Maybe you have been to New York, or maybe you haven’t. I lived there for my freshman year of college. Now, when I say that I lived in New York, I’m not talking about New York City. New York City is called, and they did this intentionally, New York City. They placed the “City” part in the name to avoid the confusion between the city and the state. Therefore, when I refer to New York, I am referring to the state as a whole and not the city. This distinction is something that New Yorkers are very passionate about, and since living there for a total of six months I became passionate about it as well. I have been to New York City many times, but I did not live there. So, with that, let me tell you the top five experiences that I, as a born and raised Minnesotan, endured during my six lovely months in New York.
1. Walking when the light tells you to is just a suggestion.
This one threw me for a loop. In Minnesota, we obey traffic lights. If it tells a pedestrian not to walk, then the pedestrian usually does not walk. But in New York it is very different. If there is no car coming, and sometimes even if there is, pedestrians will walk with barely a moment’s hesitation. It’s not unusual to see a crowd of people walking across a cross walk even though the cars have a green light. People just don’t care there … that is, unless you’re the car waiting for them to cross.
2. Don’t talk to strangers.
This, too, was extremely hard for me to adjust to. They don’t talk to strangers. Now, I come from a very talkative family. My dad could talk for hours to a complete stranger without running out of things to talk about. My mom is very chatty as well. My brothers are insane. And surprisingly, I’m considered the quiet one. But nonetheless, I am accustomed to the casual greeting as you pass someone by in the streets. I am accustomed to starting a conversation with someone you are in line with. I am accustomed to random strangers striking up a conversation with me at the mall simply because they overheard me talking with a friend and thought it was funny. That’s what I’m used to.
So, imagine my surprise when I nearly run into someone in the street, apologize and smile politely at them (with no response, I might add), and then get an, “Are you crazy?” look from my friends who were walking beside me. How was I supposed to know that they take stranger danger to a whole new level? Maybe Minnesotans are just super nosy and have no boundaries, but I never thought it was strange until I lived in New York. What was even harder, however, was returning to Minnesota and having to switch that side of me on again.
3. “What’s a pop?”
My New York friends will understand this a lot more than the rest of you. Pop does not exist on the East Coast. They have no idea what you are even talking about when you refer to a carbonated beverage like that (probably due to the fact that they don’t talk to strangers ever so they don’t experience new dialect). So, one of the hardest adjustments I had to make was referring to “pop” as “soda” or a “pop machine” as a “soda machine.” And if I had the audacity to refer to it as pop, it would blow up into a giant argument (usually friendly, occasionally not). I have always found arguing about it extremely ridiculous, however, since the carbonated beverages that we all love so dearly were originally called “soda pop.” Some states shortened it one way, others another. But if we’re really going to argue about how we refer to carbonated beverages, let’s talk about what they call it down south. “Do you want a Sprite Coke or a Pepsi Coke?” … “I just want a Coke Coke.”
4. “Isn’t Minnesota like really cold?” -Asked by every New Yorker ever.
This one is my favorite. Yes, Minnesota is freezing. Yes, I have experienced -30 degrees (to be clear that’s -30 degrees Fahrenheit, just in case my European friends who may or may not be reading this are confused/horrified). No, I have not seen polar bears or penguins in the wild yet. But let’s think about this for a moment. I think everyone has caught on to the fact that Minnesota is cold. Like, we all know that Minnesota is really, unnaturally, not even hell could warm our winters kind of cold. So, asking a Minnesotan if Minnesota is cold is like asking New Yorkers if New York City has a lot of taxis or pigeons (aka flying rats). We all know that it does. And yet, we ask it anyway. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if Minnesota was cold, I probably would have been able to afford a plane ticket home.
5. Yankees or Mets?
This is a big question. A question that, apparently, you must think out very carefully before replying. If you don’t know the person asking very well, then you should not answer this question (unless you truly are a Yankees or Mets fan). However, because I am neither, I learned to avoid the question like my life depended on it. Your answer could either win you a friend, or make you an enemy. There is no casual answer to this question. You are not kind of a Yankees fan or sort of a Mets fan. You don’t pick which one you like more. You either breathe Yankees, or you breathe Mets or you run for your life. Do not take your reply lightly. Your decision forever labels you. It’s almost like when a Vikings fan finds out someone is a Packers fan. I would say, “and vice versa,” but I think the Packers fans stopped feeling bitter towards Vikings fans and instead started pitying them after they won the Superbowl a couple of years ago. But if the Cubs can do it after a hundred years then maybe the Vikings can too. You’ve just got 53 more years to go, Vikings! Skol!
I could go on and on with my stories from New York, and with my passive aggressive jabs toward my own home. There are so many things that New Yorkers do that I just find so hilarious. ��But I’m going to end it here. Any further and I may never stop typing. Plus, if I go any further I might start losing some friends (if I haven’t already).
I absolutely loved my six months in New York. I love the people I met, and I thoroughly enjoyed the dialect and culture even though it was so different from the one I was raised in. New York changed me for the better. It made me bolder and braver. I met a vast array of people from so many different countries and states. It gave me my first taste of genuine Italian food. It gave me heavenly pizza. But most importantly, it gave me friends that I talk to all of the time and it gave me a New York family that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Although I am glad to be back in Minnesota, I will always miss them and I will always look forward to the next time I get to visit. The world is a crazy different place outside of our Minnesota bubble, and I’m so glad New York was the place to pop mine.