock offs from Canal Street).

3. Find your favorite spots. There is so much emphasis on trying everything all the time. However, I have my places that I go to and am quite comfortable with that. The best fried chicken wings and pizza are at this pizza place and Chinese restaurant near my grandmom’s house in Bed-Stuy where I grew up. I love shopping in Union Square. The Promenade is where I like to take walks and relax. I love the Schomburg. I go to United Artists in Brooklyn Heights. Finding places that are comfortable and relatively cheap make your time in NYC much more rewarding.

4. You’ll appreciate your friends and family much much more. It can get lonely in this city and the competition to be the best can get overwhelming. That’s when you find yourself wanting the love and comfort of friends. So make sure that in between work and stress you develop those relationships…they will get you through hell.

2 comments:

howtobeanewyorker said...

Hey, you can totally put the post in your blog. I should have probably read this entry before I wandered into the jungle that is NYC real estate...

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