It wouldn’t be my life if my first impressions of New York didn’t come with a couple of mad stories. After a temporarily suspended visa for no good reason at all, sweating in the US border control inspection room at Dublin airport (because I confessed that I packed my cacti babies) and arriving at my company-arranged-apartment in NYC to find out that my booking did not exist – I definitely had an interesting start to my US adventure.
My first impressions of New York include seeing the city in lock down for a UN Assembly and a Trump visit. I’ve been handed several ‘Jesus Loves You’ leaflets, I saw almond butter that cost a frightening $19.95 and I’ve also passed more fast food restaurants dedicated to fried chicken, than I could have ever imagined.
The beeping and the sirens… will they ever stop? Figuring out the subway is still a challenge but I have finally managed to understand this cubic address system, thank goodness. When house hunting I decided that I didn’t like Harlem (at all), but I did like Brooklyn and on day four, I very thankfully, secured a place to live.
My first impressions of New York have included observing some of the most interesting characters. There’s a lot of people who talk to themselves here and I’ve even joined people who sing out loud when playing music, because there’s this fantastic feeling of being able to kind of do whatever the hell you want. Whether it be dressing extravagantly or very loudly video calling your cousin on the 8am commuter train – people seem to just do them. And I like it.
But when it comes to the people, it’s really hard to observe the amount of homeless here and hearing some of things that they say, most particularly on the subway. Some will shout and be aggressive which is obviously quite scary, but then some are quiet and simply ask for change. What’s the solution when you can’t give every single person some money?
I’ve heard some scary stories and been given plenty of warnings about not giving them anything and to not even make eye contact. When I was living in Dublin and Brussels, I 100% would smile at any homeless person that I made eye contact with, no question. But apparently that’s not a good move here. I am still finding a way to deal with the daily internal battle of wanting to help someone by even giving them a smile, versus the fear that you will provoke the wrong person and get yourself into a bad situation. If anyone has any advice other than to ignore the people who approach us, I would truly love to hear it.
Besides from finding myself already bothered by the serious homeless problem, my first impressions of New York have been pretty great. Yes the rent is extortionate, I paid $16 for the worst Espresso Martini of all time and the lines at Trader Joe’s do be approximately 11 hours. BUT, you just cannot deny the vibes here and I cannot complain that Uber Eats will deliver Popeyes to my door when I’m hungover.
To say that I feel homesick would be a lie as I currently live with 5 Irish buachaillí (not going to lie I had to Google that spelling). I promised myself that when I moved away this time, I would not just stick to my fellow homelanders. But there I was last weekend, watching a Conor McGregor fight in a bar called ‘The Craic’… currently trying my best to not be a walking stereotype…
Finally one of the important first impressions of New York, the big question: Do I feel safe?
Yes absolutely. There’s simply too many people around all the time, to be worried (mom I hope you’re reading this). I also live in the maddest neighbourhood with tons of people who are always around. Although I did have a funny momo when I was wandering through my area on the first weekend that I moved in.
I heard a lot of shouting and it really sounded like a viciously violent fight had broke out. When I walked past, I saw that it was in fact, a preacher with a big microphone, keyboard and surround sound system, with about a dozen extremely bizarrely dressed people, all passionately screaming with him. They were praising the lord and saying some phenomenal stuff about God saving us all. Probably the best thing I’ve ever seen.
It was never on my ‘agenda’ to make it to New York. But there’s a buzz here that people talk about and I definitely feel it. This is my third time in the city, but I still feel giddy looking up at the skyscrapers and I fan girl every single morning when my train crosses the bridge into Manhattan.
If you’ve live in/ have lived in NY and have any tips for me let me know! I need to find flea markets and affordable plants in Brooklyn… hit me up!