In mid-August I will have lived in New York for three whole years. I can literally remember moving into my freshman dorm at Stuyvesant Park, timid, excited and ready to take on New York– time flies. But, even though coming to New York I thought I knew everything , I really didn’t. There was a lot I didn’t know and a lot I had to learn. Here I thought I’d share with you some tips and tricks of navigating your way through New York, things I wish I’d knew. Photos by Integrated Fashion Design Senior, Guang Xu.
1. New Yorkers Are Nice… Really!
Okay of course not everyone is nice but I totally think the stereotype of New Yorkers being mean and angry people is not true! I can’t tell you the amount of kindness I have experienced from someone swiping their Metrocard for me, helping me with a suitcase down the subway stairs, or giving me directions when I’m lost. With that being sad New Yorkers are definitely not pushovers, definitely aggressive but not mean.
2. Subway Rules
There are unspoken rules of the subway that every New Yorker should know. Basic rules include giving up your seat to the elderly or a pregnant women and knowing if the subway line you are taking has delays, especially on weekends. But you might not know that you should never ever enter an empty subway car, especially in the summer. There’s a reason it’s empty, and you don’t want to be the one to find out why. Oh and everyone rides the subway. It’s not uncommon to be in a single subway car with people of all different nationalities, ethnicities, religions and ages. Definitely one of the beautiful things about the subway, an of course New York!
3. Networking is Key
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to parties or events, met some really great people and then never saw or heard from them again. Living in this city it is very important to exchange contact information with people. You meet all kinds of crazy interesting people and you never know which one might offer you an internship, or some other sort of opportunity. Keep in touch! Make business cards if you have to and be proactive.
4. Mind Your Business
This sounds a bit harsh but New Yorkers pretty much keep to themselves. On the subway, people are most likely reading a book or will have their headphones in. And if you see a celebrity don’t talk to them! You can totally text your friends and tell them you saw Jake Gyllenhall but don’t go up to him asking for a picture. I remember one time Gossip Girl was filming outside of Parsons and one of the main actors was standing in the lobby of the building. My classmates and I all saw him and acted cool but it wasn’t until we were all on the elevator that we started giggling and talking about it.
5. It Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
My first couple of months in New York City I was definitely calling my parents a lot asking for money. I spent a crazy amount of money on eating out, going out, and other unnecessary things because I thought it was my only option, but boy was I wrong. Don’t get me wrong New York can and is an expensive city. $14 movie tickets are not a normal thing anywhere else, but by knowing little things like student discounts available for New School students, which grocery stores are the cheapest, and to not eat out every single night you realize that being on a budget in New York without being a total hermit is certainly possible! Also, take advantage of different apps with deals such as ScoutMob and check out our past post on cheap things to do in the city!
5. Walking Rules
Ok in addition to the rules of the subway there are also walking rules. Because New Yorkers walk a lot, and pretty much everywhere it only makes sense right? The first one is pretty basic just knowing how the streets work. Even numbered streets go east and odd numbered ones go west, avenue blocks are longer than street blocks. Oh and unless you are on the beach do not wear flip flops. It will suddenly rain, you might slip, and it will be gross.
Another important rule is to look down and up. Huh? You may be asking yourself how can I look down and up at the same time? Well its a skill people living in NY have learned to master. Look down to make sure you’re not stepping in dog poop (because it is never mud on your shoe), and look up to make sure you don’t run into anyone!
9. Taxi Rules
Taxis are hard to find when there is a hail storm at 12am but are definitely in abundance at 2pm on a sunny day in July, that’s just how it is! There are a ton of rules though for taxis one of the most important being how to even hail one. It can be pretty discouraging holding your hand out for a cab and watching them all pass you but there is a reason for that! To find out if a cab is even available you have to look at the lights on the roof of the car. Cabs are available when just the center number is lit and nothing else. They are occupied when none of the lights are lit and they are off duty when the off duty and middle lights are lit (all of them).
Okay, so in addition to knowing how to hail one it’s important to know how to give directions to the driver. Instead of saying “2 West 13th Street” say “2 West 13th St. between 5th and 6th avenue”. Also, if you are already in the cab it is illegal for the driver not to take you where you want to go within New York! Oh and one last thing, do not take a black cab or “gypsy cab” as they are called”. A $15 regular cab ride will suddenly be $45.
7. It’s Just the AC
In the summer you might be walking, especially in the city and fill a couple of drops on your forehead. You might think to yourself it’s rain, but hmm the forecast didn’t call for rain? And then you may begin to panic because you think its a bird or some other inexplicable thing. But, not to worry 95% of the time it’s someone’s leaking AC.
8. The Winters
Know what to expect from New York winters! Apartments/dorm rooms can become really really dry in the winter. One thing I would definitely suggest investing is a humidifier! Also dress appropriately! Since you will be doing a lot of walking even in the winter I would definitely suggest investing in a great jacket. Protect your shoes as well, shoes can get messed up from the salt on the sidewalk that melts the snow, taking precautions will help unwanted visits to shoe repair shops.
10. There’s so Much More Than Manhattan!
During my freshman year of living in Stuy Park dorm I rarely ventured outside of Manhattan. But, I realized shortly after that there is so much more than this island! Not only upstate New York but the other Burroughs have so much to offer in this wonderful city!