10 Tips for Surviving NYC: A Newbie’s Guide

Despite the stress and hustle of New York, I am writing more than I ever have and it feels luxurious and fun… so at least I can keep that in mind when I doubt the worth of moving here! I wanted to be a writer… now I am! Broke, but not starving 😉

Everywhere you turn here are people. Turn your head one way, hundreds of people in the crowd. Turn your head the other, hundreds more. Walk a block, hundreds of new people you’ve never seen. Immigrants, tourists, locals, punks, goths, glamour girls, businessmen, hobos, musicians, artists, kids, old people… You could spend a year here and never run into anyone you’ve seen before.

After a very stressful week, I’ve compiled a list of things I learned in my first month in New York.

1. Anytime you have an opportunity to use a clean private restroom, DO IT. Even if you don’t have to go. Even if you went 10 minutes ago. New York has millions of people, and almost zero viable options for relieving yourself when out and about in public.

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2. Don’t be fooled by warm weather. The next day it will be back to 30 degrees. When in doubt, overdress. Better to be mistaken for a strange Norwegian tourist decked out in earmuffs, legwarmers, and furry boots than to set out in the morning cheerful and end up trudging home at 11pm cursing the Nor’Easter and your own decision to leave Southern California in September.

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3. Allow yourself an extra half hour to get anywhere. Chances are there’ll be delays on the subway because of “track repairs,” or if not you’ll walk (confidently) five avenues in the wrong direction before realizing the ocean is East and not West. Also, Google maps is always wrong.

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4.  Don’t even THINK about trying to rent in New York without a guarantor. Big time rookie mistake to assume the landlord will trust your income as a post-college freelancer. Ha.

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5. You are not special for moving to New York to pursue your creative passions. You are one OF a million, not one IN a million. You are special for fashioning a beer coozy out of a knitted headband and building a desk out of tree bark (true story) because you’re on a budget. Take THAT Etsy!

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6. Always bring a book or magazine with you for the subway. No matter how severe your denial is that maybe this time they will have figured out how to equip the underground tunnels with mobile wireless reception, you’ll always end up regretting this massive waste of time and taking mundane photos of subway sleepers or people’s feet. Bonus: Always carry your cell phone charger. AT&T service sucked even before Hurricane Sandy took out every tower in Brooklyn.

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7. Never second-guess your instinct to eat pizza when the craving hits. Pizza is New York’s greatest treasure (outside of immigrants and HONY). It’s cheap, and if you don’t eat it now you’ll end up spending twenty bucks on a measly bowl of dry quinoa salad later on. Dumplings will also never lead you wrong.

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8. Do NOT text in the crosswalk. You WILL get hit by a taxi, or sworn at by the angry New Yorker you blindly bump into, who learned this lesson years ago and has no patience for your bumbling newbie pedestrian skills.

9. (Warning: Spoiler Alert!) Trader Joe’s is NOT your friend. No matter how cheap it is, the line will leave you feeling like it’s the apocalypse and Mayor Bloomberg has announced the coming of famine across the Tri-State area. And pulling out your hair faster than a Trichotillomaniac. Even if you’re broke in your 20’s, you’ll have to choose between those tantalizing $2 frozen potstickers and the massive panic attack that awaits you in the crowds.

10. Whenever you’re feeling down or overwhelmed, leave your laptop and go for a walk in the park. Autumn leaves, children in full-body bear outfits, and the crisp air will leave you just exhilarated enough to survive one more day of your reckless adventure in New York.

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3 comments

  1. another home run, giants gurl! i love it when you have fun with the written word and your imagination and the weather and technology (or lack thereof) and food. except trader joe’s!


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