Friday, August 2, 2013

The Day I Almost Changed My Opinion About Big Cities... Almost

We spent our last day before class in New York City. NYC is an almost two hour train ride from New Haven, so, in order to be able to spend a good amount of time there, we took an 8:15 train. I did not sleep well last night, probably because of jet lag (I feel like the more rested I get the more I am getting affected by it), 

and I did not feel well when I first woke up. After a quick stop at Starbucks we headed right to the train station. I spent approximately the first half of the ride reviewing the reading, but somewhere along the way I fell asleep and power napped until we arrived. I am glad that I did, because I felt much better afterwards.
Grand Central Station

We then took the subway as close to NYU as we could get. As someone from the suburbs, where we only have buses and single track trains as transportation, I find the subway system in New York to be very confusing. I think we all did actually. Despite that we managed to make it all around the city with few problems. Our original plan was to take the college tour at 11 AM, but we were not able to since the tour was part of an information session and tour package that started at 10 AM. NYU offers a pamphlet that shows the path the tour takes and describes what you are seeing along the path, so we did a self-guided tour. The campus was interesting in that it was impossible to tell where it ended and the city began. It was fully integrated. For someone who likes big cities it seemed to be an excellent school. Unfortunately I am not one of those people, so while it was fun to see the campus and compare it to other schools, I knew before visiting that I would not want to go there. Something unexpected did happen however. Along the tour path there was a park with tables set up for chess. A man saw I was interested and invited me to play with him. I gladly accepted. We played a long close game, but in the end I misplayed, and the second I did we both knew that I had lost. The man was very friendly and polite and even gave me some chess tips after the game.

In the heat of battle
By the time we finished the tour we were all quite hungry and headed over to Times Square to find a place to get lunch. We decided on pizza and found a restaurant called John's Pizzeria. We walked through Times Square on the way, which is very nice to see, but VERY crowded. 

At the restaurant the food was excellent, but the service was very slow. I had a calzone with chicken and broccoli, which I really enjoyed and do not get to have often. 

After lunch we explored Rockefeller Square. It was nice but there was not much to talk about for me. 

After that we had dinner at a place that Damian’s friend told him about called Ellen’s Stardust Diner. It is a restaurant where people who want to perform on Broadway work as waiters and give live performances while serving you food. The food itself was fine (I had chicken, French fries, and onion rings), but the environment and service was fantastic. Our waiter was friendly and the singing was actually very good. It was not a good place to go if you want to socialize while eating however.

New York Pizza and Calzone
In general I had a very good time in New York; for the first part of the day I was even reconsidering my opinion on large cities, but throughout the day I was reminded of why I felt that way. The first problem is the smell. The scent of human waste, sweat, and cigarettes is everywhere. The second is the crowds. People are constantly jostling you as you walk down the street, and keeping track of your group is next to impossible unless you stand right next to each other. The last problem is one that I am thinking ahead about, which is the price of living relative to the size of the housing. I had the exact same experience as last year when I visited New York with the Cornell cohort. A man walked up to me and handed me his CD telling me how he was a young artist trying to make it to the top. Tracey told him we had a train to catch and as soon as he learned I was not going to give him any money he called us racist, snatched the CD away, and started swearing.  I have never had an experience like that anywhere except populated cities, and it is one I would very much like to avoid.

Today was the last day before we start our program at Yale. That means that this is my last blog until the program ends. Tomorrow we check in at Yale in the late morning or early afternoon, get supplies, and at four we have orientation and should lose all free time and contact with the outside world (I am exaggerating). I am very excited for the program, although still not quite sure what to expect. Wish us luck! You will hear about our time at Yale in two weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately I am not one of those people....

    Sounds like you found plenty of reasons why a city like New York would be a bad fit for you. We often ask our ILCers about their preferences between urban and rural settings when they select a college but that really doesn’t define things, does it? Even amongst those two options there are variables that can affect your selection. In this particular instance, New York City did not shine for you and I’m betting that you’ve already mentally crossed it off of your list.

    And as for that aspiring young artist you met in Times Square--perhaps we ought to contact Mayor Bloomberg and let him know that he still has a problem to fix before he leaves office.