As this is my first post of 2018, I’d first like to wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope it’s a healthy and productive one for all of you.
As some of you might know from following along here on the blog and on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), I made the move to New York City on December 30th. I’d been talking about doing it for ages, and I’m delighted that I’m finally here (despite it being quite a surreal experience at the moment).
I’ve already fallen in love with the city. There is just something about it that you can’t quite put your finger on, but it’s magical. Especially seeing as I got here in the middle of the New Year celebrations, so there is a definite air of positivity with people throwing themselves into their new year resolutions and making plans.
I’m in Brooklyn at the moment, staying with family. It’s a lovely area of the city, and the view from the rooftop is incredible, allowing you to get an amazing look at some of the landmarks across the East River in Manhattan. I’d honestly spend all day up there taking it in, if it weren’t so cold here at the moment. I knew from talking to people before I arrived that it gets cold here in the winter months, but it’s been chilly to say the least, and is supposed to get colder. New Years Eve was the coldest on record in 55 years! Luckily though, I don’t really mind the cold too much, as you can just throw on extra layers to keep warm. It’s the heat I struggle with, because once you’re hot, it’s hard to cool yourself down. So, I have that to look forward to when summer roles around.
I’ve only been here a couple of days, and most of that has been getting to know the city with lots of walking and familiarising myself with the subway, as well as throwing myself into the job search. But I’ve already made a few observations in my short time here, and I thought I’d share them with you. Perhaps you’re coming here soon and are reading up on anything you can find, so maybe you’ll find something useful to take note of.
Register for everything you need to as quick as possible
If you come over on a Grad Visa like I have, make sure you register with SEVIS within 20 days of your arrival. Just give CIEE a call, who are your sponsor in the US, and they will guide you through this. You need to do this before you can register for a Social Security Number, which you will need for a whole host of things, from arranging payment at work and setting up a bank account. So if at all possible, try and get all the little bits sorted as soon as you can, to save yourself some hassle.
Good Boots and a Good Coat
If you are coming to New York this time of year, these two things are a necessity. A good, warm coat will see you right during the cold weather, so don’t be afraid to splash out a little on one. Consider it an investment, as you will get the use out of it year after year. Also equally important is a good pair of boots, as you are going to be doing a LOT of walking. January is a great time to stock up on these, as you can get some great deals in the new year sales if you shop around. I got this London Fog wool coat in Macy’s for $150, $200 off. And these Timberland Boots for $99 at City Streets. And I intend on getting the wear out of both.
In the days after you land, get to your nearest subway station and buy a metro card. You can buy the card directly from the machines, and top it up to get yourself started. You can then keep topping it up as you need to. Just do what I did and throw $50 on to start. Believe me, the subway is so convenient and straight forward to use and you will be using it a LOT. People I’ve spoke to have said they rarely uses the bus, if ever. And taxis can be crazy expensive, so the subway is likely going to be your most used mode of transport (apart from your legs).
It’s true what they say – New York moves a million miles a minute. So if you are a slow walker, be prepared for that to change, or else resign yourself to a life of being trampled on in the rush.
While I haven’t encountered any reason to feel unsafe, from speaking to people who have lived here for years, it’s important to be vigilant of somethings. Never carry valuables like your phone or wallet in back pockets of jeans, you are practically drawing the pick-pockets to you. If you do this, be ready to change. Keep everything in front pockets, or even better, in zipped up pockets. Like I say, New York is completely safe for the most part, but you can avoid some unnecessary hardships by being a bit cautious.
Navigating the streets
If at all possible, avoid jaywalking. Not because it’s illegal (apparently it is rarely enforced) but because this isn’t like Ireland. The chances of getting rundown are way higher here. Wait for the light, and even then don’t be surprised if cars waiting for you to pass come right up next to you as they wait to make a turn or move on.
One of those things you hear people talking about a lot, is that you will encounter them frequently. And I can confirm it’s true. We decided to grab a burger at Shake Shack (delish by the way 👌🏻) in Madison Square Park while out exploring the other night, and we literally saw about 3 rats scuttling around near the bushes and the tables looking for scraps. But sure, it’s outdoors and to be expected in a big city. They won’t bother you. Thankfully I haven’t experienced any in my Uncle’s apartment.
Given that the city is awash with people, cars, public transport, etc, I am amazed at the amount of people walking around with headphones on. If you want my advice, ditch the headphones while you are walking around. It’s best to be completely aware of what is going on around you, no matter if you are new here, or have lived in the city for years.
Strange people on the subway
The subway is a great place for people watching, and you literally will encounter all kinds of weird and wacky people. Instagram accounts like these are telling the true story.
Don’t take things personally
Given that there are millions of people milling around New York, workers in shops and other places can get a little abrupt when dealing with crowds. Don’t take it personally, 9 out of 10 people here are lovely and will always help if you need it. It can just get a little hectic at times, so don’t take things to heart. Nothing is meant by it and it’s not personal.
Those are just a few things that have caught my attention since I got here. I’m looking forward to sharing the journey here on the blog and social media, so make sure to bookmark the blog and follow on social media if you are interested in seeing what I get up to. As always, your support is hugely appreciated.