Can you believe we are already quickly approaching the sixth month mark of living in New York City? It feels it was yesterday when I packed away everything I owned, hopped on a flight, and started my life in the Big Apple. While I wish it was that simple (there were a lot of late nights, stress, and anxiety throughout the process of moving!), I am grateful for some habits, products and practices I began to incorporate that made the transition from California to New York City much easier.
1) Buying a portable charger!
Although this might sound like an insignificant purchase, it has saved my life on multiple occasions. As I try to become more familiar with NYC, I often rely on Google Maps to know what subway route to take, what you can see/do/taste nearby, or how to get home. Unfortunately, this tends to drain my phone battery rather quickly, and dead phones make getting home unnecessarily stressful. I started carrying a portable charger to help in these moments, and it’s become an absolute gamechanger. You don’t have to break the bank when buying one – I bought mine at Primark for $5, and it still continues to work well!
2) Taking the subway everywhere
One of the reasons why I was so excited to move to NYC was because of the extensive subway system throughout the city. While they are no means perfect, they provide an accessible and affordable way of getting around the city. Taking the subway also helped me become more familiar with where things are, and helped me adjust to a new community. It also felt affirming to have an official subway route that I take for work, as it helped me feel like I’m actually settled in here instead of just visiting. I’ve recently started a new practice where instead of scrolling through my phone on my subway commute, I try to either read or listen to a new podcast. These simple activities have brought fulfillment to my life, and helped me learn something new!
3) Scheduling leisure time
I know I am a terrible millennial because I have to actually schedule time for leisure, but in New York City, it’s really easy to get caught up with working all the time without even realizing it. A few months in, I found myself working so hard that I forgot that I had moved to my dream city because I was always stuck to my desk. I’ve started a practice where on my Google Calendar, I block out time to explore New York. It doesn’t have to be something glamorous or expensive, but I’ll block out time to try a new coffeeshop, take a stroll around the park by my work, or spend my day off doing something fun. There’s nothing selfish about needing to take time for yourself, and you might find some hidden gems of NYC along the way!
4) Getting involved with the community immediately
Making friends in NYC is hard, but it feels practically impossible during a pandemic. When I first moved to NYC, I got involved with the local community as much as I could, which helped me meet more people, establish relationships, and most of all, find community in my new home. I got involved with the Manhattan District Attorney campaign, which taught me a lot about the legal system in NYC and the various reforms it needs. I spent time volunteering at local organizations, starting new jobs, and going to church. These forms of community have helped the move to NYC feel a lot less lonely, and has helped me build a foundation here. Not everyone has the time to work on a campaign or to hang out with their coworkers every week, but if you can find community in small ways, then it’s a positive step forward in making new friends in NYC.
5) Not making NYC my entire personality trait
This one is tricky for me, because I literally only have this blog because of my move to New York. However, I quickly had to realize that while it is absolutely incredible to live here, it is not what defines my worth, my next dreams, or my personality. New York City is both enchanting and exhausting, heartwarming yet humbling, lively and lonely. Knowing that this is one, not the only, dream of mine to come true has helped me in navigating the challenging days, where I’m homesick, where nothing feels right, and where I wonder how long I’ll make it here. Taking a step back and learning not to compare my life in NYC to others has been a huge moment of growth for me. Whether I’m across the street or around the world, I’m learning that where I am physically is not who I am.
6) Purposefully unplugging
I like to listen to music quite a bit. I especially like to listen to music in loud volumes. I’ve realized that I started to use music as a form of escape, that when the world felt too heavy, I would put my headphones in, turn the volume up, and let the music distract myself from what I was feeling. For both my ear health and my mental health, this wasn’t the healthiest way of coping, so I decided to challenge myself to unplug purposefully and become more present. Ever since I did that, I’ve become more attuned to the unique sounds of New York, like taxis honking, pigeons flying through the air, the infamous subway announcement to stand clear of the closing doors. It’s made me more aware of the stories that exist in all of us, waiting for us to unplug long enough to discover.
These daily practices have made my life in NYC more fulfilling, and I hope they help you as well! Take care, and happy Memorial Day weekend! ~Julia