Do you remember the nights before Christmas when you were a child? You were so impatient and enthusiastic for seeing what Santa brought you that you couldn’t sleep at all. That was exactly how the night before going to America felt for me.
September 12, 2017
The day was marked in my calendar from the moment I bought the plane ticket, and it was finally here. I woke up, saw my room cleaner than ever before, took my massive suitcase, and left for what was going to be the start of a new and exciting adventure in my life, college.
Now, before going to college, I imagined it would be worthy to spend three days in New York City, in order to feel the true heart of the US. I convinced my parents to do that, and we took a flight from Bucharest to New York City, which happened to be also booked by another family whose daughter was attending the same university as me (what are the chances?). Therefore, we were happy to have travel companions with us. Especially when parents leave their child on the other side of the ocean, it’s good for them to find people in the same situation. We booked accommodation together, and me and Rose (the daughter) were in high spirits to start this new chapter together.
The plane flight had a stop in London, and then straight to New York City. I remember making a Facebook check-in of me traveling to NYC thinking “Is this really happening?”. The total number of flying hours was of about 11 (3 to LDN, and 7:45 to NYC), but my enthusiasm made time fly so quickly that the next thing I remember is me stepping out of the airplane and seeing that outside is daylight, while back home all my friends were probably getting ready for sleep (or party?). We took a taxi cab to our hotel, and the ride lasted about one hour because of the rush hour. However, I didn’t mind. More time to feel the city vibe – literally, as we’ve been stuck in traffic for quite a long time.
When we finally reached our destination in Jersey City (right across the bridge), we were surprised to see that we were staying at the 40th floor, IN A PENTHOUSE (the other family made the reservations at some really good prices, so we did not expect that). That was insane. No, I have to show you the view. The view was insane.
That was the moment when I understood why New York City is described as “the city that never sleeps”. That was also the moment when I understood what being jet lagged means. Me and my parents were so tired that all we did was to go to the supermarket, be amazed by the variety of options Americans have, buy food (including Lucky Charms, which I wanted to try for such a long time), and come back and watch TV. I made myself a bowl of milk and Lucky Charms, went on the terrace, and contemplated the view (while thinking how heavenly the little marshmallow rainbows taste).
September 13, 2017
Remember that my lucky number is 13? Probably not, but now you know. Well, one of my goals is to do something new every month on the 13th. My first actual day in New York City was definitely something I haven’t done before, and I enjoyed every second of it. We woke up even more enthusiastic than before, dads prepared breakfast, and then headed to our first stop: the Statue of Liberty. We enjoyed the majesty of Miss Liberty, and then headed to the city to have something to eat – of course, the New Yorker style.
Our next goal was simple: to enjoy the city. What else can you do to achieve that than to walk? Forget about the tourist stereotypes, we were feeling like authentic New Yorkers (who were taking photos each minute and were fascinated by every little corner). Oh, well. We went on Broadway, which made me feel like I was about to assist a musical scene, and then on Wall Street, where I was thinking that I forgot to take my business suit with me.
However, nothing compared to the emotion I got when I reached the 9/11 Memorial, which gave me instant goosebumps. I’ve seen it before in pictures, but nothing compares to the sensation you get when you are there and there is nothing but two immense holes, the sound of water, and the names of the nearly 3,000 men, women, and children killed in the attacks. Some of them had roses on their names – that meant their birthday should have been that day.
Next attraction I thrived to see was Oculus, an incredible glass-and-steel structure designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to look like a dove in flight, replacing the PATH train station that was destroyed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Our long walk ended, of course, in the well-known vibrating Times Square, where, I am not even kidding, we stayed for almost three hours, taking pictures, eating the renowned New York hotdogs, and going to the famous M&Ms store. And what is New York without a stop at Victoria’s Secret?
September 14, 2017
Last day of visiting the city consisted of me waking up at 6am to go for a run with Tudor, a friend from NYU. We met at 7, walked to the South-Eastern part of New York City, and ran on a trail there, ending our jogging session at the World Trade Center. Coming back to our hotel in Jersey City, I stopped for a cappuccino & croissant, and then took the subway. Of course Tori had to do something foolish – I accidentally split all my coffee on the guy next to me, but unlike expected, everyone wanted to help me clean, and the guy even started a conversation. It didn’t take long to find out he was a lawyer working on Wall Street, and a Columbia graduate. I was thrilled.
This was another day filled with a lot of walking, as it was about time to visit Central Park! Sunny and warm day – the perfect moment to enjoy the park that makes you forget that you are in “one of the most populous urban agglomerations in the world”. Not for long though, as the walk continued on the Fifth Avenue, and suddenly all of the episodes from Gossip Girl came to my mind. The final objective was probably the most breathtaking thing I have ever experienced: going on top of the Empire State Building. If New York City wasn’t enough mesmerizing until then, well this was definitely the summit of the experience.
For my first encounter with the United States, I have to say it was pretty intense. New York City is really intense. However, there is something about it that attracts me so much. In all that chaos and vibration, I felt myself. From the moment I stepped out of the plane, America made me feel so confident it’s surreal. I remember the moment I was in Times Square, turned to my mother, and said “I’ve never felt that I belonged more to a place” (which lead to her shedding tears, but you got the idea).
Next day, we left for Philadelphia, where my college adventure started.
I did not expect a tenth of what I have experienced in the past two months, that’s why I feel the need to share everything here, on this brand new blog. Hopefully, I will inspire someone with my adventures. There are more to come!