“Let me think about it.” A classic parent technique for brushing off something that they don’t particularly want to think about, and exactly what my own parents said when I proposed going to NYC for a bit this summer. Little did they know, I had organized all the details myself, and was soon on my way to the big city for some adventure. Of course mild panic spread through the extended family, but while they were all assuming the worst was happening, I was learning these important lessons:
1. Don’t be afraid to be alone.
My grandma Gilda still gets nervous when I drive alone, probably because living in RI ingrains in you that to do almost anything, you need a crew, and a picture to prove you did it. In Manhattan, with an opposite schedule than my friends there, I was initially intimidated by how New Yorkers would judge me (They’re all so put together, all the time!). Once I got over that fear, however, some of the best days I had were doing homework alone in Central Park, or trying a new lunch place by myself. Being alone is not a bad thing, and once you stop caring what people think of you, life becomes a lot more fun.
2. Keep learning and exploring.
It’s easy to believe that you know everything, especially when RI can feel like it’s the whole world and like LaSalle taught me like everything I ever need to know, right? While it’s true there is nothing quite like Narragansett beach, there is also something special about experiencing new things, especially when those happen to be seeing a Broadway play, or a Van Gogh painting in person. And while I did get in a lot of arguments (My family is famous for being extremely opinionated.) in my NYU class, it gave me a great starting place for what will hopefully be a future in human rights law.
3. Be friendly.
It is 100 times easier to have resting b*tch face than to try to be kind, but sometimes all someone really needs is a friendly face after a long, boiling hot day in the ever-intense city. Take a look at Humans of New York. People’s stories are incredible, and it’s possible they’re willing to share, even in the Whole Foods line. You may have some awkward encounters, but those will never outweigh the great ones.
4. Stop looking at your phone!
I can’t tell you how many times I came this close to loosing my cool walking through Times Square, dodging tourists glued to their phones. Just look up -The world is beautiful!
5. You don’t need as much time as you think.
One of my dreams is to live in Switzerland and/or Africa eventually, and I used to think that I would need at least a year or two to make it a “real” experience. During 5 weeks in the Big Apple though, I went to most of the major museums, parks, memorials, bridges, and enough rooftops to last me a lifetime, all while taking a class, working and volunteering. So, if you manage your time well, you really can do anything!
6. Don’t underestimate yourself.
It’s easy to tell yourself that something is too out of reach, too complicated, or unrealistic. But if you have enough self confidence, you can make things happen. People will try to convince you to settle, and just accept your life, but if you believe you can change it, you’re already halfway there!
Long story short, NYC is an incredible place, from its beautiful old subway tiles, to the array of cultures, to the lessons it can teach you in just one month. So don’t let the Rhode Island bubble/social pressure keep you from doing what you want, including traveling because (remember) you can do anything!
More About Grace
When Grace is in RI, she enjoys playing with her furry angel dog, Klaus, and having a 'nice' cup of coffee with her Grandma Gilda. You might also find her at the beach in Westerly, hoping to bump into Taylor Swift.