I travelled to New York with one of my best friends in 2010, we were only 17 and 18 years old, so nowhere near the US legal drinking age; but that wasn’t what our trip was about. In the lead up to the trip, so many people asked me what I was most excited about – Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Central Park, Shopping? But it wasn’t any of those. I simply said I would be happy to stand in Manhattan and people watch, just take in the culture and customs, observe the everyday New Yorker going to work, buy a bagel and ride the subway to Brooklyn.
I wanted to find out what it was really like to be in New York.
The city that never sleeps truly didn’t; it lived up to and exceeded every expectation I had or was told about this amazing corner of the USA. Yes there were parts that were dirty, and places with tourists swarming all the top attractions, but what city doesn’t have its ups and downs?
One thing that nobody prepared me for was the true kindness, openness and caring nature of New Yorkers. One story to tell is the down to earth nature of the police officers. With an obsession for American culture, just seeing a NYPD officer made me excited, and to stop and chat about New York, the police force, Scotland and my crappy internet signal in the city simply made me grin from ear to ear (see below).
I spoke about walking through Central Park to get to the American Museum of Natural History here, and during this walk, we noticed a small softball game starting. We decided to sit on the bleachers and watch the game, after all this was us watching America live right in front of our eyes. Being the forward and intrusive Scots that we are, we walked down and had a chat with the teams to immerse ourselves further, and it turned out both teams were the casts from two different Broadway plays! So not only did they welcome us but they also gave us an insight into life on the Broadway stage.
New York truly exceeded my expectations. I knew kind of what to expect from the tourist hotspots, but meeting and talking to locals was what really made my trip. From asking what the Mets score was when they saw me wearing the t-shirt to drawing subway maps – everyone was so welcoming to us, and I’ve never really experienced that before from every single person I’ve came across in a new city.
Have you ever been overwhelmed by the friendliness of locals in a foreign land?