You stand there, a New York amateur, greener than the outer borough cabs and newer than Hamilton’s beats. It feels like everything is beautiful and right with the world. Once you come to New York you suddenly understand the songs, movies, and books that only a place like this could inspire. However, beyond all intangible emotions, there are also some practical things that you learn during your first couple of weeks in the city. These lessons are (almost) as important.
1. EVERYONE HERE JAY WALKS. It’s great. Rules are fun to disobey. It’s even more fun when a group of people decide not to obey them simultaneously, mostly because it feels a little bit like a revolution, like Les Mis or something. LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ!!! (…sorry…I got carried away…) In order to jaywalk most efficiently, most people actually walk out to the end of the line of parked cars so when a gap comes in the cars they are actually already halfway across the street. It’s fantastic. The people of New York are jaywalking geniuses.
2. Park yourself in a park. Anyone who says that New York is too urban just hasn’t explored the city. There is so much green space here. Everywhere you turn there’s another park, another river, another gorgeous view, and sometimes even exciting wildlife! (Okay, that was a euphemism for rats, but the other things are true.) Carl Shurz, Madison Square, and Nelson Rockefeller are all beautiful parks that you should probably go check out this instant, and that’s just in Manhattan! Of course you can’t overlook the big kahuna, Central Park. Not only is it an excellent setting for all of your rom-com fantasies, but it is also one of the most exquisite green spaces you’ll ever see. Spanning 843 acres and containing multiple lakes, meadows, and a zoo, you can seriously get lost in it until it feels like you’re in the wilderness.
3. Hold your skirt down when you walk over vents in the sidewalk. For any skirt wearing city goers: when the subway goes through the tunnel it pushes the air that’s in the tunnel up and out of the vents. This air can be your enemy. It’s always fun to emulate Marilyn Monroe, but maybe not at 8 in the morning while a sweet family from Arizona is asking you for directions. This seems like random advice, but it’s important. (Trust me.)
4. Sometimes there are random drips of water. It’s not raining. They’re just coming off of buildings. Just brush the water off and don’t think too much about it.
5. Everyone here is tall. Maybe it’s simply because there are more people in this city, therefore the numbers of every demographic are larger, but it feels like the percentage of tall people is significantly higher here (pun intended). Even if you’re no member of the lollipop guild, you might find yourself looking up to people a lot more frequently. Then again, everything is just taller here (by “everything” I really just mean “buildings”), so maybe it’s to be expected.
6. Wear good shoes, carry cute shoes. Fashion game here in New York is ON POINT. There are regularly people who are clearly so fabulous you may have to resist the urge to bow down and call them Queen. However, New York is also incredibly walkable. Walking is probably the fastest way to get somewhere in most short to medium distanced situations. Therefore, wear comfortable shoes, because you are going to be walking and as a New Yorker you’re going to be walking fast — but bring cute shoes, so when you arrive at your destination you can change and give the fashion gurus a run for their money.
7. Hand sanitizer is your best friend. There are over 8 million people in New York. There are over 10 trillion germs on a person. That is approximately OVER A QUINTILLION GERMS!!!! (Not a made up number.) Ew. Ew, ew, ew. Hand sanitizer is 100% necessary for daily life in this city. You never know what someone has done right before they get on the subway…
8. Transit workers are the best. In all weather conditions at all times of day, they’ll be there for you. They’re helpful, they tell you where the buses are going, they tell you to get certain apps to help you navigate mass transport, they keep the crazies from being crazy to the other people on the bus, and sometimes, sometimes, it will be early in the morning and you’re trying to get to work on time and they will reopen the train doors for you. But only sometimes, don’t count on it. They have to be there for everyone else too.
9. Scratch that, everyone’s the best. New Yorkers are the nicest. You always hear about New Yorkers being focused and unfriendly, so it may be your natural inclination to not smile too much, and practice a withering stare to give cabs who try to run you over. Besides the cabbie situation, this myth could not be more wrong. New Yorkers are some of the nicest people out there. They always seem to be looking out for each other and willing to help people out if they need it. There’s an indescribable small-town-New-York feel that comes from so many people existing in such close quarters. It’s really sort of beautiful.
Now that you know your stuff you’re ready to live your life and take on the city. Walk somewhere. Do something. bando maps Go explore.
Prepare yourself to be awoken by the city that never sleeps.