Things I love about New York City.
New York City is truly a melting pot where so many cultures come together from so many different places, with different histories and backgrounds.
They – all of these cultures – are all forced to be together, to take the subways, to interact and pass each other on the streets. There’s a language of ‘respect’ in New York that I’ve rarely witnessed in any other city in the US and in many cities in the world. NYC is its own unique culture.
If you want a taste of traveling to foreign countries but not having to worry about the exchange rate, come to New York!
- Go eat a cannoli in little Italy
- Have a sizzling bowl of bi bim bap in KoreaTown (K-Town)
- Sushi in JapanTown (J-Town)
- Dumplings in one of the Chinatowns (that’s right – Queens and Brooklyn have them too!)
- Head to Brooklyn with your Cyrillic dictionary and have a perogi washed down with pure Russian vodka in Brighton beach.
- On your way, visit the heart of South Brooklyn in Sunset Park where you can get the most amazing tacos and Mexican pastries, and then wash them down with a beer and conversation with an old Irish police officer. Slainte!
- Head to Bay Ridge and I hope you like halal and Lebanese sandwiches.
- Want more culture? A free ferry runs to Governors Island where you’ll find a large population of Hasidic Jews and cheap eats. Le Chaim!?
- Did we neglect the upper west side? Mofongo! Fried mashed plantains speak to my heart, and the Dominicans do a mean (and very affordable) breakfast.
- And of course, a good ole fashioned slice of pizza pie in the heart of manhattan or just across the Brooklyn bridge – if you don’t need a pile of napkins it’s not greasy enough.
And all of these cultures blend. Take the East Village. If you aren’t a postwar era Ukrainian, or even if you are, you’ve had Rays pizza, a shwarma, momofuku, pho, a pork bun, belgian fries, falafel, and boba tea – all on your street.
Every day people with unique stories of passion, of persistence, dreams, different backgrounds, languages, and cultures – all take the same subways, pass by each other on the streets, and interact in the office, in coffee shops, or in commerce.
New York City is truly a city of the world – with its history and diversity. From Ellis island and the Statue of Liberty standing by, arms open, creating and paving this greatness of the world in one city.
Its own unique culture
You may have heard some say that people in NYC are rude. Instead of saying they are rude, ask yourself “why are New Yorkers this way?”
Always seek the differences wherever you travel. Cultural differences are never ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ they are just different.
Rude is just a perception. We all have a view of the world we live in, based on our experiences from our environment.
This is an important lesson, for us all, wherever we travel.
Why do people in NYC rush past you? Why do they not stop to hold the door for you? Or why, in the grocery store line, do you have to fend for your position?
People are people everywhere. There are good people, there are bad people. Instead of labeling a culture as one or the other, recognize that it’s simply that – culture – and not a good or bad characteristic. Learn why people act that way and you can gain a better understanding. Expand your world, and I challenge you to make a list of differences every place you travel.
People are genuine
Even though people will rush past you or fight for their position on the train, people are incredibly helpful and they want to help you out. When faced with a problem, New Yorkers have a real ‘stick together’ attitude.
The other day I was on the LIRR (Long Island Railroad). I wasn’t sure I was on the right train. I asked 1 person if I was going the right way. Then the magic started to happen. Everyone in my car on the train got involved in helping me out. One guy even shouted “where you goin’?” after he put his friend on hold while speaking on the phone.
People are real, generally speaking, and they are always willing to lend a helping hand.
NYC forces you to be yourself
Not only is it the world in one city, but NYC brings out the ‘you’ in yourself.
In most cities, you still stand out. You will probably run into someone you know. There are more unspoken ‘laws’ with respect to how to act, how to dress, and so on. You don’t want to disrupt the underlying societal mores.
But in NYC, all rules have changed. There is a mix of everything. Walking up the stairs on the subway I am surrounded by a sporty guy Brooklyn-raised to my left, a hispanic non-native New Yorker to my right, an old Jewish man in front of me, an Italian tourist just behind me. There are so many different blends of cultures that there just simply are no rules. There is a basic human condition we default to, which is an underlying form of communication that embodies respect and non-judgmental equality.
You could wear the same outfit every day for a year and nobody in the city would even notice. You can dye your hair a different color every day. You can hold hands with your best friend without any second looks.
What would your world look like if you could unveil the pressures of conformity and allow yourself to be your real you?
Disclaimer – one time I did see a man dressed up in a Tinky Winky outfit and there were some giggles. But that’s what this city is all about. You can be a giant purple teletubby and that is the only way you’ll stand out.
Tell me about a time when you noticed that a culture had very big differences from what you were used to and how you handled it.