This entry first published January 27, 2012.
Embarking on Ithaca College’s pilot New York City program has indeed been an adventure: the feeling that I’m blazing a path for future IC generations to come is both daunting and invigorating. Growing up in a Manhattan suburb my entire life, I thought I had a decent understanding about what my semester in New York would be like. However, my first weeks in Manhattan have completely shattered and exceeded my previous expectations. Here are some of the biggest misconceptions I had about living in New York City.
- The city is too expensive on a college budget. It’s no mystery that Manhattan can be pricey. New York City is a cultural, educational, and corporate mecca, so naturally prices may be a bit skewed. However, the money-conscious can easily navigate the city with ease. For my fellow foodies, many restaurants have half-priced appetizers or meals during happy hour, and lunch specials (especially at sushi or Chinese joints) can be a steal! A quick search on Yelp can give amazing tips for any neighborhood. Also, avoid chains in major tourist areas: they hike up the prices. For entertainment, the Met has a “suggested” admission price, as does the Bronx Zoo on Wednesdays. Plus, a stroll through Central Park or an unfamiliar neighborhood is a free, fun-filled adventure!
- Having alone time is impossible. Living in the most populated city in America, it’s easy to believe that you will never have time to just relax by yourself. I can be a bit of an introvert, and I relish my time spent watching a movie or reading a good book. However, not only have I had my much-needed alone time, but I have felt (dare I say it) bored! Although NYC may be a hectic metropolis, you need to remember that you’re not always going to be in the middle of it. And when you want solitude but get stir-crazy sitting in your apartment, taking a walk around your neighborhood is the perfect relief. It’s amazing how on a crowded street you can feel so at peace.
- The city loses its appeal in time. One of my foremost worries about living in Manhattan was that the glorified image of the city I had created in my mind would be tarnished. However, when you’re living somewhere as fascinating and exciting as New York City, the passion never fades. Sure, my eyes don’t light up like they did the first time I saw the lights of Times Square, and walking to my subway stop becomes a task in the cold winter months. Still, when you least expect it, the magic of the city will creep up on you once again. Just yesterday while picking up products for my internship, I was taken aback by the beauty of Battery Park overlooking the Hudson River. Last week, I stopped in my tracks as I passed the World Trade Center construction and was consumed by emotions. Even the streets I travel down regularly are far from mundane- if you stop and look around, you’ll always notice something new!