Isaac and I left our cozy home in Europe in July 2016 with a plan of spending a year in Shanghai, China while doing some traveling before settling down in New England in a cute house with a large backyard to fit all of our rescued animals. But things don’t always go the way we plan… and that can be a good thing!
Since my visa wasn’t ready and our travel plans had spun out of control, we ended up spending another year in Shanghai. During that year we visited Tibet, Seoul, Harbin, Bali, Cebu, Manila and PhiPhi! That Christmas I also got to spend a year in New York and I couldn’t help falling in love with it.
When my visa interview appointment was set and it was time to look for jobs, I pushed Isaac to extend his New England applications down the coast to New York and New Jersey. I had no idea that he would get his dream job in my dream city! We made all of the arrangements and started booking weekend trips and bought New York Sightseeing Passes but it didn’t feel real until we arrived at our first apartment viewing on August 1st.
It only took seven apartment visits to find our perfect apartment and it was far from the house we had pictured as our first home in the US. It was also perfect! It’s no colonial but it’s surprisingly large and affordable for Brooklyn (picture a shoebox that’s meant for knee-length boots instead of flip-flops) plus it has a small shared backyard with one other family.
Our backyard-sharing neighbors are quite rude I must admit, almost as rude as we pictured most New Yorkers to be. We could not have been more wrong! Compared to Shanghai, the people here are extremely polite, respectful and aware of personal space as well as their surroundings.
In addition to not stepping on us and letting people get off the subway before they get on, they don’t stare and always say “excuse me” if they want to get by you, or if they get in your way at all. One guy apologized for almost stepping on me when I was rudely rushing by him without saying “excuse me” to warn him to not step on me. It’s truly night and day!
It’s also making me curious to explore the rest of America and see these terrifyingly friendly and polite people who make New Yorkers seem rude. Our first trip outside of the city will be Block Island RI to visit family, then Cape May NJ to whale watch and in October we have a fall foliage train ride leaving from Connecticut and then a lighthouse bout tour planned along the Hudson River.
Between unpacking, Isaac working, my job hunting and our weekend trips we’re low on time to actually explore the city! We’ve been squeezing in some activities from our Sightseeing pass that have so far included a day at Luna Park followed by the last weekly Coney Island fireworks of the season, we took a night tour of the city, we visited the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, soaked up the day-time views from the Top of the Rock Observatory and then took a stroll through Central Park – yes, our feet hurt.
We also got to spend the day in flapper dresses (well I did, Isaac wore his typical work outfit with bonus suspenders and a fedora). We had booked the tickets for the Jazz Age Lawn Party the moment my visa was approved back in June and it was even more fun than we had expected! We went with an old friend from Prague who also moved to New York and met a brand new dance-loving vegan friend who happens to live in Brooklyn too!
So our first impressions are: New York is awesome! It’s overwhelmingly huge and the atmosphere, in Manhattan especially, is boisterous and pregnant with possibilities that make you want to follow your dreams and shoot for the moon! The people have been friendly, chatty and very welcoming. It’s so diverse and international that no one bats an eyelash about a Ukrainian-born Czech moving here from China.
I will be writing an entire blog post about the subway and how it compares to the horrors that I experienced on my daily commute in China. Let’s just say for now that when I heard a girl complain about the rudeness of a man who stood up before the subway came to a stop because he stumbled and accidentally touched her – well, Isaac had to stop me from bursting out laughing. Because he didn’t want me to be loud on the otherwise quiet crowded subway… and if you’re reading this thinking I’m crazy, I beg you to book a flight to Shanghai and take the metro during rush hour.
Don’t forget to subscribe for more blog posts about New York, fun guest posts by people living on the other side of the world and for more fun travel stories from places both near and far.