Tip #1: Be prepared for the clusterf*ck that is the subway.
There are a lot of things that they never tell you about the subway. Yeah, it is disgusting and the people are weird, but that is not what I’m talking about. People never warn you that there are certain rules and courtesies that go along with riding the subway-- except there is no handbook. This isn't like taking your drivers test. In the city the only way to learn the rules is through experience. The first rule I learned was find something stable to hold onto and don't let go. I’ve learned the hard way that it won’t end well if you don't find the nearest seat, bar, or person. Just find something. I’m telling you it will save you a terrible fall and extreme humiliation.
Tip #2: Avoid eye contact.
This rule is especially applicable in Times Square. Avoiding eye contact will save you from encountering rude and aggressive sales people. If they find any sort of sign that you are a tourist or new to the city (eye contact is a huge sign), they will try to convince you to go to some comedy club (which seems free but there is usually a 15 drink minimum) or take a ride on the sightseeing buses (which seem cool but you just spend majority of the tour experiencing authentic New York traffic).
Bonus tip for when the sales people are being too aggressive: when asked if you like comedy (which if you are in Times Square you will be asked) respond with “If by comedy you mean playing in puddles of blood than yes I love comedy!” and add a maniacal laugh. Although I only do this if they are being really aggressive, because they are just trying to make a living like the rest of us.
Tip #3: Prepare for mostly unpleasant smells.
The city has its good and bad qualities. So there are some good smells, but for every amazing pizza shop aroma you smell there are 10 odors of piss, sweat, or garbage that outweigh it. I wish shows like Sex and the City could have incorporated smell. I now find myself wondering, “I wonder what it smells like outside Carrie’s apartment?" Gossip Girl and Friends never discussed how big of a factor smell is in the city. Upon arrival, be prepared to embrace a whole lot of gag-worthy aromas.
Tip #4: Be weary of weirdos.
Now obviously there is the man on the subway talking to himself, or the lady who runs around screaming about how the government is spying on her. Obviously avoid them. But in New York City anyone can be a weirdo. I’ve encountered the most “normal” of people can fool you. You may assume that the relatively normal girl standing on the corner is trustworthy and can be asked for directions, but that same girl will reply by screaming in your face about how she was abducted by an alien that resembled Ronald Reagan.
Tip #5: Enjoy the city for there is really no place like it.
But don’t feel discouraged to come to the city after reading my account of it. New York is filled with some of the best and worst things in this world. I’ve developed such a paradoxical relationship with the city. In the short time I’ve been here I’ve felt liberated. I've met great people and made great friends. I’ve been inspired and been in a constant state of awe of such a crazy world. But, I’ve also felt claustrophobic, gross from even a 4 minute subway ride, sick from food places I was too trusting of, and accosted by too many rude people. But all parts of the world are like that, except in New York everything is maximized times 10. Some of the best things include the noises, the smells, the crowded areas, the people, and the sights. And some of the worst things include the noises, the smells, the crowded areas, the people, and the sights. Like I said the worst and the best. No in-between.