Lessons Learned: My NYC Summer

Off Duty / On Style

After spending over two months in New York City, I have learned a lot about both myself and the city. I came to New York not really scared honestly, but more just nervous. What if I didn’t fit in the city like I thought I would? What if I find out this all isn’t for me and I have to start over? Luckily, both of these were quickly proven wrong. For those of you considering moving or having an extended visit to NYC, here are some things that I learned based on my experience.

  1. New Yorkers are not all rude/mean: As someone born and raised in the Midwest, I don’t get why people say that they are nicer there. Personally, I think New Yorkers are friendlier than Midwesterners. I have had more people hold the door for me, say they are sorry for bumping into me or say “bless you” when I sneeze. The only thing that frustrates us is when you walk slowly in front of us when we’re trying to get to work. If you don’t know where you’re going just move aside. Don’t be afraid to ask for help either! It’s better to make sure you go the right way than get lost. But use your judgment, maybe ask the girl  chilling on her phone for directions and not the guy power walking.
  2. Everything is not expensive: Sure, some things are overpriced like movie tickets and   some restaurants, but there are also cheaper options. You will see many people living lavish lifestyles, but if you can’t afford it, don’t do it. Take the subway and pack a lunch, it will pay off in the long run. There are also plenty of good restaurants where you can get a healthy, good meal for around $9, which is the same as what I spend on a meal out at home. We also can’t forget about our friend $1 pizza (TAX INCLUDED). Pro Tip: Out of all the $1 pizza places, 2 Bro’s is by far the best. It’s my second favorite slice in New York behind Artichoke. IMG_4251
  3. Navigating the city is hard but it gets easier: I’ve mostly gotten the hang of it and I don’t have to use Google Maps anywhere near as much anymore, but it’s impossible to know exactly where everything is when you tend to stay in the certain neighborhoods where you work/live. It’s even harder when they keep shutting down trains for construction (follow MTA transit on Twitter for updates on trains not running). I have friends who have lived in New York their whole life and still need Google Maps for specifics. If you’re going to New York make sure to know the difference between Uptown and Downtown and have at least one application with a map on it. I personally use Exit Strategy and I love it. I honestly don’t know how people got around before phones.
  4. Meeting people is pretty easy: New York can get lonely sometimes, but if you are an overall independent person you will love it. Most people here are pretty outgoing so I would not stress about making friends. I was also lucky enough to meet many of my friends from CollegeFashionista (a virtual internship) in person. If you know anyone here, reach out to them even if you aren’t close because we have all been there.Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 3.07.59 PM.png
  5. There is a neighborhood for you: So many people come here and see the basic tourist spots (Herald Square, Times Square, etc.) and they instantly think the city is not for them because it’s too crowded or loud. However, there are honestly so many parts where it does not even feel like you are in New York anymore. My favorite neighborhoods are the East Village, SoHo, Williamsburg and a lot of Brooklyn in general actually. Some of these places can get pricey, but trust me, New York is big enough where you can find something for everyone.
  6. The City kind of sleeps: A lot of things close earlier than you would think here. After 9pm it’s mostly just bars and restaurants open, but oddly enough the trains remain full later than that so no need to worry about using it around midnight. It’s probably because there are some attractions open such as Time’s Square, which is where this picture is from more specifically the Forever 21. Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 3.02.17 PM
  7. Always have cash: A lot of places here don’t take credit cards believe it or not, so just be prepared. This is also essential in case you lose your Metro Card (which I’ve never done thankfully).
  8. Fashion is everything, but function is more important: This city has destroyed so many of my shoes by wearing out the soles. When I move here for good, I definitely plan to invest in some that are more high quality since they go through major wear and tear. Going off of that, sneakers and flats are lifesavers. I rarely see women in heels here and if they are, they packed them in the purse until they get somewhere. When it comes to your clothes, just wear whatever you please. You will see some bold fashion statements as there are many Fashionistas/os that live here, but you will also see a lot of people in normal clothes as well.

    My favorite shoes but never in the rain

  9. Charge your phone and have a portable charger fully charged: You do NOT want to have a dead cell phone here. I honestly don’t know how people lived here before phones. Another thing to have is an umbrella, you don’t want to get caught without one and be forced to buy one from some guy on the street.
  10. Some things are harder to find: The first being bathrooms. Department stores have nice, public restrooms but unless you are shopping on 5th there aren’t many of those around. Use bathrooms when you are by one since many places do not have them or have strict customer only policies. The second thing that is hard to find is cheap water. Living here in the summer made it very important to stay hydrated, but some places have super long lines, get irritated or won’t even serve you free water. I combated this by using a refillable water bottle and also buying a case of plastic ones. You will save money by doing this in the long run since individual bottles cost around $2-4 depending on where you get them and a whole case at Walgreens runs you around $3. The big thing here is that with more people to accommodate, restaurants can’t always be catering to the needs of non-customers.
  11. This city is inspiring: This is one of my favorite things about New York. People come from so many walks of life and have such different pasts yet they all come together here. People come to New York because they have a dream and are willing to work hard to achieve it. The people here inspire me every single day. Also, I love the lights. The beauty of this city inspires me every day as well.Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 2.58.35 PM

The crazy thing is that this barely scratches the surface of the things that I learned in NYC, but what I want you all to take away from this is that this city is nothing to be afraid of. If you want to  come here, just do it without overthinking it. Find a lease that is short term and try it out. Show it who’s boss and if you don’t love it (not sure how that could be) then at the very least you will have learned a lot and met some amazing people. One thing’s for sure, I will definitely be living here at some phase of my life.


Kelsey Knepler

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