Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Energy of NYC

I'm determined to take advantage of New York City as much as possible this summer. I started to keep a continuously growing bucket list of things I wanted to do, but that list is now overwhelmingly long. No matter how much time I spend here, I don't think I'll ever cross all of the restaurants, shops, attractions, Broadway shows, or places off of my list. I just don't have the time or money to explore all that the city has to offer.

Fortunately, I have been able to cross a few items off of my list in the month I've been here. I did most of the typical touristy stuff (Times Square, a Broadway show, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art) and have started exploring a little deeper (Little Italy, Soho, Central Park, Chelsea). Living here for a month doesn't make me an NYC expert by any means, but I thought I'd share some of my experiences and what I've picked up about life and tourism in the Big Apple.

I'll start off with the basics: the people and the atmosphere.

New York City has a certain energy that I find difficult to describe. There's a general sense of hope and excitement, and a very potent feeling that anything is possible. The fast-paced lifestyle is invigorating and fresh. After being here a month, though, the excitement has started to fade with every late subway, every crowded sidewalk, and every sun-blocking skyscraper.

I can easily see how the city can be overwhelming; you cross so many people every day that you start to blend in. Escaping the crowds is almost impossible in Manhattan. Coming from a small Midwestern town that was deserted by 10 p.m. every night, I wasn't too fond of this aspect of NYC when I first came here. However, I've learned to love the energy and excitement (in small doses), and now I feel like my hometown will be extremely boring when I return for a couple of weeks in August.

On to the people. New Yorkers have a reputation for being impatient, rude, and hurried. I've found this stereotype somewhat, but not entirely, true. Everyone always walks absurdly fast, crossing the intersections before the walking sign even turns green. Most people keep to themselves- no small talk on the subways. Part of the apparent hostility is probably due to the sheer amount of people in the city; everyone wants some degree of privacy on their commute.

On a more positive note, I've noticed that New Yorkers are usually willing to help. They may get annoyed when you stop in the middle of a busy sidewalk to take a picture of a skyscraper, but they will likely be happy to give you directions to the nearest subway station. I'm also constantly amazed by the amount of diversity here. The sheer amount of different languages I’ve heard and clothing I’ve seen is almost dizzying. In a city of millions, I find it refreshing that nobody looks and acts exactly the same.