I've lived in Queens, New York my whole entire life, with the Big Apple just a 45-minute commute on the A train. I grew up seeing halal food carts on every few streets, meeting lots of people of different ethnicities and backgrounds and hearing New Yorkers scream profanity at each other for the smallest things (like bumping into one another while speed walking in the same direction). I also grew up with my neighbors living so close to me, they can literally hear when I sing in the shower.
Since I've lived in this environment my whole life, I've often taken it for granted. I remember visiting family out-of-state, like Florida and Pennsylvania, and envying their large houses and backyards, meanwhile, I lived in a small house that was more expensive to live in than theirs. When I asked about what they usually do on the weekends, however, my cousins would say it's always pretty boring because there's never anything to do there besides go to the mall, which is why they'd much rather live in NYC.
Though I was grateful that the city is full of hidden gems, and is never a dull place to be, I still had a desire to leave the nest, and go somewhere where I would feel, say, a culture shock. That's why for college I knew I wanted to dorm outside of the city at a SUNY rather than staying home and commuting there for school, like I would always do. Plus, MetroCards are always annoying to put money in.
I guess, in a way, coming to Stony Brook made me feel a little culture shock. There's less diversity than I'm used to, no small corner-store delis, and not a lot of people who speak with the New York slang that sounds like home to me. I don't even know where to get some good halal food around here. As for leisure activities, the city would have cool museums, art galleries, escape rooms, outdoor parks, and street performances; just a few experiences I definitely miss seeing now that I'm in college. My city friends back home would jokingly call me a "Long Islander" because I'm spending so much time trying to adjust to living in this peaceful environment.
While Stony Brook is a great escape from the hectic city life, I realized I could never get rid of the inner New York in me. It really shaped who I am and I notice it every day, even in the little things, like when I naturally walk fast, and someone asks me "Where are you rushing to go?" Of course, I'd have to explain to them that this is the pace I'm used to walking, thanks to the busy streets of Manhattan.
Overall, I'm glad that I physically came out of my comfort zone and experienced life outside of the city. It made me understand all the perks of living in the city when I hadn't realized them before and only noticed the cons. It also is refreshing to live amongst nature for a change, but in the end, the sight of tall buildings and close-knit neighborhoods will always look the most familiar to me.