From Mjini to City

Actually New York City and Nairobi are more similar than I originally thought. Both are busy, involve lots of walking and public transport, have very interesting characters, and I always am rubbing shoulders with speaking languages I do not understand. Although I still do not feel quite settled in New York City, as I did in Kenya (go figure!) I hope to assimilate into a culture that seems very foreign. I just recently was offered a job at Harlem Children’s Zone to work with teenagers as a Writing Specialist. I have not begun the job yet, however I am very excited about it. I am staying with a good friend’s family in the Bronx while I look for more permanent housing.

In the meantime I have been preparing all of my paperwork, buying “New Yorker clothing” (in order to blend in to my new surroundings), and exploring a ton. I have been success in all categories… I was fingerprinted and tested for TB; I went thrift store shopping and now have two sleek outfits, which I can rotate every other day (going along with a New Yorker’s favorite color, black!); and while exploring I have found how to have my hair, styled, and dyed for free, how to attend Broadway shows without paying a dime, and how to catch the metro.

I will make a list of my observations of New York so far, similar to what I did for Kenya, since New York feels just as foreign to me…

  • You call the underground train the Subway NOT Metro (I have been corrected multiple times and still am calling it the latter because that is what is printed on my METRO card)
  • You should wear black
  • Accessories are everything
  • Cabs charge you 2.50 before you move an inch
  • Halloween is the most entertaining evening to ride the Metro
  • Every day in Central Park looks like race day
  • New Yorkers are so diverse in language and culture that it is not even appropriate for me to box them in as I am doing now.
  • Even local New Yorkers only really know their side of town and their transport routes- outside of these areas they are as good as tourists.
  • Walk fast but dont push
  • Avoid eye contact in the Metro and always pretend you are doing something
  • You can always ask for a sample
  • People rip you off if you arent careful
  • All New Yorkers watch the weather channel before walking out the door
  • Sidewalks provide a free audience
  • the taxi cabs actually have an “off duty” light that lights up if they are not wanting to pick up passengers.




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