An Outsider's Take On Life In NYC
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An Outsider's Take On Life In NYC

A first time New Yorker gets used to life in the Big Apple.

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An Outsider's Take On Life In NYC

I've been living in New York City for almost two weeks now and I've noticed some changes in myself, both physical and mental. I come from the flatlands of the midwest, where the tallest structure around is usually a church, and when someone said "subway" you thought they were talking about a sandwich shop. These last two weeks have been both a culture shock and an assault on the senses, but here's an outsider's take on how big city life can change a person.

For one, I've become a much heavier sleeper. I definitely sleep less than I did back home, giving some truth to New York being "the city that never sleeps," but I've noticed that the racket of honking horns, squeaking brakes, and rumbling engines during the morning commute affects me less and less with each passing day. I'm normally such a light sleeper that someone thinking too hard in the room next to me would jostle me awake. Now, I imagine that at the end of this 10-week internship, a brick crashing through my bedroom window won't disturb me a bit.

While on the topic of noise, I want to spend a moment talking about the iconic sound of New York, the honking of car horns. Where I'm from, a honking horn meant one of two things. One, the person at the front of the line at a red light wasn't paying attention and someone behind them is a just little impatient. And two, someone is holding a "Honk if you love Jesus" sign on the corner and someone kindly obliges them. In both cases, a simple tap on the horn would suffice.

In New York, however, if you hesitate for a fraction of a second anywhere on the road, the person behind you is throwing themselves at their steering wheel. If it was possible to honk the horn with one's whole body, New York City cab drivers have mastered this art. Never mind the thousands of people on a given block that might be trying to sleep at 6:30 a.m., some guy just tapped his brakes while turning left to avoid hitting a pedestrian!

Deep below the noisy streets of New York, there's a whole new world filled with sights and sounds all its own. If you're in the city and you aren't walking or driving to work in the morning, you're taking the subway. As I mentioned earlier, the word "subway" is a lot more than a place to get a sandwich here. It's a large portion of the population's only means of transportation. And in a city of nearly 10 million people, it can get a little crowded at rush hour.

This brings me to the issue of personal space, and how it's becoming less of an issue for me. Just this past weekend, I took a subway uptown from Times Square at around 6:00 p.m. Big mistake. I spent the next 20 minutes crammed up against the sweaty back of a Middle Eastern gentleman, pinned between him the door of the subway car. To my left, a woman was consoling her hysterical son, who was struggling to overcome the horror of almost being left on the platform because he didn't think he could fit on board. So I have someone else's bodily fluids soaking into my shirt at my front, a crying child to my left, and the general heat and stench of a packed subway car as the ambiance. Needless to say, my "bubble" of personal space has gotten a lot smaller in the last two weeks.

And let me remind you, I've only been here for two weeks. This has got me thinking, am I going to come back home with a thick New York accent and a short temper? Am I going to start honking at mothers pushing a stroller too slow across an intersection? I certainly hope not, because I'd hate to leave this awesome place with a bad taste in my mouth. I, for one, am really loving life in the big city. There's always something to do, and there's no shortage of people to do something with. So for now, I'm going to enjoy the Empire State of mind.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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