I grew up in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota. You know the state that you had no idea people lived in? Where my graduating class was 13 people. Where you had to drive 60 miles if you wanted fast food. Yep. That was my life. Now, as a 24-year-old young professional in the real world, I have decided to pursue travel writing. I had my first trip to NYC, my first trip to the upper East Coast in general, and I can say I was more than nervous. The least of my worries was the harsh winter weather. As I flew into the airport, I thought about all the things I thought I knew about New York: Time Square, Lady Liberty, Central Park, the small spaces, the city that never sleeps, the depressed people. What I came to discover was some things weren’t quite what they seemed, and some were extremely accurate. Here is NYC at a glance from a young Midwestern girl:
- New Yorkers aren’t necessarily rude. They just don’t care about you. Half the time they don’t even see you. Everyone is on their way somewhere and they aren’t stopping to tell you hi or chit-chat.
- There are thousands of restaurants, and most of them you don’t find online. My best suggestion is to walk down the street. You will find the best food by walking into a little hole in the wall. Think of it this way: If you can only find a small percentage online, you see what everyone else sees, so guess where it's going to be extra crowded?
- Going anywhere is a trip, especially when it's cold out. If you plan on walking, I suggest limiting what you are carrying because it can turn into a trek even though things look very close together. If it's cold out, just budget for a lot of taxi/uber/lyft rides. The adventures are a lot less enjoyable if you try to walk in the cold. You don’t really look around and enjoy the scenery.
- You will probably come in close contact with many cars. They do this a lot and it is frightening at first but soon enough you will waltz in front of cars with no care.
- The people have no shame. You will see people practicing their vocals, talking to themselves, to cameras, even to poles, right out in public. Like I said, you are basically non-existent to them.
- There is no such thing as personal space. Period. Whether you are at a tourist destination, shopping, eating, or at a coffee shop, everything is smaller, and there are always more people.
- You must pay for everything. Be careful with this. Even if it’s a “free show” a lot of times you are required to purchase drinks for every ticket or something like that. But where they get you is they charge like $8 for a coke.
- 99 percent of the buildings haven’t been renovated in the last 30 years. Granted, there are a lot of beautiful old buildings. What I’m talking about are the retail spaces that you walk along. The signs and the menus and the marketing all look like they were designed in 1985 and then never touched again.
- You will smell a lot of smells. Good and bad. All I did was walk down the street from my hotel to a restaurant and my hair smelled like cuisines from 8 different countries.
- There really are policemen on horses. I’m not sure why this was such a surprise to me because I have heard that before but for some reason, I didn’t expect to see it. I was also the only one that got excited over the horses like they were gigantic dogs. Maybe it’s because it’s pretty normal to have horses as pets in good ole South Dakota.
I can truly say, after the initial shock of the city, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. I will be much more prepared for my next trip and I will go about things in a different manner. All in all, I had a great week and you will never run out of things to do or see. Would I ever be able to live there? That is a firm no for me. It is definitely somewhere I think everyone should experience though, especially those of us that come from a very different lifestyle.