New To New York

February 26th, 2018

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In our new Stonehenge Resident Blog Post Series, we ask our residents to write about a topic that's important to them. Ashleigh Lloyd from The Ritz Plaza just moved from across the pound and wants to share some helpful tips for adjusting to the city. ----- In November 2017 I picked up my life and belongings in the UK (Birmingham to be exact) and set them down in Manhattan! I was lucky in that my transition was with my job which means that I had plenty of support and people to ask when I had simple questions about how to get something done. That being said, there are certain things that no amount of ‘orientation’ can prepare you for; the bright lights, loud sounds and constant buzz were the things I was expecting, the ‘language barrier’ one of the things I was not. As a born and raised English-speaker, you would think this would be pretty straight forward. It turns out that beyond the well-known differences (road/street, payment/sidewalk, rubbish/trash, trousers/pants…. I could go on) there are a whole host of New York slang terms that I don’t understand, and I can’t even count the number of times I say something which would be totally normal at home, and the locals look at me with blank faces… …anyway! Those challenges aside, my first 3 months have flown by. I spend my evenings and weekends trying to explore as much as I can; trying to see all the typical tourist things (having only ever visited once before as a child), but also trying to learn my way around, figure out where the locals hang out and most importantly, find out where I can do a weekly food shop for one person for under $100! (If anyone has that nailed… please, let me know!). What I have worked out so far is that New York is an incredible city, with a ton of things to offer- and that actually, the two years I will be spending here may not be enough to feel like I have experienced it all. That being said, there are some fantastic things I have already had the chance to see and do, and for any other newbies to the city, I thought I would share some of the things I am glad I started doing as soon as I moved here….  

1. BE A TOURIST!

While you will have to deal with the crowds, this city is a popular holiday destination for a reason! The main tourist attractions in lots of cities I have visited have disappointed or bored me but I think that New York has something for everyone on this front. That being said, you can still be savvy, and tourist like a local. My top tips here:
  • Walk everywhere… it will help you get your bearings and see tons of things ‘by accident.'
  • Figure out the quieter times of the day, week, year to visit each attraction. One thing it took me a while to realize was that most of New York’s fantastic and diverse museums have one day/ timeslot per week where entry fees are drastically reduced or even free. I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy these kinds of attractions more if they aren’t breaking the bank!
  • Lots of my friends in the UK gave me New York City Tourist Guides as a leaving gift, most of these could easily be replaced by a smartphone and google… but one of them in particular is really great when you are exploring the city. It’s Christopher Winn’s "I Never Knew That About New York." It's not your typical tourist guide. It has short stories, facts and figures about each neighborhood/area and some suggested walking routes. I would strongly recommend this for any reluctant tourists! Also helps you sound more knowledgeable when you have visitors.
 

2. GET INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY

How you go about this is going to be different for everyone, but as the third biggest city I have lived in, New York has by far the most opportunities to do this; it might be something about how busy the city is or how many people relocate here (from near and far) but whatever the reason there are some great ways to relax, meet new people and give back to the local community. The two best things I have found so far are; it's free to join running clubs, which are super relaxed, keep me motivated to stay in shape and a great way to meet people; and a community project in the Lower East Side where volunteers run sports sessions for disabled and special needs kids and young adults. Like I say… everyone enjoys different activities, but with the number of these on offer… there must be something for everyone! And if like me you have arrived in the city with work, it is a great way to meet people from different backgrounds, and even some ‘real New Yorkers!’.  

3. EAT….EVERYTHING!

Everyone knows that the food in New York is incredible, from the iconic hot dog & pretzel stands, to gourmet fine dining, it is undeniable that this city is a foodie heaven… and not that I am going to keep moaning about how expensive grocery shopping is… you can eat out almost every evening and not spend much more than if you cooked at home! Not only that, from my location in Midtown West, I don’t think there is a single cuisine I couldn’t find within a 15-minute walk. My favorite type of food outlet so far as to be the food markets, generally offering several great options in one location. Food markets are a great atmosphere and more importantly, there's always a bargain to be found. So far my top two (I just couldn’t narrow this down to one favorite) are Gansevoort Market & Urban Space, but I look forward to discovering more! (Now you see why I am so keen on that running club…)