I recently read a blog post on A Cup Of Jo about a family who had moved from the USA to England. The post beautifully compared the differences during parenthood in both countries. Thank you Erin for your American insight into the English world, I am going to follow your post structure for easy reading!
Some of the most important lessons, if not the most important ones I’ve learned since moving here have been through recognizing and inheriting the culture/personalities/trends/crazes of the USA.
From travel to girls getting naked and all the things I can think of in between, here is my best take on summing up the last 10 months in New York City.
(Starting note: People refer to New York like it’s the only city in the world. So when someone says they work in ‘The City’, you’re expected to know what that means).
On travel: In England, I don’t know anyone who works further than 45mins to 1hour away from home. In the states, nothing is close together. When I first moved here I was living in New Jersey, about an hour and 30 mins from The City - Not unusual as from what I understand, the majority of NYC workers, do not actually live in NYC. Commuting is more common than uncommon, but I felt like I spent my life on the train. I don’t know if it was the English in me, but I didn’t have it in me to stick it out longer than a few months, and became pretty desperate to move into to Manhattan. Finding my apartment was easily the best thing that’s happened to me in all of the last 10 months. 20 mins on the 1 train and I’m in midtown, 25 mins and I’m at my desk. Plus I made new roomie friends, and inherited a dog.
This is where I live.
This is my view from my kitchen.
And this is my inherited pooch, Mickey.
On making friends: Boy, is it hard to make friends in the city. New Yorkers on the whole, are incredibly work orientated. After work drinks are usually between co-workers, and when work is crazy and days are long, sleep becomes #1, and social #2. Lucky for me, I moved into an apartment with cool roomies, but even now, the majority of my friends come from Jesse and Penn State.
New York without friends and family, is not like Home Alone lost in New York. It’s just not.
On becoming bilingual: American vocabulary is surprisingly much different considering we speak the same language. Saying ‘you alright?’ in England is like ‘how are you’. In America, when you ask someone if they’re alright, it’s implying that the person looks as if something is wrong, so usually you get a snotty response like, ‘yeh, why?’. And that’s just one of many misinterpretations I discovered; Trash (bin), Eggplant (aubergine), Sweater (jumper), Romper (playsuit), Chips (crisps), Pants (trousers), Comforter (duvet) - Just to name a few. And then there’s the word herbal, which here is pronounced erbal. If you pronounce the h in herbal, it’s like suddenly, nobody can understand what you’re saying.
On adjusting to New York manners (or the lack of): Every New Yorker is in a rush. Places to be people to see 24 hours of the day. Rush hour midtown, is like the first ant getting to the food. To this day, I am still mind blown by the amount of people walking on 7th ave between 30th and 50th Street around 6pm, but very quickly I adjusted to the rules of the New York sidewalk; Do not stop in the middle of the street. Under no circumstances can your pace be any slower than a brisk walk. Do not look down at your phone whilst walking in order to avoid pedestrian collisions. And most importantly, pretend the sidewalk is a game of Snake. There is never any need to be stopped at a traffic light.
On Subway etiquette: The New York subway can be a terrifying experience. As mentioned above, everyone always has some place to be, and nothing is going to get in the way of them getting there. My first subway experience went something like this…
'Sorry… excuse me… may I just… sorry… do you mind if I… sorry'
I used to stand aside so other people could get on first. BIG MISTAKE. For the first few weeks I actually missed the train because I allowed people on before me, and then I couldn’t fit. I also used to get on the train before other people had got off. This is the number one rule. Let everyone off first. I could never figure out why people were sighing at me until a lady got in my face and started yelling. Lesson learned.
People also shout at you to move into the middle of the car. They don’t care if you can’t hold on to anything, they just push you in like a heard of cattle. Usually you have someones armpit in your face, someone breathing on your neck, or you’re awkwardly touching hands with someone whilst trying steady yourself.
On girls getting naked: I had my first taste of this during camp 2011. Girls in America, are not afraid to take their clothes off. I remember being in the changing rooms at secondary school and going into the toilet cubicle to change so I couldn’t be seen. In England, if a girl loves herself it is seen as self obsessive, but here it’s completely the norm. Girls are not ashamed of their bodies. I was judgmental because it made me jealous how girls could strip off with such confidence and not care what people thought. This is because in England, we are prudes. I adore this about American culture. Girls can appreciate other girls for all shapes and sizes. Bravo ladies.
This is part 1 of 2 posts of USA vs UK. More to come soon!
Do the things that make you feel expansive & limitless.
The chant “Om shanti shanti shanti” brought me to tears during yoga.
"Om" is considered to be the primeval sound, the sound from which all universal sounds are formed. "Shanti" means peace.
This chant was so pure and powerful that you could feel the surrounding energy of the jungle come alive. Some things can’t be explained. They can only be felt. And remembered.
The meaning of your life depends on which ideas you permit to use you. Who you think you are determines where you put your attention. Where you direct your attention creates your life experiences, and brings a new course of events into being. Where you habitually put your attention is what you worship. What do you worship in this mindstream called your life?
—Gangaji (via lazyyogi)
You mustn’t be afraid to sparkle a little brighter, darling.