You can learn a lot in four weeks, especially if that time is spent in New York City.
I’m not the best with directions. I’ve lived in Arizona my whole life, and I didn’t even understand directions there until I started driving.
Now, imagine what it’s like moving to a City where the transit system is underground, devoid of landmarks. Yet surprisingly, four weeks into my new temporary home, I am finding my way around the New York City subway system.
This is a big accomplishment, considering it took me 5-minutes to buy my first Metrocard. My mother was with me at the time, and we stood there in front of the machine, trying to decide what all the different options meant.
Then I got on the wrong subway, which made me at least 30-minutes late my first day on the job.
Now, I totally get it though. No matter where I am, I know that the N-line or the R-line will get me back to where I want to be. The Q-line is the same color, but it will not take me back to my stop. I don’t know why it doesn’t go to my stop, but I know I am not a fan of the Q-line for this reason.
I still get lost sometimes and end up going past my stop or to the wrong station, but I understand how to get on connecting trains and eventually end up where I want to be.
It’s always an adventure. At least I understand the concept of uptown versus downtown now.
I’m even getting past some of those touristy habits. In Week One, I wrote about standing in the middle of Times Square, staring up at the billboards and snapping pictures. But now, I’m on a mission. I just weave my way in and out of tourists, mumbling under my breath about all the dang people who don’t know how to move.
I’ve become a New Yorker for the summer.
I think one of the coolest things I’ve learned is to use streets or landmarks as areas of reference when I talk to people. For example, I stopped into a deli the other night on my way home and when I got back to my dorm room, my roommate asked me where I went.
I told her, “That deli over there on Broadway. By Mi Famiglia on 8th street.”
Or, I’ll talk to my family on the phone, and I say, “I was walking along University and there was this awesome place in between 8th and 9th street” or “Yeah, it was a store over in the Flatiron district.”
I feel so legit.
And, I’m obviously gaining valuable writing experience, but if I gain nothing else, I know I am gaining strength to stand up for myself.
In the past, I let people take advantage of me sometimes. They might not have realized how or why they were taking advantage of me, but I dismissed it. I’m a shy person, so I let it go.
If a cashier rang up something wrong in the past, I may have overpaid instead of telling her it was a mistake. I actually did that the other day. So, bad example. However, I feel like I’m getting better at putting myself out there and speaking up for myself.
I’m not going to keep letting people screw me out of things. I don’t have a lot of money. But I have important stuff to buy. I’ve gotta stand up for myself!
I will, without a doubt, grow as a person this summer, as well as continue to grow as a writer.